The Afar Guide to
Summer Travel

Summer is fast approaching and it's time to plan your vacation, whether that means lazing on a beach, hitting the trail, or meandering the streets of a new city. With the U.S. dollar still almost on parity with the euro, it's a particularly good time to head to Europe for that Dalmatian or Provence getaway you've been dreaming about. As for scoring super bargains, though, you have to think outside the box (or let us do that for you). One option? Travel to a destination in its traditional off-season. This means heading to the Caribbean during hurricane season, or to the Southern Hemisphere during its winter. Summer is also a fantastic time to explore the great outdoors: Camp in a national park. Spend a week on a dude ranch. Or try your hand at paddleboarding, kayaking, or snorkeling in a tropical location.

Explore Europe
Now is the time to visit Europe, as the U.S. dollar is nearly as strong as the euro. Whether you have a week or three months, you can make the most of your time—and your dollars—with these quintessentially European experiences.
Off-Season Scores
From Africa to the Caribbean, destinations not traditionally visited during summer can be hugely discounted—yet still rewarding. A trip that’s unaffordable during December could be a steal in June, and filled with fewer crowds. So go ahead and sign up for that safari or Great Barrier Reef snorkeling adventure. You won't be disappointed.
Summer Adventure Travel
From rafting the Grand Canyon to hiking the Colorado high country, and from skiing in Chile to snorkeling in French Polynesia, dozens of experiences worldwide await the adventurous summer traveler.
10 Ways to Make the Most of Summer Travel
Summer travel should be a breeze, right? Planning ahead will help you to make the most of your time, stick to your budget, and relax and enjoy.
Book ahead. With low gas prices and a strong U.S. dollar, Americans may travel more this summer than they have since the beginning of the recession. This means that flights will be full, and so will hotels in popular destinations. You'll want to book your airfare pronto. (Pro tip: flying on Tuesdays can be cheapest.)
Create a trip plan. Having a basic idea of how you wish to spend your time will help you relax upon arrival in your destination. Before departure, sit down and sketch out ideas for what you’d like to do. This can be as vague as "make sure to go snorkeling" or as defined as where you want to eat for every meal.
Make reservations. If you do know where you wish to eat on certain nights, or if you want to catch a concert or theater performance, it's best to book in advance, especially if you're headed to a popular summer destination.
Travel during hurricane season. Head to Mexico or the Caribbean this summer, and you'll likely score some serious lodging deals. Many resorts slash rates by upwards of 50 percent, making five-star resorts affordable on a three-star budget.
Consider all-inclusive resorts. While hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean will be on sale during summer, food and drink at restaurants will not. Consider staying at an all-inclusive resort, where you'll know in advance exactly what you're spending. And while many people have visions of megaresorts offering only buffet options, the new all-inclusive properties usually feature six or seven different restaurants with à la carte menus and premium bars.
Hire a travel advisor for specialized trips. For complicated itineraries or if you have only a week somewhere and want to make sure you maximize your time, consider hiring a travel advisor—someone who will know the region and can curate your ideal itinerary.
Know your mobile provider's international rate plans. Before you log onto Facebook and post a selfie from Rome, make sure you aren't going to be hit with massive data charges from your cell phone carrier. Smartphones will work all over the world these days, but only T-Mobile currently offers free international data and texting while overseas. If you don't have T-Mobile, switch your phone off when outside a Wi-Fi zone.
Be prepared. Have both paper and digital copies of all reservations, insurance, and passport info, plus emergency contacts and other important details. Research the customs and culture of your destinations, so you’re prepared for everything from tipping and electrical outlets to major cultural faux pas.
Stay local. Try a new neighborhood hotel (start with the AFAR Collection) or use Airbnb. You’ll get to meet locals, make friends, and experience a new side of your destination.
Be responsible. Wherever you head this summer, try to be a conscientious traveler and follow the “Leave No Trace” principles of “Take Only Photos, Leave Only Footprints.” You may think that straying from a marked trail while hiking in a national park or removing a single shell or artifact from a site won’t matter, but if millions of other tourists each year think the same way, the destination becomes damaged and degraded.
Original 9d52d0ca724bfb850d31f28db4e32f4a.jpg?1469555863?ixlib=rails 0.3

Becca Blond, Summer Travel Curator

Becca Blond is an award winning freelance travel writer based in Denver, Colorado. She is the author of more than 30 Lonely Planet guides across five continents and contributes content to publications like USA Today, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, AFKTravel, Cadillac Magazine and Jetsetter. She is also a Personal Travel Planner for Jetsetter. When not on the road she lives with her three dogs, Duke, Bobbi and Poppy, who assist with pet friendly hotel reviews. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PlanetBlond or check out her blog at Totally True Adventures in Travel Writing.