Are you feeling the pinch of our weak Canadian dollar? You’re not alone. Thousands of Canadian snowbirds are cutting their trips short, or staying home. With an exchange rate near $1.45 per $1 US it has made travel to the United States far less attractive or affordable.
Don’t despair, you may still be able to afford a border run for your Cherry Coke and your Powerball ticket. The key is to do your homework. With a drop in Canadian tourists, many of our neighbouring American cities, like Grand Forks and Minot are sweetening the deals. When was the last time you were offered a room at a brand new hotel for $70?
The key is to do your homework and think frugally.
Research before you go. Don’t assume you will find deals when you get there. Go to sites like EzMarketing.ca and print your hotel coupons first.
Call and deal locally. The 1-800 numbers for booking hotels are not routinely updated with the local specials. Look for the franchise Facebook pages and check there for current deals.
Look for hotels with added value, like free breakfast, manager’s reception or in-room kitchenettes. Many hotels will also offer area coupons (for restaurants and shopping) at their front desk.
Time to order pizza. Grab a large pizza to share, rather than going out for a sit down meal for 4.
Speak up. Ask for Canadian specials by e-mailing the tourism sites and getting on their mailing list.
In this situation, it is to your benefit to think and act locally. Southern states, like Texas and California are less likely to offer Canadian deals. However, if you have your heart set on a sunshine trip, the same tips will apply. Research and get connected to find the deals that fit your budget.
Westjet is offering some nearly unbelievable prices on the Winnipeg to Kelowna route. The return trip, taxes included is just $187. We have the upstart airline, New Leaf, to thank for this price war.
To take this deal to the next level, we turn to Expedia.ca to pair it with a hotel. Choosing a well rated hotel you can pair it up for just $385. This is a 3 night vacation with fabulous flight times. Both the hotels shown include breakfast, adding extra value.
The weather at the end of April should be lovely. You could enjoy a game of golf or take a winery tour. To plan your activities visit Tourism Kelowna.
Price wars are very volatile, meaning the prices could disappear without notice. It’s not like an advertised sale with dates. Act quickly and you could be bragging about the deal all year long.
The key to planning a playoff trip is to act quickly and decisively. There are three things that have to come together in order for this to happen.
Know the date. Until you know the specific date when the games are being played, you’re in limbo.
Transportation. Is this fly or drive? And if it’s air fare you need, know that last minute prices can be steep. Are there alternate airports you can look at?
Tickets. Do you have a reliable, trusted source for tickets?
When the Winnipeg Jets made the playoffs in April 2015, I knew I had to go. HAD TO! I bought tickets on-line (Stub Hub) within minutes of the games being confirmed. That was actually the easiest part
The biggest problem became acquiring a reasonably priced flight to Anaheim. Flights to the closest and most convenient airport, SNA, (John Wayne Airport) were already priced beyond my budget. LAX was the next one I considered, however the connections and times were going to fail me. At this point I considered re-selling my tickets. That’s when it occurred to me that I had enough airline points for a free flight to PSP. (Palm Springs) Though I normally wouldn’t have thought of Palm Springs, it was genius. It was a direct flight from YWG (Winnipeg). With no connections, that meant I could fly out the morning of the game. I cashed in my points for the ticket, and arranged a rental car. Even in traffic, it would take 2 hours or less to drive to the arena.
The last piece of the puzzle was a hotel. Considering the trip was completely focused on the big game, I used Hotwire.com. Any well-rated area hotel would do.
It was mere days later that we were off and racing to Anaheim. The flight was on time and we arrived in plenty of time for the game. With the rental car safely parked at the hotel we grabbed a cab to the rink. We met up with dozens, maybe even a hundred like-minded fans at a nearby pub and then made our way to the game. While our team did not win, it certainly was a victory for the sports fan. What a memorable experience!
From this event, I offer 2 tips.
Check your loyalty clubs. You might just nab a free last minute flight. Huge savings over steep last minute cash prices.
If you are going with a few people, consider renting a car/driver at the airport, rather than choosing your own rental car and fumbling with GPS and a stressed designated driver. We ran into a group of 8 that had hired a limo to/from Palm Springs. At a cost of about $100 per person, I thought they were genius.
There was only really one thing that I wanted to do in Hawaii that trip, learn to paddleboard. And by learn, I mean do it successfully enough to get a good picture. Isn’t that what it’s all about nowadays anyway, just getting that next great Instagram photo?
At my age, I should get a ribbon just for participating! Isn’t that the thing though? You just want to be able to show your kids that you’ve still got it. Be one of the cool moms, one of the moms that gets the likes on Instagram, not the laughs on YouTube. One of the moms that doesn’t fall flat on her face and go stomping off the beach cursing.
There’s a lot of pressure on vacation. Pressure to enjoy yourself, get along with your family, source picture worthy food, get good value for what you’ve already spent and learn everything from the region’s history to the state flower so you can share it on your blog. (Haha. I never learn about the state flower. There’s wikipedia for that!)
Good thing I’m a rockstar under pressure. (As the mom to a hockey goaltender, it’s in my DNA.) I’m pretty sure that’s why the kids always volunteer me to go first, I’m good under pressure. First to catch the wave during surf lessons, first to try that new sushi place, first to open the hotel closet door. Yeah, you could say I’m their leader (read… family guinea pig).
So when I rented the paddleboard that day, I signed the waiver form and listed my “next of kin” as the hotel bartender, not the kids waving and pointing my way. But it’s all good. Grab that camera, mom’s got this!