Nine Money-Saving Tips for Visitors to Canada

Even with meticulous planning, the cost of traveling can quickly get out of hand. Add up foreign taxes, high conversion rates, shopping sprees, and other unforeseen costs to your flight and accommodation charges, and you can see why gobbling through your budget is so easily done. If you’re visiting Canada this time, the good news is that it’s one of the most competitive countries in the world when it comes to travel affordability. But there are plenty of ways that you could be saving even bigger. We’ve put together a list of handy tips to help you make your budget stretch even further when you visit Canada. 

Tip #1. Shop Around for Travel Deals:

The best thing about visiting Canada is that it’s so easy to get to from the USA. You can choose to drive across the border in a car, on a train journey, via bus, or via air. Since there are so many different ways to travel, it’s certainly worth doing your research beforehand to figure out which option is going to work out the cheapest for you. Of course, there may be other variables to consider, too – for example, flying is going to work out much faster in terms of journey time, so it could be worth paying extra for a plane ticket if you want to cut down as much travel time as possible. 

Tip #2. Get Savvy with Flight Bookings:

If you’ve decided that flying to Canada is the way forward for you, don’t worry – there are still several tricks that you can use to try and keep your expenditure to a minimum when it comes to flight tickets. For example, booking flights to Ottawa in advance with Porter Airlines can yield great results in terms of savings, and you can check back at different days of the week and times of day before you book to see if there are lower prices that you can take advantage of. If you’re flexible with travel dates, you might want to consider waiting until the last minute to book tickets on a flight that isn’t full as more often than not, you’ll find that prices drop in an attempt to encourage more bookings. In addition, it could be worth considering flying into an alternative U.S. airport before making your way over the border. Many major Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver are just a few hours’ drive from the U.S. border. 

Tip #3. Travel Off Season:

If you can, booking your trip outside of the peak season can save you a considerable amount of money overall. Canada’s high travel seasons are comparable to those of the U.S.; summer, spring break, and Christmas time all tend to be busier and more in demand than the rest of the year when it comes to tourism. Since Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October, U.S. Thanksgiving in November is a great time to travel since this is usually a slow month for the Canadians. Other cheap times to travel include April for springtime skiing, or discount ski packages in January due to a drop in demand. 

Tip #4. Stay in a Smaller Town:

Like anywhere, staying in a big city in Canada is always going to be the most expensive option. Whilst you can try and cut costs by staying in modest hostels or booking your room through AirBnb, the best option is to find accommodation in a smaller town, and travel from there to the larger cities for day trips. Staying in a smaller town means that you’ll really be able to make your money stretch further when it comes to what you get from your accommodation. You’re more likely to find a room with a private bathroom, breakfast included, and parking, for example, at a reasonable price compared to the big cities. 

Tip #5. Splurge on Lunch:

Visitors to Canada will find that dining out eats up a huge chunk of their travel budget. Although it’s not particularly expensive in terms of overall travel, dinner time can set you back a fair amount here thanks to expensive food and alcohol resulting from high government taxes. Because of this, splurging on lunch is a better idea than treating yourself to dinner; you’re more likely to be able to take advantage of discounts and special price offers due to a lower demand at this time of the day. 

Tip #6. Traveling on the Weekend? Stay in a Business Hotel:

If you’re traveling to Canada on the weekend, then you’re already likely going to be paying more than you would if your trip was mid-week. However, one of the best ways for you to try and offset the additional cost of weekend travel is to stay at a hotel that’s mainly aimed at business travelers. Both major cities and small towns in Canada have hotels that are popular with businesspeople, however, the majority of their bookings are from Monday to Thursday. As a result, they will tend to reduce their rates on Friday and during the weekend in order to make themselves a more attractive option to leisure travelers. 

Tip #7: Take Advantage of Coupon Sites:

Whether you’re a coupon clipper or not, there’s no denying that you can find some great money-off vouchers online for a wide variety of purchases, and travel is no different. It’s certainly worth taking the time to search for vouchers and coupons online that you can use to cut the cost of your trip in advance. In addition to deals on airfare and accommodation, you may also be able to find coupons that you can use to enjoy tourist attractions, Canadian restaurants, and other activities at a reduced rate and make your budget stretch even further. 

Tip #8. Check Out Free Attractions:

Don’t forget that you don’t have to spend money on everything that you do when visiting Canada. In fact, there are several awesome attractions, activities and more that you can do completely free of charge. For example, you can see the Niagara Falls for free, but bear in mind that you will need to pay if you wish to take a boat tour over the falls or get souvenirs from the nearby shops. In Toronto, there are plenty of parks, museums, cultural centers and markets that offer visitors something for nothing. 

Tip #9. Use Public Transport:

Taking a cab could be the most convenient way to get around, but sadly it’s also the most expensive transport option when you’re visiting Canada. Instead, why not take advantage of the public transport systems available? Toronto in particular has an awesome system of streetcars, buses and subways which are relatively simple to use and can get you around the city in no time. If you’ve driven over the border, you can find commuter parking lots where you can leave your car before buying a daily or weekly bus ticket to explore. Family tickets are also available, which comes in handy if you’re exploring Canada with your kids. 

Canada is certainly not the most expensive vacation destination out there, but the cost of travel can quickly add up anywhere you go. By being savvy when it comes to choosing transport and accommodation costs and keeping your eye out for ways to save money during your trip, you can make your budget stretch further than ever. 

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