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Money saving ways to enjoy world travel

Travel is one of life’s pleasures, but it may seem out of reach if you’re raising a family or worry about spending your retirement savings. Take heart, with a bit of creativity and advice from seasoned travellers, you may be able to do much more than you think.

Here are some great tips to make your travel dollars go farther:

Travel off-peak: Prices go down, even luxury spots, in the off-season or shoulder season. By doing your research, and packing the right clothes for cooler weather, you’ll also avoid prime-time crowds.  And remember, off-peak means choosing cheaper flights on certain days, staying in business hotels on the weekend or booking tourist spots mid-week when vacancy rates rise.

Plan ahead: You can save a lot by planning your trip up to a year in advance – or at least a few months before your departure date – to book hotels or flights during major sales or before price hikes occur. At least map out your rough itinerary early so you’re ready to grab a deal if one appears.

Be flexible: Complementing the tip above, be flexible and ready to travel with little notice. For example, retirees may be able to take advantage of last-minute holiday sell-offs by resorts or airlines. Also, be flexible with your dates, accommodations and itinerary since different routings can be less costly.

Be a deal hunter: With your destination in mind, sign up for travel websites that publish bargain prices. Track airline and ticket seller twitter feeds to hear about sales first. Chat up your travel agent for advice on sale periods and the best package combos. 

Member privileges: While it can be a challenge to cash in your points, with persistence and flexibility you can travel free by racking up miles with frequent flyer or rewards programs. Also join hotel, car rental and other clubs to learn about special offers or get invaluable promo codes that can reduce prices when you book.

Think like a local: Connect others who have visited or live in your destination city, including via online traveller forums, since they may know reasonable places to stay and eat. It’s also worth researching free or discounted local attractions since some cities offer reduced prices for multiple museum visits. Use local transit and find economical family or day passes. Also, live like a local through an online guesthouse service like airbnb.ca or a home swap program, so you can stay in non-touristy neighbourhoods or cook your own meals.

Avoid pricey extras: The little things add up so plan ahead to avoid costly airport meals, taxi fares, hotel breakfasts or last-minute fees or upgrades. Look around for better exchange rates, travel insurance policies, discount shopping zones, and overseas phone or Internet plans.

Finally, start saving now for that special trip. The best way to save, whether it be for a trip or other purposes such as retirement, is by putting away a bit each month. Contact our office to learn about easy, automatic savings options.

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