Summer Travel with some Smarts

Monday, June 7th, 2010 by Charles Mayfield, CFP®


As warmer months approach, many of us get the itch to travel.  Summer is a traditional time to spend on the road with family and friends.  With the Internet at your fingertips, there are unlimited ways to be smart about your travel plans.  Here are just a few ideas that might help shave dollars off your summer trip.

In Case of Emergency:  Nothing can undermine a great trip like the unexpected.  Do as much on the front end of a trip to prevent anything from derailing the fun.  It can be a costly undertaking to be ill prepared when something does goes wrong.

  • Road Side Assistance: do you have it?  Most cars come with some type of benefit, but for only a few years.  There are several well known travel services that give you someone to call if you should break down, have a flat or otherwise be immobile during your journey.  If you are driving, it wouldn’t hurt to have the air in your tires checked and even schedule a car service before you hit the road on a long trip.
  •  Emergency Contacts:  Make sure that family/friends/neighbors know you are headed out of town and where to reach you.  Having a neighbor/friend looking after the house can be helpful these days.  I recently had an attempted break in at my house.  My neighbor saw it happening and was able to alert me about it.

Use the Web:  If you will be traveling to someplace you have never been, do your research.  There is so much information out there nowadays; don’t be afraid to use it.

  • Restaurants: Mapping out a few places you think you would like to eat helps avoiding those frantic trips around town to find something you crave.  Most restaurants offer some type of pricing online that allow you to budget your dining out accordingly.
  • Entertainment:  Seeking out activities to do on your trip ahead of time will allow for price haggling and reservations to be made.  This cuts out on “waiting in line” sometimes and gives parents the ability to avoid those touristy traps that can cost an arm and a leg.

 Rental Houses: Depending on the length of your trip, it may prove worthwhile to explore your options to rent a house at your final destination.

  • The Kitchen: gives you access to all the items you need to spend a late morning enjoying breakfast without having to get in the car and go somewhere. 
  • More space: if you’re traveling with a crew, you don’t have to worry with who is in what room or coordinating “meeting spots.”  Rounding everyone up to head to the beach, dinner or movie is as simple as meeting in the living room
  • You might save a pretty penny:  You’ll be giving up the luxury of having someone make your bed every morning.  You probably didn’t need that chocolate on your pillow anyway.  Compare the pricing for a rental house versus hotel and make an informed decision.

Consider a Travel Agent:  If you’re like me, you like to plan things yourself.  That said, a travel agent can often coordinate a trip for you and will be very aware of deals being offered.  It can be well worth exploring a local travel agency to help plan your next adventure.

Depending on your ultimate goals for the big summer trip, some of this may be pointless.  However, making some carefully planned decisions can be beneficial to your wallet and state of mind.  Go forth and conquer the summer.  Happy trails to you.

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