April 19, 2024

Room for savings: Travel and stay for less

By Jane Canapini

Want to stretch your vacation budget? Discover your accommodation personality and check out these online options to save a lot of cash.

It's a sad reality: Canadians don't get a lot of vacation time. A survey by Mercer human resources consultants found that we receive less holiday time than any other developed country in the world. It represents an average of only 19 days a year.

This explains why we treasure those days and try to get the absolute most out of them. It's also why so many of us include travel in our retirement plans.

But unless you're planning on staying in hostels or couch-surfing around Europe, travel doesn't come cheap. In fact, the expense of travel continues to climb. Yet, this hasn't deterred most Canadians from planning their next getaway. A recent study from Blue Cross indicate that Canadians allocated an average of $4,200 for their most recent vacation. 94% acknowledged the escalating costs of travel. However, the study reveals a surge in optimism among Canadians regarding travel. More individuals are planning multiple trips this year.

Despite inflation posing as a hindrance to travel plans, as noted by over two-thirds (69%) of Canadians in 2023, the enthusiasm for travel remains strong. Nearly eight out of ten (79%) Canadians express intentions to travel outside of their province or territory in 2024. This marks a growth of 10 percent compared to 2023.

Fortunately, finding affordable accommodation is possible. In fact, the options are many and varied. And, they don't involve sacrificing those creature comforts you've come to love - like having your own bathroom.

For most of us, where we stay is going to take up a large amount of our research time online. Depending on where you go, accommodations can represent nearly a third of your total travel budget. And, this without counting your airfare, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association. So, researching where to stay is time well spent.

Your stay, your style

If you shop for your family, you have plenty of experience comparing options. You just need to apply those same skills when shopping for accommodations online. But you'll also need to understand your ''accommodation personality."

Not only where but also how you stay is a reflection of who you are. It also reflects the kind of experience you want when you travel. Do you like the consistent service offered by a four-star hotel? Do you prefer to live like a local for a more grassroots experience? Do you rely on a helping hand, close at hand, or are you more independent? These preferences are going to dictate where and how to look for places that fit your accommodation personality. And, in turn, help you find the value you're looking for. We've uncovered six basic accommodation personalities:

1. For the hotel traditionalist

Trivago or Kayak

If you like to know exactly what you’re getting for your money, these sites let you save by comparing all the offers posted for the same room. Different sites may show different prices. No need to hunt through a ton of websites to find the best deal.

2. For the roll-the-dice traditionalist


If you're a control freak, this may not be the perfect site for you. Since it's a blind auction, you won't know exactly where you're staying until after you've paid. Place a bid for what you are willing to pay for a hotel in a specific area and star-rating. Then, see if your price is accepted. If it is, your booking is confirmed immediately -- often for 40% less than regular rates. The downside is that if you don't like the hotel you're booked at, it's too late to change your mind. You’ve already been charged.

3. For the people person: bed and breakfast

(In Canada, BBCanada)

For travellers who like a more personal experience, B&Bs offer good value. You aren't paying for larger hotel amenities, plus the price includes breakfast. And, while there might not be a concierge desk, most hosts are usually happy to offer recommendations. Most cities have bed-and-breakfast association websites. So, simply search for B&B associations by city name, and you'll usually find multiple options.

4. For the think-global-stay-local adventurer

Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO)

If you like the idea of living like a local, this site offers private residences in cities around the world, which their owners rent to travellers. Because you can cook for yourself, this is a great way to save on extended stays. But remember, these are individuals who are renting to you, not companies, so use the site at your own risk. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with the terms being offered. Another, similar option is Airbnb.

5. For the mi casa, su casa house-swapper


If you are willing to leave your home in someone else's hands in exchange for theirs, this is one way you can literally stay somewhere without paying for the roof over your head. House swapping is essentially an accommodation barter system, where you exchange your house with another member in the network, for a mutually agreed-upon timeframe. Accommodations don't get much cheaper than this.

And while you're thinking about your travel budget, remember to factor in the cost of travel insurance, so an unexpected illness or accident doesn't put a damper on your plans or your finances.


6. For the eco-conscious traveler

Travel trends among Canadians are evolving, with a notable increase in interest towards ecotourism and solo travel. Younger demographics, especially Gen Z travelers, are leading the charge, embracing ecotourism to enrich their travel experiences. Eco-conscious travelers are seeking out sustainable stays that prioritize environmental responsibility. These eco-friendly accommodations implement practices such as:

  • Energy conservation
  • Waste reduction
  • Support for local communities

Websites like EcoHotels.com or GreenKeyGlobal.com offer resources to find eco-certified accommodations that align with your values.

Whatever your travel style, spending a little time online can save you a lot on your trip. Because no matter what your budget may be, there's always room for savings.

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