July has always been a month of thinking and planning for me. When I taught, I would be finishing the annual yearbook and grad video for the first week of holidays in July. The second week was needed to unwind and feel relaxed. By the third week I was in the holiday mode and I was thinking about trips.
After a two-year closure during the pandemic, the travel industry is returning to a new normal. With the opening of borders, the ability to once again plan trips two years into the future is possible. Setting long-term travel goals allows you to continually move toward that goal in your research and networking. In the case of travelling, planning that far into the future also lets you find the best travel deals.
Prices are generally higher right now than before the pandemic, but they are starting to drop and deals are returning. I have been getting emails for destinations and flights, and was just offered two weeks in Japan including flights for $999. Harrah’s Casino and Resorts sends me offers of free flights and four night’s accommodations every month because I am a member of their players club which is free to join.
One of the biggest deals out there for the budget traveller is using points to fly free. The TD Bank gave me 50,000 points this year for signing up for an Aeroplan Visa card. For free. I just used them to book a flight from Calgary to Malta. For free.
Cathay Pacific has seats for $850 return from Calgary to Hanoi for April, 2024. Asian Airlines is offering unlimited flights for $500 that allows you to fly free within Southeast Asia including Australia for a year. There are a lot of deals out there if you look.
I take advantage of sales when they come available. In June I booked Westjet EconoFlex seats from Calgary to Lihue, Kauai for $650 return for February. I was able to use Westjet dollars, so my return fare actually cost $305. The EconoFlex fare lets you change or cancel with no fees and gives you flexibility to change flights in order to get better deals or cancel if something comes up.
Our fall trip to Europe is to southern Italy, Sicily, and Malta. I booked one-way flights to London on a March sale for October. The Econoflex fare was $580 and I used $250 in Westjet dollars, so it cost $330.
I cancelled last month as we decided to fly directly to Malta on Lufthansa using Aeroplan points instead of stopping in London and taking RyanAir to Malta for $65. The money I paid went into my Westjet travel fund and my Westjet dollars were put back in my account. I used my travel fund and Westjet dollars a few weeks later to book one-way tickets from Tampa, Florida to Calgary in November.
Another great deal is repositioning cruises. In November after hurricane season the cruise lines reposition their fleets from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. We are boarding a two-week repositioning cruise from Barcelona to Tampa on the Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas. The cost is $750 each including taxes and port charges. That’s $50 a day for gourmet meals, accommodations with daily cleaning service, and top-notch entertainment. It’s cheaper than staying home.
No matter what your budget is, you can find a trip that will suit your budget. All you need is the desire and know how.