As we head into the summer vacation season, I want to share some important travel tips…
OVERSEAS TRAVEL...If you’ll be traveling overseas, make sure your passport and visa (if necessary) are in order. This means check your expiration date. Nearly every country requires that your passport is valid for six months after the date you enter the country. Some require a certain number of blank pages in your passport, as well. As far as visas are concerned, make sure you have a valid visa affixed to your passport. In order to obtain a visa, you have to submit a passport photo (or two) to the visa agency or embassy, along with the necessary paperwork. An important distinction I’d like to make is that having a visa does not guarantee entry. The immigration officer can still deny permission for any number of reasons, such as not having the required inoculations or not having a return airline ticket or whatever. However, not having a visa when required does guarantee you will not be allowed to enter the country. Be sure to allow ample time to get a passport (new or renewed) and/or visa. Some agencies, such as http://www.visaexpress.net/, offer expedited service for a price, which means you can get them within a few days. Visit the U.S. State Department website for official information regarding visas and passports at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/americans-traveling-abroad.html and https://www.usa.gov/passport. Make sure you don’t need any vaccinations, such as yellow fever or Hepatitis A. Check with the CDC before booking any travel as some vaccinations are not recommended if you have a chronic condition.
FLYING DOMESTICALLY OR INTERNATIONALLY: Here is a breakdown to help with your flight planning. This information is courtesy of CheapAir:
June 6=least expensive day to fly in June
June 20=first official day of summer
The cheapest fares for June will be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the highest fares on Fridays and Sundays.
July 4=least expensive day to fly in July
July 9=most expensive day to fly in July
The cheapest fares for July will be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while Sundays will be the most expensive fares.
August 22=least expensive day to fly in August
August 6=most expensive day to fly in August
The cheapest fares for August will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The highest fares will be on Fridays and Sundays.
September 12=least expensive day to fly in September.
September 4=most expensive day to fly in September.
September 22=official end of summer.
Some airlines are running a special promotion during summer 2017 that allows kids to fly free or deeply discounted. This typically includes two children, ages 0-11. The following airlines are participating in this promotion: British Airways, Qatar, Virgin Atlantic, and Southwest. British Airways just began service from London to New Orleans and Virgin Atlantic now flies from Seattle to London. If you care about saving money more than comfort, some U.S. airlines, including American and United, now offer Basic Economy. These are the cheapest seats you can get, but be sure you understand the terms and conditions before booking. For example, seat selection is not permitted.
CHEAPEST PLACES TO VISIT IN U.S.: My top five picks for the cheapest places this summer, but with lots to offer, are: Philadelphia (haunted Eastern State Penitentiary, Pizza Brain, and the Founding Fathers Tour), Las Vegas (AdventureDome, Mob Museum, and Discovery Children’s Museum), Williamsburg (Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, and WaterCountry USA), Tampa (you’ll find minimum crowds and bargain prices at Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and Florida Aquarium because the tourists are in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale), and Washington, DC (Click here to read my post about all the free things you can do in D.C). If you’re planning on visiting one or two national parks, you should purchase an NP Pass. For $80 (or a one-time $10 for seniors), you gain entry into hundreds of places throughout the year. Entry into one park can cost $30 or more, so this is often a better bet.
FYI: If a Caribbean resort stay is more your thing, you’ll find great deals at CheapCaribbean.
CHEAPEST PLACES TO VISIT OVERSEAS: There are so many bargain places this summer due to Brexit, the strong dollar, and other factors. And in certain places terrorism has curbed tourism, but is not a serious concern. However, you should also check with the State Department before going anywhere outside of the U.S. Here are my picks: Bulgaria, Romania, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Bolivia, Greece, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Sri Lanka. You can live large for less than $30 a day in many of these places! If you’re interested in traveling to Ireland or England, now’s the time. The British pound is down, hotels are deeply discounted, and I’m seeing great deals on GB tours. Note: There may be other places that are cheap right now, but I have not included them because of current terrorism concerns, such as Turkey and Egypt.
FYI: The British pound is at a historic 31-year low. Tourists will find great bargains on dining, shopping, sightseeing, lodging, and flights! A great resource for those interested in European and UK tours is Affordable Tours.
ROADTRIPS…Gas prices are expected to go up on average of .50 per gallon this summer, so be sure to factor that into your budget. Use the GasBuddy app to find the lowest prices wherever you are in the U.S. CityPasses bundle admission to the most popular tourist attractions in many major U.S. cities. Click here for a list of free campgrounds across America! Vacasa is similar to VRBO and Airbnb if you’re interested in cheap lodging. Also, HostelWorld shares 33,000 worldwide hostels in 170 countries where you can stay in cheap (sometimes dirt cheap) and I love Priceline’s Booking.com. If you’ll be taking Fido along, most major theme parks (Sea World, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, and Carowinds) provide accommodations while you’re in the park. The fee varies according to the park. AAA has released the AAA Petbook, which includes more than 15,000 listings of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds throughout Canada and the U.S., as well as tips for traveling with your pet(s). If you’re going to Disney, let AAA help save you lots of time and money. They will help you maximize your Disney experience and do so at the lowest price possible.
CRUISING…Cruises have never been more popular than they are right now. A recent survey revealed that 8 out of 10 polled will be taking a cruise during 2017. The most common length will be one week. Why is cruising so popular? The main reason is the value. Cruises are all-inclusive (unless you upgrade to specialty dining or such), which means they are a better value than most land vacations. They offer so many amenities that the bang for the buck is enormous, especially for families. Plus, there’s no inconvenience, such as roadwork, traffic, and crowded airports. The best place to find information about cruise ships, cruise destinations, cruise ports, cruise deals, and more is on CruiseCritic.
FYI: The most popular ports this summer will be Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cancun, Aruba, and the Dominican Republic.
CAR SERVICE…Rideways is Priceline’s version of Uber or Lyft. They have guaranteed pick-up, free cancellation, and no hidden fees. They specialize in airport, train station, and cruise port transfers, but offer other services as well. The best part is, unlike Uber, that you can make a booking in advance. In fact, you can make a reservation up to one year in advance.
FYI: Click here to listen to my Über Adventures: Holiday & Summer Vacation Hacks to learn more money-saving travel tips!