Tips for an easier, less expensive vacation

If you\'re headed to the beach, consider putting up an umbrella and wearing a hat. (AP)

WASHINGTON – Getting to your summer vacation destination can be just as stressful as tackling that mountain of work waiting when you get back to the office.

But the Charlotte Observer has a few tips to take a bit of the hassle out of getting to your destination and how to avoid some unnecessary expenses along the way.

  1. Avoid paying ultra-high change fees

    Double-check the dates you plan to fly to avoid paying the airline a change fee. Those fees can be as much as $200 for domestic flights, the paper reports.

  2. When to fly

    Airfares remain relatively stable this summer, in large part due to flat or declining oil prices. Flying before July or late in the summer, after the last week in August, could make it easier to find more reasonably priced flights.

  3. Expect crowded flights

    The paper reports that airlines are booking flights as full as possible to avoid selling discounted seats. While that’s good for the airlines, passengers can expect longer boarding times, and less room to stretch out once on board.

  4. Carry on

    Because of those all-too common checked baggage fees, more passengers are opting to take a carry-on suitcase instead. And all those bags quickly fill up the overhead bins.

    So American Airlines now offers priority boarding for passengers who bring just one small item such as a purse or laptop bag but no luggage, according to the Observer.

  5. A road trip could be easier on your wallet

    In April, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that the road trips in 2013 could be cheaper than last summer as a springtime decline in gas prices was expected to stretch into the summer.

    This week, the average price for a gallon of gas in the D.C. area is $3.68 compared to $3.60 a year ago, according to AAA.

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