Your news feed has no doubt been peppered with lists aimed at inspiring your travel choices in 2019. But here’s a list that speaks to what many Canadian travellers hold dear: good value.
Travelzoo, an international publisher of exclusive offers and experiences for 28 million members, has curated a list of six diverse destinations around the globe that will be kinder to our long-suffering loonie.
Susan Catto, Travelzoo’s in-house travel expert, is tuned into why Canadians are savvy about finding deals. “We don’t get as much holiday time as the Europeans and it takes a long time to get anywhere,” she says. That’s why we seek budget-friendly destinations.
Here are the six to put on your radar if you’re looking to save some coin. They all take into consideration the Canadian dollar, major events, access from Canada and other factors important to Canadians.
South Korea: Post-Olympics destinations are always a frugal traveller’s friend. The infrastructure built to host the Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018 makes it easy for travellers to access parts of the country via a shiny new train from capital city Seoul to areas in and around the host city.
Greatly discounted four- and five-star hotels built for the Olympic crowds are going for around C$70 a night and flights can be had for about C$600 during seat sales.
Beautiful mountains, pagodas and Buddhist temples are some of the star attractions, not to mention delicious Korean food like bibimbap and bulgogi.
Romania: This isn’t a place you’ll often see on a must-go travel list, but Catto says it shouldn’t be overlooked.
“(This) is going to be one of the hottest destinations in a few years,” she says. “It fits the bill for food, culture and history; it just hasn’t caught on yet.”
Air Canada offers flights from several major Canadian cities to the capital city of Bucharest, where dining is economical and luxury hotels go for around $110 a night.
Colombia: Once considered a dodgy destination, Colombia is having a moment.
With its hot climate (average temps in February are a lovely 26C), this is an excellent destination for warmth-seeking Canadians who want beaches and cheap eats with a good dose of city life on the side. It’s also a coffee-lovers’ epicentre.
Cities such as Cartagena along the Caribbean side offer beaches set against beautiful crayon-coloured historic colonial buildings. Bogota, meanwhile, is known for its wealth of culture, pretty cobblestone streets, museums, international food scene and night life.
Manitoba: The central Canadian province has become mostly known for its polar bears in Churchill but it’s fast becoming a hot spot for northern lights viewing north of Winnipeg, says Catto.
In Winnipeg, winter visitors can savour a frozen river dining experience, the architecturally and culturally moving Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and a fantastic dining scene. Catto says four major hotels are opening and the iconic Fairmont has prices around $110 a night in winter.
Ireland: Ireland is always a good idea, but Catto says she’s seeing some inspiring travel packages that will suit Canadians’ frugal side.
And it’s not just for Game of Throne fans. The cities of Galway and Dublin can keep you busy for days with their eclectic cultural scenes, while Northern Ireland will appeal to those who love rugged outdoorsy adventures.
Several budget airlines fly from Canada to the Emerald Isle and include stops in other not-to-miss cities, such as Amsterdam with KLM or Reykjavik with WOW.
Puerto Rico: Post-hurricane, Puerto Rico is storming back with amazing deals aimed to revive tourism. While it’s in rebuilding mode, the country offers Canadians cheaper accommodations, even though this is a U.S. territory with U.S. currency.
Beach-lovers will be spoiled for choice here and this is home to three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays.
When you’re not beach-side, there are plenty of waterfalls and rainforests to explore.
Keep up your fitness resolutions while on the road
If you travel regularly for business, you know how tough it is to maintain healthy fitness and eating habits. Calgary’s Hotel Arts, in the heart of the city, has a few refreshing ideas to keep you on track when you’re visiting, perhaps stuck in long meetings or indulging in too many lunch and dinner sessions.
These ideas will clear your head and have you on top of your game again:
- Hotel Arts is a passionate supporter of Calgary’s arts scene (you just have to take a tour of the premises to see that), so topping their get-outside list is a self-guided Beltline Urban Murals walk or run. This 2.5-km route through the Beltline will have you cruising past six of 15 outdoor colourful downtown public artworks and feeling like you not only burned a few calories but got a little local culture along the way.
- The Elbow River runs around pretty Lindsay Park, just a 15-minute (about one km) urban jaunt from Hotel Arts. You’ll traverse through the trendy Mission district, where you can get a caffeine jolt at Phil & Sebastian or Purple Perk. Need more exercise? Head south to Stanley Park and return on the urban trails to catch your next meeting.
- If you’d rather bike, Hotel Arts has a fleet of Norco bikes that are perfect for navigating urban trails. Or pick up one of the city’s newest eye-popping Lime Bikes by downloading the app. If you have time, hook up with Nomad Mobile Gear Rentals and take a guided bike tour. You can choose from a Coffee and Bike Tour or the off-your-diet Bike and Brewery tour.
- Rather stay inside? There’s a second-floor fitness centre, and Anytime Fitness (open 24 hours a day) and HotShop Yoga are also connected to the hotel. If you’re really feeling stressed, you can always book an in-room spa session for a massage, facial or mani-pedi. The hotel also has poolside yoga sessions Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting.
Troy Media columnist Lisa Monforton is an award-winner Calgary-based travel writer. Follow @lisamonforton on Instagram and Twitter.