If 2022 was the year we returned to office, 2023 could become the year we dusted off our suitcases and found our travelling shoes. According to TD Economics, consumer travel spending in 2023 is already well beyond what it was this time last year and is much closer to pre-pandemic levels than any year since 2019. 1

If you have pent up wanderlust, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of getaway options available. Are you dreaming of a white sandy beach? A cozy cabin in Iceland? Pride marching in New York? This may be the year you finally do it.

Even if you already know your destination, you may feel conflicted about how much money to spend and where to spend it. Is that four-star hotel really worth it? Is hiring a private driver easier than taking a hop-on bus tour? With inflation affecting everything from air fare to exchange rates and a potential recession on the horizon, should we skip the exotic vacation entirely and pamper ourselves on something closer to home?

One thing Natasha Kovacs wants reluctant travellers to keep in mind is that they shouldn’t waffle if a dream trip is on their bucket list.

The Senior Financial Planner with TD Wealth knows it can be difficult to appreciate the value of travel when the economy is uncertain, she asks, “what if you didn’t create this memory? Would you regret it? What will you and your family gain from taking this time away to travel?”

To help you make sense of it all, we spoke with Andrew Satkowiak, Executive Vice President of The Luxury Travel Agency in Toronto, who helped us break down three lavish trips and consider three budget-conscious alternatives: What they might cost and what you might do there? Advisors from the Luxury Travel Agency serve clients from more than 25 countries and pride themselves on helping their clients take an “indulgent” approach to travel.

Here are some escapes Canadians can consider:

Paris or Montréal?

A man walking through Paris and a woman walking through Montreal

Paris, France

What bucket list would be complete without a trip to the City of Love? Beyond the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Musée de Orsay, Paris is known for its chic cafes, elegant scenery, vibrant night life and incredible architecture.

What it might cost *

Business class airfare: $8,291
Four-star hotel: $2,352
Food: $1,400

Things to do: Attend the opera at Palais Garnier at $300 per person or visit the nearby Champagne region for a private wine tasting — $1,000 per small group

Montréal, Canada

Montréal offers a different aspect of French culture but one still full of unique cuisine and night life. If you’re outdoorsy, take a walk up Mont Royal and enjoy a picnic near Beaver Lake. If you prefer to be pampered, there are plenty of luxury spas downtown. If you’re there for the food, “Old Montreal” offers a host of fine dining options to explore.

What it might cost*

Business Class Train ticket: $345
Four-star hotel: $2,394
Food: $875

Things to do: Guided city tour on a Vespa ($225 per person), private helicopter tour ($250)

Save or splurge?

For those looking for a trip filled with art, culture and fantastic food, both Paris and Montreal offer a touch of that je ne sais quoi. Where Paris has the Latin Quarter, Montreal has Vieux-Montréal. Where Montréal has Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Paris has the Louvre. And while in many ways Paris may be more expensive, Satkowiak says that’s not necessarily the case for the more budget-conscious traveller: “If you want to splurge in Paris, you can definitely do so. But to me, Paris is really an outdoor museum. You can just walk and walk all day. Of course, they have some beautiful hotels, but you’re really only going to be in your room to sleep, so you don’t really have to splurge there.”

The Maldives or the Bahamas?

A man in Maldives, and a woman snorkeling in the Bahamas.


A trip to the supremely isolated Maldives is something truly special. A cluster of over 1,000 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is known for its picturesque beaches, incredible marine life and luxurious overwater villas.

What it might cost*

Business class airfare: $9,918 plus inter-island transfer via seaplane ($700)
Four-star hotel: $10,500
Food: $1,750

Things to do: Explore Maldives’ UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by submarine at $2,000 per trip or charter a yacht at $4,132 for two hours

The Bahamas

Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the Bahamas is an ideal beach vacation for couples and families looking for a little bit of adventure. You can swim with wild hogs on — yes — Pig Beach, but did you know the islands are also home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef? A perfect site for a day of scuba diving or snorkeling.

What it might cost*

Business class airfare: $1,925
Four-star hotel: $3,500
Food: $1,400

Things to do: Private boat tour and swim with the Bahamian pigs at $3,100 per small group or shark tank dive at $274 per person*
*Divers must have appropriate PADI certification

Save or splurge?

For two places that look similar in photos, Satkowiak points out that these destinations actually amount to two different experiences. “In the Caribbean, if you’re at a resort, you can go into town, go into various restaurants, things like that,” Satkowiak says. “But in the Maldives, there’s just one resort per island. You can take a trip to visit another island maybe, but that’s about it. [And yet], there’s no place in the world like the Maldives.”

When a gorgeous, white-sand beach is essentially guaranteed, where you choose to go may come down to individual taste (and budget). If you prefer a more varied trip with the option to immerse yourself in the local culture and food scene, the Bahamas might make more sense. On the other hand, if you are seeking a week of ultimate relaxation and tranquility, the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, is a once in a lifetime trip. Ultimately, the Maldives necessitates somewhat of a splurge on airfare and accommodation (given its location), whereas you may have more opportunities to save on a trip to the Bahamas. Moreover, with such a long haul required to reach the Maldives, the added expense of business class airfare may be well worth it for some.

Cape Town or Marrakesh?

A man in Cape Town and a Woman in Marrakech

Cape Town, South Africa

If you’re looking to embark on an African Safari, South Africa is a popular spot to start. It’s also a great place to visit on its own. Travel to Cape Town to see the penguins at Boulders Beach, climb to the top of Table Mountain, tour a local winery or dine on the waterfront.

What it might cost*

Business class airfare: $5,360 per person, round trip
Four-star hotel: $2,072
Food: $1,120

Things to do: Private tour to a “Big-Five” safari at $750 per person or private hot air ballooning over Cape Town at $1,728 per balloonist

Marrakesh, Morocco

Bordering both sea and desert, Morocco makes for a unique and exotic trip. Its tourist capital, Marrakesh has plenty to offer travellers, including: colourful and lively markets, fine Moroccan cuisine, the nearby Agafay desert to explore on camelback, and an immersive cultural experience like none other.

What it might cost*

Business class airfare: $3,884
Four-star hotel: $1,400
Food: $840

Things to do: Camel ride in the desert at $550 per person or a sunset dinner in Agafay desert at $113 per diner

Save or splurge?

Even those who are fairly well-travelled may not yet have had a chance to experience Africa. There are many places to visit on the continent and Morocco and South Africa are two of the most popular. As for the type of trip you’ll be taking, Marrakesh and Cape Town are quite different. While a trip to Marrakesh can be a fascinating and immersive cultural experience not unlike travelling to the Middle East, a trip to Cape Town promises to be steeped with adventure and stunning scenery for those who are more outdoorsy. Depending on where you end up, you may find yourself spending more on airfare than accommodation and food, as flights can be up to 30 hours long to reach some southern African countries.

Ultimately, any trip you take will necessitate a great deal of research. To make it easier on yourself, Satkowiak recommends starting as early as possible and, if you’d prefer, letting someone else handle the arrangements. “People may not realize it, but travel agencies can often secure additional perks and better prices than you can on your own…. If you’re booking online, for example, you may be missing out on huge opportunities,” he says.

Ways to save for your trip

According to Kovacs, there are a few different things you can do to save for that special holiday in 2023. To start, she recommends keeping your travel budget separate from other expenses. “That’s really just to keep [your travel plans] alive” she says. “Otherwise, it can be too tempting to dip into the money for other things.”

Next, she suggests reviewing your travel budget regularly, within the context of your other expenses. This is a key step because, in many ways, saving for travel isn’t always just about putting aside money each month. It’s also about the small sacrifices you might make throughout the year to ensure that you’re able to take that dream vacation when you have the opportunity.

“Personally speaking, my family loves to go on vacation, but we don’t eat out a lot. Because of these regular cost-savings, we can afford to do something else that brings us so much joy,” Kovacs says.

As for where to keep the funds, she says a high-interest savings account is often a suitable option. Not only can you make contributions to the account throughout the year, but you can also withdraw funds when the time comes without a hassle.

If you have any questions about whether you can afford a vacation and how to save for it, speak to a financial planner or advisor.

*All fares cited are round trip, per person from Toronto. Meal expense estimates reflect three meals per day, per person. Depending on the resort, complimentary breakfast may be included. All prices are in Canadian dollars and reflect availability as advertised in March, 2023. Prices for illustrative purposes only. Prices and itineraries subject to change.