As travel prices rise, Canadians look for ways to save over peak winter season

By Caitlin Yardley

As the temperature begins to cool, the price of a winter getaway is heating up as Canadians look for ways to save on travel costs over the peak season. 

Accommodation sells out fast over the holidays, but those willing to white-knuckle it can save big, said Macca Shirifi from travel blog An Adventurous World.

“Usually you can get some great last minute deals if you’re happy to wait,” said Shirifi. 

For those who want to get their reservations booked now, there are other ways to keep accommodation costs lower.

“Make sure you use a private browser when booking online, so the cookie searches don’t increase the prices,” said Shirifi. 

Hotels are now often cheaper than private accommodation like an Airbnb rental, since those prices rose substantially during the pandemic, Shirifi said. 

For travel within Canada, Shirifi also recommends opting for a shorter three to four-day trip over a longer two-week trip when looking towards a budget-friendly vacation. 

When choosing a shorter trip, consider planning the getaway around one of Canada’s many winter festivals, said Destination Canada president Marsha Walden.

From the world’s largest winter festival, Carnaval in Quebec City, to Fredericton’s ice sculpture spectacle, FROSTival, there are plenty of festivals across the country to get the most out of a short getaway, said Walden.

“The best thing about festivals is that they often are free and extend over multiple days,” said Walden. 

Canada is known for its renowned natural beauty, from skating on frozen lakes to hiking exhilarating mountain trails, Walden suggests exploring Canada’s great outdoors this winter at little to no cost. 

However, after more than two years of pandemic restrictions many still want to get out and fly. 

When planning a flight within Canada, the price can really depend on when a flight is purchased, as Expedia spokeswoman Melanie Fish recommends purchasing a flight around two months before departure.

“The savings can be huge,” said Fish. “We are talking an average of 40 per cent if you book in that sweet spot two months ahead of time.” 

For international travel, Fish said Canadians should book at least three months in advance, as booking either too soon or too late may not offer the same savings.

As for what international destinations Canadians are flocking to, Fish said Mexico, the southern U.S. and Costa Rica are amongst the top winter sun destinations this year. 

A recent report from Expedia also recommends booking flights on Sundays to save up to 15 per cent, and said that Fridays are the cheapest day to travel, saving passengers up to 20 per cent on flights within Canada. 

Domestic flights that depart Thursday are also a great alternative, with savings of around 10 per cent, the report said.