5 tips to help you save money on travel
Like many Canadians, you may be longing for a much overdue getaway. Whether you want to jump on a plane and visit a different continent or hop in the car for a weekend road trip, having a change of scenery is not only a welcome alternative to being confined mostly at home for the past 17 months, but being able to travel again is a sign that think are slowly getting back to normal. With restrictions easing up throughout Canada, it’s time to think about dusting off your suitcase and start planning that much needed escape!
It can be tempting to book the first flight or hotel you see but taking some time upfront to do a bit of research and planning can help keep you on track with the budget you set for your trip, and maybe even save a few dollars along the way. This list of money-saving ideas for travel is a great start. From choosing where and when to go, to deciding what to do once you get there, here are highlights from that list, and a couple of our own favourite ways to save.
1. Be flexible on dates
Naturally, school and work schedules put some limitations on how much variability you can have for your desired travel dates. Tuesday used to be the most cost-effective day for air travel, however recent data suggests that flying domestically on Sunday and internationally on Thursday will cost you less. Another way flexibility on dates can help you save is to consider visiting your destination of choice at a time that is *just slightly* off the peak season. For example, if Europe is your intended destination, flights in the middle of May or early in September are hundreds of dollars cheaper than in July or August, but the weather is just as lovely.
2. Take the road less travelled, literally!
The most popular destinations are, unsurprisingly, also the most expensive. However, there are plenty of travel adventures to be had off the beaten path. For example, this travel blogger found that venturing a short ferry ride away from one popular (and pricey!) destination provided a new, exciting vacation experience. Alternative destinations to consider for similar experiences with smaller price tags include the Baltic states instead of Scandinavia or Curaçao instead of Aruba.
3. Choose accommodations with amenities for meals
Assuming you haven’t selected an all-inclusive vacation package, look for accommodations with even limited facilities to prepare meals. You understandably might not want to spend your time on vacation cooking and cleaning, but even choosing a hotel room with a mini-fridge to keep milk for cereal and coffee in the room can help you save on meals while travelling. Another option is to select a hotel that includes breakfast but be sure to compare prices! Booking with a hotel chain that offers a meal can exceed the cost of booking a lesser-known hotel and having a meal somewhere else. Doing your research in advance can uncover savings.
4. Pack as lightly as possible
In 2018, Canada’s two largest airlines, WestJet and Air Canada, increased the cost to check a single bag to CA$30 (and up) for domestic departures for those flying economy, and CA$50 and up for the second bag. That’s a bargain when compared baggage fees to and from other international destinations, which range from CA$60 to CA$71, assuming your baggage is within the established weight limits. Whenever possible, try to travel with carry-on bags only to save time and money. If checking your bag, consider getting an inexpensive luggage scale to avoid overage fees – and the potentially embarrassing experience of re-packing your suitcase off to the side of the airport check-in line!
5. Choose a credit card with great travel benefits
Choosing the right credit card when travelling is an important component of planning a hassle-free adventure. With some credit cards, in addition to any difference in the currency value, you may be subject to a foreign exchange fee when charging purchases while abroad. That can really throw off the vacation budget!
The Home Trust Preferred Visa offers valuable benefits for travellers, like no exchange fees on foreign currency transactions and 1% CashBack Rewards  on all eligible purchases – extra money that you can use to pay down your balance, buy yourself something special, or even book your next trip. All with no annual fee!
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Foreign currency transactions are converted at the exchange rate set by Visa International, without additional surcharge.
Cash advances, balance transfers, interest, fees and foreign transactions (including online purchases in foreign currencies) are not eligible for CashBack Rewards.