It's now time to start gearing up for that much-deserved summer vacation. The kids will soon be out of school, and it's really beginning to look like summer. The economy is poor, and for some of us, money is tight. However, we still want to and need to go. Here are several tips on how to have a well-planned, stress free and enjoyable family summer vacation whether you have full resources or you're traveling on a budget.
Make Early Plans To get the best deals on lodging, rentals and air fare, plan your trip early. Check out websites that reward early bookings to avoid missed opportunities. Planning your trip at least 3 months ahead would be ideal. According to Michael Sarka, executive director of the Vacation Rental and Management Association, "families looking for rental properties really need to get on the ball... and book early".
Packing for your vacation Whether traveling by plane, car, train, bus or recreational vehicle, pack enough, but not too much. Make a really good list of everything you'll really need.
- From clothes to toiletries and medication, lay everything out on the bed and check off the list. You'll have a record if your luggage is lost or stolen. Don't forget a sweater for cool nights and an umbrella for rain. To avoid packing too much, pack clothes that can be used for several purposes and that can be coordinated. Pack black, brown or white clothes with colorful scarves and colorful costume jewelry.
- To avoid wrinkled clothes, fold cloths softly and pack in folders or pack a wrinkle releaser, used for spraying away wrinkles.
- Pack plenty of sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses.
- Don't forget the camera, camera batteries and memory card.
- If traveling by car, have jumper cables, flares, a first aid kit, a flashlight with new batteries and a cell phone handy. Also carry bottled water and nutritious snacks.
- For air travel, carry a small travel case with face cream, make up, aspirin, lip balm, eye mask and ear plugs. Always bring a snack.
Traveling If traveling by car or recreational vehicle:
- Have a written plan outlining the intended route, stops and destination. Leave copies of the plan along with a description of your vehicle and its license plate with family or friends.
- Refill the gas tank when it's half full in case there's a problem finding a service station on the roads.
- Don't let thieves steal your vehicle. As suggested by Dorothy Yamich in an article published in 111Travel Directory: triple 1.com.
- Keep your registration on your person at all times to prevent identity thief.
- When parking, close and lock all doors, even if for a short time. At no time leave the vehicle idling or leave the keys in the car.
- Don't leave valuables in the car. If you have no choice, lock them in the trunk when no one is watching.
- When parking in public areas turn the wheels to the right or left and engage the emergency brake to lessen the chance of theft.
- Park in an attendant controlled lot, in a well lit area, with pedestrian traffic.
- Never park next to an obstruction (fence, hedge, anything large) that blocks a clear view of the vehicle.
- If entering a gated secure parking area, make sure the gate is closed behind you to prevent someone from entering after you.
- Look into anti-theft devices- steering wheel locks, break locks, pedal locks, hood locks. The best protection is a passive electronic immobilizer that disables the motor when the ignition is off.
- Make sure to have adequate insurance that covers theft and damage.
- Finally call the police if you see suspicious activity.
- Check tires for wear and pressure, even the spare.
- Check the refrigerant, coolant and batteries and replace dirty oil.
Vacation on a Budget
- Try vacation rentals. You can get an entire house and great discounts. Ask about a discount if you're staying longer than 7 nights. In the high season discounts can range from 5-10 %, but in the low season from 15-20%. You may be able to use your talents to barter a discount (taking photos or writing a description of the rental), or by referring your friends.
- When driving, stop for picnics instead of eating out.
- Take advantage of continental breakfasts.
- Avoid pricy gift shops. Find natural gifts, such as sea shells.
- When traveling with children, watch for signs that say "kids eat free".
- Vacation close to home to save on gas and airfare.
- Consider a camping trip, such as to a National park.
- Avoid vacationing at peak times (end of July to middle of August) for better pricing.
These tips are all worthwhile considering, to ensure that you have a great summer vacation.