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The Continental Cost Guide

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Assuming you’re an avid reader of our weekly Travel Guides (and who isn’t), you may have noticed we started putting in a ‘cost rating’ near the bottom. On a scale of $ (cheapest) to $$$$ (most expensive), you can now rank countries in much the same way you choose where to eat.

As we go back through our previous adventures and add in ratings, we wanted to take a bit of time and explain exactly what you should expect from a ‘$$’ country versus a ‘$$$’, and so on and so forth. While prices are sure to fluctuate, we hope this will help you roughly gauge how much money you should bring on your next getaway!


Note: Cost ratings do not include flights; they are intended to represent expenses while abroad. Ratings are also NOT based on numbered ranges. Instead, they factor in likely expenses and costs of popular excursions/tourist activities. All prices are approximations in Canadian dollars and fluctuate with the exchange rate.


The Bargains ($)

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These are the countries that, for whatever reason, require very little cash on hand. Whether it’s due to a low-value currency or just a generally cheap cost of living, you can stretch your dollar (Canadian that is) pretty far. Since accommodation and food (fairly important things when travelling) are usually some of the main expenses, you can rest assured that both should be pretty low.

Some countries with a ‘$’ rating include Paraguay (which features the weakest currency in the Americas) and Vietnam, averaging out to about $69 and $50 a day respectively. Of course, you can turn most countries into a ‘$’ destination by living frugally (for example: sacrificing eating out for bologna and bread), but these are the places that already start out affordable.

Still Not Breaking the Bank ($$)

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Countries that fall into this category generally require a bit more cash on hand to travel comfortably. Though we don’t like to set hard price limits, generally speaking a ‘$$’ country will demand less than $100 Canadian a day on a mid-range budget.

Eastern and parts of Central Europe are full of these countries, with daily expenses usually coming out slightly less than their Western counterparts. For example, you can visit Poland for just $83 a day or the Czech Republic for about $98/day.

About on Par ($$$)

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Many of the most popular destinations around the globe fall into this category. Here, your purchasing power will be largely similar to Canada (or thereabouts) – although as always, there will be some differences.

Much of Western Europe (such as England or France), including most of the countries on the euro fall into this category, as does the United States. Keep in mind that many of the currencies you’ll be using (the euro, pound, or US dollar) are valued more highly than ours, so expect this to add to the cost.

Bring the Checkbook ($$$$)

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Whether it’s hard to navigate, luxurious and exclusive, or just flat out expensive – there are some countries out there that really test the limits of how much you’re willing to spend. In many cases though, these are once in a lifetime destinations that are worth it in the long run.

Barbados may be beautiful and highly developed, but that means you’re going to have to pay a premium to visit. Countries where the marquee city or destination (like Copenhagen in Denmark) is considered extremely expensive are also likely to get a ‘$$$$’ rating. That being said, there are always ways to keep costs down – so don’t rule these countries out without a closer look!

More What You’d Call “Guidelines” Than Actual Rules

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Keep in mind these are just guidelines, and our ratings don’t necessarily equal a set cost. An ‘average’ day in the US might be $260, but we rate it at ‘$$$’ instead of ‘$$$$’ because many of us know from experience that you can save on essentials (even compared to Canada). Likewise, an ‘average’ day in Botswana may be just $79 but to take advantage of safaris or other similar excursions (the main reason to visit), you’re going to have to pay significantly more – resulting in a ‘$$$$’ rating.

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what to expect, we hope you’ll take a peek through our Guides and find a destination that works for you!


Note: Cost ratings are still being added to older Travel Guides. We still include average prices but bear with us as we continue to implement the ‘$-$$$$’ system.

Find all our Travel Guides (with a new one each week) right HERE.

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