July 28, 2021

Do you really need to buy rental car insurance?

Does anybody actually buy rental car insurance? I know I usually don’t.

Car Every time you rent a car, you can expect to be asked to accept or reject the vendor’s offer of car insurance, known as loss damage or collision damage waiver. But do you really need to pay that extra $15 a day?

Well, maybe.

It’s no secret that most higher-end credit cards like Amex Gold and Platinum take care of the basics like damage collision, theft, liability, fees but those ‘basic’ cards may not – unless you’ve signed up at the source, generally for a $25 to $40 annual fee.

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July 20, 2021

Would you consider going on a volunteer vacation?

After spending an unpaid week in Costa Rica building a school, a friend of mine can’t wait to do something similar next year. And he’s not alone.

Book Volunteer vacations are becoming increasingly popular with those who’d like to do a bit more than sit on the beach for a few days but don’t have the time to join the Peace Corps.  

In exchange for your work and dedication to their project and cause, sponsors like Global Volunteers will take you on an unbelievable journey – at a fairly reasonable cost.

In fact, it seems that just about every travel organization — from tour companies to luxury resorts — has a volunteer component, although prices rise proportionately.

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June 08, 2021

What tricks do you use to get through airport security?

Going through the airport in 2011 is tough. Like, cheap steak-, Canada Post trying to get its way-tough.

Istockphoto_8871331-airport-security But the seasoned traveller chalks up airport struggles with inexperience. Well, idiot, you got sent to the back of the line because you tried to bring shampoo in your carry-on. Of course you got pulled aside: you had your iPod headphones in in front of security. What, are you still wearing shoes?

Indeed, everyone has their ways to make travelling a little less hectic. Though could breezing through security a little faster come down to something simple – like maintaining eye contact?

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May 30, 2021

TripAdvisor's user-generated reviews now on Canadian site

Online travel bookings by Canadians are on the rise, driven largely the strong loonie.

Trip So, it’s not completely surprising to hear that Canada is one of the most successful local units for Expedia Worldwide, the world's biggest online travel company.

Transactions were up 30% overall last year, with gross bookings hitting a record high of $1.5 billion, the Toronto Sun reports.

Determined to hold on to its dominant position, Expedia, which recently announced plans to split its TripAdvisor unit into a separately traded company, has launched an updated TripAdvisor search engine for Canadians.

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May 10, 2021

A stack of fees you shouldn’t be paying for

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from travelling during the past year, it’s that few things are as frustrating as having an extra fee tacked onto your bill.

Fee Witness the unexpected costs of a hotel visit, which now include fees for mandatory valet parking, porters, fitness centers, early check-in, late check-out, housekeeping services, Internet connection, package or fax delivery, mini-bar restocking, in-room safes and even in-room coffee, according to a list compiled by the Associated Press.

And the list of airline fees -- ticket change, phone reservation, exit row seating, peak travel surcharge, first and second bag tariff, curbside check in, pillows and blankets – seems to get longer every day.

But while you may have little choice but to pay many of these travel-related fees, there are a whole stack of fees that can be easily avoided if you’re on the lookout for them.

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April 28, 2021

Got $50M for a vacation? If so, try outer space

When he started talking about commercial space travel 20 years ago, Richard Branson must’ve gotten the same derisive look that Dean Kamen guy did when he tried to mass sell the Segway.

1328265_moon “Yeah, alright buddy. Move it along.”

Think about that: 1991! That was nearly half a decade before the Internet, and a year when we first learned the name Jeffrey Dahmer and “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was the calendar’s top song. Who has foresight like that?

Apparently, Branson, the British billionaire that registered his Virgin Galactic outfit that year, placing him at the forefront of space tourism, which amazingly is coming soon.

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April 06, 2021

Child-free flights coming to Ryanair: good idea?

For an airline that services exactly zero North American destinations, Ryanair sure makes a lot of headlines this side of the Atlantic.

690096_silent_scream A quick rundown of its recent polarizing campaigns, all recognizable by just three hyphenated words: the “pay-to-pee” policy; the “only-one-pilot” initiative; and the “standing-room-flights” movement.

But for all the Dublin-based outfit’s bluster, there’s a reason the budget airline thrives – which is to say, it takes a no-nonsense approach to giving the customer just what it wants, no matter the PR consequence.

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March 30, 2021

Airline fares expected to jump again this summer

The kids will be out of school. You deserve a vacation. You need to work on Spanish.  Whatever the reason, you likely want to take some time off this summer.

Coin Good luck if it involves flying though.

Travel experts expect demand for seats will be brisk, allowing the airlines to keep raising fares.

A few weeks ago, major U.S. carriers like United and Continental raised ticket prices again. But those increases were later trimmed when low-fare competitors like Southwest and JetBlue didn’t follow along. But don’t expect that to last.

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March 22, 2022

Does blind booking a hotel room really pay off?

Price-sensitive vacationers looking to book a hotel seem to have no end of options. The latest entry into the deal-finding field dominated by HotelsCombined and Kayak is Hotelly.

Hotel The fledgling service quickly canvasses a stack of existing hotel-booking engines and offers up their rates side-by-side so you can see which is cheapest for a given room. You then click over to the principal booking site to make your reservations – assuming you insist on knowing where you’re going to stay.

But are you better off in the so-called opaque market where you commit to a price or place a non-refundable bid before knowing which hotel you’re actually going to end up with.

Blind booking began with Hotwire about five years ago, but lately it has taken off, especially among American-based booking engines.

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March 21, 2022

Airline lets travellers gamble over the cost of airfare

Consumers find the most prominent consequence of higher fuel prices at the gas pump, but it’s not the only place we get stung.

1230974_piper_clipper Surely, as the cost of gas continues to skyrocket across North America, so too has airfare. Airlines, terrified at what unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa has meant for the price of oil, have passed the burden onto us: according to the Air Transport Association of America, airfare jumped 13 per cent last month compared to what it cost in February, 2010.

At least one airline, though, wants to play a game. A small Las Vegas airline is asking consumers to buy a ticket that’s price may go up or down depending on the future cost of fuel.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...