Can you believe that summer is nearly officially over? The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and you might be surprised to learn that it’s the perfect time to take a last minute vacation before the holidays! Fall is one of the most gorgeous seasons, especially when traveling. You can watch the leaves change colors, the weather is mild and there are great deals to be had. Travelgirl magazine’s editor in chief, Stephanie Oswald joined me for an interview recently to dish on her secrets for planning a great vacation, how to live like the locals do, and how to find the best deals!
Candace Rose: What’s the secret to planning a great vacation this fall?
Stephanie Oswald: “Candace, the best thing about fall is that you can plan a vacation and you can save money and you can avoid the crowds because we’re in this shoulder season and it’s a magical time to travel because the summer crunch is over and we haven’t quite gotten to that holiday stressful travel time. This is when you can really get some deals, and also because it’s a shoulder season you have more opportunity to live like a local.”
Candace Rose: How can travelers get the best deals this season?
Stephanie Oswald: “Well, you want to go online and get connected with your destination right off the bat. Wherever you’re headed, link up with the Convention and Visitors Bureau website, look for printable coupons, look for festivals that might be happening with the great fall weather when you plan your trip.
Once you know where you’re going, then you want to follow these places on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. The more you can get connected with your chosen destination, the better trip you’re going to have because you’re going to know what’s happening at that destination. If you want to get a destination that’s off season and a beach destination where you can still squeeze out two more months of summer – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is at the top of my list because it’s one of those places that people think about it for summer, but they often forget that once the summer crowds go home that gorgeous 60 miles of coastline is still there. They have a promotion going on now, which is all about the 60 more days of summer, so there’s 60 deals on VisitMyrtleBeach.com. Everything plays off the number 60, so you get $60 dining cards, there’s 60% discounts, tickets are two for $60 – all kinds of great deals.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any tips for those planning a road trip?
Stephanie Oswald: “Absolutely. We all think about spring cleaning but fall is also a good time to do some fall cleaning as well and if you’re going to get out on the road, you want to first go through your glove box and make sure all your paperwork is updated, you have the right insurance information, registration information.
It’s also a good time wherever you’re traveling to check and make sure that your passport is up to date if you’re going overseas and your license hasn’t expired because those are little things that creep up on us. They nip us in the butt when we least expect it. You don’t want to be in a security line at the airport and all of a sudden realize that your paperwork or your identification is out of date.
You also want to update your luggage tags. That’s not just for flying, that’s also for taking road trips -anything from your camera case to your video camera that you’re going to be using on your trip – make sure that you have your name and phone number, maybe even your email address labeled on your really important belongings because there’s nothing more heartbreaking than if you lose your pictures.”
Candace Rose: How can we stay healthy and fit when we’re on the road?
Stephanie Oswald: “Don’t forget that even if you’re on vacation, bring some of those routines with you that you do at home. If you’re going to work out, make sure that you can work out when you’re on the go. If that means that you’re staying at a hotel that might have a pool, you should find out about that. Find out whether you’re hotel has a fitness center, where the nearby fitness areas are – maybe there’s a park or a zip line adventure that you can do. Also, take advantage of local activities that might be a little different that can still give you a workout.
For example, if you are going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina just 30 minutes south is Pawley’s Island – you can go there and do kayaking. They have something really neat that I can’t wait to try, it’s paddle board yoga. You’re not doing yoga on the paddle board, you’re actually taking the paddle board out to another secluded beautiful beach and then doing yoga on the beach. To me, it just sounds so rejuvenating and it’s something I really want to try.
Trying some of these activities that might be unique to your destination, not only does it let you work out but it gives you a chance to really capture the flavor of a place and to do something that the locals do. I live in New Orleans and we have the fabulous New Orleans Museum of Art – they have an outdoor sculpture garden and you can do yoga in the sculpture garden.
Again, the locals do these things, but if you are visiting a place and find out about something like that it can make a big difference and give you a higher quality vacation.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Stephanie Oswald: “Sure. If you are going to be traveling internationally – anyone who is listening and has an international trip planned – fall is also a big season for Europe and other international destinations, something to consider is open your wallet. I’m not talking, Candace, checking just to make sure that you’ve got enough money or that you have a high enough limit on your credit cards, but look at your physical credit cards. You want to make sure that your credit cards are chipped enabled because a lot of places outside the U.S. require that these days and even if they don’t require it, it’s just going to make your travels easier. Maybe you haven’t switched your card in a while and it still has a couple of years to go before it expires, but you might want to switch it up ahead of time just so you can get the advanced technology. It’s more secure, it’s safer for you when you’re traveling.
Something else, Candace, if you can plan far enough ahead you can request a special card. You can ask your credit card company if they have a travel card. The reason you want to do this is because most credit card companies charge between two and five percent fees for any transaction made overseas, but if you call ahead of time you can get that waived or you can ask them for this special card which will not have any fees attached to it. I know that some of the American Express cards don’t have fees at all, and it really depends on your card so you need to call and check specifically to see what the requirements are for your card. If you do a little legwork ahead of time you’re going to save yourself a chunk of change.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Stephanie Oswald: “Well, I’ll give you a few websites to check out! Anyone who wants to take advantage of some local deals, another place to do your homework is TravelZoo.com. It’s one of my favorite travel websites because they have not only different big types of travel deals, but they also have local, a page that’s for local deals if you click on the city. Again, it could be the city that you’re going to, so places where you not only are the local but where you want to live like a local. Click on that destination, find some of those deals, so you can be in the know.
Also, if you want to try and take advantage of the 60 more days of summer in Myrtle Beach, you want to go to VisitMyrtleBeach.com. If you want to find out more about me and Travelgirl Magazine, you can go TravelGirlInc.com, and of course follow me on Twitter @TravelGirlSteph.”