I travel to the states frequently on recreational trips and, with the Canadian Dollar dropping, have looked into ways to save money. If you are like me and live close to the border in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Vancouver, or the Fraser Valley like I do, travelling to the United States is something you likely do at least several times a year.
Tip #1 Choice Hotels
I have joined this group and it offers a large number of motels and hotels as great rates. We used to use Best Western but this saves us the exchange difference. Many of the choice properties will offer a further discount of 20% if you pay upfront with a credit card. Cross check them the property Trip Advisor to confirm it has a good rating as some are much better than others. We averaged less than $60 US a day on a recent trip. It can also help to reserve as far in advance as possible as I have seen evidence of prices rising closer to the date if the property has fewer rooms available.
Tip #2 Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is essential and you can get great coverage at reasonable prices. You can purchase insurance for each trip but if you travel outside the country on a regular basis you will find that an annual plan can result in significant savings.
There are not many people now specializing in travel insurance as it tends to be something you add on when you book a trip. Do not gamble with this as you can have an automobile accident and find yourself in a hospital on a trip lasting even a few minutes to get gas. This could be financially devastating if you do not have the correct travel insurance. It is not worth the risk.
One company that has a dedicated team of experts as well as being a true broker with many companies to choose from is IDC Insurance Direct Canada. The person I have used, Zahid, has many years’ experience and is very familiar with all the options from individual plans to annual plans.
Tip #3 Purchase your American dollars through an online currency exchange.
The Vancouver Bullion and Currency exchange is my choice, but there are likely others like them out there. You set it up so that it automatically takes the funds from your Canadian account and puts the equivalent $US into your $US account. Most banks will setup a $US account at no cost.
This morning TD bank was selling American dollars at $133.23 while I was able to purchase it at only $1.3066 at the VBCE which is a very significant difference. On $2,500 Canadian, the savings is $64 which will cover the cost of one night at some Choice Hotels. If you open an account in the US with Wells Fargo, you can save at least a full point on the exchange but it is not very convenient for most.
Don’t let the lower dollar change your travelling. Just do it smarter.