June 15, 2017 8:00 pm

Vacations in Canada’s major cities cost at least $250 a day, survey suggests

WATCH: A new Capital One survey looked at the daily spending of Canadians traveling to another city, calculating their hotel, transportation, dining and entertainment budget.

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Staying Canada-bound this summer? If your travel plans involve a major city, you should budget at least $250 a day, reveals a new survey.

That’s how much Canadians spent last summer vacationing a number of the country’s largest cities, according to an analysis of anonymous of cardholder data by Capital One Canada.

READ MORE: Why this may be the best summer ever to spend your vacation in Canada

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By far, the priciest destination for urban travellers was Quebec City, whereas Regina and Winnipeg were the cheapest among the large urban centres covered by the survey.

Here’s the full list:

Quebec City ($354.07)

Halifax ($318.63)

Montreal ($316.59)

Vancouver ($310.82)

Victoria ($308.63)

Toronto ($304.59)

Edmonton ($290.75)

Ottawa ($280.18)

Calgary ($268.14)

Regina ($243.98)

Winnipeg ($243.90)

What Canadians spent their money on

Hotels will likely eat up most of your budget, if you’re travelling to a big city. In Quebec city, Canadians spent just shy of $200 per day on average for accommodation alone, the survey shows. Winnipeg was where travellers paid the least, around $120 a night.

READ MORE: Could this be the year that Canada finally recovers from its 15-year tourism slump?

If you’re in for some nightly entertainment, that’s where you’re likely to drop most of the cash left after paying for your hotel room. Nights out are priciest in Toronto, clocking in at $78 per day, and cheapest in Halifax, where Canadians spent an average of $45 a night.

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Next up is food. Spending on restaurants and takeout costs around $75 a day in Quebec City — the highest anywhere — but as little as $37 a day in Regina.

Cab rides will also considerably lighten your wallet. Edmonton is where Canadians spent the most of taxis and limos — and average of nearly $45 per day. In Regina, on the other hand, Canadians spent only $25 per day.

Those figures reflect spending per cardholder, and “there is no way to tell whether it was for one person or multiple,” Brent Reynolds, managing vice-president at Capital One Canada told Global News via email. However, the data provides a useful benchmark of spending in each city, he added.

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Notably, those average figures don’t include the cost of attractions and gifts, which can also significantly drive up Canadians’ vacation bill.

Tourists in Vancouver shelled out around $95 per day to pay for local amenities, according to the survey. And in Toronto travellers spent more than $110 per day to buy mementos of their trip for family and friends.

WATCH: As we look ahead to Canada’s 150th birthday, we asked Global News readers to send us some of their fondest memories and mementos from 1967

How to keep your travel costs in check

Big cities are pricey, but there are ways to trim your budget.

This year, stay away from Ottawa, Toronto or Vancouver, which are likely to attract hoards due to celebrations for Canada 150. That extra demand for food and accommodation could lead to extra-high prices, warned Capital One.

READ MORE: Can’t find a hotel in Ottawa for Canada Day? Here’s your back-up plan

However, if watching the fireworks from, say, Parliament Hill is a must, you can save big by opting for Airbnb or other home-sharing services. You can also opt for Uber of Lyft over cabs, or just use public transportation, walk or rent a bike, noted Capital One.

READ MORE: 10 quirky Canadian places to visit for Canada’s 150th birthday

Buy snacks and drinks at the grocery story to keep your food bill lower. And if you’re renting an apartment on Airbnb with a kitchen, you could even avoid eating out entirely.

Also, take full advantage of your credit card. Check if it offers travel benefits, such as rental car discounts, advised Capital One, and “if you have to take taxi or ground transportation (e.g. airport limo), offset the cost with credit card reward miles.”

READ MORE: Free things Canadians can get for Canada 150

Doing a little bit of research ahead of time could also help you find zero-cost entertainment, such as free outdoor festivals and cool neighbourhoods to explore.

And if you’re really dying to dine at an expensive restaurant or visit a particularly pricey attraction, leave that for last, so you’ll have “something to look forward to and end your trip on a high note,” suggested Capital One.

Still, if you’re looking for a truly budget-friendly vacation, skip the cities entirely. Canada’s 150th birthday is also a great chance to see the country’s great outdoors. With this year’s free Parks Canada pass, all you’ll hardly need anything more than a tent and a backpack.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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