10 Essential Tips for Planning Your Summer Vacation.
IT’S SHAPING UP to be a hot summer for traveling—and a thorny one. According to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), 85% of Americans plan to travel this season, which means crowded roads and airports. “After two years of travel cancellations or delays, there’s so much excitement about getting back out there to travel again,” said Daniel del Olmo, president and chief operating officer of Sage Hospitality Management, which runs more than 50 hotels around the U.S. “We’re expecting this to be a busy summer across the country.”
1.Book Early (As in Now)
“Plan ahead, book ahead,” said Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel. Summer flights may fill up quickly, she said, because routes have shifted over the course of the pandemic. “There’s less capacity to many international cities.”
Brian Egan, CEO of vacation rental and management company Evolve, says the company is seeing more early summer bookings than usual; July 4 and Labor Day weekends are also filling up. Especially in demand, he said: nature destinations, including the areas around national and state parks. Some national parks, including Glacier, Acadia and Arches, have also implemented reservation systems for some areas, making planning ahead even more important.
Be sure to clear your browser each time you search for flights. The airlines are sneaky like that and it’s not unheard of for prices to go up based on search habits in order to panic you into booking. Google Flights was able to pick up budget carriers that travel sites like Expedia could not. Perhaps it’s because Google is not a travel agent but rather directs users directly to the airline for booking. So, you can search routes for best prices with Google Flights.
2.Keep it Simple
While dozens of countries have reopened for tourism, Monika Sundem, CEO of Montana-based travel-planning company Adventure Life, advises against destination-hopping. Testing requirements and policies from country to country (and region to region) are constantly in flux. Some travel suppliers mandate extra layers of testing to make guests feel safe. But any number of snafus—labs might have odd hours or run out of tests or results might be delayed—can upend your vacation.
“If you can find one eco-resort that does day tours—beach adventures, water exploring, ruins—I really think that’s the best way to go,” Ms. Sundem said. “It will be much more relaxing because you don’t have to be worried about, ‘What if I don’t get the test?’”
3.Check Your Documents
Need a new passport? Get in line yesterday. Over the past few years, processing times for passports, as well as travel-expediting programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, have skyrocketed. They’ve improved recently but not necessarily by much.
Routine passport processing currently takes eight to 11 weeks, according to the U.S. Department of State. That’s twice as long as it took in early 2019. And though U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been working to address the backlog for its “trusted traveler” programs, the agency expects a record number of applications this year—3.5 million, up from a high of 3 million in 2019. In some cases it’s taking months to be approved for Global Entry renewals. Interviews, meanwhile, currently take 90 days to schedule, said Michael Millich, who directs the programs for CBP.
4.Get Everyone on Board with the Destination
if there is someone in our family who isn’t keen on where we’re going, things can get a bit difficult. Make sure the itinerary includes something each person wants to do or make concessions accordingly. You can Ask your kids to help with the various stages of planning. Discuss the budget with them so that they can research about various destinations and pick a place that they will later not complain about. Also ask them to look up sightseeing places and read up on them so that they learn about the place and are eager to go sightseeing
5.Chart Your Itinerary and Print Back-Ups
With seven sets of flights, six hotels, and four countries, staying organized is totally key and admittedly challenging.
You can first go old-school by sketching everything out by the day on a piece of paper so that you can draw arrows, make chicken-scratch notes and other changes before inputting a final itinerary into a Google calendar. (Yes, there are travel apps for this but frankly, they’ve never worked for me.)
As someone guilty of running down phone batteries, you can keep printed copies of airline tickets and other reservations just in case you can’t access them digitally. It is also wise to securely scan and upload a copy of passports or other ID to a cloud for easy access anywhere in the world in case of loss.
6.Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
Dressing nice isn’t the most important thing on vacation. Yes, you look great for that one picture. But you’re going to be miserable walking in strappy heels or brand new sandals. Tennis shoes are ideal. For example, Skechers makes a lot of comfortable shoes with memory foam in the sole for when you’re on your feet all day.
They are especially good if you plan to go to an amusement park this summer. Sure, bring a few nice outfits for going out to a nice dinner or a concert and such. But if you're on walking tours, in museums and amusement parks or doing general sightseeing, a shirt and shorts are plenty fine. But watch those tan lines in the summer sun.
Thinking about packing can be stressful when you are planning your trip, but the best thing to do is pack the bare minimum because you can always buy it there!
Encourage your kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel planning skills.
Select versatile, comfortable and loose fitting clothes and neutral colors that can be worn in multiple combinations so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit.
Packing cells are a lifesaver. In each packing cell, we roll up each item and arrange clothes based on type and season. And Caz loves her underwear organizer that rolls up and clips together like a little sleeping bag and sits in your suitcase neatly just like packing cells do.
With young kids, pack a change of clothes for dinner, pajamas, or what is needed during the day in case of accidents.
8.Understand your destination country
If you plan to travel abroad this summer, depending on where you want to go, it is recommended to be fully vaccinated before you go. The pandemic may be getting better in the U.S., but that’s no guarantee of what you’ll encounter abroad and could bring back home. There is also different water quality abroad, which you may not be accustomed to. Traveling can throw off your internal clock which will already be weird. Europe is up to a 7-hour time zone change, but it can also create headaches, upset stomachs and loss of appetite.
You’ll also want to bring general medication. Things you can normally get like ibuprofen, Advil and Tylenol are impossible to find abroad. So carry a medicine pack with you when you go. Don’t worry, just put it in your suitcase and it will make it onto the plane. Lastly, be aware of different laws in different locations. For example, you can get fined in Germany for leaning against a sign with braille on it, which is only one of many different laws around the world.
During the times plain old water gets tiresome (when you need so much of it while hiking or on a beach), you opt for sparkling water like Sparkling Ice Essence of Water, which is comes in 4 natural flavors. Staying hydrated is also key for beating jet lag
9.Make sure you’re protected in case of medical emergencies.
If your summer travel plans take you on a cruise, out of the country, or to more remote areas of the United States, you should have travel insurance with emergency medical benefits and emergency medical transportation benefits. These benefits can cover your medical care and/or emergency transportation if you experience a covered medical emergency while traveling, protecting you from unexpected (and enormous) medical bills.
10.Enjoy Your Trip
And now, everything comes together. It’s time to go on your trip and have fun! Head to the airport, board your plane (don’t forget your passport!), and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ve earned this!
If you’re feeling nervous, don’t worry — that’s perfectly normal. You’re about to embark on an amazing adventure — and that’s a huge change. Feeling anxious or nervous or unsure is something every traveler experiences. But you’ve made it this far. Trust your planning, follow your instincts, and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. I guarantee it.