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Unemployment is down. The temperature is up. Gas prices are down. And travel will be up, with predictions that a historic 44.2 million traveling during the Independence Day holiday weekend. But before you head out into the summer sun, soak in our sizzling summer travel tips.
SIZZLING SUMMER TRAVEL TIPS
Independence Day is upon us; let the summer travel begin! And it will ramp up in a big way during the Independence Day travel period. According to AAA, a recording-breaking 44.2 million of us will be traveling at least 50 miles from home during the extended holiday weekend.
But before you head out the door and hit the highway (or the skyway), read this list of our latest summer travel tips. Then make plans for your own record-breaking summer, full of great destinations, memory-worthy moments and family-friendly fun!
BEFORE YOU GO
As much as I like to be spontaneous, I know that I need to check and double check some things to ensure a successful trip – even before I leave the house. Sometimes little things can make a big difference! So here are some ways to make your summer travel
Choose a Destination
As fundamental as that sounds, it’s important that you know where you’re going. After all, with historic crowds traveling this summer, this is no time to “wing it.” At the minimum, you should book your travel, reserve your rooms and secure any “must have” dining reservation as much in advance as possible. No one wants to end up scrambling for overnight accommodations after hours in traffic!
Make Your Stay Part of Your Vacation
When booking a hotel, look for one that has lots of things to do on site. Sure, you may want to head out to local museums, shopping or beaches. But it’s nice to know you can have a “down day” at your hotel, enjoying the swimming pool, using the fitness equipment, or taking advantage of the free happy hour and WiFi, like those offered by Residence Inn. Bonus: usually a day spent truly vacationing at your hotel keeps both costs and stress down – no admission tickets or long lines to contend with!
Let Your Money Know You’re Going
Little is more embarrassing than offering to put your extended family’s dinner on a debit card, only to have said card declined because you didn’t inform your bank that you were out of state. (Ask me how I know!) Avoid the embarrassment – notify your debit and credit card companies when you’ll be going to a new area, so your transactions will go through smoothly.
Make A Digital ID
This is another one I learned the hard way when I lost my wallet recently. Scan all important ID, such as your license, passport, social security card and bank cards. Then email a copy of it to yourself, along with any itinerary and reservation information you have. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to email it to anyone who is accompanying you on the trip – just in case.
Establish “Resort Rules”
Different than the “house rules” your kids live with all the time, “resort rules” are just for vacation. If you are letting them stay up past their bedtime, or permitting a little more (or less) screen time, or even allowing ice cream for breakfast – whatever it is, establish before you leave the house that these are rules for vacation only. Sorry, kids, house rules still apply once we pull back into our driveway.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A DESTINATION
Your hotel or resort staff should be able to point you to the best locales in the area. Lean on them, as they are your best friends (and most love to show off their hometown!). Then, while you’re immersing yourself in a new destination, follow these tips to get the most out of your time there.
Stay Active, but Safe
The only way to know a destination is to get out and see it. Whether you’re running, biking, or simply strolling, you’ll become familiar with your surroundings when you get out and enjoy them. (Bonus – the exercise will make up for any calorie splurge that comes with vacationing!)
But remember, some routes are safer than others. Ask your hotel staff for advice concerning routes. Some hotels even have maps for runners and other exercise enthusiasts. Residence Inn by Marriott, for example, has teamed up with Under Armor to create RI Runs, maps that show the best routes in any given city so you can run like a local.
Look for Extra Space and Things to Do
There are some hotels and resorts that offer so much to do, I never want to leave. There is a great pool and, at Residence Inn, plenty of room for my family. That’s because all of the rooms are suites. We get more space to spread out, but still be together.
Bring Along Your Four-Pawed Family
If your family isn’t complete without your pet, bring Fido along for the fun! Many hotels, parks, beaches and even restaurants are now offering pet friendly accommodations. Of course, this is something to explore ahead of time. Just choose a hotel like Residence Inn that welcomes your entire family – including the furry ones — at every property. All Residence Inns are pet friendly; however, in partnership with Nature’s Recipe pet food, select Residence Inn by Marriott locations in five pet-friendly cities will be waiving the pet fee all summer. In addition, dogs staying at these locations will receive “VI-Pup” treatment, including an amenity kit with water and food bowls, dog food and toys. Talk about catering to the whole family!
Yes, I agree that the whole point of traveling as a family is making memories together – and that usually means limited screen time. But I admit, there’s no way I can spend all my vacation time offline. After all, I want to post my daily shots on Facebook, right? If you’re like me, then memorize these tips for traveling with electronics!
They Have an App For That
In fact, they have an app for everything, and travel’s no exception. Make sure you download your favorites! When I fly, I like FlightAware for tracking my plane. When on the road, iExit is essential when trying to figure out where to stop for food, gas or overnight lodging. Of course, the AAA app is a standard go-to for mapping any route and finding the lowest gas prices. And once I’ve arrived at my destination, AroundMe is great for letting me know what’s, well, around me! Many tourism bureaus have their own apps, which are great helps in connecting you with their particular city or venue.
When you’re back in the hotel with your feet up, it’s time to recharge – and that means your electronics as well! But here’s a tip that’s saved my life (or, at least my battery life) on more than one occasion. If you forgot the wall plug-in for your phone charger (yep, mine was in the wall at home), you can check the back of the TV in your hotel room. There is usually a USB port on the back!
Now Where Did I Put It?
This one is a no-brainer – take a picture of where you parked. If necessary, take several, including one of the street sign (if you parked on the street). Another lesson learned the hard way – once I couldn’t remember what floor we parked on, so we searched three different levels before finding the right one. Not the way I want to end an already-tiring day!
BOTTOM LINE BOOSTERS
Traveling is wonderfully – and wonderfully expensive. Save yourself some money by following these cost-cutting tips. (Then splurge on some really great souvenirs to remember your successful summer vacation!)
Book a Room with a Kitchen
Restaurant tabs run up quickly. Instead, stock the hotel fridge with juices, snacks, salads, milk, water bottles and other essentials. Better yet, Residence Inn offers a service that stocks the fridge in your room. All you have to do is unpack and start cooking–another great way to bond as a family during a vacation.
And Speaking of Water Bottles….
Always travel with one. ALWAYS. Hydrate during all tours, activities, or even while just relaxing on the beach. Most restaurants will be happy to fill your water bottle for you (especially if you’re eating there!). And it’s so much cheaper than the $4 or more you’ll pay for a bottled water at any major destination. Bonus tip – when flying, bring an empty water bottle through security. Then you can fill it with water after you pass through!
The Library Is Your Friend
I’m sure you know the cheapest way to pick up a book for your summer reading is to visit your local library. But did you ever consider visiting the library at the site you’re visiting? Well, do it! Libraries at many major destinations have visitor passes if you need a quick read. They also allow access to computers, in case you need to print out a boarding pass. Bonus tip: many libraries also sell discount tickets to area attractions, such as zoos or museums. Just ask at the desk!
The summer may be long, the sun hot and the traffic stand-still. But by following our sizzling summer travel tips, your summer will be full of exciting, affordable adventures – and your winter will be warmed by the memories of summer.