Tips for travelling with a falling loonie
Published Friday, January 15, 2016 6:30AM EST
The strong American dollar may have you thinking of staying put in 2016, but do not be scared of our falling loonie! There is still hope for a holiday that won't put a strain on your wallet if you follow these tips:
1. Sun seekers should book now: Unusually warm weather thanks to El Nino and the strong American dollar have hurt the southern bound tour operators hard. As a result there are some great deals available right now! Transat for example, has a seat sale on now until February 1. The sale features Transat's low prices on flights to South destinations including Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Central America.
2. Consider off-season travel: Travelling to Europe in the months of March, April and October is a great alternative for Canadians. As an added bonus people travelling to the “old world” in off seasons will experience smaller crowds than during the summertime.
3. Consider an alternative destination: There are many destinations that may not be the first ones that appear on your bucket list that are still wonderful places to visit and offer good value. Spots in Central and South America like Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil are growing in popularity.
The favourable exchange rate from the Canadian dollar to the Brazilian real makes this destination extremely affordable for Canadians. As well, more than 70 new hotels have been built since 2010 in lead up to the Olympics, increasing the occupancy from 31,000 beds to 51,000 in preparation for the games this summer. Look for great deals on these extra rooms before and after the games as hotels look to fill the increased inventory.
As well, European destinations like Poland still represent good value to Canadians. While the dollar is declining against the Polish zloty (1 CAD = 2.78 PLN compared to as high as 3.12 PLN just a year ago), the low cost of living in Poland makes up for it. Kraków is consistently listed as one of the five least expensive cities to visit in Europe. A stay in a 4-star hotel is as low as $60 per night, meals are typically under $10 per person and beer here is the least expensive in all of Europe, with a pint costing under $3. This is the year to book a trip to Poland; the new government is looking to adopt the Euro soon, which will raise the cost of living.Travelzoo.ca has return flights from Toronto to Warsaw, Poland for as low as $700 including taxes.
4. Pick a destination that has just introduced new or additional flights: Increased airline capacity likely means there are some deals to be had. New flights often mean that airfares decrease and destinations that were once out of reach are now accessible. Flights from Toronto or Montreal to Reykjavik, Iceland are on for as low as $249 including taxes, each way on Travelzoo.ca.
Icelandair services Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Halifax and will introduce Montreal in 2016. WOW Air will also launch service in spring 2016, with prices anticipated as low as $99 each way, making Iceland one of the most cost-effective destinations in the world for Canadians. Equally important for Canadians, the dollar is almost on par with Iceland’s krona, making the cost of hotels and restaurants more affordable compared to other European countries.
5. Time for a staycation: Make this the summer to explore Canada, there are so many great places to see!
Some other quick tips to save some money while looking for that perfect vacation:
- Embrace the new sharing economy and find deals on Air BnB or couchsurfing.ca
- Get familiar with your credit card benefits. If you have a card with airline miles or hotel benefits, use them! Many people don't realize how fast those miles add up, and you may have more than you think. Use those points or miles on your vacation. You earned them.
- Take advantage of the free things cities have to offer and plan your trip accordingly. From museums to markets and historical sites and festivals, there are a lot of attractions that are gratis.
- Compare exchange rates. Consider getting local currency of the country you are travelling in versus bringing US cash. It likely will yield you a better rate. Most major airports in the world have a bank machine making access to local currency easy when you first land.