Friday, May 27, 2016

Azores/Madeira Trip Budget.....the breakdown

Because I keep track of things like this in a spreadsheet (yes, I'm a nerd.  I'm good with it), I thought I'd share some details of our trip budget.  Overall, I found the Azores and Madeira to be relatively affordable destinations - cheaper than most parts of mainland Europe, but more expensive than places like Thailand.

Insane views like this, near Pico do Arieiro were SO worth it

I wouldn't call us budget travellers, but we don't like to go crazy on trips either.  Here are a few of the general principles we follow when we travel, to give us an idea of whether our budget would be similar to yours:

- Hotels - I generally aim for 3* hotels, and try to keep to an average budget of $100CAD/night.  AirBnB has made this easier to do for sure.  My criteria is that the location is reasonable, reviews are okay, and that I have my own private bathroom.  If you can hostel it, or don't mind sharing bathrooms/accommodation, you could easily spend less in this category.  For AirBnB, I will only rent entire home/apartment - I won't rent a room in someone's house because I'm all introverted/antisocial like that.

- Food - We mixed it up for food - the hiking days, we brought ham and cheese sandwiches with us (rendering the 2 euro jar of dijon mustard one of the best investments of the trip), and we get snacks/wine at local supermarkets.  If breakfast wasn't included, we'd visit a cafe/bakery and eat like kings for about 7-8 euros.  We did cook in one night in Funchal, and we would often have a hearty breakfast and skip lunch.  Most dinners clocked in around 50 euros ($75 dollars), which included cocktails, wine, mains and often either appetizers or desserts.

- Transportation (excluding flights) - we used taxis and walking to get around.  It would have been cheaper to rent a car, and if we ever go back to the Azores, we might consider it.  Frankly, I think driving in Madeira would be terrifying - the streets are very steep, extremely narrow, and I think the extra money spent sitting in taxis was worth it.  That said, taxis are fairly reasonable there - by far our most expensive taxi ride was the $80 jaunt home from the airport here in Ottawa.  Otherwise, we topped out at 25 euros ($40) on the longest cab ride we took.  We had many rides around the 10 euro mark and often got great local advice from the cabbies.

- Attractions - if it's interesting, we do it.  If there is a cable car and I want to ride it, I'll do it.  My philosophy here is that I don't travel very often, so if there is something interesting and I don't find the price completely insane, I'll fork over the money to do it.

- Flights - we flew with SATA, which is a relatively low-cost airline and we were super satisfied.  We had one delayed flight, and admittedly the legroom is not amazing (and there is no inflight entertainment), but the service was decent, and they give you both food and wine on the intercontinental flights, which goes a long way toward making me a happy customer.  I'd fly SATA again, especially because it's the only option that doesn't involve first flying to mainland Europe!

The Sete Cidades hike on Sao Miguel was one of my favourite moments of the trip

So with no further ado, here are the totals - this is all in Canadian dollars, as it was billed to our credit cards, and includes conversion fees.  The cost includes all food, all wine, all taxis, hotels, tours, admission fees, tips, and incidental expenses.  It doesn't include souvenirs or wine brought back to Canada.

Flights - $2133.56 (including the flights to Pico and to Madeira, as well as the Ottawa - Ponta Delgada flight)

Accommodation - $1708.30 (two AirBnBs, four hotels, for a total of 15 nights)

Food/Meals - $934.88 (includes any restaurant meals paid for via credit card, supermarket expenses; does not include small meals paid for in cash)

Taxi/Excursion/Cash Meals/Admissions/etc. - $1642.11 - this includes anything we spent not included in the above categories

Total budget - $6418.85 CAD for a 17 day vacation for two people.

Not pocket change, but not complete insanity either.  For context, our trip five years ago cost almost exactly $8000 for the same length of vacation.

Now I just need to get better at saving/budgeting so I can afford a trip like this more often - and maybe even bring the kids next time.  :)


  1. Thanks for posting a breakdown of your budget. I was actually really curious as this looks like a trip we would take too.

  2. This was a great blog and so informative. Thanks for sharing. Happy and safe future travels