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Canada Day: The top 10 cheapest destinations from Canada’s major cities, according to Kayak

If you wanted to score the best deals for a quick gateway on Canada's birthday, you should have started looking weeks ago, says one expert.
If you wanted to score the best deals for a quick gateway on Canada's birthday, you should have started looking weeks ago, says one expert. Getty Images

If you’re planning to take this Canada Day off but haven’t decided where to go, here’s some inspiration.

If you’re in Toronto, you may still be able to score a round-trip flight to Montreal for less than $300. For less than $350, you may be able to make it to San Antonio, Texas; Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California; or Halifax.

For Montrealers, the cheapest flights lead to Toronto, New York, Florida’s Fort Lauderdale, Chicago and Las Vegas.

Vancouverites may be able to make it to Edmonton for less than $200, Calgary for less than $300 and Los Angeles and Phoenix, Ariz., for less than $350.

From Calgary, your best bets are Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles and Montreal.

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The data comes from travel comparison site Kayak, which crunched the numbers for domestic and international airfares conducted on its site for travel dates between June 27 and July 2, right around the July 1 long weekend.

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KAYAK’s prices are based on searches conducted in May so fares may have come up since then. If you wanted to score the best deals for a quick gateway on Canada’s birthday, you should have started looking weeks ago, cautioned personal finance expert and travel blogger Barry Choi. In general, many of the best deals for summer travel require booking in April.

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The results also come from an algorithm assembling thousands of individuals’ searches, says Choi, adding that you may not be able to replicate those findings.

Still, Canadians can use those numbers as “a good range estimate,” Choi said.

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The best dates to travel

The extra days you’re attaching to the standard Saturday-through-Monday holiday may also make a difference in terms of price.

If you’re travelling domestically, tacking on the Tuesday after July 1 is much better than leaving on Friday, June 28. Flying out on Sunday, June 30 and returning on July 2 is the cheapest option, with median airfares around $200, according to Kayak. The next best option is leaving on Saturday, June 29 and coming back on Canada Day for a median airfare of just over $320.

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If you’re crossing the border, though, you don’t need to worry about taking off on Friday. Leaving on June 28 and returning either Tuesday, July 2 or Wednesday, July 3 is your best bet, with median airfares ranging between $650 and $680, according to Kayak.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll still be paying a premium for travelling around a long weekend, Choi said.

For example, Choi estimates that a round-trip flight to New York from Canada generally costs around $270, far cheaper than Kayak’s national estimate of $386 for the Canada Day period.

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Things to avoid when at the airport: buying food, getting foreign currency or dropping off your rental car

Airfare is one of the big-ticket items on any trip, but not paying attention to your smaller costs can still burn a hole in your pocket. Airports, in particular, can be a big source of budget creep.

Dropping $12 on a sandwich while you’re waiting for your flight is one to avoid, Choi said. Instead, plan ahead and bring your own food.

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Another thing you should never buy at an airport is foreign currency, Choi said. Currency exchange kiosks at international airports are usually a very bad deal, he added.

“I can’t believe people still use them,” he said.

READ MORE: What you don’t need when you travel — foreign transaction fees

Your best bet to keep foreign exchange costs down is to get a credit without foreign transaction fees, Choi said. Most Canadian credit cards apply a spread of 2.5 per cent on the market exchange rate when you make a purchase in a foreign currency. Often, consumers don’t notice this as the fees are usually baked into the exchange rate.

Some cards, though, like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card or Home Trust Preferred Visa don’t charge these fees, Choi said.

Finally, the airport is a place to avoid when dropping off your rental car. While picking up your rental at the airport and dropping it off in the city is the cheapest option on average — with a median price of $70 for a mid-sized car — picking up and dropping off your vehicle at the airport typically costs $15 more, according to Kayak.

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