The repercussions of economic decline can hit home the hardest during the holidays. Christmas, birthdays, and summer vacations all become exponentially more challenging to manage, and rather than being a source of bliss and relaxation, they can actually be a huge source of stress and frustration.
With layoffs across the province and a weak Canadian dollar, making travel plans–especially beyond our borders–may be out of the question for many Albertans this summer.
This week’s guest on Surviving the Slump, Tamara Elliott, is a Calgary-based travel writer and the founder of Globe Guide. Elliott is a long-time resident of Calgary and came by the station to offer her expertise on how to get the most out of a summer vacation spent in Alberta.
“I think a lot people are just kind of watching the bottom lines,” Elliott said, “and rethinking their grand vacation plans that they usually have and thinking, ‘how can we make our money go a little bit further and perhaps stay in our own backyard this year?'”
Driving just an hour outside the City of Calgary can take you to some stunning locations, where there are seemingly countless options for entertainment, relaxation or adventure.
There are also numerous offers, packages and deals available that can help get you the most out of those places while minimizing the strain on your finances.
For example, this summer the Calgary Zoo and Telus Spark have joined forces to offer a flex pass, giving visitors the chance to purchase passes for both locations at a savings of 40 per cent. General admission passes are available for $34.
Similarly, if you want to travel up to Edmonton, you can get the Edmonton Attractions pass, which also allows you access to multiple attractions like the Valley Zoo or Jurassic Forest, among many others. There are two options with this offer, you can either get an ultimate pass for access to all attractions or choose four with the U-Pick Pass.
The City of Calgary is also offering “unlimited summer fun” for only $50 with their new concept, the Youth Passport.
Calgary Attractions are offering coupons with discounted rates for tons of great attractions across the city.
Another one is the Experience Alberta’s History Pass which is an affordable way to get an educational experience of some of the historic sites around the province. A family pass goes for $12, adults for $50, seniors for $40, youth for $30, and kids under seven can get in for free. Check out sites like Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the Royal Tyrrell Museum or the Brooks Aquaduct.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is offering visitors the chance to create their own unique adventure in the badlands, pick from a number of discounted activities and save up to 15 per cent with Heritage Inn and Suites. Adventure options include the Fossil Safari Tour, Explorer’s Bus Tour or Centrosaurus Quarry Hike. Dino-enthusiasts eat your hearts out!
If you’re up for a quick visit to Calgary’s neighbour to the east, Medicine Hat, there are numerous hotel offers giving guests the chance to save over 50 per cent, with packages that include Fast & Curious, a local culture package, or 18 holes of golf.
For even more budget-wise adventures, check out all of the different options offered on Travel Alberta’s website.
And of course, as our guest adamantly attested to, there are also many ways to enjoy the city or province with little to no expenditures.
“That’s the great thing about our city, is that we don’t need to even travel at all during the summer,” Elliott said. “There’s so much going on.”
There is, of course, the Calgary Stampede, but Elliott touched on some more simple locations around town that merit a summertime visit.
The newly redeveloped East Village, for example, with its riverside art, numerous food and beverage options and plethora of live music events makes it an ideal spot to check out.
“There’s some really great options within the city that you can still have a really nice getaway,” Elliott said, mentioning the Kensington Riverside Inn, the sister hotel to Hotel Arts. It has a stunning location and offers spa packages among numerous other offers.
“It’s a nice way to indulge a little bit while still staying close to home.”
Calgary’s close proximity to the Rocky Mountains allows easy access to incredible natural beauty.
“We’ve got a lot of fantastic campgrounds obviously within an hour or two drive from Calgary or even closer,” Elliott said. “So you really don’t need to break the bank to have a nice weekend away.”
Whether it be Grassi Lakes near Canmore, or a little farther to the gorgeous, turquoise Peyto Lake or northwest of the city to the Sundre area.
“There’s horseback riding adventures, there’s rafting,” Elliott explained. “You could take an easy hike from what’s called the Ya Ha Tinda area and there’s a beautiful waterfall there called Big Horn Falls. Again that’s a really easy hike, it only takes five or ten minutes walking along a creek-side to get to a beautiful big waterfall, so there’s all these sorts of places around the province that people don’t necessarily realize that we have and they’re totally free to go to. You’ve just got to go find them and find the time.”
So while it is true that our economy is a hindrance on many Albertans’ travel plans, by looking into some of these many offers, you can craft unique, personalized, fun trips for yourself or your family, without added financial stress and guilt.