Workshops! Dance camps! Exchanges! Competitions!

Travelling for dance can be a great way to meet new people, accelerate your learning, and improve your dancing.

It can also be expensive. Registration fees, transportation, accommodations, and food can add up fast. Here are some useful tips to help you get out of town without breaking the bank.


1. Stay Closer to Home…

If you live in a city that’s fairly close to other swing dance scenes, you can reap all the benefits of traveling for dance without having to go very far. From Toronto it’s not far to Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston, Waterloo, Hamilton, Buffalo, or Rochester. You won’t have to spend as much on transportation and if you’re going somewhere close to home you might not have to stay over for more than one night, if at all, saving you money on accommodations when free options aren’t available.

…But if You Can’t

If you don’t live anywhere near another swing dance scene or if you want to attend special events that are not close to home, there are still ways to save a few dollars. It takes a lot of work to run an event and organizers are sometimes willing to let people trade volunteer work for discounts, free classes, or even full registration. Contact the organizers well in advance.


2. Avoid Air-Travel…

Flying is so much faster than ground travel, but you’ll pay a premium for the convenience. If you’ve got the flexibility in your schedule, take your time getting to and from events. Rent a car and split the cost with several other dancers or, even better, find someone who owns a car and have everyone chip in for gas. Megabus is another great option if you can be flexible about your departure times, and if you book your seats early enough the tickets can be extremely cheap.

…But if You Can’t

If you’re travelling a long distance, maybe overseas, or if you just don’t have enough time to spend hours and hours getting to your destination then you might have to fly. Just be sure to get the best price you can. Some airlines offer great discounts at certain times of the year. Get to know when these sales happen so you’re ready to take advantage.

Also, these days a lot of carriers charge a fee for checked baggage so if you can avoid checking any bags and travel with only carry-on luggage you’ll probably save yourself about $50.

3. Couchsurf For Free!…

The more you travel, the more you’ll get to know people in other cities, the more options you may have for places to stay. Ask around to see if your friends have a spare bed, a couch, or some floor space where you can crash. Let’s be honest, how much time are you really going to spend sleeping anyway? Some events even have a billeting coordinator to match up out of town guests with locals who have space to spare. Get in touch with the organizers!

…But if You Can’t

If staying with locals for free isn’t an option there are other ways to save. Get a group together and share a rental through AirBnB. You’ll likely pay less than hotel rates and you’ll have access to a kitchen so you can save money on food too. Bonus!

No AirBnB where you’re going? If you have to stay in a hotel, share the cost with as many people as you’re comfortable fitting in one room. If you’re not going with a group, see if there are others who are looking to fill a spot in their room, or who would be willing to let you chip in to sleep on a cot or the floor.


4. Avoid Restaurants as Much as Possible…

When you’re traveling it can be hard not to spend all your cash on eating out but if you can minimize restaurant meals you can maximise savings.

Start by bringing some of your own food from home. Foods that travel well and can give you a much-needed energy boost are best: granola bars, peanut butter, fresh and/or dry fruit, crackers, nuts, etc. Just be careful about restrictions if you’re crossing international borders; there are some foods you are not allowed to bring to the US from Canada, like citrus fruits and Kinder Eggs. Check before you pack to avoid delays at border security.

If you’re staying with friends or at an AirBnB you can save by making meals at your home-away-from-home. Find the nearest grocery store and make pasta, rice and beans, or a stir-fry. Even if you’re staying in a hotel, you can get a few things eat in the morning to avoid pricey restaurant breakfasts: pick up fruit, Wasa crackers, and nut butter.

…But if You Can’t

If there’s no grocery store in sight or you really just want to eat out once or twice while you’re there, try to find a “food buddy”:  someone who has similar tastes, and dietary restrictions if that’s your situation, who’s willing to split an entree with you. Restaurant portions are often huge so why not share the food and the cost?


Travelling out of town for dance doesn’t have to mean going broke. With a little planning and care you can master the art of traveling on a dance-shoestring budget!

Heather O’Shea
The Buzz Blogger