Yesterday, I was on KCAL9/CBS Los Angeles talking about summer travel. Of course, as with almost every TV news interview, they only took short soundbites from our entire interview, which allows them to pack more information in to their story and to move things along quickly.

I was interviewed about alternatives to going to Europe this summer since it’s now opening back up but not everyone can afford it, especially families. I started researching flights and hotels across the country but I decided to give my best travel advice for summer travel especially for those who live in Southern California and who have families.

If I didn’t have two little kids (4.5 years and 20 months old), I would be chomping at the bit to go to Europe and beyond. However, I do have kids and my wife and I aren’t comfortable (yet) putting them on airplanes. I don’t want to travel out of the country without them in case I test positive for COVID abroad, and I don’t want to be away from them for 14 days. And I don’t want to have to pay an expensive hotel quarantine bill.

For all of these reasons, I’m planning to travel domestically for the next little while so here are my tips for family travel and alternatives to Europe this summer:

June 15th
If everything continues to go well (i.e. COVID-19 cases continue to go down) then travel in California is going to get really expensive come June 15th; that’s the date everything is going to open up with no restrictions and also around the time that most schools get out.

Santa Barbara incredible hotel deal
Looking for a great domestic vacation destination? I wrote about this deal last month when my family and I visited Santa Barbara for a week but Visit Santa Barbara has a ‘book two nights get the third free’ promotion. Here are the details.

Los Angeles hotel deals
Not to be outdone by Santa Barbara Los Angeles Tourism has aggregated more than 70 special offers from hotels, restaurants and more, available at discoverlosangeles.com/comeback. Offers include savings of up to 35% on hotels and a wide range of other perks and deals, good thru June 30, 2021.

Rental cars are $$$
I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories about the rental car shortage due to the car rental agencies selling off their fleets when the pandemic hit. And then there was a computer chip shortage so the car makers can’t make new ones fast enough. But the short story is that in popular outdoor destinations like Hawaii, Florida, California and Montana, car rentals are crazy expensive and that’s if you can even get one. In Maui, there were none available, on Oahu travelers were renting U-Hauls to avoid the $700 day rentals. So a good reason to stay close to home, if you live in California, is to avoid car rental prices or worrying if you will even get one. Just because you have a reservation doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed, as agencies are dependent on renters returning the cars when they say they will.

Go off-peak
If you are going to fly, the cheapest days to travel historically (except holiday weeks), are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Look at alternative airports
This is always one of my top tips for finding cheap flights (here are the rest): Look at alternative airports. For example, look at flights in and out of Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami or Burbank/Long Beach instead of LAX.

Look at new routes
Speaking of Burbank: There’s a new low-fare carrier that is going to be based out of there starting tomorrow (April 28). Avelo Airlines is flying to 11 destinations with fares starting at just $19. Here’s more on Avelo.

House rentals
If you have a large family or want a kitchen, look at renting a house, though many of the hot spots are already gone. Websites like VRBO and AirBnB can help, as well as the booking map below.

Buy a package deal
It’s almost always cheaper to purchase air and hotel or air and car rentals together. So check out the airline package deals via their own sites or places like Expedia, Travelzoo, Travelocity.

Florida
Go to places that are in their off-season like Florida. Most travelers to Florida are coming from the northeast and Midwest. They usually go in the winter for obvious reasons. Hotel prices drop significantly in the summer season.

Buy fully-refundable
The only thing that is certain is that everything in the age of COVID is uncertain. Things can change quickly so purchase refundable reservations or make sure you can get a credit if you need to cancel last-minute. Also, get travel insurance but read the fine print carefully.

So there you have it! I hope these tips help you and your family have a great, safe and smoother vacation.

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