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Memorial Day Weekend Travel Tips

May 25, 2011 8:45 AM

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Memorial Day Travel Tips
credit: clipart.comWhether you’re flying solo to a warm locale or going on the road with family, holiday travel can be stressful. As you plan your Memorial Day weekend getaway, check out these tips for a smooth, safe (and sane!) journey.

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Pack Light

If you don’t have the frequent-flyer miles or a credit card that lets you check your bag for free, try packing it in a carry-on, advises Alison Buckneberg, public relations specialist at Delta Vacations. You can discover new space in your suitcase and prevent wrinkles by packing your bag “army style.” Don’t know how? Watch a video tutorial.

According to Buckneberg, most hotels and resorts not only offer hair dryers and shampoo, but also amenities like toothbrushes, contact solution, and razors. So save the real estate in your suitcase (and your bag of “3oz or less” liquids) and pick them up at the hotel. If you’re not sure about what your hotel offers, check their website or give the front desk a call.

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Keep the Family Happy

When traveling with family, Buckneberg also recommends looking for a hotel or resort that offers something for everyone. All-inclusive resorts are particularly great for families, she says. They offer unlimited food and beverages and include free onsite activities, such as watersports, games and classes.

Buckneberg also advises for families to get lost… literally. “Sometimes the best adventures a family can have is when they explore a new place together and help each other navigate through new situations,” she says.

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Avoid Getting Bumped Off A Flight

Make sure to not only check in early (the night before) but also get to the airport early, says Buckneberg. You’ll have enough time to find your gate, make any necessary changes and go through security. Remember to check in 30 minutes prior for domestic flights and one hour prior for international flight.

If the gate agent calls for volunteers to be moved to another flight, and you have the time, Buckneberg says do it! You can get some amazing perks like a credit voucher for your next flight, an upgrade to first class, free meals, or other bonuses.

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Save Money

Whether for lodging, food, or attractions, coupons and member discounts save money, says Robin Korman, senior vice president of Loyalty at Wyndham Hotel Group. You can find them everywhere: online, in local newspapers, at convenience stores, and hotels. Many member-based auto clubs, wholesale/warehouse clubs and social organizations you already belong to also offer special offers and discounts. Always read the fine print carefully for terms.

Korman also recommends checking into your loyalty programs. Check your point balance for any hotel program to see if you can get a free night. If you are near a hurdle, it may pay to buy points from the program to ”top off” your account, she says. Many airline and point-based credit card programs now offer the ability to use miles to book hotel rooms; check the “redeem” section on websites of major carriers and credit card issuers.

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Avoid Traffic on the Road

If you’re driving to your destination, be sure to check for delays, says Carol White, co-author of Live Your Road Trip Dream. There is going to be a lot of road construction this spring due to all the TARP money that was awarded for bridges and highways, so she recommends checking your state’s website for traffic delays and detours before leaving and always have a map with you of your travel areas. And if you have a “congestion-based” GPS device, use it to get around the messes.

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Use Your Smartphone

Smartphones provide a lot of help during road trips. White recommends using your phone’s built-in maps feature to find restaurants, stores and rest stops. The Gas Buddy app can help reduce your fill-ups by $.15 to .30 a gallon, by giving you info on what’s ahead and where to go. And though it’s not exactly a money-saving tool, White recommends the app, Sit or Squat, which tells you where to find the nearest public bathroom. Those traveling with kids know how important this can be.

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