Written by Marcy Ages, Vice President & Certified Professional Consultant on Aging, B.A, CIM, CFP, CPCA, CLU
With the official start of summer just around the corner, many of us are looking forward to our favourite part of the season – summer vacation! By taking the time and discipline to plan ahead, you can stretch those vacation dollars to get more bang for your buck. Here are seven practical ways to do so.
1. Set up a travel fund
Set up a separate savings/travel account at the bank and have a percentage of every pay go into that account. It might not pay for the whole vacation but you should be able to save a significant amount of money for your trip.
2. Take advantage of currency fluctuations
Currently, it costs about $1.20 Canadian to buy one U.S. dollar. So if you’re travelling to the U.S. this summer you’ll have to factor this into all of your expenses. Maybe it’s time to expand your horizons when it comes to travel. Both the Costa Rican and Croatian currencies are below the Canadian dollar right now, so you might want to explore these countries instead.
3. Loyalty program points
If you are a member of loyalty programs, such as Air Miles and Aeroplan, you can use these points to pay for both flights and hotels. Also, there are many travel credit cards available now that let you accumulate travel points. Some cards let you redeem the points for cash against travel expenses. Be on the lookout for special offers from credit card companies that will award you travel points when you sign up. Some of them will even waive the first-year fee for the card.
4. Travel deal websites
Check the internet for travel websites that alert you when a good deal on a flight or hotel becomes available. You have to be quick with your decision though because these deals don’t usually last for long.
Stick to trusted, well-known sites like Hotwire, RedFlagDeals, Priceline, Travelocity or TripAdvisor. Deals offered on more obscure travel sites are sometimes too good to be true. Important details may be hidden in the extra fine print, which impact the price you actually end up paying.
5. Book in advance
If possible, purchase flights and book hotels sooner rather than later. Prices tend to be higher when you book closer to your vacation date.
6. Be flexible with your dates
If you can, be flexible with your travel dates. Travelling during non-peak times will save you money on both airfare and hotels. Sometimes changing your departure and/or return date by just one day can reduce the cost of your trip by hundreds of dollars.
7. Travel with a friend
If you are single and want to cut costs, ask a friend to accompany you on your trip. You’ll reduce your hotel bill by half and probably enjoy your trip much more.
Marcy Ages is a passionate, detail-driven provider of financial planning services, including investment management and tax preparation. As founder of The Care Network, Marcy also works with other service professionals to support high-net-worth individuals with their estate planning and assisted living issues.