How to find a travel deal this spring
There is a trick to finding a great travel deal these days. I’m just back from an assignment that took me to Florida and I can tell you travel is back. Planes are full. Hotels are ramping up and car rentals are hard to get. Both prices and demand are skyrocketing.
What happened to all the travel deals?
At the tail end of last year, grabbing a travel deal was easy! Flights were at record lows and hotels were clamouring for your business. But things have changed. The tragic war in Ukraine has had an impact of course – increasing gas prices and diverting air travel. The Great Resignation has meant that many of your favourite establishments are short or understaffed. The idea of off-season / shoulder-season travel has been derailed by travelers who had planned to travel last year and had to push their trip into the spring thanks to Omicron. And, of course, we all want to make up for all of those celebrations we missed! Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and family reunions have us clamouring for resorts in far away lands. I popped on to The Social to talk to hosts Lainey Lui and Cynthia Loyst all about it.
Is it too late to snag a travel deal?
The good news is that it is not too late to get a great travel deal. While it might take a little more effort and being open to redefining what a deal looks, if you play your cards right there are still plenty of deals to be had. Here’s how you can grab a great deal:
- Prioritize value over cost: Consider what you’re getting for the money you’re spending. Sometimes those perks mean that even if you aren’t technically spending less, you’re getting a great travel deal.
- Look for travel deals like its your job: Make a habit of looking out for travel deals and when you see them bookmark the site and don’t waste time deliberating. Great sites to check include: The YYZ deals pages on Facebook, Travelzoo, dailytraveldeal.ca and skyscanner. If a site offers an option to sign up for alerts, do so! That way you’ll never miss a sale.
- Check some of your old travel deal favourites: Some of the places you may have forgotten about are still around and can offer you a great travel deal. If you’re a CAA member remember that they have a travel arm and are offering some great new package deals. And the tried and true – like Expedia.ca or Booking.com – are always great places to compare, bookmark and research your trips. Our recent stay at a Booking.com hotel in Miami was a dream and a deal!
- Be Flexible and Try to Plan in Advance: Those “Buy now, travel later” or fully refundable booking options are a great way to lock in a price while maintaining some flexibility in case – for whatever reason – you have to change your plans later.
How to make sure your deal isn’t a dud
A travel deal can quickly become a regrettable decision if you aren’t making sure to protect it. Now, that you’re travelling again, don’t forget these key travel musts:
- Buy Travel Insurance: Make sure you understand what you’re getting. Will your accommodation costs be covered if you test positive away from home? What if you have to cancel your flight? Ask the questions before you buy to make sure you have what you need.
- Consider using a travel agent: There are so many sites out there where you can do all your travel deals yourself, but an agent can help make sure a deal is actually a deal. Plus, they often have connections that can make your trip even better.
- Don’t forget that we are still in a pandemic: Sure, we’re able to travel more freely now but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. Do your research to make sure that you understand what the situation is in the places you’re visiting. Many spots in North America have been dropping mask mandates but not everyone is. You may still need masks on transportation (and perhaps elsewhere). Knowing ahead of time will make it easier and keep everyone safe.
- Don’t forget the hidden costs: Exchange rates can be rough right now. Gas bills are going to make road trips more expensive. And if you’re looking for a rental car, you’d better start early and expect a wallet-sized gut punch. Make sure you’ve planned your budget to make it work.
Travel Deals for Ontario Residents:
If you’re a resident of Ontario, Canada you’re in luck! The Ontario staycation credit allows Ontario residents to get back up to 20% of your eligible 2022 Ontario accommodation expenses. That’s whether you stay at a hotel, cottage or campground. There’s a cap: Up to $1000 as an individual or $2000 as a family. The details are on the Ontario.ca website but it’s a great way to save on your Ontario vacation this year. With that in mind you might want to splurge on a stay at one of the province’s newest hotels.
The Royal Hotel in Prince Edward County just opened and is promising the combination of a historic hotel from the 1800s with a full restoration that has brought it into the modern era with a luxurious but comfortable aesthetic.
The hotel boasts 33 guests’ room alongside a host of amenities including a spa, sauna, gym, bakery, café and retail shop. It is in soft opening now but will officially open in May with a pool and outdoor garden area. Weeknight rates start at $369 per night but with your staycation credit it’s a splurge for a deal!
Travel Deals on Low-Cost Airlines
We saw some incredible airfare deals at the tail end of last year but they quickly began to climb again in January. There are however some new low-cost airlines on the scene that have some great bargains worth considering:
- Lynx is offering deals out of Toronto to Halifax or Vancouver to Calgary starting at $49! Pop on to their site at flylynx.com with your departing airport and destination for other options.
- Swoop Airlines – In February Swoop airlines announced that it was adding five new U.S. destinations to its flight plans bringing their total destinations served to 33. Flights from Toronto, Hamilton and Edmonton New York, Chicago, Nashville, San Francisco and LA are all available via non-stop flights. Many of the flights are $99 https://www.flyswoop.com
- Flair – Some of the routes on this airline are as low as $30 each way. They tend to operate out of smaller destinations: thunder bay, Kitchener Waterloo, Kelowna – as well as affordable flights from larger cities like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver https://flights.flyflair.com/en-ca/
Cruise Travel Deals
Cruises are back! It’s not for everyone but ships are reporting higher numbers and there’s no denying that the demand is there.
If you’re not quite ready to get back out on a big ship, you might want to consider a river cruise. These ships are much smaller and tend to explore European rivers which often put you in the heart of the cities you want to visit.
I’ve done a few of these and loved them. One to consider:
Avalon Waterways is offering a special storyteller series on board their ships. The series brings on celebrated storyteller hosts including Candace Bushnell of SATC fame on a cruise along the Seine from Paris, Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild on a Danube trip out of Budapest to the Bavaria region in Germany, and Gillian Flynn author of Gone Girl on the Danube between Budapest and Prague among others.
There are both authors and musicians included in the series and the sailing includes special events like book-signings, Q&A sessions, and private concerts.
These are all-suite ships where you have the widest opening windows in cruising and beds that face the windows for iconic views. And the savings include $499 AIR + SAVE $1,000/couple ($500/person) on the cruise, no single supplement and an extra $200 in savings if you book with 4 or more guests
Caribbean Travel Deals
After the winter we’ve had, warm weather is a definite draw. Any deals there?
O2 Beach Resort in Barbados – new luxury all-inclusive resort in Barbados – Their Beach Escape deal gives guests a savings of up to 45% on stays booked by April 12, 2022. In addition to the 45% off, guests will receive a bottle of bubbly on arrival to a Concierge Collection Suite or a Luxury Suite.
Guests are also invited to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment with spa credit up to USD $125 per adult (with a 5-night minimum stay) at Acqua, the resort’s newly opened, 5600-square foot, full service Acqua spa which offers panoramic, unrivaled ocean views so that guests can soak in the sea-views from the eighth-floor location. It’s absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to visit
Park Hyatt St. Kitts – The Park Hyatt is a 5-star hotel and they are introducing their first ever all-inclusive add-on package. It was just unveiled a few days ago, and is priced at $250/ night per adult, and $100/ night per child. This is a great deal given the fantastic eating options including The Great House, Fisherman’s village and The Stone Barn as well as the bars and beach bar options.
Looking for a Travel Deal that includes your Pet?
Yes! The new pet package at the 5-star Ocean House hotel in Rhode Island is perfect for those who want to spoil their fur babies. Guests pay a $195 pet fee (a portion of which is donated to a local animal-serving non-profit), and in return they get a whole slew of welcome amenities including treats and a toy; use of designer dog beds in their guest room, as well as dog bowls; access to a pet concierge and more. Plus, they’ll point you to a curated list of nearby scenic dog walks. And they’ve also got doggie paddle swim time so your pooch gets their beach time too.
You can watch me chat about some of these tips and deals on The Social on CTV .