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11 Ways to save on summer travel

So if you’re looking to plan a “fun in the sun” vacation on a budget, here are 11 of our favorite tips.

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Photo by Tom Cleary from Unsplash.com

Summer is always one of the most expensive times to travel. But 2021 has the potential to be even more busy (and costly) than usual due to pent-up demand caused by the extended COVID-19 lockdowns.

As many individuals and families are looking to make up for lost time this summer, “revenge travel” is already causing prices to spike. As of writing, prices on many hotels and flights are still below pre-pandemic levels. But that’s not the case for every destination and costs are likely to continue to rise as we move further into summer.

What all this means is that it’s not going to be as easy to take a cheap trip this summer as it may have been in the winter or spring. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that there are still many ways to save on summer travel. So if you’re looking to plan a “fun in the sun” vacation on a budget, here are 11 of our favorite tips.

1. Compare Rates on Third-Party Travel Sites

Travel websites are marketplaces that can compare rates from hundreds of airlines, hotels, or car rental agencies at once. Using these sites can save you a lot of time and money when compared to visiting each company’s website separately. Some popular travel sites include:

  • Kayak
  • Expedia
  • TripAdvisor
  • Google Flights
  • Orbitz
  • Booking.com
  • Priceline
  • Hotwire
  • Hotels.com

While these sites can be a great place to start rate-shopping, note that not every travel brand allows third parties to show their prices. Southwest Airlines, for example, has been a long-standing holdout. So after visiting third-party aggregators, you may still want to check out a few individual sites to ensure that you don’t miss any hot deals.

2. Set Price Alerts Using Flexible Dates

Nearly all of the sites above also make it easy to set travel alerts. These are convenient because they allow you to sit back, relax and wait to be notified when the price for your trip drops rather than having to manually check rates each day.

You can set alerts for specific dates if you’d like. But know that if you’re able to be flexible with your plans, you’ll have a better chance of scoring a big discount.

If you work a job that allows you to plan a last-minute trip, saying that you’re available “anytime” or for any “upcoming weekends” could be best. Or, for a little more predictability, you could customize your alert to only notify you about price-drops for dates that fall within a specific month.

3. Redeem Credit Card Rewards Towards Travel

This tip has long been one of my family’s favorite travel hacks. If you’ve been racking up credit card rewards points with your daily-use card, you may be able to redeem those points for free nights and/or flights.

Some credit card issuers allow points to be transferred to a variety of travel partners. Others have their own travel portal where cardholders can book trips with points. And some cards offer both! Check to see what redemption options your card offers.

If you’re looking to take a late summer (or early fall) vacation, you may still have time to apply for a rewards credit card and earn a hefty sign-up bonus before you book your trip. Keep in mind, though, that the most generous cards do usually require excellent credit. You can check your FICO Scores and reports at myFICO.

4. Split a Home Rental With Family or Friends

While renting an entire home using an app like Airbnb or HomeAway can be convenient, it’s unlikely to be the most affordable choice for a single family. But if you’re planning a group vacation, it certainly could be!

For example, let’s say that you’re visiting a city where hotels cost around $100 per night and a 3-bedroom home rental averages $210 per night. If you’re able to split the home with two other families, your per-family cost drops to just $70.

So you’d save $30 per night by choosing the home rental. You could save even more by choosing a house that has a fully-stocked kitchen since you’d have the option to cook a few meals. Plus, a home rental may offer other intangible benefits like a living room where everyone can enjoy movie nights and a backyard for the kiddos to run around.

5. Book Middle-of-The-Week Flights

Often, travelers plan their trips around taking off a traditional Monday-Friday work week. For this reason, weekend flights tend to be most popular. But simple supply and demand dynamics means that those flights are also likely to be more expensive.

Could you start your trip in the middle of the week instead? If so, you’re more likely to find the lowest fares. Historically, Tuesdays and Wednesdays have proven to be the cheapest days to fly.

If you do have to out fly on weekends, try to opt for Saturday rather than Friday evening or Sunday. Flying back on Sunday does give you an extra day to maximize your trip. But this advantage also tends to inflate Sunday fare prices.

6. Fill Your Itinerary With Free Sights and Activities

As a Florida native, I know first-hand how fun theme park vacations can be. But it’s also harder to plan a budget-conscious trip when you’re visiting an amusement park or other ticketed venue each day.

But there are plenty of fun things that you can do for free during your summer getaway. In our family’s case, we enjoy hiking so we love to visit destinations that have plenty of nearby state or national parks.

Also, keep in mind that many national monuments and museums don’t charge for admission. That makes it easier to keep costs low when visiting cities that are packed with historical landmarks like Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, or Boston.

7. Take a Road Trip

You may not need to book a flight to visit somewhere new and exciting. There may be plenty of places within driving distance of your home that have a lot to offer.

You’ll not only avoid flight costs by road-tripping, but you also won’t have to worry about booking a rental car or paying for daily rideshares once you reach your destination.

You will have to pay for gas during your trip. But after accounting for fuel costs, you may still be able to save hundreds of dollars by driving yourself to your summer vacation spot. And the larger your family, the higher your potential savings.

8. Visit Cities That Offer Sightseeing Bundles

There are currently 13 cities in the United States along with Toronto, Canada that offer CityPASS tickets. These passes bundle together several of the city’s most popular sights at a reduced overall price.

You may be able to save upwards of 50% by purchasing a CityPASS vs. buying tickets to each individual attraction separately. Our family has bought a CityPASS in three different cities so far and we’ve yet to be disappointed!

9. Look For Kids Stay (or Fly) Free Options

If you’ll be traveling with children this summer, know that certain travel brands offer special freebies that can save parents money. At Holiday Inn, for example, up to two children can be added to their parents’ room at no extra charge. And up to four children per family can eat free at hotel dine-in restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

With Frontier Airlines, one child under 15 can fly free per parent if at least one of the adults is a Discount Den travel club member. For a family of four, this could cut their flight cost in half. However, two blackout dates do apply for the remainder of summer 2021: June 26-July 13th and September 2nd-6th.

10. Stay Away From Major Holidays

All travel-related prices tend to soar on big holidays. So simply steering clear of these dates (and the weekends before and after) could be one of the easiest ways to save on summer travel.

Since Memorial Day has already passed, there are really only two federal holidays left this summer to avoid: Independence Day and Labor Day.

11. Investigate Your In-City Transportation Options

If you’ll be visiting a large metro area on your trip, parking and transportation can be a lot trickier, so you’ll want to think through your strategy. In some cities, leaving your vehicle in a low-cost parking garage and using public transportation could save you time (and hassle) vs. driving everywhere and paying for parking at each stop.

If you’ll be staying in one area for at least 7 days, you may also want to see if the city offers discounts on week-long passes for public parking or transportation. Lastly, if you’ll be flying to your destination, you’ll want to think about whether renting a car or using rideshares and taxis during your stay would be most affordable.

If you’re just planning to hit the beach each day during your summer getaway, booking a rental car may not be worth the money. But if you’ll be doing a lot of driving to spread apart sights, renting a car might actually be far less expensive.

The Bottom Line

This list of 11 ways to save on summer travel is far from exhaustive. If you’re actively looking, you’re likely to find dozens of more ways to cut costs.

So be intentional and plan well. Because the only thing better than a relaxing summer getaway is a relaxing summer getaway that doesn’t break the bank!

Travel

5 Road ready tips to ride motorcycles safely and comfortably

As a rider, you are part of a global community and a steward of the open road. To keep your ride safe and comfortable, consider these additional tips.

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A warm day on the open road is a dream opportunity for riders, whether it’s a longer trip or a quick jaunt through town. Regardless of the adventure, and no matter what you ride, a thrilling ride is a safe ride.

Whether you’re new to the open road or a seasoned veteran, remember to follow best practices for safe riding like those outlined in the Responsible Rider program from BRP, makers of Can-Am 3-wheel vehicles. The program prioritizes being an attentive rider and always considering safety, the environment and riding etiquette from highways to city streets and everywhere in-between.

As a rider, you are part of a global community and a steward of the open road. To keep your ride safe and comfortable, consider these additional tips:

Wear the Right Gear

While your fashion statement is largely a matter of personal preference, there are some safety items designed to protect your health and well-being that should be worn. Protective riding gear helps keep you safe while enjoying the open road.

Full-hand gloves, riding boots that cover ankles, pants and jackets help protect against wind, sun, cold, heat and flying objects such as bugs or rocks. Drivers and passengers should also wear an approved helmet and eye protection to prevent injuries to the head, brain and eyes.

Choose a Proper Helmet

Every rider should wear a helmet, and the abundance of options available can make it tough to decide what’s best. Start by looking for a DOT Certification sticker, which means the helmet meets the strict safety standards of the Department of Transportation.

  • Full Face: This style of helmet provides protection for the head and neck with a fixed chin that helps absorb impact. Simply slip it on and adjust the visor.
  • Open Face: Helmets like the Can-Am N21 are usually worn with goggles or a small integrated shield. This option provides ultimate freedom on the road.
  • Crossover: These helmets are easy to personalize based on ride intensity and weather conditions. Crossover helmets can be configured in numerous ways by transforming from full face to jet, which keep it breezy with a full field of view.

Maintain Your Hairdo

Keep hair out of your face. If you have longer hair, choose a hairstyle that’s high and away from your eyes like a low bun, simple braid or ponytail. Secure hair at the nape of your neck and, when possible, wear a neck gaiter around the back of your head and across your nose to keep loose hairs secured. Bonus tip: Keep a compact brush on your ride so you can brush your hair upon arrival at your destination.

Prepare Appropriately for Riding Conditions

Weather is unpredictable, and you should be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. Regardless of the forecast, always make a plan for unforeseen conditions like wind and rain. An easy way to stay prepared is to keep a small packable jacket on your ride so you’re never left without an extra layer.

Cooler conditions call for warm yet lightweight gear such as a base layer with additional light layers over the top like a jacket or thin vest. Hotter days require vented clothing that allows airflow to keep you cool and dry.

Consider Your Passenger’s Safety

The most important rule for packing a passenger is ensuring your bike has a specific seat intended for a second rider. Be aware of how the added weight can affect the handling and behavior of the vehicle.

Generally, riding with a passenger requires more gradual riding from acceleration and braking to steering. Instruct your passenger how you prefer him or her to ride with you to ensure the most enjoyment possible.

Find more responsible riding tips at can-am.brp.com.

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Travel

Sunny summertime safety

Tips for enjoying the great outdoors.

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A bright, sunny day offers opportunities for warm-weather fun. To make the most of your summer, you’ll need to take a few steps to enhance the experience and ensure you’re ready for whatever the day may bring.

When it’s time to head outside, consider these tips from the experts at CURAD to protect your body (and skin) from the elements this summer:

Protect Skin from UV Rays

Any time you’ll be outdoors for more than 15 minutes, you should wear protective sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even if it’s partly cloudy or overcast. One mistake many people make is applying sunscreen before they leave the house then not reapplying throughout the day. To help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.

Also be sure to cover all exposed areas, including often overlooked spots like the tops of your ears, neck and tops of your feet, if they’re exposed by sandals or other open shoes.

Stay Hydrated

One of the most important ways to protect your health when you’re spending the day outdoors is staying hydrated, especially on warm days when you’re losing your body’s water reserves to sweat. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day can help replenish what you lose so you don’t get dehydrated, and you’ll also have an easier time regulating your body’s temperature.

Be Prepared for Cuts and Scrapes

Summer cuts and scrapes are to be expected, but the faster you can take care of them, the faster you can get back to having fun. An option like CURAD Kendra Dandy Adhesive Bandages can help you heal in style with a four-sided seal that keeps dirt and germs out and a nonstick pad that’s extra absorbent. Designed by Dandy, a renowned artist and illustrator, these fashion-forward bandages are made with a comfortable, stretchy material that conforms to your body for maximum protection. Available in a 30-count standard-sized strip and a 50-count variety pack, these eye-catching bandages feature trendy, one-of-a-kind pineapple, papaya, banana and dragon fruit designs that can add a little fun and flair to your summer wardrobe.

“We created our Kendra Dandy designer bandage line to add a splash of fun, color and flair to our classic adhesive bandages, offering consumers thought-provoking styles that add a great feeling to empowered healing,” said Kim Washington, Medline vice president of marketing.

Repel Bugs

Aggressive insects can put a damper on outdoor fun. Bug spray or roll-on products should go on top of your sunscreen, but never under your clothes. Apply a sparing coat to all exposed skin and clothing, paying special attention to your waistband, pant and sleeve cuffs, collar and socks. Rather than applying spray directly to your face, spray the palms of your hands then rub the repellant onto your face. Be sure to wash your hands afterward to avoid accidentally transferring spray to your mouth or eyes.

If you have sensitive skin or prefer not to use spray or roll-on for other reasons, products like repellant fans or wearable repellant bracelets may be good alternatives. Some essential oils are also natural bug repellants.

Don’t Forget Your Lips

While faces, necks, arms and legs are often top of mind to protect from the sun’s rays, lips can be easy to forget. However, using a lip balm that is rich in oils, beeswax and petroleum can help seal in moisture. Similar to sunscreen, lip balms featuring SPF should be reapplied every two hours when outdoors and often offer added moisturizing benefits. Available in a variety of flavors, some even taste good enough to leave you wanting to apply them over and over again regardless of if you’re venturing outside or not.

Wear Light Clothing

When it’s hot outside and you’re engaged in physical activity, you’re at a greater risk of overheating. Dressing for the climate, while also protecting yourself from the elements, should be a top priority. If the temperature will vary throughout the day, consider layering so you can warm up or cool down as needed. Lighter clothes that don’t add weight are a good idea, and it’s important to be conscious of the fit. Ideally, clothes should be loose enough to allow for easy, comfortable movement, but not so baggy they get in the way or pose a snagging or tripping hazard. Don’t forget accessories like a hat and sunglasses, which can protect your head and eyes.

Support Summertime Injuries

Twisted ankles are one of the more common summertime injuries, especially for hikers or runners who may stumble over rocks or curbs, and even weekend warriors playing pick-up basketball or softball games. Keeping an ankle support on-hand can help stabilize a sprain or provide extra support during recovery. If you do experience a mild injury, it’s important to choose a high-quality product, like CURAD Performance Series IRONMAN ankle supports and braces. With options available to support both mild and moderate ankle injuries, they offer a rugged yet comfortable design to wear on the field, in the gym, at work or out on the town.

Find more tips and resources to take care of your body this summer and beyond at CURAD.com.

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Travel

Top 10 boating safety tips

Get ready for the summer boating season by refreshing yourself and your passengers on safe boating practices. While we draw attention to safety this week, following these guidelines will protect you all year long.

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Photo by Drew Dau from Unsplash.com

This week is National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27, 2022), and BoatTests101.com would like to encourage public awareness of boating safety. One way to start is for people to take a boating safety course and get their boating license, known as the Boater Education Certificate.

Besides getting your license, here are our Top 10 Boating Safety Tips:

  1. Wear a Life Jacket – Even if you are a strong swimmer with quick reflexes, it’s a great idea always to wear your life jacket when on your boat. Choose one that fits properly and is designed for your activity. A PFD that flips you on your back and keeps your head above water is ideal.
  2. Don’t Boat Under the Influence – Any substance that impairs your ability to focus on boating should be avoided, including alcohol, prescription drugs, or other drugs (legal or illegal). Boaters under the influence cause one-third of all boating fatalities.
  3. Carry Proper Safety Equipment – Fire extinguishers, lights, flares, bailers, sound signals, navigation aids, and flags are essential for keeping you safe in an emergency. Check equipment conditions and expiration dates before you head out. If your boat is equipped with an engine cut-off device or switch, you must use it.
  4. Don’t Overload Your Boat – Your vessel’s capacity plate will advise the recommended weight of passengers and gear. Make sure you load it evenly to keep the boat stable and prevent capsizing.
  5. File a Float Plan – Let someone know your boating plans and when you will return. Have a plan to check in if your route changes and when they should call for assistance. Know how to use VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones to call for help. 
  6. Check the Weather – Before and during your trip, keep track of storms that may head into the area. Head toward shore or shelter if the skies start to turn ominous. Take an extra set of clothes in case you get wet. Bring rain gear and sun protection.
  7. Stay Focused – Conditions on the water can change in an instant. Stay alert and pay attention to your actions and the actions of other boaters, anglers, and divers.
  8. Slower is Safer – Follow posted speed signs, and slow down when it’s congested, near wildlife areas, where people are fishing or diving, and when docking.
  9. Know Navigation Rules – The BoatTests101.com course will teach you the “Rules of the Road,” including how to signal or pass other vessels.  Don’t assume the other vessels will follow the rules and be prepared to compensate.
  10. Obey the Laws – BoatTests101.com course will go over boating laws in various circumstances, but head to your state’s website to see the latest rules and regulations. Pay attention and follow any law enforcement instructions.

Get ready for the summer boating season by refreshing yourself and your passengers on safe boating practices. While we draw attention to safety this week, following these guidelines will protect you all year long.

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