If watching the Olympics has made you want to visit Vancouver, the post-Games travel slump could put it in your grasp. You can find all sorts of promotions aimed at luring you there.
If you would like to watch live winter sports, the Paralympics will run March 12-21 at many of the venues used in the Winter Olympics. The Paralympics is a smaller and less crowded event with top-notch athletes who have disabilities. Visit www.vancouver2010.com/paralympic-games for details.
Airfares to Vancouver have been high, but you can save with package deals. We recently priced fares at $518 round trip, including taxes and fees from Dallas to Vancouver in April. Compare that to recent four-night air and hotel packages for April travel that started at $455 for stays at a two-star hotel, $560 for stays at a 3 1/2-star hotel and $640 for stays at a five-star hotel. These package prices were per person, based on double occupancy.
Prices on packages and airfares fluctuate, so you may find different rates for your travel dates. If you're flexible, you should also watch for last-minute packages to get good deals. We most often see last-minute packages offered by American and sometimes Alaska Airlines.
Another way to save on airfare is to check for flights into Seattle. You can take the train or bus or rent a car to travel between the cities, and the savings can add up, especially if you're traveling with the family.
Whenever you travel, whether it's to Canada or San Antonio, always check with tourism bureaus before you book your trip. The purpose of these agencies is to increase tourism, and they do so by offering promotional deals to travelers.
For example, Tourism Vancouver has promotions such as a third-night-free hotel offer for travel through April 30. Tourism Whistler's offers include three-night packages with two-day ski passes starting at about $255 per person for travel through April 18. There also are discounts for Visa cardholders in both Vancouver and Whistler at restaurants and retailers, and travelers can get a free room upgrade at participating hotels when they book their hotel online with a Visa card. Visit www.tourismvancouver.com, www.whistler.com and www.visaperks.ca for details.
If you're in the market for Olympic souvenirs, you should be able to buy some for a song as retailers clear out their inventory this spring. One of the cheapest, hottest things sold in Vancouver during the Olympics were the Canadian mittens for $10.
Be aware that if you don't have a clean record, you may not be able to enter Canada. Certain criminal offenses, such as driving while intoxicated, are considered inadmissible in Canada, and customs agents can look at your records instantaneously and send you home. For more on these rules, visit www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/faq-inadmissibility.asp.