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Five ways to save some money on your winter travel

Couple with luggage embracing (Thinkstock)

Suggested resolutions for 2016: swear less; ramp up flossing; call parents more. And see more of the world. Yes, there are ways to travel on a budget and save money getting there so you can spend money while there, instead. 

Here are five tips that will definitely save you hundreds of dollars in upcoming months. (Improving floss rate, cutting out cussing and calling your folks are entirely your responsibility.)

1. Hopper, the crystal ball of flight prices. The promo copy in the App Store reads like a one-two punch: “Hopper analyzes millions of flight prices daily to predict how prices will change, and tells you when to buy your tickets.” It tells you when to buy and fly and it monitors fares on specific routes. Even if the onslaught of price notifications leads to flashbacks of your parents pestering you to finish high school homework, so what? Hopper can save you up to 40 per cent, which can be huge depending on your destination.

And if you think it sounds too good to be true, don’t worry, it’s legit: the Canadian-made app was just named one of the App Store’s Best of 2015, the only travel app to make the list.

2. Bundle your trip on Expedia.ca

  • All-inclusive vacations are extremely popular among Canadians and it’s most economical way to travel, says Jennifer Callegaro, Expedia.ca’s director of brand marketing. You’ve got your flight, hotel and, with most resorts, food and beverage are covered in one cost, as well as transport from airport. “It makes for an easy, affordable and hassle-free trip,” she says. Travelers can save up to $500 when they combine or bundle aspects of their trip. That’s where Expedia.ca can really bring you some savings, Callegaro says. 
  • Last-minute booking: Expedia.ca has buckets of deals on flights, hotels, and cars.
  • Travel apps can help you save big. Book using the Expedia.ca mobile app before December 31 (and complete travel by March 31, 2016) and you’ll earn triple Expedia+ points on flights, hotels, cars, and activities. 

3. Check out The Big O, and I don’t mean Oprah. The annual migration of Canadians south to Florida begins in December and continues to the end of March. “Visit Orlando” has some ideas that help Canucks save so we can guzzle butter beer and eat and eat and eat. 

  • The Artegon Marketplace Membership Card delivers 10-20% discounts to shops, restaurants, and entertainment. You can book a free shuttle to the mall from many hotels. 

4. Luxury-sharing economy. Voljet.com is a luxury air travel website that connects people to private jets, allowing passengers to select private and commercial airline itineraries. It offers nonstop flights to more than 900 airports. No standing in long lines at stinky, crowded airports. 

The prices are cheaper than typical charter rates and there are no upfront charges or membership fees. How is this possible? It turns out nearly 40 per cent of chartered planes fly empty or at low capacity during one leg of the trip. “It’s not a good business model, not good for the community and not good for the environment,” says Laurence Rabe, the company’s co-founder.

Travel to Canada is coming soon. Picture this: you and your pals form a group and share the cost of flying. 

For example, a three-hour, one-way flight from New York to Miami costs $15,144 USD for a full charter (so the entire jet is yours), and if you start or join a group of four, it costs $3,861 per person USD.

5. Tina Richardson, business development manager at the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), has some money-saving travel tips. 

  • With the Canadian dollar weak in the knees right now, Richardson suggests picking up U.S. dollars in advance from your bank, because you’ll get a better foreign exchange rate than if you visit money changers at the airport. 
  • Money, money, money. “My best suggestion, although it’s not really great for today,” Richardson says, “is to open a U.S. dollar bank account.” She opened a savings account years ago when the exchange rate was good. “Our dollar will be strong again!” 
  • Consider newer hotel properties when booking. They often have reduced rates when they first open. 
  • Ye old chestnuts: travel light and only take carry-on bags to avoid baggage fees. Pack snacks and forgo the in-flight $11 sandwiches. They’re soggy and bland anyway.