Students are out of school (or if your district got slammed with snow days, almost out) and the beaches are beckoning. Hammonasset, Misquamicut, the Cape – they’re all trips close enough to home that Latinos looking for a quick getaway can still pull off this summer, as long as a few key travel tips are kept in mind.
Shorter road trips may seem more convenient than booking airfare, but traveling in the summer can be deceptive, AAA’s Public Relations Manager Aaron Kupec warns.
“Most people think that Thanksgiving is the worst time to travel,” he said, claiming beliefs that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the worst day of the year to travel is actually a myth. “In reality, a busy summer weekend can pack the highways just as much, or worse. . . A lot of people will be on the road.”
But as long as travelers are realistic about crowded highways on sunny weekends, there is no shortage of places to get away.
“Because things are so close together in the Northeast, you really do have a lot of options,” he said.
Kupec recommended shoreline Connecticut, the Mystic area or Boston for day trips, and Rhode Island and the Cape for Latinos in search of bigger waves.
More bang for your buck
Timing is everything when it comes to traveling. Kupec said the best hotel deals can be found by booking off-peak days. If you can afford to take some days off in the middle of the week, you may save in the long run by avoiding weekend rates, he said.
As for gas prices, he projected that they will only increase as summer goes on. However, he said, for the past few years, gas prices have dropped because of geo-political tensions and refinery issues. With that in mind, Kupec said there is no consistent best time of day or week to fill up the tank.
“You’re at the mercy of gas prices,” he said.
Historically, Connecticut has been among the top 10 highest states in average gas prices, but the state’s average has now dropped to number 13. The national average has been rising, with Connecticut coming in at an steady average of $3.79 since Memorial Day.
Summer Travel Tips
AAA offered the following tips for travelers this summer to make their vacation time as enjoyable and relaxing as possible. The more planning done in advance makes for a smoother trip over, Kupec said.
- Budget for fees. Fee-free travel is a thing of the past, and fees can easily burst your travel budget. Research travel carriers to understand true travel costs before booking, or better yet, enlist the help of a travel agent who is privy to the ever-changing industry.
- Search out savings. Many hotels and resorts, for example, offer incentives such as free breakfast or kids stay free deals, which can help save money, as well as special pricing for students and military.Also, pre-paid rates may be a better deal but are often non-refundable.
- Plan in advance. Book summer travel as soon as you can to get the best accommodations and pricing. Particularly if the weather is favorable, last-minute travelers may find limited availability and higher prices. If you can’t book in advance, be flexible and have a “plan B” in mind.
- Pack some patience. Summer weekends can rival or surpass the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in terms of travel volume. Allow extra time to get where you are going and remember, you’re on vacation!
- Use technology. Smartphone applications are invaluable travel tools. For example, through the AAA Mobile app, users can summon roadside assistance, receive door-to-door direction, discover AAA member discount locations and much more. Most travel carriers also have free apps that can aid travelers on the go
Getting there safely
Kupec also advised that one of the most important travel tips should be done before even pulling out of the driveway. Make sure everything checks out with your vehicle before something goes wrong on the way, he said. “A good check-up should take about 30 minutes.”
His checklist includes inspecting the battery, belts and hoses, fluid levels, wiper blades, lights and tires, and making sure the car is equipped with a roadside rescue kit. A complete emergency kit should include a fully-charged mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kid, drinking water, snack, battery booster cables and emergency flares or reflectors.
Most importantly, don’t text and drive, he warns. “You don’t want to ruin your vacation with an accident before you even get there.”