How to have a cost-efficient international trip
Young female tourist in Rome

International travel is expensive. From flights to hotels, activities and meals, plus a little shopping, it all adds up quickly. Plus, with the recent inflation, we’re seeing the cost of travel increase even more. So, how can you save on your next vacation? Here are some tips and tricks on how to have a cost-efficient international trip.

Travel during shoulder or low season

Most people tend to travel during the summer months, March break, or over the Christmas holidays. While these might be convenient times to travel in terms of work vacation days or weather, it’s the same time that everyone thinks to travel. With such high demand during these peak times, travel businesses will increase their prices to match.

Instead, look to travel during the shoulder seasons or even the low season. Now, you’ll want to do some research ahead of time to ensure that things are still open and weather-conducive; for example, you won’t be sunbathing in Santorini in January, but travelling a couple of months before or after the typical high season can be a great way to save on costs, especially for hotels and flights. There’s also the added bonus of fewer crowds for tourist attractions in the off-seasons.

Book in advance

With the travel demand being so high after the pandemic, last-minute deals aren’t as popular as they used to be. Instead, you’re better off planning in advance so you can take advantage of promotions, seat sales, or other deals. Many travel companies will have sales during big holidays like Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Boxing Day, Canada Day, and more. It’s also worth signing up for email lists, especially for airlines. That way you can be the first to know about sales and promotions and possibly snag a deal. 

Sign up for loyalty programs

Loyalty programs and points can be game changers when it comes to travel. Some programs are connected to so many Canadian stores (and credit cards!) making it easy to collect points that you can then redeem for flights, hotels, or vacation packages. There are also hotel loyalty programs if you have a specific brand or chain that you like to use.

Get a no-FOREX fee credit card

Travel credit cards can be fantastic when it comes to collecting points and getting some insurance coverage. However, one feature that can really help you save money when it comes to international travel is to get a card that doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees.

Most Canadian credit cards have foreign exchange fees. This means that on top of the exchange rate, you will pay an additional premium for using the card outside of Canada. The fee is typically 2.5% which may not seem like a lot, but can add up very quickly. If you are planning on using a credit card for international travel, it’s in your best interest to have a credit card that doesn’t charge these fees.

Choose accommodation wisely 

A great way to save money on international travel is to consider booking apartment-type lodging or a room with a kitchen rather than just a traditional hotel room. Eating out can be a huge expense when you travel, and having a kitchen space where you can even just keep a few basic things for snacks and your own breakfast can save quite a bit of money. After all, groceries are a lot cheaper than restaurants. 

Another thing to keep in mind when booking is location. City centre places will be more expensive, but sometimes it’s worth paying that upfront cost if the alternative is spending a lot of money on public transportation or taxis to get around. Do some research ahead of time and figure out what location will end up being the better deal for your budget.

Make use of public transportation

Speaking of public transportation - aside from your feet, it’s typically the best way to get around. So rather than jumping in a costly taxi or car share, learn how to use the local bus/tram/subway/train system. It can end up saving you a good chunk of money, especially when it comes to longer journeys like getting to and from an airport.

Don’t forget travel insurance 

Finally, don’t forget about purchasing travel insurance. While this might be an additional cost upfront, it can really save you in the long run. From lost luggage to delayed flights to health care scares, travel insurance is essential when travelling and can help protect you from huge expenses that you didn’t expect.

Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog Eat Sleep Breathe Travel where she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.

Hannah Logan is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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