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by | Oct 20, 2019 | Features, Lifestyle | 0 comments

It doesn’t take long in a school year for students to start feeling the stress of academic pressure. This along with the daily grind of work and other life problems creates a powder keg of mental health issues just waiting to explode. Among the many ways in which we can decompress and release some stress, vacations may well be the most effective.

This, however, can be a costly endeavor which can create a barrier between us and vacation bliss. For the purpose of this article and because of students’ limited time off, the focus was put on the smaller getaways with all-inclusive packages.

Upon researching vacations on the many discount sites around, I found the prices seemed to remain quite similar, with no one site being significantly cheaper than the others. Most sites did, however, seem to offer a better price than purchasing directly from the airlines. It is important to note that if the airlines were having a rather significant seat sale, then they might be a better option than the discount travel sites in question.

MacEwan University’s November reading break dates of Nov. 8 to Nov. 13 were used as a means to gather information on prices for this comparison because the break might be a chance for students to travel due to the colder weather and time off.

When looking at tickets for three different places: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Varadero, Cuba, the prices were relatively similar. There were more sites selling tickets to Mexico and the Dominican than there were for Cuba, primarily due to country politics and contract problems with Cuban hotels that have sometimes left travelers without accommodations. The prices all seemed to range between $1,100 and $1,600 if traveling during reading week and varied greatly depending on the quality and rating of the hotel. By far the best priced of the three was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which start- ed as low as $1,100 for a 2.5-star hotel.

There are also a few things that might help you get the most value for your money, such as booking your trip at specific times. According to the best time to book flights to Mexico is five to six weeks ahead of your trip. However, according to a Flight Centre representative, the best time to book for most other international flights is six months ahead of time, as the closer to the departure date, the higher the risk that prices will go up. It is also highly recommended that you book travel for days such as Monday or Tuesday when fewer people travel and costs are lower. Another thing to consider is when universities have breaks there is also more travel, and supply and demand is key when pricing vacations. This means these may be the best times for us as students, but not for our wallets.

There is also strength in numbers. So, if you have a group that wants to travel together you can reap some pretty amazing benefits. Flight Centre, for example, can offer things such as free luggage check-in on groups of 10 or more, and significant discounts for groups of 30 or more students. They also have a referral program which might help put some extra money back into your pocket. I also wouldn’t write off places such as AMA, who often aren’t thought of for vacations, but do offer some great prices for members.

As well, as students, we have a few possible tools at our disposal that others may not have. there are sites such as, which may offer better prices and you can show proof of being a student for further discounts. Another site is, which will help you plan out your entire trip, although this one only applies to European trips. And of course, a big one is SAMU, who offers a reading week trip every year. This school year they are offering an all-inclusive trip to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico from Feb. 16 to 23, 2020, with prices starting at $1,590. While non-students are allowed to purchase a vacation for the same price as students, they do have to be the guest of a MacEwan or NAIT student and must be 18 or older.

Whatever your choice might be, do keep safety in mind as well as cost. Look into travel advisories and warnings. If you decide to go the Airbnb route, please make sure it is legal in the country you’re traveling to. Above all, have fun and leave your worries behind. Don’t worry they will be here when you get back.

Please note, the applications for SAMU and NAIT’s student trip to Playa Del Carmen have now closed.

Claudia Steele

The Griff


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