It’s not that we Canadians don’t love our winter season; it’s that sometimes we just don’t know what to do with it. Sure, sitting inside eating cookies and binge-watching television is a fine way to spend the time, but not Every. Single. Weekend.
Sometimes, we just want to get outside. We want a break. Is that so wrong? Whether that means booking an all-inclusive trip to Cuba or heading to a ski lodge for an extended long weekend, our winter travels are a big part of how we deal with the cold weather. Unfortunately, those plans are about to get a lot more costly.
Thanks to the low Canadian dollar, travel to the States or sun countries will sit a little heavier on the wallet. Add in the fact that there are about to be fewer travel restrictions for Americans to Cuba, our traditional cheap hot spot during the winter, and our options seem even more limited.
The good news is there are a few tricks you can use to get the most out of your winter escape plans. Here’s how:
Sure, discount vouchers have become a little cliche, what with companies like DealFind and TeamBuy going under. That doesn’t mean there still aren’t some truly credible discount travel sites out there. Be sure to subscribe to TravelZoo and Living Social Escapes in order to take advantage of some truly fantastic deals.
Don’t wait until the last minute
Booking off a week that you intended to go somewhere and then booking your vacation spot at the last minute used to be a good way to get a trip for a decent price. Nowadays, the best deals come early — and sell out fast. That’s because while there may be thousands of rooms at a resort, there are limited plane seats available. Rather than spin the wheel and hope for the best, start planning your getaway as soon as possible.
Book a trip piecemeal
If you’ve got extra cash to burn, booking your flight, hotel and transportation in one go is certainly an easy option. But if you’re truly looking for a deal, research is key. Some sites, like Expedia, will offer discounts when you book together, but sometimes you get an even better deal if you book directly through the hotel itself. Be sure to compare both cost scenarios before actually purchasing if you truly want the best deal.
Clear your cache
It’s true — if you want to get the best price on a flight, be sure to clear your history and pull a Cookie Monster and remove all of those pesky cookies. Travel sites hold onto previous searches, and the price often increases when you look up a trip or flight later on.
Look for dollar-matching deals
With our dollar so low, some American hot spots are looking to lure Canucks by offering them a Canadian-dollar-at-par program. With the loonie at $0.77 per U.S. dollar, those are definitely deals worth looking into if you’re headed to the States. Ask when calling to make a reservation, or email the place first if you prefer to do things online.
Beware of unnecessary upgrades
Some “upgrades,” like room service or the mini bar, are obvious. If you want to save some cash, steer clear. But what about the room itself? Do you really need that ocean- or mountain-view? It might depend on how much time you’re actually planning on spending there. Sometimes a nicer room is worth it, but sometimes it’s just another extra cost. If you’re on the fence about your view or bed size, a good trick is to book the cheapest option and then email the resort or hotel directly afterwards and ask if it’s possible to secure a room with whatever your specific request may be. Sometimes they will acquiesce; sometimes not. But hey — it’s worth a shot.
Play at home
It’s no secret there are tons of things to do in our own backyards. The problem is that most of us just don’t have the equipment to do so. When we were young, our parents outfitted us with snowpants, waterproof boots, mittens, hats and the like. Now that we’re adults, what’s stopping us from giving ourselves the same treatment? Rather than invest in a trip, spend a little less and get yourself some warm, waterproof outerwear to play outside. Once you’re dressed for the great outdoors, there is an abundance of activities — like snow-shoeing, cross-country or downhill skiing and ice skating — and they’re all great excuses to get outside, see some nature, and break the monotony of winter.
See you on the flip side, sun.