Taking a holiday on budget can be a challenge. For Canadians struggling financially, the pressure to take a family vacation can be overwhelming. It can also work against you if your are trying to cut back on expenses. That’s why, according to a recent CIBC survey, vacationing is low on the list of financial goals for Canadians, while paying off debt remains a priority. For those who are planning a getaway, however, there are a few ways to enjoy a summer vacation without breaking the bank. (Because a week or so of fun isn’t worth the stress of years of debt.)
Here are 10 ways you can make memories without maxing out the credit card.
Set price alerts when researching flights and hotels
This is an easy one that’s often overlooked. If you’re searching for flights or hotels but finding the rates a bit too steep, set an email price alert. This is especially useful on sites like Hotels.com or Kayak that search multiple vendors and platforms. Most sites even let you specify when you’d like to be notified. For example, when a fare drops at least 15 percent.
Surf the web in private or incognito
When you’re online in private or incognito mode, your browser doesn’t collect cookies (data that identifies the sites you visit). Some travel sites use these cookies to see what you’re searching for, and then raise prices on particular hotels, itineraries, or dates. Don’t let them break your budget—go private!
Use Airbnb to save money on accommodations
Rather than stay in a cramped hotel room, Airbnb lets you lease or rent short-term lodgings through a worldwide network of brokers. There are currently five million lodging listings in 81,000 cities and 191 countries, including everything from guest rooms to holiday cottages and beach cabins. Often, you can find a place for less than a traditional hotel, plus more amenities. Many hosts are very friendly, and are more than willing to suggest things to do and sites to see.
Consider camping instead of expensive getaways
Avoid hotels and accommodations altogether and instead take in the natural beauty of our country by going camping or glamping. Canada is home to some of the most beautiful national parks and jaw-dropping landscapes this side of the hemisphere. Being outdoors full time can also do wonders for both your physical and mental health. The Huffington Post published a list of the 30 Best Places to Camp in Canada. If you already have the camping gear or if you can borrow it from someone else, this can be a fun and very affordable getaway!
Go where kids stay or eat Free
Some parents naturally keep an eye out for these deals, but others often forget. Many hotel and resort chains, like the Holiday Inn and Dreams Resorts kids stay and eat free. This can offer great savings for families on a budget. Some airlines will also allow children to fly for free, or you only have to paythe taxes on certain flights, which can save your family some serious cash.
Take a bus
It may not seem like the most glamorous way to travel, but many bus lines traveling long distance have upped their game—more comfortable seats, extra legroom, free wifi, and more. Overnight travel is also a money-saving win-win: you don’t have to pay for a hotel, and you get a few hours of shuteye!
Get a place with a kitchen
Eating in is almost always cheaper than dining out. So even if it costs a bit extra to rent a room with a small kitchen, the savings can be great. If you’re considering Airbnb and renting a room only, check with the host to confirm if you’ll have access to the kitchen, as some may not allow this.
Save money on food by dining out at lunch, not dinner
Of course you don’t want to always eat in your room; part of joy of vacationing is trying out new restaurants. But lunch is almost always cheaper than dinner, so consider getting your share of local fare by dining with the lunchtime crowd (and eating in for most of your dinners). You can also usually save by avoiding the restaurants on the main drag in any tourist area (plus, “eating where the locals do” offers a more authentic experience).
Carry a reusable water bottle
Vacationing often involves a lot of walking—and most of it outdoors. Rather than dropping loonies left and right on expensive bottled waters (this can get especially expensive when you’ve got kids in tow), carry reusable water bottles or even just an empty water bottle that can easily be filled up at drinking fountains.
The cost of public transportation and ridesharing can add up. Instead, cities and vacation towns often have bike rentals available which is an inexpensive and healthy alternative (and allows you to cover more ground than just hoofing it).
Don't know how much you can afford for a vacation? Talk to a Credit Counsellor
These are just a few ideas to get you started—of course, you can always take a staycation to save even more. Have some money-saving vacation tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments. Now get out there and enjoy the sun—and saving!