Forget exotic and foreign this summer. Here are some great ideas for planning a staycation that could cost you less—but deliver more.
For most of us, taking time off means reducing stress. That said, with all the turbulence abroad, many people will opt to vacation close to home this summer. The good news is that a staycation can be just as relaxing and enjoyable.
“Sometimes you just do not want to hassle with airports, TSA agents, long lines and long plane flights,” shares Alan Feldstein, owner of the Tarzana-based Infinite Safari Adventures. “For me and my wife, Diane, it is so nice to be able to hop in the car, drive to one of our favorite places and just have a good time discovering what is in our own backyard, and then come home rested and recharged. And as one who organizes detail-oriented African safaris for people and the person responsible for all logistics, it is wonderful to go somewhere without much planning.”
Travel writer Mary Herne concurs. “While we think nothing of getting on a plane to go to some exotic destination, some of our favorite trips have been road trips right in our backyard, more or less,” Mary says. Another plus: “We can go to Dairy Queen without guilt—not to mention all those drive-ins, diners and dives celebrated on the Food Network!”
If you are planning a staycation this summer, make reservations extra early and consider booking through a travel agent. Kristin Taylor is an independent travel consultant with Frosch Classic Cruise & Travel in Woodland Hills. She suggests booking through an agency that belongs to a consortium such as Signature Travel Network or Virtuoso.
“A number of highly-screened hotels and resorts are included in the programs. Special negotiated rates with amenities (that are not normally available through direct bookings) can result in savings, more perks and better service,” Kristin says. She shares that a recent reservation she made for a client included: breakfast for two (at same hotel rate without breakfast), a $100 food and beverage credit, a $100 spa or golf credit per stay, as well as a room upgrade upon arrival, early check-in and late check-out options (based on availability).
Kristin adds there are often other advantages like receiving preferential treatment when it comes to the best rooms in a particular category. “If one books online, he or she is an unknown entity and may more likely receive a room near the elevator or another one of lesser appeal,” Kristin says. Finally, she points out if there is a concern or problem with a reservation, the person who booked with a travel agent has more recourse. “The good agent will work for his or her client to resolve any issues,” she explains.
Recommendations from three prolific travelers
La Quinta is fantastic for families. There are tennis and golf clinics/lessons for all ages, horseback riding, cycling/bike rentals, hiking, a Junior Spa for 10 to 14-year-olds and Camp La Quinta for four to 12-year-olds. The resort puts on movies at the main pool. A huge screen is set up and kids can swim and watch the movie. For adults there are world-famous golf courses, tennis courts, an award-winning spa and fitness center.
One of my favorite accommodations is the Pueblo Suite (1,350 square feet) connected to a room with two queen beds, giving you a total of 1,812 square feet. It has a private yard and pool and accommodates a family of five. The resort is also pet-friendly.
For “off campus” fun, there are jeep tours, opportunities to explore Old Town La Quinta, The Living Desert (a wonderful outdoor museum in Palm Desert) and the Aerial Tram in Palm Springs.
For a couples’ weekend, I love The Resort at Pelican Hill. It has an exquisite setting on the ocean in Newport Beach, terrific accommodations (especially the villas), superb service and dining, as well as top golf and spa facilities.
My husband and I love going to Borrego Springs. About 90 miles northeast of downtown San Diego, it is a bit off the grid and less developed than Palm Springs. Great desert hiking, stargazing and a Tom Fazio-designed, first-rate golf course, Ram Hill. We like to stay at the upscale, historic and recently renovated La Casa Del Zorro Resort, located in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It has a spa, tennis courts, swimming pool and nice restaurant.
Owner, Infinite Safari Adventures
We enjoy Ojai, where my wife and I spent our first romantic weekend away together. We love to walk in town, browse the shops and have great meals. It is also a terrific place to bring Alley, our three-year-old shepherd/husky. If Ojai is too hot, we head to Santa Barbara. Besides hitting amazing restaurants and wine bars, we love to just stroll Main Street. Also, I am an avid kayaker so I can put my kayak on top of my car and go for an early morning paddle.