Start Planning Your Summer Travel Now

With spring in the air and #COVID at least temporarily on the retreat, many people are looking forward to a #summer vacation. Most haven’t traveled as far as often over the last two years, and the urge to get away is widespread.

In fact, summer 2022 is predicted to be “the busiest summer travel season ever,” Expedia CEO Peter Kern recently told Fortune magazine. And while prices are likely to go up, “I think people are willing to pay whatever the hell it takes to get away,” he says.

But there will still be ways to keep costs down whether you’re jetting off to  far-flung, exotic locale or visiting family and friends in familiar location. And with everyone eager for a change of scenery, the first strategy is to start planning now if you haven’t already.

“In terms of summer travel, it’s essential to book now as the demand for travel is high and availability is tightening,” travel consultant Jill Fischbarg told Fodor’s last week.

To economize on airfares, visit sites like Google Flights or Kayak to find out where and when you might be able to go without spending a lot. Or maybe you have a stockpile of frequent-flyer miles that you’ve been hoarding for the last 24 months.

Two years in, rental cars are still scarce, and gasoline prices are going up fast due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If you want to keep things cheap, pick a destination where walking, biking or public transit will be your main conveyance — a big city, for example, or an all-inclusive resort.

As for lodging, book now to get the best variety of options. Inexpensive hotel rooms and vacation rentals are already getting scarce in many popular locations; target off-peak and midweek nights to save money — or find an excuse to visit those friends with the beach house and boat.

The good news? Most providers relaxed or eliminated their change and cancellation fees during the pandemic, so if you do book now, the odds are excellent that you can get your money back if something disrupts your summer plans.

With a little forethought, the odds are even better that you’ll finally be able to take that trip you’ve been putting off since 2020. Keep your passport and proof of vaccination at the ready, and bon voyage!

Super Bowl Ad Touts Experiences Over Stuff

Super Bowl advertising celebrates #consumerism, or at least the urge to watch the big game over a buffet of chips and guacamole. But Expedia went for a higher concept with its high-ticket “Stuff” ad this year, parodying classic Super Bowl spots of the past while urging people to spend their hard-earned money on travel #experiences instead of material goods. “I doubt that any of us will look back at our lives and think ‘I wish I’d gotten a slightly sportier SUV, or an even thinner TV. Or found a lighter light beer or had an even smarter smartphone,’” narrator Ewan McGregor says.

Great Places to See the Fall Foliage

Anywhere there are deciduous trees is a good location to see the fall colors. But every region has leafy spots that are particularly good for fall touring. In the Northeast, Travel & Leisure suggests Bar Harbor, Maine, the Catskills, and Stowe, Vt. In the Midwest, there’s the Wisconsin Dells, and the South has the Ozark National Forest. And in the West, Aspen, Colo., and the Columbia River Gorge are top options. Many of the country’s Scenic Byways are great for seeing the fall colors, too — so schedule a drive or a hike for an afternoon or weekend soon.

Stay Safe While Viewing the Fall Foliage

Trees are starting to change color in the Rocky Mountains this week, and next week, New England, the Eastern Seaboard and the Pacific Northwest will begin the annual change. Much of the Midwest will peak mid-October, and areas further south will see trees start to change toward the end of the month. Plan ahead to see the spectacle on a fall hike or drive; with COVID-19 still restricting travel, however, remember to check all local, state and county regulations, says The Points Guy, “and prioritize your health and safety, no matter where in the country you plan to travel.”

Find out When Fall Foliage Will Peak

As of this week, 2021’s interactive fall foliage map shows the leaves nearing their peak fall colors in cool areas such as northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as in the Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Depending on your location, most people in the U.S. will several weeks to witness the change progress; simply use the map’s sliders to find your location and get ready for a walk in the woods or a scenic drive — or plan a trip to another region.