Update: Readers report Tripcentral.ca won’t accept US credit cards online. I’ve spoken to them and they WILL accept US credit cards over the phone at 800-665-4981. It’s because folks booking trips to Cuba need to sign a waiver due to the travel embargo.
Did you know that sometimes the best paid deals, especially on vacation packages, can be bought in Canada?
You could save $400 per person (or more) on air & hotel packages to Mexico, the Caribbean, and other popular destinations by booking through Canadian online travel agencies and tour operators.
If you live within driving distance of a major Canadian city, or are
a short flight away, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars on vacations if you fly from a Canadian airport. Even during peak travel times!
And because the American dollar is worth much more than the Canadian dollar right now, there are some excellent deals available! I’ll explain how to find them.
What’s the Deal?
More so than in the US, Canadian tour operators and travel agencies often buy airline tickets and hotel rooms in bulk from airlines and hotel chains to sell to consumers as tour packages. And if these seats and rooms go unsold, travel companies are often on the hook for the cost they paid.
That’s why you’ll sometimes see deeply discounted deals from Canadian tour operators, especially at the last minute. And that can mean extra savings for US folks who are flexible in their plans and can fly on short notice from a major Canadian airport!
Often the best deals are for short (3 to 4) night trips to Las Vegas, Mexico, and the Caribbean. But sometimes you’ll see sell-off packages to Europe and beyond, too.
Where Do You Find Last-Minute Deals?
There are a number of Canadian online travel agencies that sell flights, hotels, and tour packages (including last-minute deals).
Remember, because the US dollar is worth more than the Canadian dollar, you’ll actually pay less than the advertised prices (which are in Canadian dollars). You can easily check the conversion rate on xe.com, but it’s currently ~1 Canadian dollar = ~88 cents.
Because these are Canadian websites, be sure to use a card that does NOT charge foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (which earns 2 points per $1 you spend on travel) or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
How Much Will You Save?
I checked last-minute vacation packages from Vancouver and Toronto.
Tripcentral.ca lists the cheapest deals from major Canadian cities. Prices are updated several times a day, and are usually quoted per person, based on 2 people traveling (double occupancy).
I like that you can see at a glance what the lowest prices are for different destinations.
Note: The best deals are often to vacation resorts in Cuba. Sometimes you’ll see a week at an all-inclusive resort, including airfare and taxes, for less than $500!
I’m not a lawyer so I can’t comment on the
stupid restriction legalities of Americans flying from Canada to Cuba, but I know folks who have done it!
Example: Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A 4-night stay at the all-inclusive Holiday Inn Puerto Vallarta, including round-trip, coach class airfare from Vancouver and all taxes, costs ~663 Canadian dollars (~$583) per person.
That’s a great deal for 4 nights at an all-inclusive hotel, including airfare!
This could be a good deal for folks who live in the Northwest within driving distance of Vancouver. Or for folks who could get there cheaply using British Airways Avios points (4,500 points each way for flights under 650 miles).
Seattle is the closest major US city to Vancouver. I checked Orbitz for the same hotel and dates to see how the prices compared to flying out of Canada.
You’d pay ~$743 per person for the cheapest similar package departing Seattle for the same dates at the same hotel. But the flights are much less convenient.
So a couple could save ~$320 (~$160 savings per person x 2 people) by flying from Vancouver instead of Seattle.
But remember, you’ll have to factor in the time and cost of getting to Vancouver. So do the math and see if it makes sense for you.
Example: Toronto to Ocho Rios, Jamaica
A 7-night stay, including airfare, taxes, and breakfast daily costs ~577 Canadian dollars, or ~$508.
The closest US airport to Toronto is Buffalo (~2 hours drive). The same package and dates, with flights out of Buffalo instead, costs $915! And the flights aren’t non-stop, like they are out of Toronto.
So you’d save ~$407 per person by booking this trip from Canada ($915 price from Buffalo – ~$508 price from Toronto). A couple would save ~$814!
Folks in New York City or Chicago could fly to Toronto using British Airways Avios points for only 9,000 points round-trip in coach class. And Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.
In this case it’s definitely worth looking into flying from Canada.
If you can get to a Canadian airport easily and these deals appeal to you, remember you should still shop around before you book. You won’t always save money compared to booking through an American online travel agency or tour operator.
You could save hundreds of dollars by booking vacation packages (air and hotel) through Canadian online travel agencies. The last-minute deals are often much cheaper than booking from a nearby US airport.
And because the US dollar is worth more than the Canadian dollar right now, you’ll save even more after the currency conversion! Just be sure to use a credit card that doesn’t add foreign transaction fees.
Have you flown from Canadian airports to take advantage of these travel deals? Please share your experiences in the comments!