March Break or Bust

Canadians jet-setting despite sky-high household debt levels

Vacation budget, March Break, Credit Card
After a record-setting winter, Canadians are eager to hit the beach.

(TORONTO, ON)  –  Even the frugal can fall.  You might have an air-tight budget, immune to most

impulses, but this time of year serves up the biggest test: March Break.

Whether it’s pressure from your enthusiastic kids (who all seem to have a “lucky friend who’s going to Disney World again!”), or from within (it was a record-breaking winter, after all), many Canadians are feeling a tremendous urge to splurge on a getaway.

Last year, a CIBC poll showed that the average March Break traveller was planning on spending an average of $2328 on their getaway.

Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, worries that a chunk of the money spent on March Break this year will wind up on credit cards.

We all know that household debt is through the roof,” says Schwartz.  “It’s a symptom of living beyond our means – people may not be able to afford a vacation but they’ll take one anyway and hope they can pay for it later.”

Despite the fact that half of Canadians are living paycheque-to-paycheque, they seem driven to get away from the slush and snow that has made them miserable over the winter months.  Airports are expecting some of the busiest days of the year, as bound-and-determined Canadians take to the skies.

I always like to stress the very simple test of assessing ‘wants’ versus ‘needs’,” adds Schwartz. “A vacation very clearly falls into the ‘want’ category, but many are treating it like a’ need’ and are going into debt as a result.”

To make vacationing a little more financially attainable, Consolidated Credit reached out to some of Canada’s top financial bloggers and put together a series of tips and tricks that will easily bring down the cost of your trip, wherever you’re headed.

  1. Consider connecting flights
    Connecting is tough, especially if your kids are young. However, it can shave tons of money off your airfare. Plus, if you can find a connecting flight out of a great destination, you can always push your connecting flight a day or two and see the sights while you’re there. Blogger Corinne McDermott from Have Baby, Will Travel has great tips on flying out of Buffalo, too.
  2. Budget for indulgences, and bring that money in cash
    It’s inevitable that something will catch the kids’ eyes – or yours! – so plan accordingly. Bring that money in cash, so that when it’s gone, it’s gone and you won’t overspend and come home to a big credit card statement.
  3. Bring just the essentials
    Airlines are hiking their baggage fees like no tomorrow, so make sure to bring only the essentials and get the kids to do the same. Blogger Globetrotting Mama put together a great list of everything you can bring in a carry-on.
  4. Use Your Points
    It really pays to save up your credit card’s travel points. Not only can they be applied to flights, but you can often use them for travel insurance and car rentals. Try a credit card comparison site to find a plan you like. The Calculated Traveller has a great guide on using credit cards to save.
  5. Think local
    Everyone wants to head south – especially during a long winter like this one – but there’s tons of fun to be had close to home, too. Use a service like Trekaroo to explore local, family-friendly options.


About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.: 
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.


For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact:

Jacob MacDonald, Public Relations Coordinator, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 647-390-5253, F: 416-915-5200, E: [email protected]

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