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The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email thetravelprofessor@gmail.com.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thoughts on summer driving vacations

Tips for travel by car include:

Plan itineraries and arrange accommodations well in advance. Reservations for hotels, restaurants and rental cars get booked quickly during peak travel times. Online mapping services like mapquest.com or Yahoo maps work fairly well for driving directions but compare these to a good road atlas.

Check with the hotels/motels and see if they offer any packages. Frequently they will combine discounted room rates, meals with local attractions & pass the savings along to you. For these deals it is best to contact the hotel directly instead of a toll free number or website. Also try the local tourism & visitors bureau for local packges and cost saving coupons.

If you're willing to take a gamble on space being available pick up the local hotel discount guides that are available at most public rest areas. Again here it is best to contact the individual property.

Have maps plenty of maps. These come in handy when traveling/navigating in unfamiliar surroundings. Contact the local tourism-convention office and they should be able to provide complimentary maps along with tourism information.

If you are renting a car be sure to reserve the size and category that will hold all of your luggage and treasures to be purchased on location. For those traveling internationally reserve your car stateside as this frequently guarantees the lowest rate and normally includes basic insurance. Speaking of insurance be sure check with your insurance and credit card company to see if your policy includes coverage abroad.

Get a tune up. Before any long-distance drive, make sure to have your oil changed and your brakes, fluids and tire pressure checked. The slightest deficiency in air pressure significantly reduces your car's gas mileage. On the flip side, too much air can result in a flat.

Get an early start to avoid weekend and holiday gridlock. Traveling during late night/early morning hours helps. The worst times to travel are after meals since most travelers postpone leaving until they've eaten with their families. Make sure that all drivers are thoroughly rested.

Take plenty of goodies to keep the non-drivers entertained. Books, games, DVDs and so forth help the hours pass peacefully. My laptop functions as a DVD player and with a currency converter I run it off the car’s electrical system.

Stock a cooler and picnic lunch it. Fast food gets old and expensive in a hurry. Snacks plenty of snack too! Shop the local market and enjoy fresh local products that may not be available at home.
I often purchase local items that make gifts for family & friends back home. For example chili pepper stuff is normally impossible to find around here but it is everywhere in New Mexico & Arizona. Be creative!

I'm sure there are plenty more tips so please pass them on to our readers & post your comments on this site.

Happy travels!