Five ways to travel smarter this summer

Coronavirus is here for awhile, and as travelers, we need to learn how to travel reasonably and safely within its limitations until we get through the quarantines, border closures, festival cancellations, and travel restrictions. One thing we can all do right now? Plan and save!

Here are some ways you can prepare for eventual travel and plan your trips smarter, not harder.

Build your credit card rewards into travel points

If you’re planning a trip in the near- to mid-future, it might be a good idea to take an inventory of your travel points situation. Are you using the credit card points system with maximum efficiency? Is there a way to consolidate your rewards for maximum impact? Head over to a website like the NerdWallet or check out this article on credit cards for travelers and explore your options; once you’ve settled on the card with the best benefits, use that card as your daily spender. If you keep track of your budget with a free checking account and use the card often but never carry a balance with any interest, you can avoid the pitfalls of amassing debt while accumulating the points that will help offset your future travel expenses.

Download these travel apps

The Oprah Magazine just published an article that listed 20 travel apps to make your next adventure easier (read it here). We’re not suggesting that you go out and download more than a dozen apps on your phone or tablet all at once, but articles like this are a great resource. Here is a snapshot of some of the travel app recommendations: Fare Hopper helps you keep your eyes peeled for great deals on flights, Roadtrippers helps you plot a driving adventure, and Skyscanner helps you find travel options you never knew existed. Some of the apps on the list are not necessarily travel-specific, such as Meetup (mentioned here as a tool for connecting with locals as you travel) and SoundHound (the author invites you to download this app so you talk to your phone as you search for trips), but overall the list is eye-opening and useful.

Explore new amenities

If you’ve got some downtime, it might be useful to research new-to-you amenities your city has acquired to make travel more convenient. Sometimes you get used to the way you’ve always done things, and now could be a perfect opportunity to reset. For example, a ride share service like Lyft could make getting to and from the airport less stressful, and some airport parking lots, such as QuikPark LAX, have made their logistics more user-friendly than ever before with amenities such as online booking, luggage assistance, lower rates, and easy access to the airport itself.

Read travel books for inspiration

Another helpful use of downtime is to read books about traveling. One of the best-selling travel books of recent years is National Geographic’s “50 States, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, What to See, What to Do.” This book provides an at-a-glance overview of each state and the things to see and do if you visit; it can expose you to travel ideas you’ve never dreamed of. If you’re interested in a different kind of trip altogether, try “The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals – And Other Forgotten Skills” by Tristan Gooley. Jon Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” is always a surefire inspiration to get out into nature (while taking precautions), and “The Travel Book” from The Lonely Planet is a perennial favorite among those of us who fall asleep dreaming of adventure.

Practice mindfulness

This may sound like a surprising idea, but when the time comes to travel, you will be presented with many challenges – usually in the form of things not going according to plan. A mindfulness practice started in advance may help you deal more calmly with those challenges as they arise, in addition to helping you be more present in the moment while you’re traveling. 

Not being able to travel right now can be frustrating. However, if you use this time to prepare for a really great adventure in the future, you’ll thank yourself later.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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