Save Thousands on Your Winter Sun Vacation - by driving to Canada?

Air fares fluctuate in price. The prices listed were accurate as of the writing of this article. Always compare prices with multiple air carriers.

With winter in full swing, many Midwesterners are seeking refuge from the frigid temperatures with tropical getaways. So what is the best way to get to sun and sand? Believe it or not, for many driving to Canada first is the perfect solution!

Fares to tropical destinations are often cheaper from Canada, and when you factor in the current exchange rate, the savings get even greater.

Would you drive 30 miles to save $1000?

Thunder Bay International Airport is only 30mi further from Duluth, MN than the Minneapolis airport.

We compared flight and hotel packages to a couple of popular winter destinations departing from both Thunder Bay (YQT) and Minneapolis (MSP).

Cancun, Mexico

First we looked at package prices to Cancun, Mexico from Feb 4-11, 2019.

With suncountry.com, the per person cost (including taxes and fees) ranges from $1479-$9551 depending on accommodation choice. At sunwing.ca the prices range from $1225-$7845CAD. So for an apples to apples comparison we chose a package that had flights on the same days and used the same hotel.

At the Occidental Costa Cancun (a random selection, rated 4/5) the price was $1741 PP on suncountry.com, flying out of Minneapolis. The same exact package from sunwing.ca departing from Thunder Bay was $1725CAD. Factor in the current exchange rate and the price drops to $1300 – a savings of $441 PER PERSON!!!

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Next, we looked at prices to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for 7 days: Feb 6-13, 2019

Range on suncountry.com - $1562-$5166 Per Person
Range on sunwing.ca - $1635-$5955 Per Person CAD

Staying at the Occidental Punta Cana (a random selection, rated 3.8/5) the price on suncountry.com was $2074 per person flying out of MSP. Fly out of YQT with sunwing.ca instead and the price becomes $1995 CAD, but factor in the exchange rate and the price is $1504 USD - a savings of $570 per person!

European Destinations made easy

Looking to travel to Europe? Thunder Bay makes that cheaper and easier too. Air Canada and WestJet both offer direct flights to European destinations from Toronto. So to test this, we compared return flights to London, England departing from Duluth, Minneapolis and Thunder Bay.

To maintain consistency, we chose dates similar to those above - Feb 6-12, 2019.

United, Delta and American Airlines from Minneapolis all offered similar prices - ranging from $780-$840. 

Choosing either WestJet or Air Canada would save between $181-$329 per person!

Air Canada flies to Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Rome, Geneva, Madrid, Munich, Venice, Zurich and other European destinations.

WestJet flies to London, Glasgow and Dublin.

Plan your trip

Airfares are heavily affected by supply. If your dates are flexible and you can include a Saturday in your trip, you will often find reduced fare prices regardless of departure airport but, the next time you are booking a flight check out the fares from Thunder Bay, you might be surprised at how much more you can save.

The Thunder Bay International Airport offers long-term parking options with competitive rates, but many nearby hotels also offer Park and Fly promotions whereby booking a room for a night will allow you to park your car in the hotel lot for the length of your vacation.

For example, you drive to Thunder Bay, book a hotel room for the night, park your car in their lot and take the hotel shuttle to the airport for your morning flight. Upon your return you pick up your car and pay no additional parking fees.

Only 30mi from the US Border, the Thunder Bay Airport offers flights from all of Canada’s major carriers including sunwing, Air Transat, Air Canada, Westjet, and Porter Airlines.

Hotels nearby include Valhalla Inn, Airlane Hotel, Victoria Inn, Hampton Inn and Suites, Comfort Inn, Best Western Crossroads and the Best Western Plus Nor’Wester.

What to do in Thunder Bay before and after the flight?

Thunder Bay is Canada's Premier Outdoor City but also has a vibrant art scene and culinary delights that rival those of any major city. Visit Thunder Bay and explore the waterfront, enjoy a delicious meal and check out a show in the entertainment district. Also before you leave, use that exchange rate to your advantage one last time to buy groceries, gas and anything else you might need. Every U.S. dollar you spend in Canada effectively saves you upwards of 30 cents.

About Stephanie Reid

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Stephanie is a content creator and media specialist and has a true appreciation for Northern Ontario and all of its many offerings and attractions.

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