A guide to your best summer vacation

Travelers are summering like it’s 2019. Here’s our best advice to navigate the crowds, chaos and crazy prices.

(iStock/Washington Post Illustration)

Ah, summer: season of sunny beach days, outdoor adventures and bonfire-lit nights. But in 2022, it’s also a time of outrageously expensive tanks of gas, jam-packed airports, busy roads and rising coronavirus cases.

This summer might not be easy and breezy, and it definitely won’t be cheap. But as millions of people venture out for vacation — some after spending the last two years closer to home — they might need a little expert guidance on saving money, staying safe and navigating the travel chaos ahead.

Whether summer plans include traveling overseas, visiting national parks or heading to one (or three) weddings, these stories can help.

7 less expensive vacation spots

Vacation dreams are clashing with the reality of travel prices. Trips to Europe, Mexico and Central America are slightly more expensive this summer than they were in 2019, according to travel data. However, prices aren’t necessarily up across the board, and there are still deals to be found. To jump-start your trip brainstorming, we picked seven cheaper alternatives to popular summer travel spots.

How to save money on road trips

As gas prices soar in the United States, taking a road trip is becoming less of a wallet-friendly option. If you’re looking to hit the road, there are ways to offset the higher fuel costs and keep car travel within your budget. Here are ways to save on everything from food to accommodations.

Vacations are painfully expensive now, but you can still save

More than two years into the pandemic, vacationers are making travel plans with renewed zeal. But because of a number of economic, logistical and geopolitical issues, a summer getaway will come at a steep, painful price this year. Here’s a breakdown of what people should expect as they plan summer trips and how they might save a few bucks.

The rental car ‘apocalypse’ isn’t over

The “rental car apocalypse” dawned a little more than a year ago as travelers ventured back into the world only to find fewer vehicles and hiked-up prices. Experts say the scenario is slightly less doom and gloom now — but also far from the pre-pandemic norm. If you’re renting a car this spring or summer, here are eight things to keep in mind.

How to use the free covid tests for travel

At first, the tests the Biden administration were distributing didn’t help travelers with U.S. testing requirements for international travel because they didn’t offer the virtual testing option. That has since changed. Depending on which brand of test, you may be able to use it on your next international trip after all. Also keep in mind: now the CDC recommends testing before domestic travel, too.

Wedding season is upon us. Here’s how to save on travel.

Experts say a budget is necessary for wedding guests who will probably have huge demands on their time and travel dollars this year as we enter the busiest season in nearly a decade. Here are 10 tips from wedding, travel and financial experts on how to save during this year’s nuptial boom.

How to book every type of campsite

The pandemic ushered in a newfound appreciation for the great outdoors — so great, in fact, that it made finding a camping spot three times harder last year compared to 2019. Does that mean your camping dreams are doomed? Not at all. Here are tips from industry experts on finding the perfect spot, no matter how you like to camp.

6 alternatives to the most popular national parks

If you’ve been to Yellowstone during peak tourist season, you’d think the national park system has an overtourism problem. But it’s not that too many people are going to the parks — it’s that too many people are going to a few parks at the same time. But don’t let that stop you from going to a park this summer. Planning a trip to one of the lesser-known parks can help you avoid crowds and have a better time.

How to ask a seatmate to mask

In the weeks since a federal judge in Florida struck down the federal mask mandate for planes and other transportation settings, Americans have met the change with a mix of excitement and concern. If you are nervous about flying on an aircraft full of bare faces, you can take steps to make the journey less daunting.

You should work out on your next flight

As much as you might want to curl up and go to sleep during a long flight, the secret to surviving the economy section is the exact opposite of that. We talked to fitness experts for the best stretches and moves to combat bloat and stiffness on your next flight.

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