How to Travel Like a Pro This Summer

 How to Travel Like a Pro This Summer
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AAA Northeast travel experts offer tips for snagging last-minute deals and planning stress-free departures

PROVIDENCE, R.I., July 10, 2024 — Though the Independence Day holiday period is over, the summer travel season is in full swing. With record numbers of travelers taking to the road, sky and sea, AAA Northeast offers guidance for those with trips already booked and those still looking to sneak in a summer getaway.

If you’re looking for a last-minute deal on summer travel, AAA Northeast Travel Advisor Wendy Marley says flexibility is key.

“If you can be flexible on your itinerary, midweek rates tend to be much lower than peak weekend days,” Marley said. “Check out the last two weeks of August, because many people try to wrap up their vacations by then and prices can be a lot lower compared to the rest of the summer.”

Travelers can also save this summer by:

  • Bundling flights and hotels for a better package rate.
  • Leveraging rewards like frequent flyer miles, hotel points or credit card points.
  • Exploring destinations that are off the beaten path.
  • Booking as soon as possible — even with shorter lead times, sooner is better.
  • Consider booking cancelable reservations and buying travel insurance to avoid unplanned expenses if something unexpected happens before — or during — a trip.
  • Shopping around before filling up their gas tank and filling up before they’re on empty and forced to go to the closest gas station that might not offer the best price.

Given the summer travel season overlaps with hurricane season, travel insurance can offer travelers peace of mind that they’ll be covered for a range of travel-related emergencies including trip cancellations or interruptions, mandatory evacuations and even hurricane warnings.

For those planning to travel internationally, International Driving Permits (IDP) and up-to-date passports should be top of mind. AAA is the only entity in the U.S. authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue an IDP, a valid form of identification in 150 countries worldwide. In many countries, passports must be valid at least six months after the expected return date to the U.S. Passport photos are available at any AAA Northeast branch, no appointment required.

Prepping for smooth summer road trips and flights

Drivers headed out for road trips should be aware of the summer heat’s impact on their vehicles and prioritize regular maintenance. Summer is the toughest season for batteries, and worn-out tires are more likely to blow out on hot sunny days when road surface temperatures increase. Stop-and-go traffic also taxes cooling systems and shortens the lifespan of engine oil and other fluids.

Families with small children should check their car seats’ installation and fit before they hit the road, especially confirming that the seat’s positioning aligns with the child’s current weight and height. Children should remain rear-facing as long as possible for better protection of their head, neck and spine in the event of a crash. An easy way to check that car seats are installed safely is with the “inch test.” Simply grab the seat at the car seat belt path and pull side to side and front to back. If it moves more than one inch in any direction, uninstall and start over until a secure fit is achieved.

Road trippers should prepare for the unexpected with an emergency kit containing first-aid supplies, water, snacks, blankets, jumper cables and flares. Make sure phones are fully charged — and keep a charger in the car — to call AAA or request roadside assistance digitally if your battery dies, you lock yourself out, or you need a tow.

Air travelers should expect crowds across airports this summer. To streamline time at the airport, arrive at least two hours before your flight, reserve parking ahead and use a carry-on rather than checking a bag. Booking early morning flights can also increase travelers’ chances of departing on time. AAA Northeast’s analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation data found that, at the 30 largest U.S. airports, the percentage of flights departing on time peaked during the 6 a.m. hour and dropped every hour until 7 p.m., which had the worst on-time percentage.

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