For us, summer is the worst time to travel. It’s expensive, it’s crowded, and families take advantage of this time to go somewhere with their kids before school starts in September. Ever since we retired, our adventures are less about travelling like the masses for vacation and more about exploring a place’s culture and living like the locals. That’s why we tend to come back to Toronto to visit family for the summer. The weather is actually nice here, and we can avoid competing with vacationers for rentals and services abroad.
This year, however, we’re going to break that rule. Since we haven’t travelled much for all of last year due to pandemic lockdowns, we are desperate to go back to our nomadic life. However, since borders are still (mostly) closed, travel will continue to be in “hard mode”, so we have to be more intentional about where we want to go.
The good news is we finally got vaccinated! And now that 14 days have passed since our 2nd doses, we’re free to roam again. July and Sept are currently reserved for family but we’re thinking of going somewhere in August.
The big question is: Where?
Should we continue exploring our own backyard now that the Atlantic provinces are opening to Canadians?
Go see our American friends in the good ol’ US of A? Denver, Boulder, and Longmont all have an abundance of Chautauquans we can visit.
Or should we go farther? Maybe to Azores or Madeira, Portugal, both known as the Hawaii of Europe?
What do you think? Can you help us figure out where to go?
In true engineering fashion, we started making a list of pros and cons for each option (yes I know. We’re extremely fun at parties):
Of all the Canadian Atlantic provinces, this is at the top of my list because one of our readers offered to show us around! Travelling the world, we discovered the best experiences are always with local Airbnb hosts or readers who gave us the inside scoop on their little corner of the world. This is how you find out about the off-the-beaten path gems that none of the travel blogs or books know about.
Plus, Prince Edward Island is known for its Malpeque oysters, which were judged by the 1900 Paris exhibition as the world’s tastiest oyster. Yum!
There are 2 things that excite me the most about Newfoundland.
Dubbed as “the most Irish place outside of Ireland”, with dramatic coastlines and friendly people, Newfoundland brings back many fond memories of our 2015 trip around the world. I started reminiscing about the craggy coast of Howth and the happy-go-lucky attitude of the Dubliners. I wonder if the Newfoundlanders will be up for some “craic”?
Oh, and did you know we have Fjords in Canada? I did not. Having missed out on the Fjords in Norway because we had to cut our trip short to record my audiobook in the UK back in 2019 (champagne problems, right?), this is my chance to make up for it.
Located in Gros Morne National park, here’s where we can get a little taste of Norway without having to leave the continent:
With a population of 400 000, Halifax, Nova Scotia is basically the only city in the Atlantic provinces with enough amenities to give you that “big city” feel while still retaining its small-town closeness. It also has 5 universities, which is great since we love university/college towns.
With its much lower cost of living compared to Toronto and Vancouver, it was the fastest growing city in Canada in 2020, so I’m curious to see whether it’s worth all the hype.
I know very little about New Brunswick, other than the fact that it’s one of the Atlantic provinces, it’s bilingual and largest by land mass. If anyone’s from there, please educate me about your home in the comments.
There are many beautiful places I could visit in the States (Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite, Hawaii, Grand Canyon, etc.) but just like Canada, I prefer to save those places for when we’re older and can’t travel internationally. The main reason I’d want to go to the States is to visit our friends.
And since our best friends, Katie and Alan, are planning to be in Longmont, Colorado (aka Mr. Money Mustache headquarters) in August, we want to take a special trip there to meet up with them! We also have friends in Denver and Boulder, so this makes it the perfect trip to combine a bunch of meetups all into one.
The biggest downside to being in the States is obviously the cost, and looking at Airbnbs in Longmont, Boulder, Denver areas, it costs around $150+ USD/night, which is annoyingly more than I paid in Stockholm! Compared to other places on our list, like Portugal, which is only $1000-$1400 for a whole month (or $30/night) with way better views and transportation at 1/5 of the cost, Colorado is not my idea of money well spent.
If you have ideas for good places to stay in the Longmont, Boulder, or Denver area in Colorado, please let us know in the comments below!
I’ve been dreaming about going to the Azores for the past 2 years. Somehow the schedule just never worked out. We even nearly booked an Airbnb there last winter with our friends, but sadly Canada got added to the “no go” list and we were banned from entering Portugal.
With a short direct 5-hour flight from Toronto, hot springs, breathtaking hikes, Azores is the perfect place to hide out from the harsh Canadian winter.
The only thing that’s making me pause is that even though, normally, Azores has great value (in January we found a 4-bedroom Airbnb with great walking score for only $2600 USD / month), in August the price has spiked to become even more expensive than Toronto, probably due to all the vacationers revenge travelling.
This makes me think the best time to go is probably winter and not during the hectic summer season.
Luckily, I found an alternative to Azores. Madeira, off the west coast of Africa, is a longer flight (around 7+ hours, since you need to connect in Lisbon) away, but much better value than Azores. This has not historically been the case, since Madeira is more touristy and well known, but the connecting flight during COVID seems to have deterred enough vacationers that the price is now less than half that of Azores. It could also be because it’s a bigger town so there are more options for Airbnbs.
I was able to find this incredible 2 bedroom with amazing views for only $1000 USD/month. This means we can also have a friend come stay with us for free!
Madeira doesn’t have as many hot springs as Azores, but it makes up for it with incredible views like this:
It’s also possible to get around via public transportation, which means we won’t have to rent a car.
|Atlantic Provinces||– friendliest people in Canada|
– remote and rugged nature
– weather is crappy in winter so summer is the best (and only) time to go
– fresh seafood
– convenient: no need for additional health insurance, no need to worry about borders closing
|– not as exciting as international travel|
– lack of public transportation
– only 3 hour flight
– Rocky Mountain National park
– lack of public transportation
– need to buy health insurance
|Portuguese Islands||– best beauty-to-value ratio|
– incredible views
– nature and architecture that’s very different from what we see in North America
– public transportation available
|– more risky because borders could close again due to covid variants.|
– PCR tests required while on island
– need to buy health insurance (though way less expensive than U.S)
What do you think?
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