FROM MY TRAVEL BAG >>
No matter where your travels may take you, accommodation costs probably chew up a huge chunk of your travel budget. According to hotels.com, the latest Hotel Price Index reveals Canadian travellers paid an average of two per cent more for accommodation globally in 2017. And, given international tourist arrivals worldwide grew to 1.3 billion in 2017, representing a seven per cent jump over 2016 (according to the latest UN World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Barometer), I strongly suspect that upward trend will continue in 2018.
In 2017, Confederation celebrations created a record tourism boom across Canada, resulting in an average increase of two per cent in hotel prices across the country, with the highest average increases reported in Halifax, Whistler, Mont Tremblant, Banff and Vancouver. Both Toronto and Montréal saw a price hike of eight per cent.
In Europe, accommodation prices in popular destinations like Portugal, Spain and Greece rose by as much as 10 per cent due to increased tourism demands. However, you might want to look at visiting Eastern European destinations in Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Albania, Hungary and the Czech Republic, where your Canadian dollar goes much further.
If you’re searching for deals, look no further than the USA. Triggered by a decline in the overall number of foreign visitors to the USA in 2017, the country generally experienced incredible price drops as high as seven per cent in notoriously expensive cities across the country, making the U.S. more affordable and appealing for Canadian travellers. Exceptions were Orlando and Las Vegas, where prices rose by one and three per cent respectively.
A little farther south in Colombia, bargain hunters might consider visiting Bogota where the average night rate was $107 in 2017. And with Colombia gaining popularity among Canadians, now is a good time to go before the rest of the world discovers it.
Perhaps an Asian destination is on your radar. Now may be the perfect time to tour the Land of the Rising Sun. A strengthening dollar against the Japanese yen resulted in Tokyo recording the highest fall in average price, dropping seven per cent compared to 2016.
When it comes to finding the best air fares, most travellers choose airlines based on convenience and comfort rather than cost. But you may still want to shop around. If your departure times or dates are flexible, you have a better chance of finding a lower-cost ticket. If you live near more than one airport, you can compare flights and possibly trim your costs. Or consider flying on a holiday, such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, when air fares are as much as 50 per cent less. Once you’ve booked a flight, hopefully, all goes smoothly. In the event of a flight disruption, check out Airhelp (airhelp.com) to determine if you’re eligible for compensation.
Hotel and airline prices aside, you might also prefer to visit countries where you are most welcome. According to the Internations Expat Insider survey based on the insights of close to 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories, the top 10 most welcoming countries are Portugal, Taiwan, Mexico, Cambodia, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Oman, Colombia, Vietnam and Canada.
Solo travel is another big travel trend for 2018, with the boom attributed partly to female influencers empowering others to travel alone. And hotels, such as the St. Giles Hotels, with properties located in New York, London (England), Sydney (Australia) and Penang, are launching programs to attract solo jet-setters, with savings of up to 20 per cent and special amenities and services designed specifically to their needs and wants.
Time always plays a huge role when you’re travelling, especially if your itinerary includes a romp through several cities. How do you make the most of your time at each destination and still maintain a sense of balance? The 48-Hour Power Jaunt series from Explorateur Journeys (explorateurjourneys.com) might just be what you’re looking for. They’ll custom-craft itineraries for you based on what’s most important to you.
We wish you a wonderful summer.