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Tips for Stress-Free Summer Travel

TravelAt long last, the winter coats have been washed and relegated to the back of the closet (or they’ll sit on the laundry room floor until next October waiting to be washed—don’t worry, I don’t judge) and you’re thinking about your summer travel plans. Perhaps you’d like to spend a glorious week at the beach, or take a road trip to visit historical sites. Maybe a lake house is your thing, or you’re jetting half way around the world to stay in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives* before they sink. It doesn’t matter whether your vacation will be via the family SUV or a private jet, there will be some element of drudgery—finalizing itineraries, packing, renting cars, making reservations. And if you’re traveling with young kids, face it: you’re going on a trip, not a vacation. The good news is that there are ways to minimize your vacation stress from the planning stages through the duration of your trip, no matter your destination or the company you keep.

Before You Go

  • Determine your budget. This is critical. Nothing will put a damper on a vacation more quickly than realizing you’ve signed up for something you can’t afford. Obviously, a family road trip to an amusement park a few hours away is going to cost significantly less than the aforementioned overwater bungalow in the Maldives**, but there’s a lot of gray between those two types of vacations. Find one that appeals to you and fits your budget.
  • Pick a destination. Perhaps you know exactly where you’d like to go and when. But maybe you want to figure out what there is to see and do before you book.
  • If you’re a foodie, you can look up restaurants that have been featured on TV shows to help you pick a delicious destination.
  • Book a flight (if applicable).
  • Set up price alerts with your preferred airlines or a flight curating site like Kayak or Expedia. This can help you get the best deal on a flight.
  • Apps and sites like Hopper and Skyscanner can also help you determine what actually constitutes a good deal on a particular flight.
  • Use SeatGuru to pick the perfect seat for your flight. It can give you the lowdown on location on the plane, whether there are outlets, how much legroom you get, and more.
  • If travelling domestically, upon booking a reservation, you have 24 hours to cancel it. So if you find a great deal but you aren’t sure, book it anyway and cancel if need be. Or keep looking around to see if you can find an even better price.
  • Rent a car. If you’ll be renting a car for your trip, use the CostcoTravel site. It finds the best rates based on location and, if you’re a member, offers additional discounts. While you’re at it, make sure your driver’s license hasn’t expired. Several years ago, my husband and I arrived in Ireland only to discover his license was expired. I spent the entirety of our vacation unexpectedly behind the wheel.
  • Download apps.
  • Once you’ve booked a flight, download the app for that airline. Many now allow you to track your baggage once you’ve checked in and will send you real-time updates on your flight status. Others allow you to rebook through the app if there’s a problem with your original flight.
  • TripIt can help you keep all of your reservations in one place so you aren’t searching all over for your flight, hotel and restaurant reservations.
  • Check your toiletry bag. Be sure you aren’t out of key items before you go. Vacation destinations are notorious for charging a premium for items such as sunscreen, antacids, deodorant, razors and toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Got kids?
  • Rent baby gear. Depending upon your destination, you may be able to rent strollers, cribs, beach gear, high chairs, car seats and other cumbersome baby items rather than schlepping them with you.
  • Take advantage of onsite babysitting. If you have kids, find out whether your destination has a kids’ camp or offers babysitting services so you can eat dinner after 6 p.m. one night.

Whether you’re loading up the car or hopping on a plane, we hope these tips and tricks help you arrive at your destination calm, happy and ready to have fun!

*My dream vacation.

**Did I mention this is my dream vacation? Seriously. It’s a thing.

Lauren J. Sternberg, Communications Manager, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Travel courtesy of Shutterstock.

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