Canadian travellers are feeling the bite as we exchange our Canadian dollars for euros or American, Australian and New Zealand dollars but that doesn’t seem to be holding us back. In order to make our limping loonie go the distance, we just need to be creative and search for money-saving options and opportunities.
Google “Canadian dollar at par vacations” and a number of deals pop up in Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Costa Rica and other destinations. And, of course, there are still those countries where our Canadian dollar remains strong, such as South Africa, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Iceland, Tanzania, Argentina, Colombia and Belarus, however, the cost of getting there may be a bit daunting.
When it comes to accommodation, traditional hotels can be pricey, however there are alternatives. Travelling off-season also helps to keep the budget in line. For example, you can travel to Lisbon, Portugal, in November (when the weather is fine, I might add) and rent a one-bedroom apartment for six days through HomeAway.com in the lovely historic neighbourhood of Chiado for just 268 euros. Situated in the centre of Lisbon, you’re within easy walking distance from shops, markets, local restaurants and metro and train stations. And, by eating at local family-owned restaurants, two can dine like kings for less than $40, including wine, espresso and digestifs. In between restaurant meals, your modern kitchen facilities give you the option of preparing your own meals from time to time.
If you do travel to Lisbon, use the Aerobus service instead of a taxi. It is far cheaper and very reliable, offering departures every 20 minutes from the airport to key parts of the city, hotels, Sete Rios bus station and Entrecampos and Cais do Sodré train stations. Adult fares range from 3.60 euros for a one-way trip to 7.20 euros for a 48-hour Aerobus Pass.
Even if your itinerary takes you elsewhere, there is really no need to rent a car. The local bus and train transport systems offer service to anywhere you might want to go in Portugal—or Europe for that matter. Some offer overnight accommodation, so you can travel while you’re sleeping and not lose a day of sightseeing. You also get to relax and see some of the countryside by day.
If Amsterdam is in your travel plans, consider purchasing the “I Amsterdam City Card” at the Amsterdam Visitor Centre across from Central Station in the heart of the city or at the Amsterdam Visitor Centre Schiphol Airport on the arrivals level. The card is valid for 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours and provides free access to 36 museums, a free canal cruise, free unlimited public transport on trams, night buses and metros operated by GVB within Amsterdam, free entrance to several attractions and 25 per cent discounts on performances at a variety of venues. The more you use it, the more you save. If you wish to get out of town, I Amsterdam City Cardholders can purchase the Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket for a special price. Full details are found at iamsterdam.com/citycard.
Another way to make your dollar go farther in London, Rome, Prague or Amsterdam is to combine sightseeing and dining on an Eating Europe tour. If you’re heading to Australia, explore the sights on free tours led by friendly, knowledgeable local guides from I’m Free Tours (in Sydney and Melbourne) or Free Tours Sydney. Nothing is charged up front and, if you enjoyed your experience, you simply contribute what you want.
Airport parking charges here in Canada can be costly. However Park ‘N Fly has been offering some great online deals at their various locations. We recently parked our car at Valet Parking at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport for 30 days and paid only $159.11 with a coupon I downloaded online—a whopping saving of $407.85.
The savings are out there. It just takes a little creativity and effort to find them.