I spent much of the past year planning and saving for a European holiday I took this month. So when I landed in Germany and then made my way through Spain and Portugal, I was startled to find certain things much cheaper than back home — bringing this year’s inflation and our tipping culture into sharp relief.
These things may not be cheaper for residents of the countries I visited, given that salaries are often lower than they are in Canada. We’re also not alone in dealing with sky-high inflation post-COVID-19. In fact, inflation rates for certain items are higher in some European countries than in Canada.
But if you plan on travelling in Europe anytime soon, here are some items that will be delightfully easier on the wallet than they are at home.
Skyrocketing grocery prices have drawn ire from Canadians over the last year, making shopping for groceries in many European cities feel like a bargain. The haul above shows groceries for one person that cost C$35 (€24) in Berlin.
In Spain, we bought a weekend’s worth of food for six people, plus alcohol, for only C$160 (€110). Home-cooked meals just became even more appealing.
Wine and beer
This one may be old news, but I think it’s still worth including because of how big the difference is. Wine and beer are much cheaper across the Atlantic than in Canada, whether buying from the store or ordering a glass at a restaurant.
We saw bottles of wine for as low as $3.60 (€2.50) in Spanish and Portuguese grocery stores, and ordering a glass of wine during a meal out rarely cost us more than $4.30 (€3). The best part? In certain places in Spain, ordering a beverage comes with a tapa (snack) included.
This one was the thing that most pleasantly surprised me during our travels. Of course, you can always run up a sizeable tab at a fancy restaurant. The majority of our meals at middle-of-the-line places cost less than what we’d pay in Canada for something similar.
I paid $10 (€7) for a particularly delicious Doner in Berlin and haven’t seen shawarma for less than $14 in Vancouver for years. And in Seville, I ate the best hamburger of my life (with melted cheese drizzled over the bun) for $10.75 (€7.5).
What also helped is having tax included in menu prices and tipping culture not being as strong — 10% was considered fine where we went.
I cried a little inside when I purchased a bus ticket from Lagoa, Portugal, to Lisbon for $11.50 (€8). Nearly four hours on a coach bus, crossing the country, for just over 10 bucks. Another bus ticket crossing the border into Portugal from Seville only cost a little more — $18.70 (€13).
How much does it cost to go three to four hours outside Vancouver by bus? Let’s check. A bus to Whistler costs between $30 and $35 one-way, Seattle costs just over $30 too, and a bus ticket to wine country in Kelowna sets you back $81.
And that’s only if bus service exists to the community you want to get to. Canada is notoriously underserved by inter-city transport options, with major player Greyhound pulling out of Canada in 2021 after 90 years of operation.
What items have you found to be surprisingly cheaper or more expensive while travelling? What things would you most like to see the price reduced on in Canada? Let us know in the comments.