Kristin Luna is a seasoned journalist for a host of travel and lifestyles magazines and shares her adventures via her blog Camels & Chocolate. She also runs a digital marketing company, Odinn Media, and is the co-founder of Nashville-based tech conference KEEN Digital Summit.
Summer is nearly here, the taste of vacation hangs heavy in the air and if you haven’t already planned your getaway, there’s never a better time than the present. Here are some important things to remember–and tips to follow–as you begin to plot those summer adventures.
- Some like it hot–go where the weather is less desirable (to some). New Mexico, Arizona or Palm Springs may be steamy in summer months, but if you can handle the (dry) heat–literally–you’ll find lower prices and fewer crowds in the desert regions during June, July and August.
- Keep copies of all travel documents handy. Never leave home without back-up copies of your driver’s license, passport and other important documents. I recommend scanning and inserting such images into a OneNote notebook and putting it in SkyDrive. That way you’ll always have a copy at your fingertips from virtually anywhere on the planet (with an internet connection) via your PC, smartphone or the web.
- If flying, brush up on the latest TSA rules. Those traveling with small children ages 12 and under will be happy to learn that kids are no longer required to remove their shoes when passing through security (neither are adults over the age of 75). Other new rules for 2013? Small knives, golf clubs and other previously banned items are now allowed in carry-ons–but always check the TSA site before you go as the prohibitions are ever-changing.
- Consult the web for the “local’s” experience. The new special edition OneNote travel notebook created in collaboration with Travel + Leisure allows users to get advice from T+L editors while planning their vacation and take advantage of their expertise to find where the locals eat, drink, shop, and go (while also using the notebook to organize and store all travel research, itineraries, notes, web clippings and more!). And when in doubt, ask your concierge–they are there to serve you, after all–or your social media network if you have a well-curated following of fellow travelers.
- Choose your luggage wisely. Flight 001 co-founder Brad Johns offers up four things to look for in the perfect suitcase: lightweight (with airlines charging for overweight bags, this is of utmost importance), layout (i.e., do you need a piece of luggage with dividers and pockets, or do you prefer to pack a case that is just one big open space?), sturdy wheels (with a carry-on, you want wheels that have a low profile; for a check-in, the wheels need to be strong enough to withstand being tossed around), and an unconventional-looking piece (so you can spot it easily as it comes down the beltway).
- Explore your own backyard. So often travelers forget about the experiences in their own backyard. Use summer as an excuse to check out that town two hours away you’ve always heard about but never visited or to take a road trip rather than flying. A campsite in a national park is far cheaper than a hotel room–plus, the views are way better.
- Pack in one color scheme. I’ve always adopted the single-palette tip to cut back on the number of extras like shoes, bags or jewelry needed, often choosing a color scheme of neutral accessories to match everything. A well-known celebrity stylist, who packs for actors and musicians going on long jaunts, recently told me that when it comes to summertime, pick things that are light and fresh and all go together. For example, bring a white jean or skirt that will go with every top–tank, tee or cardigan–you pack.
- Seek out free Wi-Fi hotspots. Want to save on data packages with your cell phone provider? You don’t need to pay for Internet when so many chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks now offer it up for free to patrons. For those who travel via car rather than plane, most RV parks and campgrounds also include complimentary Internet access (and cable, too). Want to phone home? Take advantage of the 60 minutes of Skype calls (per month) that is included with Office 365.
- Carry on when possible. Not only does it save you the money of checking a bag, it also prevents the hassle of having to wait for your bag to come down the luggage belt–while eliminating the risk of the airline losing your bag entirely (something that has happened to me far too many times). As a result, I’ve learned to pare down my necessities and cram it all into a carry-on if I’m traveling for 10 days or less.
- When flying, dress for comfort–not style. We’re no longer in the golden days of air travel where frequent fliers are expected to dress to impress. Comfort reigns supreme. Dress in layers, wear materials like cotton or cashmere that breathe well and will keep you cozy, and be sure to don footwear that slips on and off easily for security check. If you have bulkier pieces, save space in your luggage and wear them on the plane instead–after all, they can always double as a blanket or a pillow (both things that airlines are skimping on these days).
Check out Camels & Chocolate to follow Kristin’s adventures and learn more expert travel tips.