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Planning That Affordable Holiday Trip

Planning That Affordable Holiday Trip

By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

Are you an advance planner or an improviser? Your travel planning style might save you money during the busy winter holiday travel season.

Generally, families with children or those who need specific seating and/or direct flights may need to plan earlier to secure such reservations. More flexible travellers can roll the dice on last-minute deals.

Here are some ideas to explore:

Be open-minded about scheduling. Most people know red-eye and early morning flights are typically cheaper. However, holiday travel presents its own set of opportunities for pricing and availability if you don't follow the crowd. Choosing a different scheduling window, including travel on the actual holiday, may not only save money but considerable stress getting to and from clogged airports, trains and bus stations.

If you're driving to your destination, drive smart or leave the keys at home. If you're using your own automobile, make sure your collision and liability coverage are adequate to cover potential medical and repair costs for other motorists if you're in an accident out of town. If you're planning to rent a vehicle, speak with your auto insurance agent before you go. Many personal policies do extend domestic collision and liability coverage to rentals, but it's particularly important to confirm coverage if you're travelling outside Canada. Of course, if you're visiting a place with excellent public transportation or safe bike routes, check pricing. An affordable bike rental (pack a helmet) or multi-day city or regional bus-and-rail pass might eliminate the need for a car altogether.

Sleep cheap. Saving money on accommodations is another area where you can save significant dollars by either planning in advance or trolling for last-minute bargains. Top family destinations generally require reservations months in advance, but see how full they are closest to the actual holiday dates. Many family members may travel a week before or a week after the actual holiday. That leaves more rooms and activities available during the actual holiday. The same goes for stays in other popular tourist locations around the world. Check destination hotels closer to the date to see if they're offering special rates or packages.

Put your membership dollars to work. If you belong to an auto club or have credit cards with particular travel benefits, see whether any of those benefits – from actual mileage points to coupon discounts – can be used to save money.

Check your home, health and business insurance. If you are travelling domestically or globally, see if your personal health insurance extends to your destination. The same goes for home/rental and business insurance. Many people don't realize that some or all of their personal insurance coverage may cover medical, theft, liability, injury and other risks at their destination. Read your policy and confirm your understanding with your agent.

Consider travel insurance to fill any gaps. Once you've confirmed the limits of your personal coverage, research travel insurance policy sites and recent articles on travel insurance so you can make sure common risks like trip cancellation and lost luggage are covered as well as specialized risks like advanced medical care and medical transportation at your destination.

Watch those bags. Many airlines charge ascending fees for every checked bag, so packing light has never made more sense. However, major air and ground shipping companies are now offering luggage-shipping services for domestic and overseas travellers with pickup options at their ground facilities. Make a call and see if this option makes sense, particularly if you take extra clothes or gifts with you at the holidays.

Bottom line: Holiday travel bargains can be found months in advance and sometimes at the last minute. Your flexibility will determine the deals you can get.





This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

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