With prices on the rise and inflation through the roof, you might doubt whether you can enjoy a summer vacation this year.
The travel industry is recovering from a rocky few years during the COVID-19 pandemic, with travel costs up about 11 per cent this year compared to last. Even so, following simple tips can save you money and help you make the most of your travel budget.
Be flexible with your vacation dates
Having a little flexibility with your travel dates is an easy way to save some money. Hotels and flights to certain destinations are more expensive over the weekend, so booking your vacation during the week can help you save a few dollars. Studies show hotel rates can be up to 15 per cent lower on Mondays than Fridays. For international trips, Tuesday is the cheapest day to check into a hotel.
Along with the day of the week, being flexible on the month of your vacation can also help to cut costs. June, July and August are peak travel months to European destinations, so you can expect travel costs to be higher.
Peak season in Mexico, the Caribbean and some parts of the southern United States is from late fall through the early spring. If you have your heart set on a European vacation, try to go in early June, late August or even early September to beat the crowds and increased prices. The same goes for the Caribbean — going in the summer can actually be cheaper than any other season since it’s the lowest time of the year for tourism in the area.
Look for destinations where the Canadian dollar is strong
To get the most bang for your buck, look for destinations with a good exchange rate for the Canadian dollar. The dollar’s value has fluctuated throughout the past decade, making some travellers a little wary of heading to expensive destinations.
Don’t worry, though. There are several destinations across the globe where you can really stretch every dollar. Consider these countries for your next trip:
While at it, consider travelling to smaller or lesser-known cities in your country of choice to see your money go further. If you dream of seeing Spain, for example, smaller cities like Seville and Toledo will allow you to see and do more on your budget than if you were to vacation in Madrid or Barcelona. As an added bonus, smaller towns and cities are not only more affordable but are usually more authentic, too.
You can see famous sites in Seville like the Cathedral and Torre del Oro, which played an important part in the city's history.
Toledo is a mecca for medieval Spanish history too, where you can dig into the cultures that inhabited this city over the centuries. These deep dives allow you a richer picture than you would get in larger, more popular cities while avoiding annoying crowds and tourist traps.
Cash in on rewards and coupons
If you’ve saved credit card points, now is the time to use them. If you don’t already have a travel rewards card, it may be a good idea to apply for one for your daily purchases. Many cards will also give you bonus points or rewards once you sign up that you can put towards your upcoming trip.
As you start fine-tuning your vacation plans, scout out deals and coupons for even more savings. Sites like Groupon, Fever, TravelZoo and CityPASS often have great deals on attractions and events in major cities across the U.S. and Canada. Scooping up these deals ahead of time will give you more wiggle room budget-wise once you’re on your trip.
Look at all-inclusives or bundled deals
Thanks to the magic of the internet, it’s now easier than ever to book your travel plans online. Several sites out there make it easy to search for and compare both flights and hotel rates, including:
Google Flights and Google Hotels
Many of the sites above also allow you to search for car rentals or bundled packages to lump all of your expenses together. These deals usually have discounted rates compared to booking each item separately, making bundling both convenient and cost-effective.
If you really want to relax and make vacation planning simple, why not shop around for all-inclusive resorts? Booking an all-inclusive takes the guesswork out of budgeting since your flights, hotels and meals are all included in the sticker price. Depending on the destination and your vacation goals, you may need to pay separately for some excursions or experiences. Even so, booking an all-inclusive is an easy way to get more value for your money.
Consider your accommodation options
The type of vacation you envision depends on the accommodations you book, so consider all options.
Rental properties like Airbnb are more expensive now than in the past due to rising demand and high cleaning fees. However, a rental property can be great for extended stays or larger groups that need more room to spread out. The overall price will decrease per person if more people pitch in and share the cost of a vacation rental. Plus, these properties usually come equipped with a kitchen you can utilize to cook a few meals throughout your trip to save even more money.
For shorter trips, a hotel might be the way to go. In recent years, rental properties and hotels have been about the same price for quick getaways after applying taxes and fees. While you won’t have the space or amenities that a rental might have, it's perfect if all you need is a place to sleep and store your belongings between adventures.
The bottom line
While prices may seem a little scary right now, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the relaxing vacation you deserve this summer. Planning your trip early and using these money-saving tips can give you the flexibility you need to design a fun and affordable getaway well within your budget. Whether you envision fun in the sun or wandering winding European streets, your perfect travel destination is within your reach.