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2022 Canadian Holiday Travel Report

Canadians are worried about inflation’s impact on holiday travel costs, and plan to sacrifice comfort and convenience to trim travel expenses in 2022.

By Shannon Terrell
Oct. 24, 2022

The holidays are upon us, and for many Canadians, celebration plans include travel. This year, nearly 2 in 5 Canadians (37%) plan to spend money on flights or hotel stays during the 2022 holiday season. And most of those 2022 holiday travellers say they’ll use various strategies to save for holiday travel, like choosing flights (40%) and accommodations (33%) based on price instead of convenience or amenities, and spending less on gifts (24%).

A new NerdWallet survey of more than 1,000 Canadian adults — 455 of whom plan to spend money on flights or hotel stays during the 2022 holiday season (referred to as 2022 holiday travellers) — conducted online by The Harris Poll asked Canadians how they plan to pay for holiday travel expenses, what actions they’re taking to save money on their 2022 holiday travel-related expenses, and whether they’re worried about inflation’s impact on travel costs.

Key findings

Savings habits vary ahead of holiday travel

Of Canadian holiday travellers, three-quarters (75%) say they save for travel in advance. And nearly one-third (29%) of these travellers say they start saving more than five weeks before their trip. But about 1 in 5 Canadian holiday travellers (19%) say they save for five weeks or less, and 1 in 4 (25%) say they don’t save for holiday travel in advance at all.

“Considering how costly holiday travel is expected to be this year, and how weak the loonie currently is, Canadian travellers would likely benefit from saving a little longer for their next trip,” says Clay Jarvis, personal finance expert at NerdWallet Canada.

The cost of travel during an already expensive time of year can put a strain on your finances. But flexibility and a little planning can go a long way — especially when budgeting for the holidays. 

Holiday travellers use numerous strategies to save

Of 2022 Canadian holiday travellers, most (91%) are taking action to save money on travel-related expenses this year. And some are willing to sacrifice comfort to cut costs.

For Canadians with holiday travel on the horizon, popular money-saving moves include choosing a flight based on price instead of convenience (40%) and choosing a hotel/motel based on price instead of amenities (33%).

Most holiday travellers will use credit cards in 2022

If you intend to charge holiday travel expenses to your credit card, you’re not alone. Three-quarters of 2022 holiday travellers (75%) plan to put their flight/accommodation expenses on their credit cards.

Of course, there’s more than one way to put your card to use when financing a trip. One in three 2022 holiday travellers (33%) say they’ll use credit card points or miles to cover costs in order to save money this year. 

Costs, stress top of mind for holiday travellers

Travelling during the holidays can often be a logistical nightmare, but this year Canadians have another stressor to contend with: Inflation. In September 2022, Canada’s annual inflation rate was 6.9%. According to the survey, nearly one in three 2022 holiday travellers (31%) are worried about increased holiday travel costs this year due to inflation, and over one-quarter (27%) are reducing their everyday spending in order to save money to pay for upcoming holiday travel expenses.   

Tips for Canadian travellers this holiday season

The following tips may help you cut costs, offset expenses, and reduce anxiety as you prepare for holiday travel.

Explore insurance options

If you’re worried about recouping the cost of cancelled or delayed travel plans, consider insuring your trip.

Many credit cards include some form of travel insurance at no extra cost. Check the fine print of your card agreement for coverage rules and exceptions. Be aware that coverage may not kick in unless you charge the entire cost of your flight, accommodations or vehicle rental to your card.

Consider insurance options from third-party providers if you don’t have coverage through your credit card. You may be able to find an alternative that’s cost-effective and provides added peace of mind.

Put your points to use

Of 2022 Canadians holiday travellers, just 8% say they applied for a new credit card to get a signup bonus to help pay for 2022 travel expenses, according to the NerdWallet survey.

If you’re in the market for a new credit card, neglecting to explore signup offers is a big missed opportunity — these offers can help you quickly build a point balance that can be used for things like free plane tickets, discounted hotel stays, and airport lounge access.

If you already have a travel rewards credit card, log in to your account and find out whether your points can get you where you need to go this holiday season. Even if your points don’t net you a free ticket, some programs let you partially offset ticket fees with points.

Consider foreign exchange fees and rates

Of 2022 holiday travellers, 26% plan to travel outside Canada, according to the NerdWallet survey. If you’re headed overseas, and plan to use your credit card, account for foreign exchange rates and fees to avoid a costly New Years’ surprise upon returning home.

Foreign transaction fees cover the cost of currency conversion when making purchases outside your home country. The fee is typically 2.5% of the transaction amount, and most credit cards charge them. One way to avoid this pesky surcharge is by purchasing foreign currency from a bank or credit union before you travel. Or, you can use a prepaid travel card, which may hold multiple currencies and waive foreign transaction fees.

Be flexible with your travel dates

If air travel is in the cards for you this holiday season, consider baking a little wiggle room into your itinerary. Flight prices vary by time of day, day of the week, and other factors, like whether the flight has any stops or layovers. You may be able to save on airfare by leaving on a different day or at a different time than you’d initially anticipated.

Rent your space

If you’re going out of town for more than a day or two, why not cash in on your absence and rent out your home? Consider registering on a home rental platform to allow others to book your space while you’re away — the extra money could help offset travel expenses.

Methodology

This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet from September 16-18, 2022, among 1,191 Canadian adults ages 18 and older, among whom 455 plan to spend money on flights/hotels this upcoming holiday season. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Marcelo Vilela at [email protected]

“Holiday travel” refers to the period of time between the week before Hanukkah and New Year’s.

“Holiday travellers” refers to Canadians who have taken trips between the week before Hanukkah and New Year’s.

“2022 holiday travellers” refers to Canadians who plan to spend money on flights or hotel stays during the 2022 holiday season.

About the Author

Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell is a lead writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet, where she writes about a variety of personal finance topics. Previously, she was a writer, editor and video host for financial comparison company, Finder. Shannon has appeared as a financial expert on CP24 and has been quoted in numerous publications, including Yahoo! Finance and Black Enterprise. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and English literature from the University of Toronto Mississauga. She’s also a published author whose work has been featured in academic journals from the University of Toronto. Shannon is based in Brampton, Ontario.

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