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Remember when summer really meant vacation? I’m talking, of course, of the time before you were able to vote, when summer meant freedom from school and adventures at camp, a fun summer job, or long lazy days doing very little. However you did it, summer was a break from the daily routine—and a welcome one.

But for most of us, summer now means the same commute, the same job, the same responsibilities, but with tantalizing sunshine glittering on the windowpane, reminding us of what we’re missing. So it’s more important than in other seasons that, when we are able to carve out a week or two of escape, we do it right. Here are a few suggestions for the summer of 2018.

Get time off. Really off.
Alert your co-workers and boss that you’ll be taking your vacation time… and actually vacationing. That might mean doing some additional work before you head out, but prepping others to help while you’re away will transform your trip into a true holiday. And you’re also being responsible by taking time away: Sabine Sonnentag, a psychology professor at the University of Mannheim in Germany, found through a study that after holidays, productivity improved, as did attitude. Some 64% of participants said they felt "refreshed and excited to get back to my job" after both long and short vacations.

Choose a destination that speaks to you.
That place will be will be different for each person. Some love to visit old standbys and relive special memories. Others pursue hobbies by scheduling cooking classes, trips to the homes of their favorite historical figures, or challenging hikes. Others prefer visiting new places with every trip. If you fall into that category and would like some fresh ideas, go to www.frommers.com/bestplaces2018 for a list of spots that will be especially interesting to visit this year.

Strategize your airport time.
If you’re flying, know that you’re going to have a lot of company, particularly this summer. Industry group Airlines for America is projecting that compared to last year, 4% more people will take to the skies between June 1 and August 31. That translates to some 246 million bodies, a new record, waiting in security lines and squeezing into too-narrow seats. So cushion your arrival time at the airport, especially if your hub has limited parking and long security lines.

You might also consider finally shelling out for TSA PreCheck. It’s going to be easier to apply for the program in 2018 thanks to office supply megastore Staples, which has partnered with the TSA to open 50 processing centers in their stores this summer (in New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles). So instead of trekking out to the airport to do the required in-person interview, you might be able to do so in your own community. Staples has said it may open TSA PreCheck centers in other urban areas after the initial test rollout.

Prep your car (and phone).
Before any road trip, check your fluids (especially coolant) and make sure your spare tire is inflated. For fun and safety, pack a cooler with snacks, beverages, and lots of water. In hotter, remote areas of North America, it can be deadly if you break down without sufficient water.

Gas prices are going up, so equip your phone with the GasBuddy app, which will alert you to the least expensive gas stations in the area you’re driving.

We’re also fans of the Automobile Club of America’s Fuel Cost Calculator. It calculates fuel costs for your entire trip, allowing you to better budget for all your expenses.

Tags: summer, Road Trips, gas prices, vacation planning

Categories: Air Travel, Beach & Water Sports, Car Rentals, Car, Bus, Rail, Family & Kids, Local Experiences, National Parks, Outdoor & Adventure, Road Trips, Vacations