Trips aren’t cheap, but there are a few simple tricks you can use to make your loonie fly further.
Here are four top tips from Cris David, president of Insight Vacations.
1. Don’t exchange your currency at the last minute
While currency exchange booths at the airport or your hotel might seem convenient, avoid them at all costs, David warned.
“Charges in excess of 10 per cent (plus processing fees) are typical.”
So give yourself time to shop around, as rates can sometimes even differ between major banks.
“Also, avoid taking out money while abroad as you will be double-charged a fee by both your Canadian bank and the country’s.”
- Insider tip: David recommends travellers exchange enough cash before they leave, so they don’t need to use the ATM or credit cards. He said credit card companies will have their own exchange rate and will charge you a “currency exchange fee” on top of that for each transaction.
2. Eat local
Don’t fall for the tourist traps.
“In Venice,” David said, “buying a cappuccino on Piazza San Marco (St. Marks Square) will cost Canadians €25 just for the privilege of sitting outside and listening to the resident orchestra. However, savvy travellers will know you can simply go inside the same café at the back, and order the same cappuccino at a fraction of the price.”
- Insider tip: Some parts of Europe will typically charge a “service compris” (added tip) to your dining bill. “If you and your family don’t mind opting out of a formal sit down meal, do a picnic,” David suggested. “Ten dollars will actually buy you a great picnic lunch for two anywhere in Europe, and many European grocery stores have sumptuous deli sections. Nothing beats picnicking in an Italian piazza while people watching.”
3. Be selective with souvenir shopping
If you’re set on bringing something back for a loved one, choose wisely where you buy it from. If you’re in Europe over the holiday season, there will be plenty of Christmas markets where you can likely pick up some cute trinkets without breaking the bank.
“If you’re dreaming of a designer bag or shoes, purchase them in the designer’s home market (for example Gucci in Florence), for a better deal,” David advised. ‘The tax can be refunded to you at the airport when you are returning home.”
- Insider tip: Typically, many stores will have a sale in January.
4. Book early
Canadians flying to Europe will typically get the highest cost savings when booking 50 days in advance, according to David. An Expedia report also cites Tuesday as typically the most affordable day to book flights, followed closely by Sunday.
- Insider tip: Booking early with a group could sometimes save you hundreds of dollars as many operators offer “Early Payment Discounts.”