YOU Magazine - May 2007 - Maximizing Your Vacation
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
AVP/Sr Mortgage Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
Fax: (907)929-6699
License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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Maximizing Your Vacation

Maximizing Your Vacation

Summer vacation is right around the corner. Our aim this month is to show you three vacation options, each with the flexibility to fit into different budgets and lifestyles. Ready for a well-deserved break? Then YOU Magazine is ready to help you maximize your vacation!

The Day Trip
For those on a budget or with less time on their hands, full or half-day trips make for great getaways. These short excursions are also family friendly, especially when younger children are involved.

Nearby beaches, parks, and light hiking trails are just a few examples of inexpensive half-day getaways that require little investment. Take the time now to jot down ideas for future getaways. This way when vacation time rolls around, you'll have a full list of short trips that can be scheduled or done on a whim. Pack a lunch, grab a few essentials, and you're out the door.

If you have a more distant destination in mind for your day trip, then our suggestion is not to leave anything to chance. Utilize for exact driving directions. If your destination has a website, log on to find out about the hours of operation and available amenities. Lastly, be sure to check out for current weather conditions.

If younger children are involved, don't forget to bring along a stroller. Having a stroller on hand gives them an immediate place to rest while not slowing down the day. The stroller is also a great place for children to nap and can even serve as a carrier for your belongings when your child's not using it.

If you are looking for ideas for either full or half-day trips, there are many resources at your disposal. One of the best places is the local Chamber of Commerce. Start by conducting a simple Google search with your city of choice, along with the words, "Chamber of Commerce." This will allow you to obtain the Chamber's website. Most sites have a "visitor's guide" which will provide an ample amount of ideas for day trips. The site should also list the COC's phone number and hours of operation.

The Long Weekend
Since the cost of a "long weekend" trip can range from inexpensive to pricey, this type of vacation especially benefits those with little time. The question is, where are you going to go?

When deciding on a destination for your long weekend, the possibilities within the US are endless. Your big decision is whether you want to fly or drive.

If you could do either, then here's what we suggest. Plot the driving distances between your departures and destinations and estimate the cost for gas. Don't forget to add in the cost of any meals you'll need to purchase while on the road. Now, start looking into the cost of plane tickets. Very quickly, you'll be able to see what makes more financial sense.

If you decide to drive, we suggest not only plotting out the driving directions, but figuring out where you'll buy gas as well. By logging on to, you can obtain daily listings of the least expensive gas stations in every city of the country. By knowing your car's MPG, you can literally choose where you'll fill your tank.

If you decide to fly, we suggest visiting Travelzoo's specialty is that it does the legwork for you by conducting ticket searches on every travel site. Not only does Travelzoo pull up a list of websites with the best fares, it also provides the same service for hotel rooms and rental cars.

One of the best ways to save money on weekend trips is to travel in the opposite direction of the crowds! For example, summer months are when the most people visit beach cities. As a result, the associated costs go through the roof. So plan a summertime trip to the mountains instead. Mountain biking, fishing, and hiking are just three of the available summer activities in mountain locations.

Extended Vacations
For the sake of this article, we consider "extended vacations" to be any trip lasting longer than 4 days.

Due to the extra preparation and money involved, we recommend utilizing a qualified travel agent whenever planning a trip of this nature. The service they provide is invaluable for two reasons. First are the discounts they can acquire from the various airlines and hotels. Second is the legwork they save you.

The key to a successful experience with a travel agent starts with finding the right one. When it comes to locating qualified professionals in any field, we always recommend word-of-mouth referrals from people you know and trust. Don't be surprised if your mortgage originator or real estate professional has several references for travel agents who fit the bill.

Once you decide on a travel agent, the first step is to be forthright about the vacation you want and the amount of money you're willing to spend. The sooner and more clearly you communicate these details, the better the agent will be able to do his or her job.

In return, good travel agents should be knowledgeable about their product. They should be able to answer (or find the answer) to any question you may have regarding your chosen destination. This knowledge also includes the condition of any hotels they book on your behalf.

If you are looking to cut the cost of an extended trip, try organizing a group vacation. Generally speaking, the bigger the group you bring to a travel agent, the better deal you will get. Another way to cut costs is to look for an all-inclusive land package such as those found throughout the Caribbean Islands. These resorts can offer great bargains as well as a variety of fun activities for their guests. Also, look into taking a cruise. Aside from being a good deal, cruises offer the opportunity to stop in many ports and visit multiple cities.

Whether you are planning a day trip, a long weekend, or an extended vacation, planning ahead ensures that you can relax and unwind when you arrive at your destination.

Good luck and bon voyage!

License AK# 157293 Washington Consumer Loan Company license# CL-157293 California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License# 4131067

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