Vacations can be super expensive, and let’s face it, nobody wants to pinch pennies while travelling. With these handy tips and tricks, you can make your vacation dollars stretch, without feeling deprived.
1. Compare, Compare, Compare: Never pick the first price you see on flights, hotels, rental cars, or vacation packages. There are plenty of options out there for discounted rates, so make sure you check at least a few before purchasing. And don’t forget to check out our travel deals section too!
2. Drinks: Most people consider vacation a good time to cut loose. Often this involves a lot more drinking than you’d normally do at home. While it’s fine to enjoy a few drinks, alcohol can make a huge dent in your budget, especially if you’re drinking at restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Cutting back just a little means you can have more to spend on memories that will last a lifetime.
3. Food from Street Vendors: A big part of experiencing a new culture is checking out the food. One way to do so without breaking the bank is to buy local favorites from street vendors rather than pricey restaurants. As a bonus, you’ll often find this food to be more authentic, as in many places around the world, this is what the locals eat when they’re not cooking at home. There’s a reason popular food television shows often feature street food!
4. Group Pricing: When possible, it’s always a good idea to look into group pricing options. Booking a vacation as a group, usually eight or more people travelling together, can score you some hefty discounts. If you don’t relish the thought of travelling with family and friends, there are still ways to get in on the lower prices. Try an escorted tour vacation package. They offer pre-set itineraries to see the most popular sights, often build the price of transportation right into the package, and take advantage of group rates by pairing you with other travellers.
5. Location is Everything: Do some research before you travel and see what often locations are similar to your top choice. Often you can find options that are less crowded and less pricey than the typical tourist spots, but offer the same experiences and amenities. For instance, if you’re considering visiting The Caribbean, rather than visiting the very pricey islands of Antigua and Barbuda, check out the less expensive options on Trinidad and Tobago. Remember to take currency exchange rates into consideration as well. Visiting a locale with a favorable dollar exchange rate can make all the difference!
6. Pack Light: Most airlines charge fees for checking bags. If you’re travelling with your family, this can add up to hundreds of dollars in baggage fees before you even leave your home city. You may find it more economical to pack less and use a laundry service in your hotel or resort, rather than pay a premium to bring extra everything along with you.
7. Prioritize: In any vacation, there are certain things that you’re really looking forward to, and others that are less thrilling. Figure out which are your must-see or must-do experiences, and prioritize them in your budget. If your number one reason for visiting is scuba diving, plan to spend more time and money on that than museums and nightlife.
8. Shop Before You Go: If you know you’re headed for the beach over the summer, stock up on sun cream when it’s on sale earlier in the season. If you’re hitting the slopes for a ski vacation, purchase your gear in off season sales rather than paying top dollar at the last minute. Whatever you do, try to buy items like this at home rather than paying the sometimes ridiculous mark-ups to be found at tourist traps. If you do need to buy staples while travelling, try to shop where the locals do to get a more affordable price.
9. Souvenirs: Let’s be honest, most of the souvenirs we purchase on vacations wind up being packed away and forgotten once we get home. Rather than buying overpriced junk you don’t really want, spend that money on experiences. Then, if you want something to remember the trip by, take lots of pictures and frame your favorites when you get back.
10. Timing is Everything: Summer vacation is great, but let’s be honest. It’s also often crowded and expensive. Plan your trip for the off season (typically October-March) and you’ll skip the long lines, plus you can often score sweet deals on hotels, airfare, and other big costs.
11. Tipping: It’s a good rule of thumb to always do your homework and research tipping standards in the place you’re visiting. In many countries, tipping is not expected, or the amount tipped may be different than what you would tip at home. In addition, many resorts include the cost of tipping in the price of the food, or in the bill for your stay. If this is the case, leaving a tip on top of it is essentially tipping double. Over the course of a week-long vacation, tips can add up to be hundreds of dollars, so you could save a bundle just by knowing the facts before you go.
12. Travel Websites: You can find some amazing deals on travel, but it may be best not to snap up the first price you see. The prices on sites like Cheap-o-Air, Hotels.ca, Expedia.ca and Expedia can change on a daily basis, so stalk your favorite sites to see if the prices are going up or down. And since these prices are governed by the rules of supply and demand, play around with your travel dates a little if possible. You might save big by travelling the week before or the week after if you happen to have picked the same dates as some big convention or other event in your preferred destination.