Cheap and local trips for a budget-friendly getaway

Image by Darien Funk

If there’s anything I’ve learned as a student, it’s how to save money where I can.

At the same time though, there’s no reason not to make every effort to have fun and enjoy yourself even when you’re living frugally.

With the combination of reading week and slightly warmer weather (we’re in the positives now), I couldn’t help but think of how the semester is already half  way over and summer is basically around the corner. Basically.

Even though you might not be able to afford a two-week tropical vacation, there’s plenty of cheap and local vacation spots that are worth making the trip to this summer. Start planning your trip now because if you’re interested in satisfying your travel-bug on a budget, this list has got you covered.

Port Dover

A trip from Waterloo to Port Dover clocks in at just under an hour and twenty minute drive and is basically the closest thing you’ll get to a tropical vacation in Ontario. Port Dover is a community that is known for its cottage culture and beach scene. The beach has authentic palm trees, cute shops and restaurants and lots of local attractions. It’s a pretty quaint area, but the beaches see a lot of young adults during the summer months. This location is perfect for day-tripping, but if you want to extend your stay, there are plenty of rentable cottages in the area.

Prince Edward County

This is a lengthier trip at just under a three-hour drive, but Prince Edward County is worth the trek. Prince Edward County has a lot of local history with its 19th century buildings, historic museums and even an Edwardian Opera House. There’s plenty to do, like going swimming at the provincial park, taking a ferry across the lake, stopping by a lavender farm or visiting some wineries. While it’s not the cheapest place to visit on this list, it’s definitely worth looking into if you’re looking for a trip that is both scenic and culturally enriched.

Turkey Point

This is probably the best budget friendly place to visit, especially if you’re an outdoorsy person. Located in the Lake Erie area, Turkey Point is only an hour and a half away from Waterloo and is the perfect trip for those who are into hiking, cycling, ziplining and all things active. Since it’s on a lake there’s lots of swimming opportunities, and when you’re tuckered out from being active all day you can rent out a campsite, pitch a tent and get cozy — like I said, super budget-friendly.

Wasaga Beach

At just about a two hour drive from Waterloo, Wasaga Beach is a good spot to travel to if you’re looking for something fun to do. Located in Georgian Bay, you can visit the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, check out one of the many canoe routes or get a better view of the Niagara Escarpment. And obviously, since it’s a beach, you can do some swimming and tanning too.


Although unsuspecting, Peterborough makes a pretty good spot to do some local sight-seeing. Waterloo to Peterborough is just over a 2 hour drive, and features attractions like the Petroglyphs Provincial Park, where you can learn about Indigenous culture and murals, and the Crown Game Reserve where you can see some wildlife that you can’t see in Waterloo. You can go spelunking and hiking in Peterborough too, or maybe stop by Trent University and check out the campus.

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