Family vacations are a great way to bond and take a step back from the hectic schedules that accompany everyday life, but sometimes time or money (or both) make planning an elaborate trip a non-starter. However, a staycation — a vacation you take right in your hometown (or nearby) — can be much less expensive and fit into nearly any amount of available time with the added bonus of skipping out on potentially stressful travel. Read the full Medium article here on how to make a staycation a great choice for you!
Whether you are a first-time or repeat international visitor to the United States, here are 3 tips and reminders that will help your American vacation go smoothly and be a memorable adventure.
Your trip to the United States for your holiday break will take a passport. You may also need to bring your driver's license. If you plan to stay for an extended period and a purpose, you will need a visa.
If you're just traveling to the United States for a vacation, your passport and driving ID will be enough to get you into the country and through customs. It's important to review the difference between a passport and visa. Passports verify who you are and whether or not you are allowed to travel internationally. Visas grant access for a specific purpose and a particular stretch of time. When traveling internationally, you always need a passport. You may not need a visa.
Your travel goals will help you determine whether or not you need to arrange a car rental. For example, if you're traveling to a major metropolitan area for your vacation and don't plan to leave the city, then setting up a ridesharing app on your phone and summoning a car when you need one may be a better choice. According to Budget, a car rental will likely require that you show your passport or other documentation as well as your license. You will also need to have a familiarity with driving rules and regulations in the United States. Be aware that these can change from state to state, so if you're crossing state lines you will need to review law changes and carefully monitor the speed limit.
Consider a Road Trip
A great way to see the United States is to drive historic Route 66. This route includes many roadside attractions and passes close-by natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon. You can also enjoy time in St. Louis and take the elevator arch so you can see the city from up high. This road trip takes you from Chicago through St. Louis and down to Tulsa, Oklahoma. You'll travel through Texas, New Mexico and into California, stopping in Santa Monica. In every city along the route, you'll find museums, dining, and attractions to suit any interest. This two-week trip will provide you with memories that will last a lifetime.
A visit to the United States can include natural wonders, thriving cities, and charming small towns. No matter your travel goals, you can find something wonderful to visit and enjoy in the states.
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(Family Features) Taking time to go on vacation or to just unplug from everyday life can be beneficial, and there’s certainly no lack of options when it comes to choosing an ideal vacation spot. The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices.
By focusing first on what type of vacation experience you would enjoy most, the details of the location may more easily fall into place.
“Often, would-be vacationers get so hung up on figuring out where they want to go, they forget to consider what they’ll do when they get there,” said Matthew Phillips, director of travel for AARP Services, Inc. “It makes sense to keep location in mind when it comes to considerations like climate, but knowing what types of activities, entertainment and sights you hope to experience can help ensure you plan a travel experience of a lifetime.”
Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these:
California: Rent a car and take a road trip down the California coast and experience sunshine, culture and more as you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It may be one single coastline, but California is filled with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and tourist attractions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign.
Caribbean: There are few better ways to escape the cold weather than with a Caribbean cruise, where breathtaking excursions, first-rate cuisine, exciting nightlife and spectacular entertainment fill every day and night. There are dozens of cruise options available, so it’s a good idea to do plenty of research and look into special incentives and offers to complement the experience. For example, the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia provides exclusive offers to members on select cruises, including up to $1,000 in onboard credit.
Florida Gulf Coast: The warmer seasons are perfect for unplugging and relaxing by the sand and water. Head to the beaches of Florida and get a room with a view so the water is never out of reach. For example, Sarasota, Florida offers miles of beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its majestic waters and luxurious amenities.
Southwest France: Explore the beautiful wine-growing region of Southwest France through a fascinatingly historical and invigorating river cruise. For example, the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise allows guests to sail three rivers: the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde. The experience blends land and water with archaeological and historical tours, artisanal wine tastings, sprawling gardens and charming villages to explore. Take your experience a step further and see the sights while feeling like a local by going on a spotlight tour, an intimate way to uncover hidden gems.
Singapore: If you want to immerse yourself into a completely new and unique culture, hop on a flight and explore Singapore, commonly referred to as a “shopper’s paradise” for its emerging brands and bargains stores. Enjoy both the urban and natural attractions while indulging in the eclectic dining scene. Singaporean cuisine is full of diverse plates, such as bak kut teh, laksa and friend carrot cake, derived from several ethnic groups.
If you’re ready to start planning a satisfying getaway, a resource like AARP Member Benefits can assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at AARPBenefits.com/travel.
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(Family Features) Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits.
The misconceived notions that may be holding you back from traveling can feel especially exacerbated during busy seasons when travel costs rise and coordinating vacation schedules with coworkers becomes a challenge.
Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge. Lee Abbamonte, the youngest person to travel to every country in the world plus the North and South Poles, and Bank of America recommend these tips to travel the world in style.
One of the easiest ways to make time for travel is to book based on your likes and hobbies. When you plan a trip around your passions, it helps you prioritize the experience over the cost.
"When I worked in finance, I noticed a lot of my colleagues made excuses about why they couldn't travel," Abbamonte said. "I've found that booking travel based on your personal interests can help you stay motivated to follow through actually taking the trip. For example, I love watching and playing sports, so I often use that as a reason to travel to various countries."
One area you might be passionate about is food. In fact, 23 percent of Americans say they have planned a trip around a culinary experience, according to a Bank of America survey. Local cuisine also offers a unique glimpse into a culture.
"I love attending local food festivals and cultural celebrations," Abbamonte said. "Just one day at a food or wine festival can give you a great understanding of an area's culture and people, which is quite literally great 'food for thought.'"
Earning points through travel spending is especially popular today. In fact, 65 percent of Americans have a rewards credit card, according to the same Bank of America survey. Yet when it comes time to reap a card's rewards, 55 percent admit they don't have a strategy to maximize points.
Abbamonte recommends using a credit card that rewards all your purchases and offers extra points where you spend most.
"Since traveling and eating out are easily my top two expenses, the Premium Rewards credit card from Bank of America works perfectly for my lifestyle," Abbamonte said. "I earn two points for every dollar I spend on travel and dining - which works out great to maximize my rewards earnings, plus I earn 1 1/2 points on all of my other purchases."
For example, think of it this way: Every time you use your card, you are earning points for your next trip. Even your morning coffee can help you earn points toward a plane ticket.
To get the most out of your travel experience, make a general plan for what you want to do. However, be sure to leave time for exploring charming side streets and unexpected surprises. You never know what will catch your eye once you arrive.
"I often visit multiple countries in one trip," Abbamonte said. "While I usually know where I want to travel, I don't always buy my flights between countries beforehand. You may want to adjust how you planned to allocate your time once you're on a trip. Maybe you fall in love with a bed and breakfast, and just can't part ways to catch your flight out of town. Travel shouldn't be a mad dash from destination to destination. It's a time to truly live your best life in a new place."
Maximize Financial Rewards
Some financial institutions offer banking rewards programs that can help you earn bonus points on your credit card rewards. Sometimes all it takes is a quick search to find out what benefits are waiting for you as a loyal customer.
"If you qualify for a banking rewards program, you can really max out on your credit card rewards," Abbamonte said. "For example, Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients receive up to a 75 percent bonus on their credit card rewards - which means you could earn up to 3 1/2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases with the Premium Rewards credit card."
To maximize rewards, consider layering your airline, hotel, banking and credit card rewards programs together. Abbamonte, for example, includes his frequent flier and hotel loyalty program membership information while booking airline travel and hotels, allowing him to earn benefits from other loyalty programs on top of the points he receives with his card.
Find more ways to save for travel at bankofamerica.com/getmorerewards.
An analysis of Bank of America's over 50 million debit and credit cards during 2017 showed travel and restaurants to be top areas for spending. Using a credit card that rewards you for where you spend the most can help pay for upcoming travel.
On average, consumers spent in 2017:
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