Spend less

5 ways to (affordably) escape the cold this winter

Think winter travel is out of reach? Not so fast. You don’t have to stick it out in the snow this year if you’re willing to get just a little thrifty with your travelling. There are many ways to catch some sunshine without shelling out more than you can afford. Here’s how you can swing a winter getaway.

Don’t discount Europe

Let’s be real. It’s cold in Canada. Any temperature over 0°C can feel downright tropical during winter. If you like exploring cities, visit the Iberian peninsula—think Lisbon in Portugal and Barcelona in Spain—where winters are 30°C warmer than Montreal this time of year. Islands like Madeira, Crete and Malta also stay sunny throughout our Canadian winter. The best part? You’ll pay off-season prices. Bonus: You’ll also beat the crazy summer crowds.

A beach by any other name

If you’re craving a tropical locale but don’t want to burn your budget, look beyond the major beach destinations. A  vacation at a big name beach like Cancun can cost top sand dollar, but lesser known towns in Mexico like Troncones offer the same sunshine for a smaller cost. (Just be prepared for a longer commute from the airport!) You’ll save even more if you aren’t set on a room with an ocean view. Staying a few streets away from the beach will leave you with more money for margaritas anyway.

Live like a local

Forget fancy hotels. Rent a room in town where you can experience what it is like to really live in winter paradise. People who rent out their houses on sites like Airbnb can steer you away from tourist traps and share inexpensive ideas for fun. Imagine booking a room in Bridgetown, Barbados, discovering your host is a local club owner, and scoring an invite to hang out with her friends on Saturday night? You’ll see an authentic side of the place when you’re with the people who live there full-time, plus you can save on eating out by making meals at your new home away from home. And if you’re really about that luxury life (infinity pool, anyone?), a day pass for the hotel facilities should be cheaper than staying overnight.

Look for Boxing Week deals

During the holidays, booking last minute can actually save you money! In fact, international flights are 14% cheaper during the week of Boxing Day, according to affordable travel site Skyscanner. Look for discounts with major airlines and snap up the best all inclusive deal you can find. Air Canada Vacations is already offering up to 50% off this year for Boxing Day, and Air Transat, Sunwing and WestJet have all announced boxing day sales in previous years, so stay tuned.

New Year, new place

It’s tempting to want to get away from the chaos of Christmas and New Year’s, but it’s cheaper to fly in January or February than December. Sure, it’ll be hard to watch all those Instagram stories of everyone in Tahiti while you’re snowed in, but you’ll show them! When everyone else is back at work, you’ll be heading off to Costa Rica to swim with the turtles for a fraction of the cost. Plus, you can get the inside scoop about what to do from friends who just came from there.

Here’s an extra tip: The more you plan what you’ll spend (and what you won’t!), the more fun you’ll have when you’re there. While you’re on vacation, you should be taking a break from the daily stressors of your normal life. If you’ve planned in advance, you won’t have to think about what you can afford while you’re there. Plus, having a budget and sticking to it will reduce stress when you return home (because you won’t be waiting for a terrifying credit card bill).

Just remember, all the planning will pay off when you’re poolside sipping coconut water from an actual coconut. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen!

Spend less

Vacation calling? Here’s how to save on summer travel

Warm weather is on its way, which means it’s time to start thinking about your summer vacation plans. The cost of travelling the world can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. These tips and tricks will ensure that you’re getting the experiences you want without destroying your wallet.

Be flexible

If you’re flexible with your travel plans, then you can find some serious deals. First, consider where you want to go. Want to visit Asia? Thailand can be significantly cheaper than Japan. Prefer the Caribbean? The Dominican Republic offers more value compared to Jamaica. The day you depart can also make a difference. Flying out on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will usually be cheaper than flights that take off Friday through Monday. Also, take a look at departure times. Morning flights are often less expensive than an evening or overnight flight. And if you’ve got the time, opting for a connecting flights instead of a direct route can also help you save.

Book early

Many companies offer incentives for booking well in advance of your trip. Contiki has a book early and save promotion that applies to itineraries all around the world while AccorHotels offers up to 30% off when you make a reservation at least 30 days in advance.

When it comes to flights, booking early also pays off. Sure, it’s possible that airfare prices will drop, but there’s also an equal chance of them going up. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll definitely end up paying a premium. To get the best deals, try to plan your travels at least six months in advance.

Do the math

When it comes to saving money on travel, everything starts with a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on travel and then try to put a little aside for your adventures every paycheque. Saving $200 every month for travel will add up to $2,400 to spend on vacation each year. Take as many trips as you want as long as you don’t exceed that amount. Alternatively, you could do a reverse budget. Let’s say you’re estimating a two week trip to Europe is going to cost you $3,750 and you’re not going away for 15 months. That means you need to put aside $250 a month to reach your goal. Having a defined budget keeps you on track and ensures you won’t come back home in debt.

Don’t eat out every meal

I love to eat, but trying to hit all the popular restaurants while on vacation can bust your bank account. Try to balance your meals by making trips to the grocery store where you can buy snacks, water, alcohol, and prepared meals. If you’re staying with AirBnB, you can can really cut back your expenses by cooking meals at home. Another way to eat cheap while abroad is to look for street food or markets where you can eat like a local. If you do decide to go to a restaurant, aim to go at lunch when prices tend to be lower.

Use the right tools

There are a ton of apps and tools out there that can help you save. Hopper predicts when airfare will go up or down so you can plan accordingly. For last minute travellers, Hotel Tonight will find you a cheap room that night. KAYAK has a price alerts feature which will email you directly when your selected route drops in price. When you make five reservations with, you automatically become a member of their genius program which gives you discounts as well as early check in and late check out at select properties. If you’re a student, remember to bring your student card when you travel since many attractions and even some restaurants offer a student discount.

The final word

Travelling doesn’t need to be expensive, but you can quickly go over budget when you don’t plan things in advance. That being said, sometimes travelling is all about being spontaneous. If you plan your trip in advance, you’ll have the freedom to explore within your means from the minute you touch down. Whether you want to go backpacking in Malaysia or hang poolside in Miami, your dream destination is not out of reach.