It is the official vacation season in Canada. Many Canadians from coast to coast are getting ready to head down south to enjoy some play time in the hot sand and fun time in the water.
Although the fluctuating loonie may be annoying, you better believe there are a variety of ways to enjoy your summer vacation this year whether you are travelling to the U.S., Canada or outside of North America.
You can save yourself from a lot of financial headache by creating a game plan before you go on vacation. Besides nothing can be more frustrating than having to go to an ATM or bank to withdraw money because you ran out of cash while on vacation. What's worse than that is using your credit card while vacationing because your money is done. This is bothersome as you will be hit with a weak currency exchange and you will be charged an international usage fee as well. So that $20 item you bought will cost you a lot more when you return to Canada.
In order to help you maximize the money you take with you while you are on vacation, here are some tips to consider:
Add more dollars and cents to your budget
There's no other way around it. Travel to the United States this year will cost more. In order to prepare for this, you have to include it in your budget. Start to research the cost of food and excursions and adjust your budget accordingly. You may have to cut back on some expenses however consider this as a good thing to do. It is best to cut back where you can, rather than go into debt for one week or more of temporary pleasure.
If you are still planning your vacation getaway, you can consider the following:
• Research travel deal sites for the best deals
• Stay at a hotel where you can make your own meal in your room
• Plan a trip where you stay in the middle of the week, these kinds of trips cost less
• Try to find restaurants where children can eat for free
• Some restaurants even offer early bird pricing. If you eat before the dinner rush, you will be able to eat at a discounted rate
• Consider looking for restaurants and hotels that offer pricing at par for Canadians. Some American accommodations provide these discounts typically in cities and towns close to the Canadian / U.S. border.
Watch that exchange rate
It is common to take a little foreign currency with you when you travel outside of Canada, however if you take only a nominal amount, your money will run out. As a consequence, you will have to exchange your money again and at a higher rate outside of Canada. To avoid being charged more than once to exchange your Canadian dollars, carry more money with you. If you think $100 will cover you, think again. The cost of everything has gone up so you have to adjust accordingly.
Consider opening a U.S. bank account
If you are a frequent traveller to the United States or Caribbean, it may be worth your while to open a U.S. bank account. You can add funds to this savings account throughout the year and the best part, you can easily deposit any left over money from your vacation to your bank account. Watch your money grow and forget about paying exchange fees!
Load the RV, road trip time!
If you're still hesitant to travel outside of Canada because of the low Canadian dollar, you can discover the beautiful landscape of Canada. Our home and native land is filled with various natural wonders from coast to coast. You can put your explorers' hat on and plan a road trip in your province or visit another province.
Wherever you decide to take your annual summer vacation, it is possible to plan an affordable trip without going into debt.
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Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: Even if the Euro scares you more than the U.S. dollar does, Spain is still considered a budget-friendly country with low accommodation costs. "Spain has something for every traveller's needs whether it be a relaxing beach vacation in Malaga, exploring the Alhambra Palace in Granada or visiting the famed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Spain is also famous for their tapas and you can get tapas and drink for $5," says Rishi Modi of travel deal site Next Departure.
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: For Canadians, Lisbon is one of the cheaper European cities to fly into. "It's a lively city with delicious seafood and cheap drinks. Take advantage of its inexpensive public transit to visit the historic Sintra, go to a winery in Porto and enjoy the Mediterranean weather on a beach in Faro."
Best time to travel: December to March Average price: $900 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Getting to Thailand can be pricey depending on the time you go, but once you're there, everything can fit into your budget. "Food from street vendors and markets costs you $4 to $5 and accommodations can run you as low as $20 a night [depending where you stay]. Thailand has tons of attractions to offer travellers, from trekking in the jungles of Chiang Mai to relaxing on tropical islands like Ko Samui."
Best time to travel: October to May Average price: $900 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Marrakech was named Tripadvisor's number one destination in 2015, according to travellers. "Explore the ancient palaces, shop in the markets of Marrakech and stay overnight in the Sahara desert. Food is inexpensive in local restaurants and street stalls, while accommodations are reasonably priced."
Best time to travel: Depending if you go north or south, you want to avoid cold or rainy seasons. Late December is usually the best. Average price: $900 to $1,100 Why you want to go: If you're an urban explorer or nature lover, Vietnam offers both. "Vietnam is another South Asian destination that continues to be budget-friendly with beautiful sights, including cruising along Halong Bay and visiting the rice terraces. Food is remarkably cheap — a meal and beer can cost under $3."
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $900 to $1,100 Why you want to go: If you want to go to Europe and still have spending money, Modi suggests avoiding popular destinations like France and Italy and opting for Eastern Europe instead. "From Hungary to Romania to Bulgaria, these Eastern European countries are rich in diverse culture and its modern and historical architecture."
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: "Peru is known for its geographic diversity, from exploring the vast Amazon jungle to hiking the Inca Trail to relaxing on the beach coast," he says. But Peru’s most famous attraction is the ancient site of Machu Picchu — a must-see if you decide to go to this South American country.
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $1,000 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Indonesia has thousands of islands and Bali is one of the most luxurious and popular ones. "Food and hotels are extremely cheap, where you can enjoy tasty meals from $1 to $2 and spend as little as $20 per night on accommodations." However, if you do plan on renting out a villa or eating on Seminyak's main tourist strip, it can feel like dining and living in a major Canadian city.
Best time to travel: January to March; September to November Average price: $600 to $1,000 Why you want to go: If you haven't been to Cuba, you probably know several Canadians who have — the Caribbean island is one of the most popular beach destinations for Canucks. "All-inclusive packages are affordable and offer a bang for your buck. If you’re really flexible, you can often find last-minute cheap deals on flights and all-inclusive packages."
Best time to travel: January to April; September to December Average price: $350 to $650 Why you want to go: We're not saying you should head to pricey destinations like Hawaii or Las Vegas, but some U.S. spots have taken advantage of our falling currency. "Myrtle Beach, Kissimmee, and Scottsdale are starting to offer deep discounts — around 20 to 30 per cent off accommodations, free meal vouchers and discounts off activities. Also, expect major airline carriers alongside the low-cost carriers stateside such as Allegiant and Sprint to offer discounts and seat sales as well." And when you look at your budget as a whole, many U.S. destinations tend to be cheaper than leaving the continent.
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