Nova Scotia

7 ways to beat the drooping dollar when booking your vacation

Travel experts offer tips to make sure the Canadian dollar doesn't ruin your vacation.

Travel agents offer tips to make sure the Canadian dollar doesn't ruin your vacation

The low Canadian dollar is making some people rethink their vacation plans, but local travel agents say there are still tricks to plan a getaway that won't break the bank. (Marsha Halper/The Miami Herald/The Associated Press)

Travel lovers are gearing up to find a bargain at the largest travel fair in Atlantic Canada this weekend.

But people at the Maritime Travel event in Halifax and other travellers across the country may be nervous about vacation prices with the dollar hitting new lows.

Despite that, travel agents at the fair say there are still ways to beat the lagging loonie.

Here are some of their tips:

1. Pay upfront

Financial experts are suggesting the value of the dollar will continue to drop. Paying upfront will lock in the price, so you'll know what to expect. 

"I have some people that are looking at making final payments in U.S. dollars in a couple months," said Sandy Smith of Mouse 'N More Travel, which specializes in trips to Florida and Disney World. 

"I have given them the option of paying it up now if they can, and they thought that was a good option."

2. Pay in Canadian

Several tour operators are now offering their prices in Canadian dollars. Blair Jerrett of Maritime Travel says he's seen some river cruise companies make the change.
The weak Canadian dollar is reflected in prices paid recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (Submitted by Paul Emile d'Entremont)

"A couple of them have traditionally been in U.S. pricing," he said. "But as of December [they] are featuring all of their cruises in Canadian dollars, which people absolutely do prefer."

It's something Smith recommends to her customers as well. 

"I know that you're going to pay a little difference for it, but you're saving on going to the bank, exchanging the money, exchanging it back and that kind of thing," said Smith.

3. Forget the hotel

Jerrett says this is the year to travel with other families and split the cost of a vacation home, which can be a fraction of the price of a hotel room. That way, you also have the option of cooking a few meals. 

"If you have to feed a family of four in a restaurant three times a day and pay in American dollars, that can add up," he said. 

4. Use your points

If you're heading to places like Florida or California, check with your loyalty rewards program. Some, including Air Miles and Aeroplan, have offers to redeem points for entry tickets for tourist attractions including Disney and Universal Studios. 

5. Book last minute

Fall bookings for all-inclusive trips were soft, says Jerrett. He says people were starting to notice that prices were inching higher than last year. He suggests the empty flights will soon be a tourist's gain and predicts airlines will scramble to sell seats.

6. Look for Canadian deals

Some destinations are reacting to the dropping loonie, so Smith recommends people look out for those discounts specifically for Canadian tourists. She points to a recent Disney deal that offered 25 per cent off hotels, which would compensate for some of the dollar difference. 

7. Change your destination

This might be the year to forgo the U.S. and instead think outside the box. If you're willing to spend more time in transit, Jerrett says they're recommending destinations including Malaysia or Australia.

But if you don't want to deal with exchange rates at all, Smith is calling this the year of the staycation. She's suggesting a train ride through the western provinces, or says a trip to Quebec City can give people the European feel for a fraction of the price. 


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