Here is me in a nutshell, I'm an average middle aged white woman in her 40's. I've been married for 20 years and have two kids and too many animals. I'm from Idaho, and I love to travel.
I'm not your girl if..
You have to stay in fancy hotels
You have to fly first class
You want tips on shopping in another city
You require more than 2 bags when you travel
There is always a "some day" in your vocabulary
You're in the right spot if..
You are very curious
You would rather spend money on travel than things
You love to find great restaurants
You aren't afraid
What Am I Gonna do?
Location: Victoria, capital of British Columbia, sits on the southern end of Vancouver Island.
EST Population: 380K
City Size: 7.5 Miles
Median Household Income: 53K
Median Age 42.3
What's that smell? City Cleanliness and general safety
Attractions: Keep in mind there are so many things to do in Victoria. This is my list and what I had time to do! This is listed in order of great, to meh, to skip it.
Whale Watching (Great) - I'm from Idaho, so seeing a whale only happens when I"m next to the ocean (like most people). The Whale watching tours were are 120CA$, luckily for us we picked a day when most of the tourists had left and got it for 90CA$. On this trip we saw at least 10 Killer Whales and 10 Humpbacks. We went on Eagle Wing Tours Wild for Whales tour located at Fisherman's Wharf. While waiting for your boat you can check out the house boats that are very cool, it's a big tourist location but the food it pretty decent for grab and go.
Tips - Be on the last tour, they will spend more hours looking for whales because there is no other scheduled tour. Ask them what the slowest day is while you are there to get the best pricing. And if possible sit next to the captain, they will tell you all the facts about the whales and island.
Bus Tour (Skip it)
Food, Food, and More Food ~ The Skinny
Cleanliness: This city is a very clean city,like every city it has it's moments of dirtiness but for the most part it is remarkably clean.
Safety- I could bore you to death with stats but you can easily look up the crime statistics. We walked this entire area the whole time we were there (at all hours.) I never felt scared or even uncomfortable.
Tips - At the time of this posting, there was no ride share options (UBER.) Rent bikes to get around downtown.
Overall : This city has an amazing assortment of restaurant options, most of them will be clustered downtown.
Places we ate at:
Naru Korean Restaurant- Just like the name indicates, this is a Korean Restaurant. Highly recommend the calamari. Very clean, modern look. If you are expecting a view, you'll be disappointed, but the food is worth it.
Flying Otter - (Seafood) located on the Warf. I had to look this restaurant up because I couldn't remember it. Overall the seating is dangerously close to a fire hazard and the food is mediocre.
Heron Rock Bistro - (Brunch) located off Simcoe street. We discovered this restaurant while riding bikes to a grocery store. It is tucked in a shopping district so definitely get directions. Really fantastic breakfast options, a must. They also have poutine (a Canadian dish).
Sushi Time Express- (Japanese) located downtown. There is nothing exceptional or special about this food, it's the owners. They are literally the nicest people we met in Canada. Stop in and say, "hi" and help this local business out.
Puerto Vallarta Amigos (Mexican Fast Casual) located on Fisherman's Wharf. Nothing exceptional about this food, it's the location. Located on Fisherman's Wharf with all the floating tiny homes, a must see.
The Drake - (Tapas/ Pub) located near Chinatown. This was an interesting restaurant, it's a market square and if you don't pay attention, you'll miss it. You order and sit down, really great food for the money, I don't drink beer but it appeared to be "the spot" to be if you are a beer drinker.
Nautical Nelly- (Seafood Cafe) located downtown. This was the first restaurant we went to on our trip, and it didn't disappoint. I looked up what everyone was suggesting and ordered it. I rarely want to go to a restaurant 2x on vacation because I like to explore but I would've have with this one.
Tips - I know Yelp has had their issues (or perceived issues) in the past, but I rely on them heavily for recommendations in a city. Do a sort in the app that is "most reviewed" to get the most reliable reviews.
The great -Naru Korean, The Drake, Heron Rock & Nautical Nelly
The mediocre- Sushi Time
Skip it - You can skip these restaurant but not the location - Flying Otter, Puerto and Vallarta Amigos. These are tourist trap restaurants.
But I'm broke, now what? Sarah's tips and tricks to travel..
Overall : Set yourself up with a goal or mindset you're going to travel. When you look the the opportunity, it will present itself.
1. Break up the expense of the trip - Buy your package, cruise, hotel room etc first and commit to the date. Then pay for your airline tickets months later. By the time the trip comes you will just have your day to day expense, this doesn't make it so overwhelming. Give yourself them mindset that you would rather have experiences than things, and stop buying crap you don't need. You can save a lot, when you start thinking this way.
2- Check Groupon for vacation deals, I personally haven't bought a package on the site but have many friends that have, with no issues.
3. - Search directly for flights on google. It will ask you if you want to save the search, do this because it will send you notifications when prices drop. Southwest isn't on this, but if prices are dropping for the major airlines, than it's likely it's dropping with them too.
4. - Buy Sun thru Tues, I'm not sure if this is a old wives tale, but it proven to be right for me. The flights prices tend to drop during these days.
5- - Fly on Tuesday, it's almost always cheaper.
6. - Travel during off season, you can get some amazing deals.
7. - Rent an Airbnb, they are always cheaper than a hotel and you can find one with a kitchen.
8. - Get a place with a kitchen and do a percentage of your meals the good ole fashioned way, cook at your vacation home.
9. - Buy excursions in advance, this isn't a saving tip, it's a tip to get the best experience. Check with Trip Advisor for some places to go. I personally will never buy the cruise ships excursions again. I do search for locally ran/ owned businesses if there is an option and if they have good ratings, give them my business. This has always been our best experiences. With the cruise ship excursions we end up stuck in tourist trap hell.
10. - Have your wait staff order for you. Ask them to pick your meals, and tell them to surprise you. Tell them you are from out of town and want them to order you what best represents their restaurant. This is the best when the staff is really into it. We have had some of our best meals and service doing this.
11. - Rent a bike to see the city, it's good exercise and you can cover a lot of ground.
12. - Take the bus tours first thing, they will give you a snap shot of the city, you will then know where you want to go back to explore.
13. - If you have to buy a gift for someone, ask yourself do they really want it? For example, did you really want all those shot glasses from your Aunt? If this is a must, try to go to a small business and buy something unique to the place you're visiting.