Summer Escape on a Budget!

Summer is finally here! You’re deep into daydreaming about your next vacation away but before living out your fantasy, there is one daunting task ahead: settling on how much you can afford to pay during one of the most popular travel seasons.

If you are one of the 52 percent of Americans who are planning to take a vacation this summer, your budget is likely tight, according to a Bankrate survey. Those who plan to travel this summer expect to spend $1,979, on average, for a trip. But that kind of expense is tricky at best when considering another statistic: Only 40 percent of Americans said they would use their savings to pay for an unexpected expense of $1,000.

So if you are still trying to save for your vacation, here are some tips to consider….

  1. Determine how much you can afford to spend. First thing’s first: Establish your spending limit — the all-in number that you don’t want to exceed for your particular adventure. That is including your airfare, transportation to and from the airport, accommodations, activities. Keep the number realistic, so that you’ll have a firm idea of what your getaway will really cost.
  2. Be flexible on dates and travel destinations, and choose days wisely. If you’re flexible on specific dates and locations, you’re much more likely to get a decent fare than if you lock in a certain week or destination. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally the cheapest travel days, while Friday and Sunday are usually the most expensive.
  3. Search for credit card points you haven’t used. If you’re on the hunt for a discount on a flight or hotel, log in to your credit card account. Next, search for the points and rewards you may have already earned but not used. If you have unused points, apply them toward your travel costs. Don’t log out of your account just yet. Next, check to see if your credit card company offers card-linked deals. Some issuers offer discounts on, say, Airbnb and other travel-related costs, within their online portals. To get the discount, select the deal and then use the card.
  4. Find the best deal on a flight. Prices for flights are down 7 percent compared with the same time period two years ago, according to May data from the flight tracking app, Hopper. To get the best deal, you’ll still need to do your research as the price for the same route can vary up to 5 to 10 percent within a 24-hour period. or vacation routes, such as New York City to Hawaii, book the ticket four to six weeks before your ideal departure; the flight prices tend to drop as the time to departure gets closer.
  5. Book your hotel earlier than you think. Hotel prices are like flight prices: They vary based on when you book them. To get the best deal, you want to book a room sooner than you think. Also, scout for new hotels in the area you’re visiting to find the best deals. A lot of times when a new hotel opens, it offers really great deals in the first two to three months of operation to try to get people in to get those reviews.

Traveling with children; keeping safe amongst the measles comeback

As a new mother, even as a travel expert, traveling with my baby can be a scary proposition. Generally speaking one can base travel risk on vaccinations but occasionally something slips through.

As of April 25, the number of measles cases reported in the United States hit 695 — the highest number in a year since the disease was eliminated in the country in 2000, the CDC said. Worldwide, the number of cases in the first three months of 2019 were triple the amount recorded in the first three months of 2018, according to the World Health Organization.

So what does this mean for babies and young children traveling? In a normal scenario, children first receive the MMR vaccine when they are between 12 and 15 months old. A booster is given when the child is between 4 and 6 years old. The CDC recommends that babies between 6 months and 11 months receive the vaccination before international travel or if they are in a community that is affected by an outbreak.

Infants younger than 6 months are not given the MMR vaccine, because it is believed there are still antibodies present that have been passed on from the vaccinated mother in the third trimester. Because the MMR shot contains a live virus, the antibodies would make the vaccine ineffective.

What can you do as a parent?

1) If a child has not been vaccinated, is older than 12 months and international travel is planned, the initial MMR shot and a booster can be given within 28 days of each other. Traces of immunity are detectable within a few days, according to the CDC, and a person can be fully protected within two to three weeks.

2) If a child cannot be vaccinated due to an immunosuppression, the CDC says, travel should be delayed because the child is more likely to experience severe complications if they get the measles.

3) If the baby is too young to receive the vaccination or wasn’t able to as an infant, you can help minimize the risk of infection by – washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoiding crowded places, keeping your child away from people who are visibly sick and putting a cover on an infant car seat and putting surgical masks on older children.

4) Mothers who are nursing should consider continuing to do so through the trip, because breast milk contains antibodies.

No matter where you are traveling or the age of your child, be sure to double check with your pediatrician before embarking on any lengthy or long distance trips. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Summer Travel Trends – think outside the box!

A new survey from the Travel Channel recently revealed also revealed that Americans will likely spend about $255 billion on summer vacations this year. Thats a lot of dough – but doesn’t mean that travelers shouldn’t be smart about where they put their dollars….time to start booking!

Road Trips – The vast majority of Americans want to hit the road this summer, with 81 percent of people saying they would love to take a road trip, increasing to 87 percent among those who have kids. Apps like roadtrippers are super handy when it comes to planning out your ideal road trip.

Weekend Getaways – according to the survey, 55 percent of Americans now prefer several summer weekend getaways as opposed to one long summer vacation – perhaps due to families looking to cut down both stress factors and financial burdens when it comes to summer travel. Plan smart and track weekend flights with flight and (recently) hotel tracking apps like hopper which give you a calendar view and will let you know when prices are due to rise/fall and when the best time to book is.

Home Rentals – these also seem to be on the rise. The survey shows that about 77 percent of travelers are interested in staying in a rental house during a vacation; 80 percent of those respondents have kids. According to Wyndham Destinations, the number one thing travel consumers say make their vacation less enjoyable is a lack of amenities like a kitchen. Aside of the comfort of having a ‘home away from home’ you can save money on eating (and drinking) out, especially when it comes to taking kids along.

Relaxation – this is still at the top of travelers’ lists, with 63 percent of respondents to the Travel Chanel survey say they’d rather visit the beach than the mountains, and 55 percent saying they’d rather visit the countryside than a city. This summer think outside the box and consider beach destinations like northern Florida, which is low season but still boasting gorgeous beach weather (at the right price.)

City Breaks – Expense continues to be a major factor in decision making, with over half of those polled who have kids stating that major cities are too expensive. Some top suggestions are smaller cities like Richmond, Virginia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Albuquerque, all of which are excellent hubs for arts, food, and culture.

Last Minute Spring Break Ideas for Families

Recently I had a baby – and it’s got me thinking a lot about travel with kids. When it comes to spring break, if you’re still stuck in a rut about what to do, here are some great last minute ideas to consider…

Plan a road trip

A great, cost-effective way to experience new adventures – a lot of families genuinely enjoy them and it’s easier if kids are old enough to self-entertain in the car. Spring break is the perfect time to wield this card if you 1) live near some cool cities or states, 2) have a flexible job where you can work on the road or take a few days off, and 3) still want to remain within budget.

Determine where you want to go that fits with your work schedule, finances, and (obviously) driving distance from your home. Second, book lodging – anywhere from camping and Airbnbs to expensive resorts or even, if you have the funds and sanity, an RV. Third, map out the places you want to see and the things you want to do….sites like roadtrippers.com can be really handy to help with all of this.

Find day adventures nearby

If going away is either out of your budget or something you feel would make you go out of your mind, you can always think a lot smaller and make day trips around where you live.

This is a good time to hit up Groupon or Living Social or your local community centers and see what they have going on. Try a new museum, park, or other advertised activity. Play dates with friends to the park, pool, or museum can also add extra fun. If you work remotely, this can really work to your advantage. If there’s a fun city you’ve been wanting to see or restaurant you’ve wanted to try an hour away, plan the day around that activity and see what else there is to do in that area.

Go all the way and get away!

It’s not too late to get away. There are still plenty of deals to be had when it comes to getting away. Booking sites like booking.com will be a helpful tool when exploring destinations or choose a destination based on where it’s cheapest to fly – flight tracking apps like hopper can help you explore different destinations and see what week you can afford to fly and where to. Here are a few of my favorite ideas….

Fly to Colorado and ski Keystone. If you stay there, the kids ski free—a pretty sweet break. The mountains are gorgeous, the air is refreshing, and there’s bound to be snow, which kids often love. Skiing is also exhausting, so the kids will hit the hay at night and give you a couple hours to yourself!

Take a trip to Orlando’s Disney and this year – if you head to Epcot between March 6 and June 3 you will find the the 26th Annual International Flower & Garden Festivalwhich will feature Beauty and the Beast and Frozen topiaries, a Toy Story 4-themed play area, and an English Tea Garden.Disneyland’s Food & Wine runs until April 23, offers family-friendly activities, including a Jr. chef cooking experience with Chef Goofy.

Visit Washington DC. Every spring, the nation’s capital bursts alive with color, attracting an average of 1.5 million tourists to see over 3,000 trees decorate the Tidal Basin with awe-inspiring beauty. This year the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival starts March 20 and ends April 14, and includes a number of fun events on the itinerary, such as bike tours, performances, and craft making.