10 Tips for the Ultimate Summer Vacation

Beach ball in pool

Ultimate Summer Vacation

Cheap flights to a perfect destination is how it starts, then we add 10 tips for the ultimate summer vacation to make the trip even less expensive. It’s a little smoother and a lot more fun.

A list of perfect vacation destinations

1. Find a Cheap Flight

There are three proven ways to do this:

1. Avoid peak summer pricing by flying before mid-June or after late August.

2. Fly cheaper days which are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday in the U.S. (weekdays for international travel).

3. Finally, always compare airfares so you know for certain which airline has the best deal to your destination.

See all the best times to buy and fly this summer.

2. Watch for Warnings

Although this advice comes from U.S. sources, it can help tourists from any nation.

Weather: It’s always helpful to keep an eye on weather forecasts, both short-term and long-range. Those heading to the Caribbean should be aware that the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 1. While these big storms do not usually pose a problem for the vast majority of travelers, it’s always smart to stay informed.

Crime: If you’ll be traveling outside the U.S., check the State Department’s Travel Advisories and country-specific information for warnings about unusual criminal or terror activity. Chances are good you won’t have to worry about any of this and will simply gain a little extra peace of mind.

Health: The Centers for Disease Control has a section called Travel Health Notices which offers information on disease outbreaks around the world and precautions travelers can take.

3. Holiday Travel

Choose travel dates around holidays carefully. Many people in the U.S. get a day off for the Fourth of July holiday and are tempted to add a couple of days to make it a longer vacation trip. The problem is, the airlines know we like to piggyback on holidays and raise fares to take advantage of this thinking. Avoid paying the holiday premium by comparing prices for several different travel dates around a holiday to see which itinerary offers the most for your money.

4. Fly + Drive

This can be a good way to see more attractions and save more money. Two ways to do this:

Fly to a bigger airport: If your destination is out in the ‘middle of nowhere’ consider skipping the closest airport for a bigger one, even if the larger facility is a few hour drive away from your ultimate destination. Generally speaking, the bigger the city/airport, the cheaper the flights.

Fly one-way, drive the other: Discount carriers often have good deals on one-way flights. Drive home at your leisure, knowing you’re the pilot and are free to stop along the way and see as many sights as you want.

5. Lodging Adventures

You can stay at a regular hotel, or make your accommodations part of the fun. For example, stay in a tree house (we spotted one in Park City, Utah) or sleep in a tipi (here’s one near Yellowstone National Park); you can even spend the night in an ice hotel (and this one in Sweden says it’s open 365 days a year). Why settle for a humdrum experience when you can do something amazing?

Note: We are not endorsing these places – we don’t do that – we’re merely providing information for anyone who may want to check these places out.

6. Phone Tips

You’ll want to put your phone to work taking selfies but also take pictures of important documents in case the originals get lost (passport, for example). Be sure to take a picture of your bag, too. If it goes missing, a picture will be extremely helpful because you’ll need to describe it and you’ll have a much better chance of getting it back if you can say something besides, “Well, it’s black…” Finally, put some kind of identification or mark on your phone; airport Lost & Found departments are filled with phones and other electronics that cannot be reunited with owners because the phones are locked and there’s no way to identify them.

7. National Parks

If you’ll be visiting one of the 400+ U.S. national parks, there are a handful of scattered dates when no entry fee is charged. There are other deals, too, like the Lifetime Senior Pass ($80) and free passes for military members. Finally, kids 15 and under are always allowed in free.

8. Theme Park Deals

Keep your eyes open because Disney occasionally offers deals or discounted hotel special. Also, the Disney FastPass helps you avoid at least some of those long lines; Universal has a similar pass called Universal Express.

9. Water Bottles

Bring an empty water bottle through airport security (if it’s filled, it will be tossed out); then look for a water refill station or drinking fountain so you won’t have to buy water at a snack bar. Or on the plane; some airlines (including Frontier and Spirit) charge for all beverages including water. Bonus: Disney allows its visitors to bring bottles of water into its parks so you’ll save there too plus avoid standing in yet another line.

10. Your Valuables

Play it safe and leave your valuables at home; that way they won’t get lost or stolen. Some valuables are unavoidable, so here are some tips:

1. Place wallets in front pockets and not in back.

2. Do not dangle purses from the backs of chairs.

3. Don’t leave phones unattended; thieves sometimes walk by tables, grab phones and run.

Now start planning that vacation – and have a wonderful time.

Anne McDermott
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