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10 Ways to have a Satisfyingly Fantastically Frugal Vacation!

Vacation anyone?

Yes I definitely need one! or want one!

As a health care worker during the pandemic and as it continues on within the healthcare arena, we are in need of a break!



But where can we go? What can we do?


What are the travel restrictions? Do we stay within our own country's borders?


I won't tell you what to do? and I definitely can't tell you to stay within Canada because I am currently not in Canada, nor have I been since August 2021 because my family is currently living onboard a floating hospital ship. If you are interested in travel nursing or why my family is currently living onboard Mercy Ships than check out this blogpost.


How have prices changed?

Before you start planning your vacation, please be aware that according to the Washington post,

Flights have increased by as much as 12%

Budget rentals are up 19%

Hotels are up 40%!



Air BnB and VRBO are up 13% from February 2021 and 32% since 2019.

and lastly

Gas prices are up 44%!

Keep in mind,

Inflation is playing a part in 2022 pricing. “Inflation is inevitable,” Hart said. “The more normal COVID becomes, the less fear people will have traveling. If fear decreases, prices increase. If fear increases, the price for travel decreases.”

Although inflation is normal, if it seems higher than normal, that's because it is. If you need some tips on how to fight rising inflation check out my blogpost: 7 Ways Canadians can Thrive during Rising Inflation.


It's unfortunate but true, that supply and demand go hand in hand and so do the prices for travel with the additional association of fear.

According to the US Travel Association,

"85% of Americans expect to travel this summer"

So if we are anything like our neighbours to the south and expect to travel, what can we do to have a good time and still offset some of the inflationary costs?


10 Ways to have a Satisfyingly Fantastically Frugal Vacation:


1. Consider alternative accommodations instead of traditional hotels:

I have been staying at Air BnB accommodations in Alberta and BC for at least the last 5-6 years and have really enjoyed majority of the places that we have stayed at. At one point, we stayed at a nice new Air BnB basement suite in Calgary, for only $38/night just because they were new to Air BnB!

I love the extra room that a home or apartment provides for a family of 4, compared a hotel room. I have also stayed in some of these types of accommodations with extended family as well which was ideal, comfortable and more affordable. Additionally, with a potential kitchenette, you could purchase groceries for breakfast and lunch and then splurge on a nice dinner saving some moolah!


2. Consider planning during the off-season

Planning your fancier trips during the fall instead of the summer can potentially save you up to 30% on flight and hotels costs. Consider, flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday if possible for better deals too. Also, if you are planning a fancier vacation for the fall, then stick to camping or beach day trips during the summer so that you still get to enjoy the summer season without the additional cost.


3. Book in Advance

Lots of flyers are noticing that if they waited too long that the prices have increased. So, when is the ideal timeframe to book a flight?

"So, as a general rule of thumb, you'll want to book plane tickets well in advance, as prices spike sharply in the days preceding the flight, taking advantage of any last-minute travelers who have no choice but to pay up."


CheapAir.com also revealed that usually,

"The cheapest flights were found 67 days prior to a summer trip, 94 days prior to a winter trip, 84 days prior to a spring trip, and 89 days prior to a fall trip."

But because 2022 is all about travel recovery, this trend might not hold true this year. Instead Kayak North America recommends

"Monitoring airfare and buying as soon as you see an appealing price."


4. Get Cancellation Insurance

Many companies have improved their cancellation policies. I can attest to this as I have booked a hotel room through booking.com and then later cancelled without a penalty. This cancellation was possible up to a week before and some up to the day off the booking. Make sure you carefully read the terms and conditions.

Leisure and Travel also recommends buying an non-economy ticket,

"That way, if prices drop between the time of booking and September, you can cancel your original ticket and use the credit to book the cheaper fare."

(https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/when-to-book-flights-for-cheapest-airfare)



5. Get Creative

Consider looking for less touristy destinations which might lead you to some beautiful undiscovered destinations. You might become the new trendsetter of new and exciting places. It might also appeal to your sense of adventure.


Consider doing a travel-volunteerism where you get to help with a worthy cause and see cool new places in the world!


Consider day bike trips instead of driving due to the gas price hike. Or exploring places that have great public transportation systems.


Or stay local and explore and rediscover all those cool parks and water parks that were recently off limits. Check out any local shops or restaurants that just opened up to support local business. I know that I am looking forward to supporting a local food truck that is on my list of food cravings when I return to Canada.


Another option might be visiting friends and staying overnight with them or asking if an acquaintance is on vacation themselves and would like to rent out their home to you (an informal Air BnB, if you will). If you end up staying with a friend, don't forget to get them a great gift card or present in exchange for their hospitality.


6. Decide on your Vacation Priorities

We can do anything but we can't do everything.

Decide on your vacation priorities.

Is it,

Seeing family and friends that you haven't seen in a couple years

or

Prioritizing checking out the newest fancy restaurants

or

Jet-setting to that international destination on your bucket list

If Europe is one of those destinations on your bucket list, consider going this year because according to an article by Travel and Leisure,

In the last two weeks, domestic flight prices for summer travel are already up 28% compared to 2019, whereas flight prices to Europe are only up 3% right now."

The priority for us was our prior long term plan towards serving on a hospital ship in 2021, which meant travelling during a pandemic.


7. Plan Your Estimated Budget

Once you have decided on your priorities, then you have to estimate how much everything is going to cost. For example, when we return to Canada in summer, we have made a budget of approximately how much everything is going to cost and how we are going to pay for that. Thankfully, I have to work a couple shifts so my pay cheque will fund some of that.


Check out the Canada backpacker budget guide that includes estimates of some of the daily travelling costs associated with travelling within Canada.



Don't forget to track your spending while you are on vacation so that you don't return to have a hefty credit card bill due to overspending.


8. Consider Using Credit Card Rewards to fund your vacation

This past year we were able to use our credit card for travel points towards a flight for a family of four to go to Texas. We ended up only paying half the price and the rest were paid for in points.


This year, I would like to stay in Banff for one night for our anniversary but I'm not interested in paying $400/night. However, I might be interested in using some credit card points to pay for a hotel room stay.


If you are still new to Travel Hacking or using Credit card points, then check out this blogpost Can Canadians Hack the Travel, Eh!.


9. Purchase good travel insurance:

Make sure you get good travel insurance when you leave Canada and even some places within Canada. I made the mistake of opting for a higher deductible thinking that I would not need anything because we were all fully vaccinated but we still ended up getting COVID. Thankfully we were fortunately enough that we were looked after well by Mercy Ships staff, otherwise it would have significantly added to our costs and potentially added up to our $2000 deductible. So remember to add a back up COVID expense line to your vacation plan as well. Research good travel insurance, here are some suggestions about what to look for, Travel Health Insurance for Canadians.



Plan out what you will spend and then remember to keep track of what you are spending or you could overspend quickly and return home with a hefty credit card bill.


10. Zero Foreign Exchange Fees

Get a credit card that has zero foreign exchange fees. I didn't even know this something to look for, until we started doing some research. We personally opted for the Scotia Bank Passport Infinite credit card which has zero foreign exchange fees.



The 2.5% foreign exchange fee on all foreign purchases can add up quickly while on vacation. Since, we have been out of the country since August, we have saved hundreds of dollars on foreign exchange fees.



Now Go and Be Intentional in your Vacation Planning!



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