By Craig Wong


OTTAWA – The holidays can be an expensive time of year and flying home or to sunnier climes can be even more so.

But experts say planning ahead before heading to the airport can save you cash.

Travel agent Omar Guechtal says simple things like remembering to take snacks and an empty water bottle to fill after you’ve cleared the security screening can save you money.

“It is just a matter of being savvy and being smart with regards to what you’re going to do and how you’re going to be doing it,” says Guechtal, an assistant team leader at Flight Centre in Ottawa.

Knowing the rules and limits that apply to what you can take on board a flight and how much you can check will save you any extra charges for oversized bags, he adds.

“A lot of the airlines are cracking down on it and enforcing them quite strongly, especially when it gets to carry-on luggage when people think they get away with a duffel bag because it is soft,” he said.

But it isn’t just the little expenses.

Guechtal says don’t forget things like travel insurance.

“It is definitely something that people see as an expense,” he said, but it can help keep you on track financially if something goes wrong.

Brent Reynolds, vice-president of marketing and analytics at Capital One Canada, says the costs of travel add up quickly beyond airfare and accommodation.

“People budget for the big items like a flight and hotel, but they often forget the little things like those day-of-travel expenses,” he said.

Based on credit card data, Capital One estimates that Canadians who use their credit cards on the day of their flight spend an average of $58.65 in additional travel-related expenses.

Taxis, airport parking and checked bag fees all take a bite.

Reynolds noted that if you’re looking to stay on budget, avoid the duty-free store where the highest average purchases by those using their credit cards are made.

“If you’ve got a specific purchase in mind, that’s one thing, but if you’re just trying to kill time, you might want to stay out of the duty free-shop,” he said.

Reynolds also said to be aware of the benefits associated with some credit cards that could result in savings.

Certain reward programs allow you to use points to pay for the extra costs related to your trip, while other programs like CAA offer discounts for members on services like airport parking.

Guechtal adds to not forget the return leg of your trip.

If you’ve packed your bag to the limit on your departure, you won’t have any room to bring home gifts or souvenirs.

“Usually I will ensure that my checked luggage stays unchanged and then I will fly out light on my carry-on so that on my way home, whatever souvenirs or whatever it is that I have is actually the weight that was allocated for my carry-on,” he says.


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