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5 Budget-Friendly Summer Vacation Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

It’s never too early to start thinking about your summer vacation. Deciding where should you go and what attractions to see can actually be a fun and exciting part of the experience—particularly when you find ways to stretch your travel dollar. Here are tips on how to plan a summer vacation that’s restful, relaxing and well within your budget.

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Summer vacation in Halong Bay, VietnamPhoto: Fotolia/Trafalgar

Rethink your “summer vacation”

If your summer vacation window is wide open, why not consider skipping July and August altogether? It’s much more affordable to travel in the spring or early fall when flights and accommodations are about 25 per cent cheaper. However, if you’re set on travelling during peak season, you can still save by being flexible. Flying out on a Tuesday instead of a Friday could save you a bit of money, and if you’re taking a flight with multiple departures a day, flying in the afternoon will likely be cheaper than a morning flight. Don’t forget about the destination you’re considering, either. Portugal and Eastern Europe are much cheaper than, say, France or the United Kingdom, while a trip to Southeast Asia (that’s Halong Bay in Vietnam, above) could be more affordable than you might expect.

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Book your summer vacation earlyPhoto: iStock/Johnny Greig/Trafalgar

Book your summer vacation early

It’s always in your best interest to book your summer vacation early. If you plan on flying to your destination, for example, it will be much easier to find seats on your preferred flights if you book in March than if you were to wait until the last minute. (If you do wait until the last minute, follow these eleventh-hour travel tips!) The same thing applies to hotels, where prices are based on supply and demand. What’s more, tour operators often provide financial incentives for early booking, with companies like Trafalgar offering savings up to $466—a significant discount that adds up if you’re travelling with a partner, or in a larger group.

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Summer vacation in PraguePhoto: Trafalgar

Use the right websites

Whether you’re eyeing-up Puerto Rico or Prague (above), there are a lot of websites vying for your travel dollar, and that competition has led to the creation of a number of very attractive perks for travellers. For instance, when you make five reservations with, you become eligible for their “Genius Program” which gives you 10 per cent off as well as early check-in and late check-out at select properties. KAYAK, on the other hand, has a price alerts feature that will send you discounted flight and hotel updates directly to your inbox, which can save you hours scouring the web for the best bargains. (Check out the five best travel apps you can download for free!)

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Book a summer vacation with Trafalgar toursPhoto: Trafalgar

Consider a tour

With so many places to see and things to do (not to mention eat!), planning a trip to Europe can get overwhelming very quickly. If you’re pressed for time—or would rather leave the logistics in the hands of skilled professionals—a tour is a fantastic option. Seasoned tour operators, such as Trafalgar, take the stress out of travel so all you have to do show up and enjoy yourself. More importantly, when you break down the costs of joining a guided vacation versus booking everything on your own, you’ll often find the former represents a significant savings, as it bundles transportation, accommodation and many meals in the price.

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Is your passport up-to-date for your summer vacation?Photo: ShutterStock

Sweat the small stuff

Although they may seem inconsequential, it’s the small things that could throw a very big wrench in your summer vacation plans.

  • You’ll want to ensure, for example, that your passports are up-to-date and you’ve obtained the proper travel visas. If you’re not sure a travel visa is required for your destination, check the Canadian government’s helpful listing here. (By the way, this country now has the world’s most powerful passport.)
  • It’s always a good idea to exchange a little bit of money before you depart so you’re not stuck with paying high exchange fees at the airport. While you’re buying foreign currency, be sure to find out what the partner banks are at your destination, so you’ll know where you can withdraw more cash as needed without being dinged for bank fees.
  • Travel insurance is also a must. If your employer or credit card provider doesn’t offer travel insurance as a standard benefit, be sure to purchase a separate policy.

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