West Coast US & Canada under $1000

This was my first solo adventure trip within the U.S and Canada. I have traveled quite a bit within the US and Canada but never backpacking style. I didn’t have enough funds to visit the other West Coast cities such as Phoenix, Arizona or Salt Lake City, Utah but I really wanted to cross offSeattle, Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies my list, so I did those first. Since I was on a serious budget, I had to carefully plan out how to make this trip without breaking the bank.


In my recent posts on “How I Overcame My Travel Fears”, I mentioned that I spend a chunk of my planning time budgeting and creating a cost breakdown analysis of my trip expenses. I would love to share with you a sample cost analysis for my trip to Seattle, Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies.

Transportation Accommodation Total Estimated Cost
NYC to Seattle: August 18: Flight – $186

Transport within Seattle $6 + Walking (Free)

Seattle to Vancouver: August 20th: Bus – $16.50

Vancouver to Calgary: August 23rd: Flight – $137


Lake Louise, Alberta: August 28-31th – $38 RT Bus Ticket using Greyhound


Calgary to NYC: Sept 1st: Flight – $58

Seattle: 2 nights – $73

Vancouver: 3 nights – $118 (done)

Calgary: Stay with Family


Lake Louise – 2 nights: $80/person per night

Banff – 1 night total: $90/person


Total Transport: $441.5


Total Accommodation:







Total Cost:


Wondering how I was able to cut down some expenses on transport and accommodation? Here are a few tips you can use when planning your next adventure trip:

  • Sometimes one- way or multi-city tickets can be a lot cheaper than round trip tickets. I advice you weigh all your route options when planning. Most times, buying a multi-city ticket is usually cheaper than a round trip; you also get to add another destination to your countries list. Not a bad idea right?. I got a one-way ticket from NYC to Seattle because when I did my analysis, it was cheaper for me to fly back to NYC from Calgary than to fly via Seattle to NYC.
  • Mix and Match your ground transportation. I took a train from Seattle airport to where I stayed. From the train station, I walked to the hostel. Before traveling, I got the directions to the hostel and that made it easier to navigate. Google Maps also came in very handy.  Most times, I try to lodge in areas where I can easily find public transport for a cheaper mix&match commute. I also did a lot of walking around town. For me walking allows me explore random areas or neighborhoods in a city. It is also a good form of exercise and a great way to save money. I took the bus from Seattle to Vancouver, which saved me over $150 in flight fares.
  • Use your airline miles or combine cash and miles to reduce the purchase cost of airfares. When planning this trip, I remembered that I had United Airline miles I had stashed up a few years ago – they came in very handy on this trip. I also used my SPG hotel points to purchase one of the tickets. YES, make use of those hotel loyalty credit card points when needed to get flight savings.
  • Be flexible with housing. I stayed in hostels the entire trip. Although hostels in Canada are expensive in comparison to hostels in Europe, I was able to reduce my cost by inviting a friend over to Alberta and the Banff Region – we split the costs. You can also mix and match for housing options: a few nights in hostels or bed & breakfast or with friends or family and a few nights in hotels. This would also be a good scenario (when on a serious travel budget) to use hotel points or credit card loyalty points to save some cash.
  • Eat one good meal per day and eat “light” for the rest of the day. I usually eat breakfast at the hostel, and then eat either an expensive lunch or dinner but usually not both. I’m a foodie; so I like to use most of my miscellaneous spend on good local cuisine and on activities.
  • Explore the free things in the city, so you can save your money for the “must do” paid experiences. I find that most of the authentic experiences are free but sometimes they aren’t. In Seattle and Vancouver, I spent a lot of time visiting parks, walked the streets and different neighborhoods, went to the beach, and joined free walking tours. In Seattle, I was flexible with my time to visit the Space Needle and as a result I was able to save a few bucks on the entry fee. I saved up my cash for a “must do” experience of crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cycling around Stanley Park and I was able to cross that out of my bucket list.

Remember to spend some time budgeting and planning for your next trip. You are able to cut down on a lot of unnecessary expenses and you have a better idea on how much you spend on travels. This would help a lot in determining your travel budget for the year and help eliminate some of your cost related travel fears.

I’ll be sharing my experience on my trip from Seattle to Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies in subsequent posts.

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