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Disney, plus savings

Ada-Slivinski
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Ada Slivinski: A weak Canadian dollar doesn’t mean you can’t fly south if you’re prepared.

Almost every time my family travels, we fly out of the airport in Bellingham. The hour and a half drive to the airport and the added hurdle of border crossing is always worth it for the cost savings.

Just this past weekend, we flew the four of us from Bellingham to Los Angeles and back for under $500 CAD on Allegiant Air. That’s about what it costs for just one return flight from Vancouver to Toronto – and less than the cost of gas if we were to drive.

It’s the “off season” which really makes it one of the best times to travel. Especially to crowded spots like Disneyland.

I don’t know if it’s my Polish roots or the fact that growing up we spent the summers camping – but the idea of paying hundreds of dollars for a generic-looking hotel room is…challenging. Trading the pricey Grand Californian for the budget Good Nite Inn gave us a place to crash that I didn’t feel guilty not spending any time at.

Yes, the park itself is further away – but so what? With Lyft and Uber at our fingertips, the ride was just $13 and a few minutes away. With Vancouver’s own ride-sharing introduction date an ever-moving target it was refreshing to be able to get around in so many different, convenient and cost-effective ways.

The US’s larger population and therefore buying power means they often score better details on anything from transportation to telecommunications and for those of us living relatively close to the border, it’s possible to take advantage of some of those savings.

Known for being quite a pricey vacation spot, Disneyland is consciously looking to attract more Canadian travelers; for example, the park is currently offering a 20 per cent discount on three day or longer park entrance tickets.

Food prices are another story, but you only need to be prepared. Avoid spending $10 USD on a bowl of macaroni and cheese the size of a mandarin orange by bringing your own snacks. One thing I didn’t know before going was that Disneyland actually allows you to bring your own food into the park, something not common in Canadian amusement parks.

What often makes spots like Disneyland so expensive is all the “extras” people feel compelled to spend on, from breakfast with the princesses down to endless stuffed animals, t-shirts, and souvenir pins. Onsite photographers take photos of you with their own Nikon cameras –  and then try to sell them back to you starting at $78 USD.

I’m certainly not the only one watching my wallet while still trying to give my kids those magical memories. According to a recent study, residents of Vancouver are the most indebted of any major Canadian city, and over 50 per cent of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque.

However, just as lipstick sales and other small luxury purchases tend to rise during a recession, people still want to take holidays even when cash is tight. The strange trend is that while overall trips – domestic, overseas and to the United States is down from last year – spending while on those US trips is up.

It’s possible, and even necessary, to make family memories without every moment being luxurious or Instagram-worthy because those priceless moments shouldn’t have to break the bank.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at ada@jampr.co

SWIM ON:

  • After cracking down on short-term rentals like Airbnb, Vancouver now (also) wants a piece of the tax pie, says Ada Slivinski.
  • Bob Price wrote about new and emerging trends in the Canadian travel industry.
  • Paula Arab on a cost-saving move on the part of Canada Jetlines that sadly, does not appear to have gotten the airline off the ground.
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