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Travelling this spring? How to save money on your next trip – National |



As March break kicks off in parts of Canada, hundreds of thousands of Canadians are set to hit the roads and airports this week in one of the busiest travel times of the year.

At Toronto Pearson International Airport, up to 140,000 travellers are expected to pass through every day this week and nearly 1,000 flights will take off and land on peak days, according to the airport.

The Canada Border Services Agency is reminding anyone travelling for March break by car, plane or ship to “plan ahead and check border wait times,” which are typically longer on the Mondays of holiday long weekends.

Click to play video: 'How to spend March break without breaking the bank'

How to spend March break without breaking the bank

Despite the high cost of living, many Canadians are not shying away from splurging on travel, new polling shows.

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A report published Tuesday by American Express looking at global travel trends showed that 36 per cent of Canadians surveyed plan to spend more on travel in 2024 compared with last year.

“Canadians are looking to take longer trips compared to the global average this year, visiting multiple countries in a region or taking expedition or remote trips,” said Vanessa Crooker, vice president of brand, partnerships and lifestyle benefits at Amex Canada.

“With 44% of Canadians looking to travel during off-peak seasons, we’re expecting Canadians will choose to get their travel fix in this spring before the busy summer season hits,” Crooker told Global News in an email.

More than 1,000 Canadian adults took part in the survey by American Express between Jan. 31 and Feb. 8.

With an average of $8,824 for all leisure trips in 2024, Canada ranked second globally – after the United States – for the highest anticipated average money spent on leisure vacation.

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“Regardless of the mortgage rates, regardless of inflation … people are travelling and they are travelling in numbers that we haven’t seen since pre-COVID days,” said Martin Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc. in Toronto.

Click to play video: 'Miami Beach ‘breaks up’ with spring breakers in new commercial'

Miami Beach ‘breaks up’ with spring breakers in new commercial

Even though Canada experienced a mild winter this year, many people are still craving some sun and warmth over the spring travel period.

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“I think Canadians are really sticking to the tried, tested and true when it comes to their typical March break vacations,” said Jennifer Weatherhead, a travel expert in Toronto. “And we’re talking about anything that’s hot.”

Mexico, the Caribbean islands, and Central and South America are among the top international destinations, along with Arizona and Florida in the United States, Weatherhead said.

“We are seeing a little bit of an uptick also when people go into further international destinations like Europe.”

How to save money on travel

Spring is an expensive time to travel, Firestone said, with everything from airfares to hotel prices high right now.

“Unfortunately, if you want to get away, you’ve got to put up with the higher costs for sure,” he said.

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Canada also recently lost another one of its low-cost carriers after Lynx Air filed for creditor protection and ceased operations.

“There’s one less player in the field and that only means one thing: less competition, higher fares,” Firestone said.

For those flying Air Canada and WestJet and who recently bought their tickets, expect to pay more for checked-in luggage as Canada’s two largest airlines recently hiked their fees.

Weatherhead advised to travel light with a carry-on to avoid those additional costs and hassle at the airport.

Click to play video: 'WestJet, Air Canada to charge more for checked baggage'

WestJet, Air Canada to charge more for checked baggage

Overall, it has become cheaper to fly in Canada. The cost of air transportation dipped 14.3 per cent in January compared with the same time last year, according to the latest inflation data from Statistics Canada.

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Canadians are increasingly turning to “travel hacks” to save some money on their next trip, the American Express poll showed.

An overwhelming majority (85 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they are interested in finding flight deals so they can spend more on accommodations or upgrades.

In that poll, 44 per cent of Canadians said they will travel during the off-peak seasons when fares are lower and 41 per cent said they will use their credit card points to pay for flights and hotels.

One in five (20 per cent) Canadians said they will book through companies that offer complimentary hotel benefits, such as room upgrades and hotel credits.

Weatherhead said even though it might be a little late to get good deals on a spring vacation, travel rewards and points can help people save a lot of money.

Travelling domestic is another way to cut your travel costs, Firestone said.

“It’s still really great to travel within Canada,” Weatherhead added.

“It makes it so much easier. You don’t have to deal with so many delays. A lot of places can be easily accessed by driving as well, doing a road trip.”

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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