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Staycations: the cheap travel solution

by Marissa Miller August 30, 2011

Why deal with angry security guards at customs, the fear of flying, jetlag and annoying exchange rates, when you can plan the perfect staycation right here in Montreal?
The term “staycation” was initially coined by comedian Brent Butt in an episode of Corner Gas when he wanted to spend his free time in a more wallet-friendly way. Ever since, families have been planning their own ‘staycation’ to avoid the financial burdens associated with North America’s recent economic downturn.
Lucky for us, our lovely city of Montreal is your one stop shop for sweet times and sweet treats, so whip out your Opus card and adventurous spirit and get ready to never purchase a plane ticket again.

Horse and Buggy Rides
When the clock strikes twelve, you’re missing your glass flip flop, or you’re looking for something to do, Old Montreal’s Horse and Buggy service is your new best chauffeur. Located along the Saint Laurent River, it is a five-minute walk from downtown. Pull a Will and Kate and wave your hands regally at envious passersby, as your tour guide pulls you along the Old Port’s cobblestone roads. The tour accommodates three to five people.

$48 for 30 minutes
$80 for 60 minutes


  • Notre-Dame Street, near Place Jacques-Cartier;
  • De la Commune Street, near Place Jacques-Cartier;
  • Place D’Youville, near the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

Parc Jean-Drapeau
The Caribbean and Montreal have a lot more in common than you may think. Grab summer by the waves and hit up Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal’s famous manmade beach. While your scaredy-cat friends play beach volleyball by the shore, pick up a surfboard and put your legs and abs to work. Or you could always convince them to join you since the buddy system is a safe move. This touristy gem, located minutes away from downtown Montreal, provides you with boatloads of activities to choose from: canoeing, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, swimming, Segway riding, rollerblading, cycling and tanning.
Certain activities are reasonably-priced while others are completely free, so call in advance for details.


Location: 1 Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montréal 514-872-6120
Jean-Drapeau metro station

The Tam Tams:
Hippies unite! If you haven’t spent a Sunday morning lazing on a giant blanket at Mont-Royal Park yet, well, you don’t know how to ‘staycate.’ Con your friends into neglecting all their responsibilities with you as you convene in an energy circle telling “trippy” stories as you lick melted ice cream off your fingers. Or join in on the bongo music and dancing crowd or laugh or cry hysterically watching medieval swordfighters challenge each other to a battle. The tams has one of those vibes where you have to be there to believe it, so you should take advantage of it before the end of September rolls around. Bring some cash in case you decide to scope out the neat vendors that sell jewellery, skirts, artwork, hacky sacks and paraphernalia, and pack extra snacks for those munchies, if you know what I mean.

Mont-Royal Metro

The Botanical Gardens
Everyone has an inner nerd, and it’s okay to be one on the weekends, too. As autumn’s afternoon temperatures begin to fall like crunchy rust-coloured leaves, there’s no place better to go than the Botanical Gardens. The Garden offers tours for the Insectarium lasting 30 minutes to an hour, outdoor gardens tours lasting an hour to four hours, and hour-long greenhouse tours. The Botanical Gardens is a great place to go on a date. It doesn’t feel like a typical grade 5 field trip, and it could be quite the mentally engaging experience, too.

4101 Sherbrooke St. E. 514-872-1400
Pie IX metro station  Open: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets: $14

There’s something character-building about ditching your bed for a sleeping bag and gazing up at the stars instead of your computer screen for the night. Get your buff friends to help pitch a giant tent in your very own backyard before your breath on a summer’s night turns to frost. Achieve that “vacation” feel by lighting candles (the citronella kind that chase away mosquitoes), playing guitar, sipping on wine, and pretending to get attacked by a giant bear. This is the type of camping where you don’t lose cellphone reception, get homesick or have to use sketchy outhouses and communal showers. Just remember to be courteous to the neighbours and keep the loud Beatles chanting to a minimum.

And there you have it. Five reasons to never leave Montreal. Send us postcards!

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