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With pandemic restrictions lifting, people are looking forward to getting away

Most Canadians are eager to put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror and hit the road this summer. With travel restrictions lifted, 63 per cent of people can’t wait to travel again, according to a recent poll by CIBC.

About half of the poll’s respondents say they plan to travel within the next year, with 36 per cent of those respondents planning to travel this summer. That’s almost double the number of people who planned to venture out on a vacation during the same time last year.

“Canadians really want to get out and travel this summer, which is probably no surprise,” says Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president of financial and investment advice at CIBC. “People are itching for a change of scenery, especially those who had to cancel or postpone their trips over the past few years.”

However, not everyone is looking to take advantage of open borders and reduced international travel restrictions just yet – the vast majority are planning to explore closer to home by road-tripping within Canada.

Costs, delays and COVID-19 concern travellers

“Many Canadians are excited about summer and ready to start travelling again after two years of the pandemic, but at the same time are really feeling that pinch with the rising cost and inflation in everyday life,” Ms. Lucreziano says.

In particular, they’re seeing the cost of airline tickets rise. “There are also reports of lengthy airport delays and fewer seats as airlines slowly ramp up coming out of pandemic restrictions.”

While many have built up their savings by staying home over the past couple of years, they’re still being cautious and wanting a financial buffer for any future disruptions, she adds.

There are also some lingering concerns about the pandemic and confusion about the protocols in place in different parts of the world, she says, with about a quarter of respondents who are not planning to travel this summer identifying COVID-19 uncertainty as the reason why.

“Some Canadians are getting acquainted with the thought of going through an international airport but they’re just not there yet,” Ms. Lucreziano says. “There’s also a feeling still that there’s too much effort required to travel internationally right now, from researching restrictions in different countries to having the right forms and documents.”

With the cost of international travel relatively high right now, Canadians “don’t want to have to think about COVID-19 protocols. They just want to think about where they’re going to get their gelato in the afternoon,” she says.

Domestic travel also holds the promise of reconnecting with family and friends and having downtime closer to home, she says.

“What’s really motivating people to travel is taking time to relax, spending time with family and friends, and that type of relaxing and unwinding is something Canadians can do closer to home,” she says. “A few hours’ drive to the lake or countryside might actually be more relaxing for some than taking an international flight right now.”

Plan ahead with a budget

How are Canadians approaching their travel budgets in a post-pandemic era? About one in four people with plans to travel want to splurge on their first post-COVID-19 vacation, though nearly 40 per cent say they plan to be more economical, in part due to rising costs. Forty-two per cent of Canadians with summer travel plans weren’t sure what they will spend on a summer vacation.

People haven’t travelled in a while and prices have gone up, so it’s important to set a realistic travel budget, Ms. Lucreziano says, and know what you can afford to spend. Also, check if you can use travel points for any part of your vacation.

“Before you start booking things, research the cost of transportation and accommodation, food and activities at the destination that you want to visit,” she advises, suggesting that you plan for an international trip six months or more in advance to find the best prices for flights and accommodation.

Don’t forget the cost of getting around once you arrive and for admission to attractions, she adds.

Set up a travel fund and track spending

CIBC’s online savings calculator can help set savings targets for a vacation fund and automatic transfers into a savings account will help you put that money aside, she says.

“It’s beneficial to review your progress regularly. It’ll help you stay focused on your plan and keep your goal in sight.”

Unexpected expenses often crop up and can really drive up the cost of a vacation, she says, so factor in a bit of a surplus as well.

Working through everything from the fee for a checked bag to the taxi to the airport or the price of souvenirs helps travellers’ budgets, she adds. Even pre-trip costs should be factored in, such as whether you’ll need new clothing or luggage.

“When you’re considering the factors that go into enjoying yourself, you may still want to be conscious of your spending,” she says. “It’s common to say, ‘I’ve come all this way and spent a certain amount of money to take this trip.’ So it is tough in general to stick to a budget.” To stay on target, people can use apps to track their spending, making in-the-moment budgeting more manageable.

Most people plan to use savings to pay for their trip, while about one in four people plan to use a credit card.

Investigate reward credit cards

There are dividend credit cards, like CIBC’s Aventura Visa cards, that offer rewards points for purchases on everyday items like gas and groceries, as well as travel reward cards. Aventura points don’t expire and can be redeemed for any seat on any airline or for travel insurance and other travel benefits.

A vacation can be a big budget item and it pays to plan ahead and save, Ms. Lucreziano says.

“Saving for big purchases like a trip takes planning and commitment but it can be so rewarding. Having something like a vacation to look forward to can really helps boost your mental well-being,” she says.

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with CIBC. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.