COLUMN: Vacation spending priorities are strange

When I read the results of online and/or telephone surveys, my first question is always, “Who are the people being surveyed?”

When I read the results of online and/or telephone surveys, my first question is always, “Who are the people being surveyed?” because I so often find the answers unbelievable.

For example, in the dailies yesterday was a travel survey which, among other things, stated (and I use that term loosely) that 22 per cent of British Columbians would spend less than $100 on a vacation this summer.

The survey also concluded that 48 per cent of B.C. residents would travel within the province. Good for the local economy, and good that people want to explore this vast and fantastic province.

Admirable as it is to be budget conscious, how do you do get to see much of B.C. on $100? A few weeks ago I burned that much in fuel, in my little Jeep, just to and from a lake near Merritt.

A trip to the vast backcountry in the northern Cariboo consumes as much fuel as it would cost for a cheap flight to England. Fortunately, once I finally get to where I’m going, the tent accommodations are relatively free, and coffee off a camp stove beats the price of any bistro.

Then again there is the price of booze, that seems to factor high in the plans of any Canadian traveller. Despite many only expecting to spend $100 on transportation, they are willing to spend up to $300 on alcohol yet unwilling to spend more than $200 on food.

Must be packing big picnic baskets with them, the contents of which are presumably washed down with generous quantities of their beverage of choice.

Not to quibble, but unless you are planning to spend a long time in a campsite – where else are you going to go for a hundred dollars? – that seems to be a rather excessive amount to spend on booze, while eating hotdogs around a campfire.

To be honest, my various forays into the forest generally involve adequate supplies of the canned, bottled and boxed varieties of my favourite libations. Yet even with a fellow consumer along to share the liquid load after a day of fishing, our 10-day consumption doesn’t come close to the cost suggested above.

Which brings me back to the people being surveyed, and the questions posed to them to come up with the conclusions.

Since it was an online survey, and not a random sample that supposedly is used with phone polls, it may be that some of those providing opinions are fudging their answers, or laughingly pulling the leg of the pollster.

Then again, the alleged accuracy of random sample phone polling has proven rather questionable, if one is to use the results of the last provincial election as an example.

However, it is encouraging that almost half of British Columbian vacationers, regardless of their economic position, intend to do their travelling within the province.

If it isn’t a vacation of a lifetime, why go to Europe or the U.S. when B.C. has such an incredibly diverse environment to discover, from deserts to spectacular mountain peaks, wildlife in abundance and the “hard to find anywhere else” tranquility of a remote lake.

I will admit the gorgeous drive along the Oregon coast, or exploring miles of wild ocean beaches on the western shores of Washington, are not something to be missed either.

Yet, for my time and my dollar, I can’t think of any better place to spend a holiday, regardless of the season, than British Columbia.