The start of the new year is a little anti-climatic. After a full month of preparations, the holidays are over. By the time you sing the last verse of Old Lang Syne, the realization that there’s nothing left to do sinks in. As the post-holidays blues mounts, it’s natural to look for a distraction. Many Canadians shift their focus onto the next big thingon their calendars. From your position buried deep below the nearest snow drift, March Break may seem far away, but it’s getting closer every day — which means the countdown to prepare for your week under the sun is on!
Or not. Depending on how much merry you made during the holidays, you may not be in the position to go away on an all-inclusive trip. You wouldn’t be alone. For those Canadians who relied on credit cards during the holidays, their primary focus in 2018 is to repay these bills. Some struggle to do this while covering other needs. Some return to these credit cards or rely on payday loans just to make essential household repairs. These aren’t the type of people packing for a resort in Punta Cana.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy March Break. There’s a way to get the most out of this vacation with any kind of budget. Here’s a guide of financial lifehacks you can really use to keep your holiday fun and affordable.
Post-pone your vacation
If your budget lets you take the family away to sunnier climes, be aware of how your departure time affects the cost of your vacation. March Break is an incredibly busy time of year for families. With their children off from school for a whole week, many parents choose this specific time to book their holidays, and the prices of flights, hotels, and other packages reflect this high-traffic time. If you can avoid the actual March Break, try picking a week well before or after it. You’ll avoid some of March Break’s inflation.
Time your purchases correctly
Regardless of when you hope to take off, make sure you purchase your flights on a Thursday. Most major airliners reduce their tickets by Thursday in hopes of filling any unpurchased seats, so you stand to save a little dough if you wait to click buy. According to CheapAir.com, you should also try to purchase your tickets anywhere between three weeks and three months of your intended departure.
Try a road trip
While it would be nice to sip a piña colada under the shade of a palm tree, it’s not the only way to celebrate March Break. A local destination can offer a different, yet interesting, way to spend your week off. Head to Google to see if there’s anything worth investigating within a few hours’ drive of your home. A local destination ends up being a lot cheaper when you don’t have to exchange your struggling loonie into foreign currency, and it helps the domestic economy.
Get app happy
There are a ton of travel apps designed to save you money. Take, for example, Hotel Tonight, which aims to help find economical, last-minute deals at 4-star hotels. Or Hopper, an app that calculates the cheapest flight for your intended destination. There are even apps that help you find a deal at restaurants or cultural centres in the cities you visit. Head to the Play or App Store to find the one that fits your needs.
Organize a staycation
You don’t need to leave the province to have a successful March Break. A staycation spent around the home can save you a lot of the stress that comes with travel. With no start times or alarm clocks, you can choose how to spend the week. Whether it’s curled up in front of Netflix’s latest western, Godless, or out exploring your home town, make it count. If you do go for the latter, research your city as if you were a visitor and look up those stores, restaurants, and museums you’ve always meant to visit but never got around to experiencing. Don’t forget to look up outdoor activities in your area. It may be winter, but the cold season is the perfect time to try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
When you’re on a budget, March Break can be a challenge. It can feel like everyone else in your life is planning elaborate trips around the world, while you’re stuck making the most of a staycation. Don’t let your envy for their sunny destinations compel you to overspend. There’s a budget-friendly way of spending the week in March for every financial situation. Make sure you plan your vacation according to yours. Be responsible with your money as you banish the post-holidays winter blues for good.