Memorial Day, the unofficial start to the summer travel season, is only two weeks away – meaning that it's not too early to start considering your summer travel plans. To that end, on Wednesday morning, I'll be embarking on a satellite radio tour of stations throughout America to discuss the country's top bargain destinations for summertime travel. In other words, I hope to shed some light on how families, retirees, young couples, outdoor enthusiasts, and others can enjoy some of the nation's most incredible hot spots without breaking the bank. If nothing else, I'm excited to be focusing on two of my favorite subjects: exploring this diverse country and saving some of my hard-earned cash while doing it.
To keep costs low, consider traveling during the week, when hotel rates are often lower. If possible, try to avoid busy holiday weekends altogether. Another excellent way to save money on airfare, hotels, and restaurants is to travel via RV instead. Most major cities and towns feature nearby campgrounds, and most national and state parks actually contain inexpensive camping facilities. As a bonus, gas prices are relatively low right now, so it's a good time for on-the-road travel, and as I mentioned last week , even those who don't own an RV can easily rent one from a company like Cruise America  (480/464-7300 or 800/671-8042, rates vary), which offers pickup locations in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
Another tip for saving money is to stay alert for pass deals. For instance, if you plan to visit even a few national parks in the course of a year, consider purchasing the America The Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass , which costs $80 annually and provides free access to all federal recreation sites, including national forests and BLM lands, that charge an entrance fee of some kind. The pass admits the passholder and up to three adult passengers in a noncommercial vehicle. Children under 16 are admitted at no charge. The pass can be obtained in person at a specific park or by calling 888/ASK-USGS (888/275-8747), ext. 1, or via the Internet . Senior citizens (aged 62 and older) can purchase a lifetime pass for only $10, while disabled individuals can secure one at no charge. Just be advised that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for such passes.
If you're curious about my top 15 bargain picks, stay tuned for my next three American  Nomad  posts . And keep your radio tuned on Wednesday morning. I'll be touring 18 cities that day – from KCMN-AM in Colorado Springs to WAMV-AM in Lynchburg, Virginia. So, who knows? I might just be in a city near you!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Photo / Text © 2010 Laura Martone