March 17 2009 by Bryson Forbes
Despite what Chicken Little and every newscaster, radio host and journalist would have you believe, the sky is not actually falling!
Personally, I don't think I can take much more of the doom and gloom and am looking at things from a different angle. This challenge has created some of the best travel opportunities seen in decades. The reason is simple; you stand to get the greatest value for your vacation if you plan and go during the current recession.
To take advantage of the great offers available, my wife, Ruth, along with our two kids, my daughter Caira, six going on 16, and son Ethan, who is four, just returned from a 10- day escape to Arizona. The deals were great for every facet of the trip. Hotels, car rental companies, restaurants and even airlines are fighting hard to win your business, which means great value for Canadians looking to travel.
In an attempt to save a few bucks ourselves we took advantage of our proximity to the border and Buffalo and flew with Southwest Airlines. They, along with local airlines like Air Canada and WestJet, have aggressively been promoting seats sales, slashing prices in an attempt to spur demand. It seems to be working; both our flights were completely full each way. In fact, WestJet announced in early February that its January 2009 load factor, which measures "bums in seats", was 76.8%, a new January record!
Restaurants also are fighting for your business. We saved money on our trip by looking for restaurants where kids eat free. If you are traveling to the States, try checking out Web sites like MyKidsEatFree.com and KidsEatFree.com. For families staying in Canada, there a ton of great message boards where parents are sharing this information, like SmartCanucks.ca.
Arizona provided the perfect backdrop for me to escape for a few rounds of golf. I played three times in 10 days and each round was fantastic. A great resource for golf-loving travelers looking to sneak a round in while on vacation is golf411.com, a site dedicated to last minute discounted tee times.
The pace of our vacation was perfect and the vitamin D from the Arizona sun had me smiling everyday. My family and I enjoyed our trip so much, and saved so much, we extended our stay for three extra days.
Fellow travelers - what great values have you found on your recent vacations?