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Summer Travel Hacks at Your Service: 9 Tips for a More Affordable Getaway

By Inspired Investor Team

Published June 13, 2024 • 9 Min Read

Canadians can’t wait to travel even if the cost of doing so has increased. This is all part of the post-pandemic travel boom, which has seen more people eager to spend money on experiences even in the face of rising costs. There are no signs of this travel itch abating. In fact, the total number of trips by Canadian residents topped the pre-COVID levels of 2019 for the first time in the final quarter of 2023. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians took 319 million trips in 2023—285 million domestic and 34 million abroad. This is an increase of 13.4 per cent from the total trips taken in 2022 and up 1.9 per cent from 2019.

For all those who are determined to make the most of the summer weather and school break, there are many budget tips, tricks, and hacks to consider. Here are 9 ideas:

1. Use your points 

Find some “hidden” money by checking all your loyalty programs and credit cards to see if you have points saved up to get flights or hotels. Even if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire trip, often you can cash in what you do have to help offset the costs. Also, some credit cards offer great travel perks, like travel medical insurance, insurance on rental cars, trip cancellation or hotel theft insurance. It’s worth pulling up your credit card agreement to see where you might save some money. If you belong to a loyalty club you may have access to discounts, or you may be surprised to find that you have a night’s accommodation or flight.

2. Weigh your accommodation options

Are you travelling with a large group? If so, a vacation rental property might be more economical, even if the initial price gives you sticker-shock. Take the time to add up what you’ll pay for a larger property against how many rooms you’d need at a hotel and break it down to a cost per person. Also consider how having your own kitchen facilities might cut down on costs when it comes to eating and drinking. A vacation rental also might have extra perks like free parking and laundry facilities that might help your bottom line as well.

3. Save on gas

Before you throw on your sunglasses and embark on a classic summer road trip, do a bit of digging on gas prices. Many gas stations have loyalty clubs that might provide a few cents off the litre price, but also allow you to collect points towards free fuel. You can also download a gas price app and monitor gas prices along your route and at your destination. Gas prices can vary wildly from town to town, so if you aren’t in an urgent situation, it may be worth it to fill up in the next town over. Finally, keep in mind these tips to drive fuel-efficiently: drive at the speed limit, limit your use of AC, maintain your car according to the maker’s schedule and check your tire pressure.

4. Look for free days at museums and other public institutions

When you’re planning your itinerary, keep in mind that many of the world’s top museums offer free admission on certain days or during certain hours. Other public institutions, such as science centres, may offer the same at your destination. If you have a membership to a museum or gallery at home, you can also investigate if there are reciprocal benefits at other institutions throughout Canada.

5. Take advantage of public transit

Taking public transit rather than renting a car or paying for ride-shares could help you save money, eliminate the hassle of parking and really give you a feel for your destination. Getting lost and seeing some sights that weren’t on your radar might actually turn out to be a bonus.

6. Roam (without the roaming charges)

Free wi-fi is now widely available in public spaces. Consider connecting at cafes, libraries, malls, hotels, transit hubs and other public spaces instead of purchasing expensive data plans. However, remember that while public wi-fi is free, it’s not secure – so before you connect, learn tips to protect yourself and your information. If you do need data, text and phone, investigate the cost of an eSim. With newer phones, you can install these local and virtual plans so that you can have data when you need it.

7. Eat at unexpected dining venues

Think outside the box when it’s time to grab a meal. Restaurants aren’t the only option. Consider unexpected venues – food trucks, food halls and farmer’s markets all provide opportunities to try something new and in season.

8. Find creative ways to see the world closer to home

If you’re craving an overseas adventure but it’s not within this year’s budget, remember there is lots to see and experience in Canada. You can explore towns and neighbourhoods that may have escaped you previously. Toronto is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in North America, with a variety of restaurants, markets and shops. You’ll find authentic Italian cuisine, cafes and gelaterias in Montreal’s Little Italy. And, Little India in Vancouver is a hub for South Asian culture like spice markets and vibrant festivals. Maybe you even found yourself driving through a quaint town with European flair, and you vowed to visit again when you had more time. This might be your opportunity!

9. Invest for even more adventures to come

If travel is something you want to have on your roadmap, earmarking a portion of your savings for that goal is a good idea going forward, especially considering how much more expensive travelling has become.

Depending on your plans, you could explore a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or High Interest Savings Account and see how they can help achieve your goals. There are pros and cons to both, so a conversation with an advisor can help determine the right fit for you.

Another investment you may want to consider? Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), which allow you to grow your money risk free for a specified period of time, also known as a term. A term could be as short as several months or extend as far as several years. When your investment matures, if you decide that you’d rather wait to travel, you can invest that money for another term until you are ready to pack your bags. You may also want to explore a strategy called “GIC Laddering.” This strategy would see you divide your initial investment among different maturity dates, so that you reduce the impact of interest rate changes. Laddering also gives you access to a portion of your initial investment at regular intervals so that you can pre-plan your vacations to align with maturity dates. And if you are finding that travel bug typically hits you sooner than planned, consider a Redeemable or Cashable GIC that will allow you to earn interest and can be redeemed prior to the end of the term.

And to save up for this vacation, and those down the road, consider a pre-authorized contribution plan (PAC). This is a money-moving strategy you can set up to automatically transfer a set amount from your bank account every month into your investments. Since you don’t have to move the money yourself, a PAC allows you to start saving money, while also building a habit to help reach your goals.

Travel is an investment in personal enrichment. Whether your summer getaway plans are local or global, you can capitalize on budget-friendly travel tips to keep costs down while still enjoying all the upsides of travel: the personal growth, the cultural experiences, the mental and physical health benefits. Furthermore, by increasing your savings year-round, you may find you’re in a better position in the future to take trips more often or venture to places that you’ve only dreamed of in the past.

Consider speaking with an advisor who can help guide your saving and investing strategy, or try MyAdvisor, a free digital advice platform to help you stay on top of your money and reach your goals.

Book an appointment today through MyAdvisor or RBC Online Banking to arrange a personalized conversation with an advisor, who can help you clarify and define the right approach for you.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

MyAdvisor is an online platform from RBC where you can view your financial information including visual representations (charts and graphs) of your retirement readiness, net worth, cash flow, and financial goal tracking. You can also see how varying your current approach can affect your savings and goals. The MyAdvisor platform also enables you to book an appointment with an RBC advisor and to meet with your advisor using video chat or phone to open new accounts, including investment accounts, and get advice on meeting your financial goals.

Financial planning services and investment advice are provided by Royal Mutual Funds Inc. (RMFI). Investment advice provided by RMFI may be delivered through the MyAdvisor platform. RMFI, RBC Global Asset Management Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company are separate corporate entities which are affiliated. RMFI is licensed as a financial services firm in the province of Quebec.

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