Frugal Last Minute Travel for a Funeral

My uncle past away last week and I had to make last minute plans to go to his funeral in Quebec City. It could have been an expensive trip, however I had the pleasure of having 3 cost savings opportunities.

picture of a peaceful place to sit watching the sun set after attending a funeral

A peaceful place at the cemetery to reflect upon a loved one’s passing

When you think of last minute travel, you probably think of a cheap deal down South. But my most recent last minute travel was to Quebec city to attend a funeral. Making last minute travel arrangements to Quebec city during high season and during the New France festival is not cheap and not easy.


The bargain girl that I am, I always try to be cost efficient when I travel. However because of the short notice and time constraints, I had to accept the fact that this trip might cost me an arm & a leg.

picture of a crowded street in Quebec during high season

Quebec city buzzing during high season

Quebec city is such a lovely city – one of my favorite cities to visit! So much to see & do and so charming. Nearly 4.7 million tourists from all over the world visit the “Little Paris in Canada”. My good friend enjoys the pleasure of living in the heart of Old Quebec, running a bed & breakfast. Thanks to Facebook, we kept in touch over the years but because life gets so busy, I wasn’t planning on going to visit for another few years. Luckily, this funeral created the opportunity to see each other again.


Planning Transportation between Ottawa and Quebec


I had to figure out how and when to travel to Quebec: stay 1 night or 2? Take a car, a train, a plane? It all had to make sense and wanted it to be stress-free. Looking at the option of driving, I would have to count about 7 hours, and the wear & tear on the vehicle, fuel and the exhaustion from such a long drive wasn’t appealing. Next option: flying – so much more time efficient, however not cost efficient at all. Intra-Canada flights are ridiculously expensive; I just couldn’t do it. So the other option was to take the train: the schedule was decent, and the direct route offered just a 6 hour journey – and awesome summer special rates to boot. Perfect! – the train it was!! Yes!! – cost savings #1.


Planning Accommodation in Quebec


With approximately 748 hotel establishments as well as the Airbnb option, finding a place to stay was quite the feat. Staying 2 nights would be expensive. It was high season and the New France festival was on the same weekend, so availability was scarce. Even if there was availability, the rates were sky rocket high. The highest rate in the heart of Old Quebec was $800 per night. Ridiculous! – that was equivalent to a trip down South. I just couldn’t do it. Even Airbnb options in a decent location would cost me $200 per night. So I thought of my dear friend who owns a bed & breakfast and she had a room available but only for the 2nd night. I don’t like to impose so I didn’t want to ask whether I could just crash at her place: 1) because I didn’t want to trouble her as her place is tiny & crammed and 2) because I haven’t seen her on 100 years. But before you knew it, she offered that I stay with her. It was great – we had fun catching up and I saved by not have to spend a penny on a room. Yes!! – cost savings #2.


Planning Transportation to the cemetery


I had to find a way to get to from Old Quebec to the cemetery, located 10 minutes from the airport. First I looked it to renting a car and most car rental places were sold out or would have cost me $120 for one day. Then I looked in taking a taxi: most offered a flat rate of $35 to the airport but still would have to make my way from there to the cemetery, so round-trip would have cost me about $80. Then before I knew it, without asking (you know how I hate to impose on others), my sweet friend offered to drive me there and come pick me up. Yes!! – cost savings #3.
So turns out going to this funeral wasn’t too damaging on the ol’ wallet afterall. And bonus: I got to catch up with my friend. Do you think I should have skipped all the research on travel arrangements and just imposed, that is to simply have asked my friend whether I could crash at her place and drive me to & from the cemetery? Or do you think I should have taken advantage of this trip and treated myself to a fancy $800 per night hotel, and flew to keep the journey short & sweet?


One thought on “Frugal Last Minute Travel for a Funeral

  1. Sorry to hear about your loss, but glad to hear that you were able to make it for his funeral.

    Travel savings tips are always appreciated. My wife likes to be on a plane at least once a year, but we’ve been discussing doing a train trip at some point in the next few years and we’ll definitely keep our eyes open for a deal like the one you mentioned.

    We have had some great luck using apps like hotwire on our various travels. We usually book 3/4 of the trip, then leave a section open to go where the wind takes us and have lucked into some great deals, getting rooms for 1/2 or less of their usual rate. Sometimes it means staying at places we normally would for much less than we’d usually pay, or for a few nights in Huntington Beach a few years ago, staying at a much swankier place than we normally would for a similar price to what we had paid for our accommodations during the rest of the trip.

    Another good feature we’ve found in some cities is combining public transit with the Car To Go type services. In Seattle we were able to take their rail train from the airport to the downtown area then pay to use a vehicle for just the areas we needed to drive. The hotel we stayed at even had bicycles we could use for getting around if we didn’t need to be taking much with us.

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