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Summer Travel on a Budget

Today on Live at 9 in Memphis, I talked about what travelers can expect this summer and how to stay on budget amid rising fuel costs and added fees. Travelers can expect two things for sure: higher airfare and crowded planes. The high cost of fuel is one of the main factors driving up summer airfares, so to stay on budget, travelers are going to have to be smart and find other ways to save.

One way to find a great deal is to try booking at the last minute. Since last minute travel inventory is unpredictable, this option is ideal for people who know they want to get away for a long weekend, but who don’t have their hearts set on a particular destination.

Also, try to be flexible with both your dates and your destination. If you know you want a beach vacation, set a budget and search various destinations to see where you can go for your money.

Simple mistakes in planning your travels can be detrimental to your budget, which is why it’s so important to be an educated consumer. You really can save hundreds if you plan smart. We’ve found that booking your flight and hotel together can save an average of $240, so you’re going to want to comparison shop to figure out if it’s better to book your flight and hotel together or separately.

Also, you need to pack light or you will pay! This may be difficult for the ladies who want to bring 10 pair of shoes, but if your bags weigh too much or you have to check a second piece of luggage, the airline is going to charge you extra. The new baggage policies regarding a second bag go into effect in May, so you will be charged $25 each way to bring a second bag.

Higher airfare and budget aside, the second thing that travelers can count on is that planes will again be full this summer. If you remember last year, capacity on planes was at a high and so were delays. We’re expecting another crowded season at the airports, and travelers need to plan for it — that means getting to the airport in plenty of time to make it through the security line (two hours for domestic and three for international) and allowing enough connection time in between flights; I recommend two hours to be safe. And don’t forget to pack something to read and plenty of snacks in your carry-on!


My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!



I love Memphis! Have fun Jen!


All great tips – especially the packing light ones. My general rule is to pack conservatively – then remove at least three items from my suitcase.

Of course, sometimes you have to pack heavy. And when that’s the case, I’ve found that certain airlines are far better for heavy packers than others….

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