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Must-Know Vacation Money Saving Tips

July 17, 2013
3 mins
A young girl travelling on a plane takes a photo out the plane's window

With summer comes the long-coveted hot weather in Canada and vacation time!

While the concept of "vacation" may mean different things to different people, one thing is for certain, it means no work!  For some, that may also mean no income. If you're looking to take a vacation this year, but also cut costs, read on for our cost efficient but still fun vacation money saving tips.

Are you hitting the road or taking off?

A recent press release by Newswire says that this summer’s top three driving destinations for Canadians are Atlantic Canada, within Ontario, and Florida.

The top three flying destinations are Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

If you plan on taking a road trip, the first thing you need to check is whether or not your vehicle is up to the journey. Change your oil, test your battery and top up your fluids. There is nothing more expensive than a roadside breakdown. If you haven’t already, consider a CAA package and be sure your vehicle is equipped with emergency kits. 

Airfare savings tips and tricks

If you’re planning on flying, there are a number of great ways to save money on your trip. It's important to book early to get the best deals, and you should always shop around.

You can get some great deals if you fly on a Tuesday and return on a Monday. Avoid flying on Friday and Sundays especially.

For packaged deals that include a hotel and flight, always check to see the price of each on their own. Many times resorts will offer discounts if you book directly. And flights are often less direct when they come in a package. If you want to save big just do a little homework.

Be smart with vacation spending

You likely plan to do some shopping once you reach your destination, but ensure your cash flow is up to speed. The absolute worst place to exchange money is in the airport. For the best rates, find a local bank or get the right funds at home.

Whatever you do, don’t use your debit card as each transaction could end up costing you a small fortune. It's safer and cheaper to use your credit card (or a debit credit card hybrid) but be sure to notify your credit card company of your travels. Sometimes they see charges in foreign cities and shut the card down for safety reasons.

Save wherever you stay

To find the best deals on hotels, prepare to comparison shop. I recommend checking out a potential hotel's reputation on sites like Trip Advisor, or use discount sites like Hotwire, or Expedia to further narrow down hotels in your area for cheaper.

Renting an apartment or home for your trip, through a site like Airbnb, can be a comparatively inexpensive option. Feeling really adventurous? Try It’s free.

Preplan your itinerary

Being a tourist is not cheap. Once you get to your vacation destination, you’re likely going to want to see all sorts of tourist attractions. If you want to save money, look online for packaged deals. Sometimes you can get a pass for several attractions in one city for one low rate.

Alternatively, in the months and weeks leading up to your vacation, try checking out Groupon and Wagjag deals in your vacation city. You might just save big on some amazing fun!

Go pay-as-you-go with your phone

Beware steep phone charges, especially when roaming out of country! A lot of phone companies will charge you roaming fees even for incoming text messages.

If you don’t have a roaming package, turn your phone off and keep it off. If you can’t live without your phone, call your phone company beforehand. They sometimes offer deals for travellers.

Know that it’s also possible to buy a cheap phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card in it. That way, you’ll always have something on hand if you absolutely need it.

Do you need travel insurance?

Good question. It really depends on a couple of things. Do you already have health coverage of sorts? If not, then yes.

Check with your credit card company, though. Many of them offer health insurance for travellers. Often, they offer car rental insurance as well. If there’s no need to pay twice, then don’t. If you do need to take out additional coverage, be sure to compare the best quotes to get the best deal.

Pick the right travel buddy credit card

If you're a frequent flyer or hotel dweller, it can really pay off to use a travel rewards card that can save on airfare or accommodations.

Road trippers will also see a big payoff with a cash back or gas rewards option like the Smart Cash® MasterCard® Credit Card. Not only does this card offer up to 5% cash back on gas and groceries for the first six months, but you'll also score a free $100 gift card when approved, for a limited time.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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