Though times may be tough, many families are making decisions that are best for their families. Perhaps this is not the year to be splurging on extraneous luxury vacations if we don't have the funds to do so, but we can certainly choose more ideal options that suit our families and our budgets. The memories created through family travel are much too important for me to forgo completely so hopefully I can help you find the best option for your family so that you can continue to make those unforgettable childhood memories.
1. Book early.
If you have plans to travel, book early to secure your price. Prices for many vacations are best when they are first released and tend to increase as demand increases and supply diminishes. This is particularly the case for cruises (especially Disney cruises). Many vacation packages simply require a deposit to hold your reservation and your price with final payment deadlines due about 30 – 60 days before your departure date (policy varies with different suppliers and types of vacation packages). Once you have committed to your vacation with specific dates and a deposit, it makes it easier to commit to the final end goal and what an awesome goal to achieve it will be!
2. Book last minute.
On the flip side, if you have flexibility in time or destination and are open to almost anything (including less than ideal flight options), last minute deals are always available! However, many of these specials are extremely limited and offer absolutely no room for customization or changes for individual situations.
In my experience, these options are fantastic for those who are looking for a great last minute getaway and are open minded for an adventure and new experiences. But for many families who have to take into account their specific families' needs, preferences, ages of kids, room preferences, etc...booking earlier with the time to research your families' needs usually takes precedent over fantastic last minute deals. It doesn't necessarily mean it can't be done,... but it may require some expertise in the area!
Which leads me to.....
Even for the most die hard D-I-Y travel planners who enjoy the whole travel planning process can always utilize the expertise of a travel agent as it doesn't cost you anything extra to use an agent. We are available for as little or as much help as you require. Find one you connect with, someone you can trust and will ensure you will have the most amazing time away. I guarantee you will get much better service with a personal travel agent than an online booking website!
Yes our poor loonie is taking a beating right now in the world market. It's not pretty. And when you exchange CAD into USD, it hurts right now. *Ugh.* I feel it. I'm sure you feel it too. It's not easy swallowing that exchange rate right now. Book as much of your vacation in CAD right now to avoid the hit with the US exchange rate and support our Canadian suppliers as much as we can. The more support we provide them, the more they can negotiate with their suppliers to help obtain the best pricing for Canadian travellers. Many travel plans (air, hotel, all-inclusives) can be booked as a customized package with rates in CAD dollars so pay in CAD as much as you can!
Put aside a little bit of extra money to contribute to your vacation savings account. If you don't specifically make a savings account for your vacation, you may never find the time or the money for it. Life gets in the way. There is no time. We have bills to pay, homes to renovate and kids activities to pay for. Plus, we need to eat! With the cost of food increasing and never-ending bills, it may seem like an endless cycle of outgoing funds with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Put aside a little bit of money regularly and you will be surprised how quickly it can grow if you don't think about it. And when the opportunity to travel arises, you will have something to draw upon to help with the budget. You don't need a windfall of cash to be able to go on vacation (although that will certainly help!) Carefully planning and budgeting can go a long way to make your travel plans come true.
6. Buy US dollars.
If you travel regularly to the US, it might be a good idea to begin buying USD regularly. Just a little bit at a time. And when the the dollar is faring a bit better, purchase a little bit more. It's always handy to have a little USD funds on hand as you never know when you may need it. Then when you do, it doesn't cost you anything extra as it's money you already have! Most Canadian banks have US accounts you can open so you can transfer money in CAD and US back and forth. It's a great way to begin collecting USD dollars without much effort. If you choose to take it a step further, you can even apply for a US credit card issued by a Canadian bank. This credit card charges in US funds and does not charge the user a conversion fee for each transaction. You can then use your US account to pay the credit card, thereby only paying the US conversion rate once. There is an annual fee for a US credit card so it's only beneficial if you travel a lot or pay in US funds regularly.
7. Stay close to home.
2016 may be the year of the “staycation”, a perfect opportunity to discover what's closer to home and in our “backyard”. The dollar may impact our choices to travel abroad, but it doesn't have to prevent us from travelling altogether! There are so many wonderful places to visit in Canada that we can always find beauty and amazing travel experiences closer to home!
8. Road trips.
With the lower price of oil these days, it may be advantageous for many to drive instead of flying. Road trips offer some of the most amazing childhood memories that are embedded in every family's fibrous being. It's just a part of us and a part of growing up.
9. It's cheap(er) to fly now.
The one upside to low oil prices I suppose is the cheaper cost of airfare these days. With less demand for air travel, and lower oil prices, airfares prices are promising for those who are wanting to venture further out into the world for travel experiences. The world is a very big place. We just have to hop on an airplane to seek an adventure somewhere else.
10. Buy less stuff.
Souvenirs are great and who doesn't love buying souvenirs to remind them of place and experiences in travel? But perhaps, scale back on the souvenirs and invest in memories. Invest in your family. Invest your funds into the experiences you and your family will have on your vacation. You may not keep the stuffie from a certain theme park, or the sombero hat that looked really cool when you were on holidays, or all the cool trinkets for sale along the beach or in fun flea markets.
But you will always have the memories of experiences - of swimming with the dolphins....of zipling through the rain forests....of experiencing and overcoming the thrill of a scary roller coaster......of dining with magical characters that kids only know from television and movies.....the list is endless. And the list is yours to decide what you want to experience and what memories you want to create with those experiences.
Time. We only have so much of it. So we need to make the best of what we are given. This temporary blip of uncertainty will pass. But time goes on. Our children will grow up. We cannot wait for tomorrow to begin what we can do today. We know we need to make some sacrifices to get through this but just pay attention to where you cut back as you can't go back in time. Don't delay too much of your travel plans and don't let the crappy loonie take away from your family's memories!