Torontonians’ holiday vacation plans affected by low loonie

If you’re having second thoughts about your Christmas vacation plans to the States, you’re not alone.

Today the Canadian loonie was trading at 72 cents U.S., the lowest since 2004. According to Flight Centre area leader Sarah Bowden, many Toronto families are shortening their trips to the States due to the low conversion.

“Clients that used to go for week-long trips to New York are now booking three-day weekend breaks instead,” she said.

Bowden says many people also counteract the low loonie by booking all inclusive U.S. packages in order to limit spending and maximize the value for their money.

“Speaking from experience, it’s quite a shock when you open your bank account and read what the conversion rate is,” she said.

CTV chief financial commentator Patricia Lovett-Reid says the loonie is likely to stay low for the next couple of months. Speculations are calling the dollar as low as 69 cents, due to a continuous low demand for oil.

“This year, the lower Canadian dollar has a lot more Canadians staying at home,” she said. “It already costs a lot to take a vacation, and when you add 25 per cent to it, before you even go anywhere, people are saying, ‘that’s too much.'”

However, if you’re insisting on a trip to the States, there might be a way out. Kevin Ng returned from a four-day trip from New York City last month. Even though the loonie was at 75 cents when he travelled, thanks to careful planning and saving, he wasn’t affected by the low conversion and avoided over-spending.

“I deal with U.S. dollars on a semi-frequent basis, so I was able to save up the dollars and bring it with me on the trip,” said Ng.

Some of his friends and co-workers had to cut their trips short because of the low conversion. To his fellow Canadians who are about to embark on the trip, Ng has some advice.

“Try not to make any impulse buys,” he said. “That $50 shirt can easily balloon up to $70 , and that stuff adds up.”

He also recommends planning ahead and setting aside some U.S. dollars now in case the loonie drops even lower in the future.