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Stretch That Loonie

Don’t let Canada’s weak dollar keep you at home

As the dollar fluctuates, travel costs go up. According to travel experts, cancelling is an absolute last resort. Rather than stop travelling, when the dollar is weak, some Canadians may try to save money on their US vacations by eating out fewer nights or looking for coupons or discounts on tickets to attractions. They may change their itineraries or even shorten their stays by a day or two. The loonie may have dropped against the US dollar, but there are still ways to get the most for your travel dollar.

Expert Tips

  • Take advantage of early-booking bonuses and other incentives in the market. Most vacation companies will advertise deals periodically.
  • Check online regularly, don’t discriminate (compare what the major vacation companies and airlines—WestJet, Air Transat, Air Canada, Sunwing—are offering) and set up Internet alerts for the destinations you want to visit. When you see a deal, grab it.
  • Be your own travel agent. If a last-minute deal does pop up, take advantage if that works for your schedule. If not, wait for those last minute deals. Either way – the web is everyone’s travel database.
  • The all-inclusive vacation is a one-stop purchase that covers your flight, accommodations, meals and sometimes drinks.
  • Plan as many details as possible before you leave home. If you’re on a cruise or package holiday and want to snorkel in St. Maarten or visit Chichen Itza from Cancun, then book those excursions prior to avoid extra-cost surprises.
  • When booking travel online, pay in Canadian dollars and be mindful of surcharges. Some airlines and vacation companies use currency surcharges.
  • Know that when you make a purchase in US dollars, you’ll face a fee to convert currency.
  • Most credit cards have a foreign transaction fee on top of the exchange rate. Get one without the extra fee or stick to cash by converting money before you travel, shopping for the best rate.
  • Avoid ATMs while travelling; currency conversion spreads are generally higher, on top of any transaction fees.
  • Having gone this far, you don’t want to negate all your money-saving efforts if the unforeseen happens, like sickness or personal emergency, so get trip cancellation insurance. As some travel experts say: If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Emergency medical insurance, of course, is essential, but other important inclusions are interruption or travel delay, which you can purchase at booking.

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