Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Beat the vactation blues - budget travel ideas from the Marilyn Denis show

To watch the video from my Marilyn Denis segment, click here.

Beat the Vacation Budget Blues

Kelley Keehn shares spending strategies to keep your vacation budget under control.

Budget Travel Tips

1. Make it an experience.

Get your kids a journal and have them record the journey, research in advance what they want to do, historical highlights, etc. With enough advanced planning, you and your family can savour your trip for months! If you have a teenager, consider splurging and paying for their BFF to come along.  That way they’ll be entertained and less likely to be bored and miserable.

2. Try a sort-of staycation.

Staycations have been recommended heavily since the 2008 recession and recently with our low dollar. However, people tell me that they rarely stick to “being a tourist” in their city and instead waste their week off with grouchy kids, spouses and end up catching up on chores and errands. What about a “sort-of” staycation? With AirBnB, you can still get away, just don’t go far. If you live in Vancouver, head to Victoria. Calgary – go to Canmore. Toronto – well…anywhere in Ontario could work. You’ll save on lodging and air travel and can likely use your own car.  Plus, you don’t have to eat out every meal if you book a place that encourages cooking.

Also consider asking the grandparents to take the kids on a vacation. This is a growing trend. That way, you and your spouse really can achieve success on your stay-cation.

3. Hit the grocery store as soon as you land.

Even if you have to spring for a taxi, you’ll save by loading up on bottled water, snacks, forgotten toiletries – all very expensive if bought at the hotel gift shop.

4. Maximize research and deals.

Can your kids get caught up on a week’s work of schoolwork early and duck out for maximum savings on off-peak times? Use flight alerts (try, Google Flights and Expedia or TripAdvisor for packages) to help save on airfare. Sign up for weekly deals like Travelzoo to take advantage of flash sales. Don't forget rewards programs – every dollar counts.

5. Use your age, student and membership discounts, and negotiate!

Always ask what the place accepts – sometimes that’s enough to get a deal. This also might be a great time to dust off all your points. I find sometimes they go further with hotels than flights. Upgrading to a club floor with your points might buy you breakfast at a great hotel for free for the entire family during your whole trip.

Always ask and negotiate – everything! If you can’t get a better hotel rate, can you get a free upgrade, ½ price on a second room, kids eat free offers, etc.  And keep asking every time. Sometimes a different person will say yes!

6. Insurance – always read the fine print.  

Check your credit card or call your bank to find out what type of coverage you have with your card – does it cover the car insurance when you’re renting, medical insurance, flight/trip cancellation? It all depends on your card, so don’t guess. Also, check your home/auto policy to see what’s covered that maybe you can say no to. And even if you’re staying within the country, you may wish to get provincial coverage for extras.

7. Book package deals and tours,

A cool tour/educational vacation is  It’s a non-profit that provides educational experiences with tour guides. They have some very reasonable experience packages in Canada.

8. Set a souvenir budget.

Set a budget in advance, as this forgotten cost can add another 10-20% to your trip. Get your kids to start a new hobby such as stamp, coin or postcard collecting. For adults, take time to take really cool pictures on vacation and blow them up and frame them when you get home as opposed to spending money on trinkets.

9. Research cash vs. credit.

In Canada, I’d highly recommend paying with your credit card as you have the extra layer of protection from your credit card company if something goes wrong or you don’t get something you were promised. But for foreign countries and depending on the exchange rate and fees associated with your credit card, even in the United States, it might make sense to pay in cash. Do you research before you head out!

10. Alternative between free and expensive fun.  

You should have a balance during any day of paid excursions/sightseeing and what can come at little or no cost.

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