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Have You Booked Your Summer Vacation Rental Yet?

By The Budget Travel editors
April 25, 2017
Panama City Beach, Florida
Robhainer/Dreamstime.com
In a new study, TripAdvisor reveals the top ten destinations for summer vacation home rentals. Now the clock is ticking to book.

Panama City is at it again—topping everyone’s summer vacation list. According to a recent study by TripAdvisor Rentals, the town, which boasts 27 miles of shoreline, takes top billing for most popular spot for a summer escape. Florida cities occupy four positions on the top-ten list based on data gathered on TripAdvisor bookings through March 28, 2017. It reflects rentals on properties for June, July, or August. Median July pricing is for two-bedroom rentals in a given destination.

Beach destinations, to be sure, make up eight of the ten vacation spots. Ocean City, Maryland clocked in at number two with Destin, Florida; Myrtle Beach, North Carolina; Kissimmee, Florida; and Orlando coming up close behind. Rounding out the list are Alabama’s Gulf ShoresVirginia BeachDavenport, Florida; and the increasingly popular North Myrtle Beach.

Hotels, of course, are plentiful in each of those towns, but if you’re planning to take some serious downtime this summer, you’d be better served renting a house. After all, you can save money by eating in and if you’re traveling with a group, it’s an economical way to plan a long stay. More than half travelers in the Trip Advisor survey book their stay three to five months in advance, which means now’s the time to lock something in while there’s a decent amount of inventory available. And if you’re wondering just how worthwhile a vacation rental is, we’ll tell you that you can get a two-bedroom rental during July in perennially popular Panama City for around $1,843. Myrtle Beach has accommodations for about $1250 and quaint Davenport, Florida, has rentals for under $700. Condos that hover around $1000 for the week actually make Orlando an affordable choice for a family. 

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Travel Tips

Cheap June Flights to Book Now

The warm spring weather is whetting our appetite for summer fun, and our friends at Skyscanner.com are serving up a feast: They’ve crunched the numbers on June airfares to deliver some truly amazing deals. Your only challenge will be to pick one of these dreamy destinations (including Boston, Miami, Charleston, New Orleans, and Vegas, baby!) and book now. Atlanta to BostonFriday, June 23 – Monday, June 26Starting at $172 Boston to MiamiThursday, June 1 – Monday, June 5Starting at $179 Chicago to CharlestonMonday, June 5 – Thursday, June 8Starting at $299 Chicago to Fort LauderdaleThursday, June 22 – Sunday, June 25Starting at $247 Houston to New YorkThursday, June 1 – Monday, June 5Starting at $224 Los Angeles to MiamiMonday, June 12 to Friday, June 16Starting at $292 Los Angeles to New OrleansThursday, June 15 – Monday, June 19Starting at $237 Miami to DenverThursday, June 15 – Tuesday, June 20Starting at $163 New York to DenverSunday, June 18 – Saturday, June 25Starting at $199 New York to Las VegasWednesday, June 7 – Saturday, June 10Starting at $269 Seattle to San DiegoFriday, June 23 – Monday, June 26Starting at $228 Skyscanner is a travel search site offering a comprehensive range of flight, hotel, and car rental deals. To find more bargain fares like those listed here, visit Skyscanner.com.

Travel Tips

Jump on These Spring Travel Tips and Deals

The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer, and it’s time to hit the road. But spring travel can be complicated by too many choices - beaches, big cities, resorts, cruises? - and high prices. The good news is, we’re here to deliver some advice and deals for spring that won’t break the bank. MONEY-SAVING SPRING TRAVEL TIPS HOTELS: Book direct. Sure, you should do your homework on Expedia, Kayak, etc., but then call the front desk of the hotel you want to stay at and ask them to beat the online rate. Hotels are actually very eager to win back your loyalty from online booking sites and most major chains now offer loyalty/reward programs that can be very attractive, depending on how often you travel and how loyal you're willing to be. CRUISES: Book early or book late. Yes, booking a cruise a year in advance can nab you a great rate, but what about booking a spring cruise now? Too late? Nope. In fact, cruise lines are sometimes desperate to fill rooms (aka move inventory) before the ships sail and are willing to offer rock-bottom rates to get you onboard. AIRFARE: We’re seeing budget carriers like Wow and Norwegian offering incredible deals to Europe - under $100 to destinations like Iceland and Ireland. For spring travel, we've been using Skyscanner.com - the site mines data from discount airfare sites to aggregate the cheapest of the cheap. In addition, always follow all the major airlines on social media and sign up for their newsletters for the inside track on last-minute deals. EXCHANGE RATES: Look north or south for great exchange rates: The strong dollar makes Canada and Mexico very attractive this spring. AFFORDABLE SPRING TRAVEL DEALS SPRING PARTY AT SEA: You can book a last-minute 7-day cruise to the Bahamas & Florida on Norwegian for under $100/day per person, a pretty extraordinary bargain - but the cruise is filling up and you've got to jump on it now. You’ll love Norwegian’s “Breakaway” series cruise ships with their Broadway-quality entertainment, gourmet food themes, and onboard activities, plus stops in Florida and Bahamas cruise ports.  ROMANTIC ESCAPE: Quebec City offers old-world charm, great food, and the feeling of having run away to Europe without really going too far from home. Stroll the 18th-century streets, take in views of the beautiful Saint Lawrence River, sip exceptional wine - you’ll feel as if you’re in Paris without the price tag. The strong dollar makes Canadian hotel rates even more attractive. We love Quebec City’s Hotel Chateau Laurier, with deals for well under $200/night.  FAMILY FUN IN THE SOUTHWEST: Santa Fe, New Mexico, is calling all families for spring break fun! The beautiful, historic Southwestern city is rolling out bargains at hotels - the Inn at Santa Fe for under $160/night is just one example - and free kids’ meals and activities all over town through mid-April: Hands-on arts, treasure hunts, even kid-friendly spa treatments are free! Some hotels even offer a free third night when you book a three-night stay.  NATIONAL PARKS ARE FREE (WELL, FOR TWO WEEKENDS IN APRIL): National parks are free the weekends of April 15/16 and 22/23 (in celebration of National Park Week) - admission is typically good for 7 days, so free entrance on a Saturday or Sunday can last all week long. Great Smoky Mountains, Death Valley, Everglades, and the Grand Canyon’s South Rim are great spring choices. (The Grand Canyon’s North Rim is closed until May, and some northern parks, like Yellowstone and Glacier,are still covered in snow.)

Travel Tips

How the Electronics Ban Will Affect You

Headline news about travel bans is starting to feel like business as usual. You’re not alone if you find yourself thinking: “Pretty much we’ll only be able to bring Saltines and an actual print newspaper and maybe a wallet when we board a plane.” Fact is, though, there are loads of nuances and contingencies beyond that big bold “travel ban” headline, especially when it comes to the latest electronics ban, which was announced on March 21. The ban, which is applicable to specific airlines leaving specific airports in the Middle East, prohibits travelers from carrying laptops, iPads, and anything larger than a cellphone on flights to specific US airports. The items must be checked. The ban applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries. Nine airlines are affected - Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Air, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways. When all is said and done, the measure, which will continue indefinitely, affects about 50 flights per day.  Many news reports and commentary note how this will strongly impact business travelers who have company-owned laptops, perhaps containing sensitive information. We, however, would argue that it would be equally exasperating for parents who might depend on laptops to keep young children from throwing temper tantrums at cruising altitude. The questions that arise are why now and why the specificity? According to a New York Times report, "officials called the directive an attempt to address gaps in foreign airport security, and said it was not based on any specific or credible threat of an imminent attack." But the UK followed suit with a similar ban the following day and, according to anonymous security sources cited in news reports, the government based its decision on specific intelligence reports about the Islamic State developing a bomb that can be concealed in portable electronics.   But according to Jason Clampet, editor-in-chief of Skift, a travel news website, questions have been raised about the intent of the ban, what with its specific targets. Some experts speculate the measure is designed to hurt Gulf carriers because they’ve emerged as rivals in transatlantic flight packages. This ban is a hassle for more than just the passengers. Airlines have been complaining about the lack of communication with Homeland Security, one of the government agencies that ordered the measure. Clampet explains that it was rolled out without warning, which stands in contrast with the liquid ban instituted in 2006, Clampet noted, which rolled out in a much more systematized fashion that involved training TSA agents before it went into effect. "The ban came in the middle of the day, there was no way for airlines to communicate about it ahead of time." Clampet explains. "The same thing happened in January with the travel ban. It just happened--no communication. The CEO of American Airlines came out and said government messed up. You never hear airlines talking about the government like that." 

Travel Tips

The 7 New Rules of Packing You Must Know

Can't find packing gear that suits your needs? Why not create it yourself, Shark Tank–style? OK, most of us don't have the time or expertise for that, but Hudson + Bleecker founder Eram Siddiqui took on the challenge so the rest of us don't have to. Siddiqui always had trouble finding the perfect travel accessories to safely pack all of her things, so she launched her own line that blends fashion with function: attractive garment bags, jewelry cases, toiletry bags, and more. Each bag has a waterproof lining so nothing inside or out gets ruined (translation: no more spills that destroy everything in your suitcase), and the exclusive patterned textiles are printed in-house. Hudson + Bleecker's accessories are a splurge (check out the sale section for deals!), but they make for awesome gifts—even if they're presents for yourself. The tips below, though? 100 percent free. And who better than a packing expert to tell us how to pack a suitcase? Below are Siddiqui's packing tips that'll streamline your next getaway like the sleek jet-setter you are. 1. FOR SHOES, FOLLOW THE RULE OF THREE.  Real talk if you're overzealous about your footwear, whether it's too many sneakers for your favorite sports or an over-the-door shoe caddy's worth of heels: “Three pairs of shoes is all you need. It's efficient, takes the guesswork out of what to pack and saves a lot of room in your luggage. Pack one pair for a night on the town, one comfortable pair (sandals or ballet flats for women) to give your feet a break, and a pair of sneakers or runners for a run or hike. You can conveniently fit three pairs in our travel shoe bags.” 2. PRE-PACK A BAG OF TSA-FRIENDLY TOILETRIES.  Collect a stash of 3.4-oz-or-less toiletries, and ensure it's permanently ready to roll through security. “I always have a toiletry bag pre-packed so that if I need to take off at a moment’s notice, all I need to do is grab a carry-on and pack my clothes and shoes, and I'm ready to go. If you're a frequent traveler, pre-packing your toiletries is a significant time-saver.” 3. BRING A PAPER COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT.  “As a rule, we all know it’s best to keep a copy of your passport at home or with a relative. However, with new laws and travel restrictions domestically, I carry my passport and a copy of my passport at all times, whether it’s a quick domestic flight or a long haul.”  4. SHIP THE HEAVY STUFF.  “We all love to shop and collect keepsakes when we travel. To avoid overpacking and paying exorbitant baggage fees, I ship my new treasures home whenever possible. Now that I am a new mom, I also purchase all of my little one's essentials on Amazon.com and ship them to our final destination. If you're staying in a hotel, it is very easy to coordinate with the hotel concierge to collect your packages upon check-in.” 5. TWO WORDS: PACKING CUBES.  “Trust me, the more organized and compartmentalized your luggage is, the more enjoyable your trip will be. Packing cubes have changed the way I pack and unpack. If you're traveling solo, use a packing cube to separate your apparel from your intimates. If you are traveling with children or family, pack one cube per traveler. I use our shoe bags to pack for my little one, as everything fits perfectly in one. This avoids having to dig through a never-ending pile of clothing, and I can literally unpack my bags in less than five minutes.” Need a cube? Siddiqui designed this stylish packing cube ($50), look for rugged sets from outdoor brands like REI ($30), or check out see-through mesh cubes like these from Target ($25). 6. DESIGNATE AN "ESSENTIALS" POCKET.  “Whenever and wherever, I try to travel with a carry-on only. So the front pocket of my luggage has everything I need to access quickly. A great hack is to pack a small pouch with chapstick, a small hand lotion, eyedrops, ibuprofen, and a small pair of socks, so if you need to refresh, you can grab what you need easily.” If you're envisioning your perfect "essentials" pouch now, try Siddiqui's multi-use pochettes ($19), or click through an extensive collection of travel-themed Everything Bags (from $12.50)—artists receive a percentage of the proceeds. 7. THROW IN A SWEATER OR WRAP-NO MATTER WHAT. Even if you're headed to a tropical paradise in the middle of the summer, play it safe and swaddle yourself. “Airplanes are always cold and so are hotel rooms, so I always pack at least one sweater or pashmina. You will inevitably use it during your travels or even when you arrive at your final destination. I like to pack either black, gray, or neutral colors, as those shades go with almost anything.”

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