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Guide to Planning a Summer Vacation

Start Planning Early

As Americans come out of their COVID-19 pandemic shells, many will be planning their summer trips as well. Travel has already seen a surge in recent months. Don’t wait till the last minute to book a flight and hotels, especially during the peak summer months of July through September. 

Do Your Research and Stay Safe

Even though cases are down in many states across the country, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the current COVID situation when traveling. CDC has a comprehensive map and travel recommendations based on destination. 

When traveling domestically, CDC recommends following all state and local recommendations and requirements, including mask-wearing and social distancing. 

  • You do not need to get tested or self-quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months. 
  • Do not travel if you were recently exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, or if you test positive for COVID-19.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Traverse City, Michigan

Pick a Destination

The first step of planning a vacation is figuring out a destination. Where you go will depend on your goals. Consider these factors:

  • Interests. Are you looking for a place with great nightlife or a relaxing beach getaway? If you’re a history buff, you might be more interested in historical sites and museums. Just because a destination is popular doesn’t mean that it will necessarily cater to your interests. Find the destination that’s right for you! 
  • Timing. Certain locations may not work within your time frame. For example, if you’re looking to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Barcelona, you should plan your trip around the warmer months. 
  • Budget. Certain destinations are more expensive to visit. If you have the budget, you can potentially plan a trip to somewhere more exotic. But for budget-conscious travelers, it’s best to pick a destination closer to home.

Finding the Best Flights

For most trips, airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. But don’t fret – cheap fares are out there if you know where to look. Believe it or not, Google Flights can help you find great deals and prices. This is because it lets you see prices for multiple destinations from multiple websites at once. Here are a few other tips:

  • Be flexible with your travel dates and times. Airline ticket prices vary greatly depending on the day of the week, time of year, and upcoming holidays.
  • Mix and match airlines. Try booking your return flight separately and compare prices. 
  • If you’re traveling as a family, try looking up tickets for individual travelers instead and book separately. 

Pro Tip: Use points and miles. No matter how often you fly, you should be signed up for a reward program. Miles are one of the best ways to earn free flights, upgrades, and hotel stays. Collecting points and miles, known as “travel hacking,” is what all regular travelers do to cut their costs and travel longer. 

Sign up for a travel credit card to start earning points. As long as you can pay off your monthly balance, you’ll get free travel credit. 

Nauti Cat Cruises at Bay in Traverse CityMap Out Your Itinerary

So, you’ve set the dates and booked the flight, next step is to map out your itinerary. Crafting a trip itinerary can be both fun and overwhelming. Here are some tips:

  • Be realistic. Yes, you may want to cram in as many activities and attractions into each day as possible. But remember, vacations are also about enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. Don’t try to plan too much into each day that will lead to burnout. Prioritize which activities and locations you’d like to visit and draft your itinerary based on that. 
  • Research pricing and opening hours for attractions you plan to visit. Museums, parks, restaurants, and other attractions will have pricing and hours on their websites. Plan your events based on the times. If a restaurant or attraction requires reservations or tickets, don’t leave it till the last minute. Set a reminder a few weeks before the trip to make your reservations and buy tickets.
  • Allow travel time between activities. research what mode of transportation is available, and plan accordingly. Answer these questions:
    • How far from the airport is my hotel?
    • How long will each activity take?
    • Have I allotted enough time to eat between each activity?
    • If I miss a train or shuttle, is there enough time to wait and take the next one?

Use useful apps to plan your itinerary. Here is a list of a few of the most popular apps:

  • TripAdvisor (iOS | Android) allows you to find attractions and hidden gems all around the world. 
  • Visit a City (iOS | Android) helps you figure out how long you need to spend at each activity, and maximizes your vacation time by grouping nearby attractions together.
  • CityMaps2Go (iOS | Android) lets you customize personal points of interest using offline maps.

Make a Packing Checklist

Packing mishaps are not only inconvenient but can even be disastrous (like forgetting your passport at home.) Making a list of essentials that you need can help. Here are a few things to consider for your packing list:

  • Important documents, such as Passport, Passport card, State-issued ID, Plane Tickets, any Visa information, and Vaccination records.
  • Toiletries, including contact lenses, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, hairbrush and other styling tools, makeup, sunscreen, skincare products (moisturizer, lotions, and more) and first-aid products.
  • Clothes & Shoes. Here are a few things you should consider in your suitcase: socks, underwear, jeans/pants, long and short sleeve t-shirts, and sleepwear. If you’re planning on using your hotel gym and workout facilities, don’t forget your athletic shoes and workout gear. 
  • Toys and travel games for the kids. It can be hard to keep kids and toddlers entertained on road trips, in planes, and during downtime in hotel rooms. Pack some board games, dice games, and other strategy games to keep them preoccupied. If you’re headed to the beach, pack some sand and water toys. 
  • Other miscellaneous gear includes cameras and speakers. 

Pro-tip: Use packing cubes to arrange your outfits by day and time, and keep your suitcase organized. 

Checklist for Before Your Leave

Before you get on your flight, here are a few steps you need to take.

  1. Request time off work! Odds are, your colleagues are also planning their summer vacations. You don’t want to risk waiting until the last minute to request time off only to be told that you can’t. 
  2. Alert your credit card company that you’re traveling so your transactions aren’t flagged as fraudulent. Make sure you have multiple credit cards and debit cards with you when traveling should any card get flagged, lost, or stolen. Withdraw some cash to keep on the side for emergency use only. 
  3. Make advance payments and automate any bills (credit cards, rent, utilities, cellphone) so you don’t get hit with late fees. 
  4. Confirm any reservations, including your flight, hotel, car rental, and restaurants, to avoid any surprises.
  5. If you’re traveling abroad, call your cell phone provider to set up a plan for making calls, sending text messages, and accessing the internet while overseas.
  6. In case of an emergency, leave your itinerary and a photocopy of your passport with a friend or family member.
  7. Arrange pet-care services. See if a friend, family member or neighbor can pet-sit in return for some money or a reciprocal favor. You can also look for professional pet sitters in your area by using websites like Petsitter and Rover.
View from Greenwich Harbor of the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel

View from Greenwich Harbor of the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel

Summer Vacation with Delamar

When it comes to sun-filled days, Connecticut has countless sandy beaches, lush forests and quaint towns brimming with that New England charm. The beaches that line the Long Island Sound are accessible within a few minutes of our Southport and Greenwich Delamar locations. Delamar West Hartford is the perfect home base from which to discover many of Connecticut’s lakes and waterways. Once you’re done exploring and venturing, come back to one of our Delamar locations to enjoy the ultimate level of excellence and luxury in hospitality.

Our newest location in Michigan, Delamar Traverse City, is a full-service upscale resort with exquisite views of Grand Traverse Bay. This waterfront resort is a unique destination for your summer escape, with onsite private watersport rentals, private boat charters and cruise excursions.