Ready for summer travel? Get started with these vacation ideas

Now that travel restrictions have started to ease up and multiple states have lifted mask mandates, you may be daydreaming about booking a vacation. With the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, in sight, now is a great time to start planning your next getaway.

“Travel Genius” podcast host Mark Ellwood shared some great tips on when to book, where to go and how to make the most of summer on Weekend TODAY.

If you’re just starting to think about summer travel plans, Ellwood said there are three key things to consider.

1. Be flexible

“Things are in flux: the airline schedules, you might need to change plans. So when you book, read the small print, and make sure you can change or cancel without penalty,” Ellwood told Weekend TODAY co-anchors Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander.

  • Chirlane McCray, Bill de Blasio standing in front of a crowd: New York City is launching the nation’s largest employment development program for at-risk LGBTQ youth. It’s called “NYC Unity Works” and invests 2.6 million dollars to help young adults with job training, education and mental health services.

    NYC to launch largest work program for LGBTQ youth

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • Barack Obama wearing a suit and tie: Obama questioned on existence of aliens during Late Late Show interview

    Obama questioned on existence of aliens during Late Late Show interview

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • The CDC has recommended Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and up as demand for the shot is declining across the country. NBC News medical contributor Dr. Uche Blackstock explains how states are trying to bolster vaccine numbers and why some parents are still hesitant to vaccinate their children.

    CDC recommends Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for kids aged 12 and up

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a woman smiling for the camera: Draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that screenings for colorectal cancer start at age 45 instead of 50. Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, joins TODAY to weigh in further and explain common symptoms.

    Colon cancer screening should start at 45, task force recommends

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a bird sitting on a rock: Those noisy cicadas that make an appearance only once every 17 years have now started to emerge. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports for TODAY from North Carolina, where people are expecting the buzz to begin any day now.

    Noisy cicadas start to emerge after 17-year wait

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • graphical user interface: How the Colonial pipeline ransomware attack is raising concerns about U.S. cybersecurity

    How the Colonial pipeline ransomware attack is raising concerns about U.S. cybersecurity

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a couple of people that are talking to each other: Law enforcement officers are increasingly the first responders to incidents involving people with mental illness. In the San Antonio Police Department, a special plainclothes unit is trained specifically to handle mental health calls.

    A different kind of force—Policing mental illness: Part 1

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a person sitting on a sidewalk: Police bodycam video shows the moment officers fire upon Walter Wallace Jr., killing him. Police released the video with the approval of Wallace’s family.

    Bodycam video shows fatal shooting of Walter Wallace by Philadelphia police

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a man wearing a suit and tie: White House Senior Advisor for the Covid Response, Andy Slavitt, joined Stephanie Ruhle to discuss vaccine hesitancy and President Biden's efforts to get more shots in arms as some communities across the country remain hard to reach for vaccination.

    Slavitt on ramping up vaccinations: 'We consider this a wartime effort'

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a man wearing a uniform: Police are under investigation after they shot and killed a man, identified as Mark Gaskill, after responding to reports of shots fired in Rochester, New York. WHEC’s Patrick Moussignac reports.

    Rochester police under scrutiny for fatally shooting driver

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • Gas prices in the Southeast and along the East Coast are still going up as pumps run dry. Colonial Pipeline is back online after the company paid a $5 million ransom following a cyberattack, but experts say it will take a bit longer for relief to get to gas stations. NBC’s Blayne Alexander reports for Weekend TODAY.

    Gas shortages continue as Colonial Pipeline operations resume

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a person standing in front of a car: Following the FDA’s expanded emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, vaccination sites in Georgia began administering the shot to people as young as 12 years old. The CDC is expected to review the vaccine this week.

    Children ages 12- 15 begin receiving Pfizer’s Covid vaccine

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • Bodycam video shows Charleston deputies repeatedly tasing Black man in jail cell before his death

    Bodycam video shows Charleston deputies repeatedly tasing Black man in jail cell before his death

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a man and a woman looking at the camera: Amy Sutherland, mother of Jamal Sutherland, who died in police custody in January, speaks out after the release of the video showing her son's death.

    ‘Jamal would give you the clothes off of his back’ Mother of Jamal Sutherland speaks out

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the new mask guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks indoors. He addresses how vaccine effectiveness played into the decision and what the next steps in vaccinating younger Americans may be.

    Dr. Fauci calls new CDC mask guidelines a 'step toward normality'

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • a man wearing a hat looking at the camera: A grand jury indicted former Columbus, Ohio officer Adam Coy on murder and other charges in the death of Andre Hill. Coy’s body camera was not activated until after opening fire and the camera recovered 60 seconds of video showing the shooting.

    Former officer facing murder charges in death of Andre Hill

    NBC News Logo

    NBC News

  • Chirlane McCray, Bill de Blasio standing in front of a crowd: New York City is launching the nation’s largest employment development program for at-risk LGBTQ youth. It’s called “NYC Unity Works” and invests 2.6 million dollars to help young adults with job training, education and mental health services.
    NYC to launch largest work program for LGBTQ youth
    New York City is launching the nation’s largest employment development program for at-risk LGBTQ youth. It’s called “NYC Unity Works” and invests 2.6 million dollars to help young adults with job training, education and mental health services.

    NBC News Logo
    NBC News

  • Barack Obama wearing a suit and tie: Obama questioned on existence of aliens during Late Late Show interview
    Obama questioned on existence of aliens during Late Late Show interview
    Former President Obama was questioned on the existence of aliens after leaked Navy video shows a UFO off California during an appearance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

    NBC News Logo
    NBC News

  • The CDC has recommended Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and up as demand for the shot is declining across the country. NBC News medical contributor Dr. Uche Blackstock explains how states are trying to bolster vaccine numbers and why some parents are still hesitant to vaccinate their children.
    CDC recommends Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for kids aged 12 and up
    The CDC has recommended Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and up as demand for the shot is declining across the country. NBC News medical contributor Dr. Uche Blackstock explains how states are trying to bolster vaccine numbers and why some parents are still hesitant to vaccinate their children.

    NBC News Logo
    NBC News

UP NEXT

  • Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
  • Sign up for the TODAY Newsletter!

2. Book ASAP

“Don’t leave it. You need to book now,” Ellwood recommended, adding that demand is high right now. “Americans saved 2 1/4 trillion dollars and loads of vacation days during the pandemic. Everyone needs a vacation so those bookings are ramping up.”

Loading...

Load Error

3. Plan ahead

“People are also booking much closer to travel because they know things are in flux so you’re going to see fewer last-minute deals,” Ellwood said. “Plan ahead but be flexible, bit of both.”

Think local

For those not ready to board an airplane or go too far from home, there are still plenty of road trip options.

“Most people live within a drive of an amazing national park,” suggested Ellwood. “You can go hiking. There’s terrific accommodations at most of those.

“I would also say think about camping or glamping. There’s an amazing company called Collective Retreats, which lets you camp in New York City on Governor’s Island. There’s one near Austin and Vail as well. So camping doesn’t have to be roughing it.”

If hiking and camping aren’t your favorites, how about boating? Ellwood also recommends a lake or boat trip. “There’s a company called GetMyBoat.com which is a bit like the Uber of boats so if you don’t have a boat, but this year, you want to get out on the water as a bit of a vacation, you can probably find one that way.”

Where to go

If you are ready to fly the friendly skies, consider forgoing the big cities and spending time in nature instead.

The Finger Lakes region

“I think it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Often overlooked,” Ellwood gushed. It’s a “gourmet getaway,” as Ellwood put it, when you consider the region offers dozens of creameries and boasts approximately 100 wineries and cideries.

Lexington, Kentucky

For bourbon lovers, there’s no better spot than Kentucky for a summer sojourn.

“(Lexington is) bourbon central,” said Ellwood. “You can see 14 distilleries … great place to try all of those. If you love horses, there are more than 400 horse farms in the area. You can ride, go and see them. And again, down to the urban part of Lexington, there’s an amazing Greyline, which is a converted bus station with a farmer’s market, cafes, shops, really Lexington’s got everything. “

In Lexington, Ellwood recommends staying at the Origin Hotel located in Fritz Farm, a bustling retail and entertainment hub. This 120-room boutique hotel has rates starting at $103 per night for two people.

Another unique place to stay is the historic Belhurst Castle. At $195 per night for two people, it’s been voted one of thee most romantic places in the state.

  • a woman sitting on a couch: Stephanie Mansour, host of the PBS show “Step It Up With Steph,” leads a five-minute ab workout using a textbook as a weight.

    5-minute ab workout requires only a textbook as weight

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a group of people standing in the grass: Bird-watching is getting a boost as more people are spending time outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting for Weekend TODAY, NBC’s Sarah Harman meets a group of young people of color who are bonding over birds.

    Bird-watching takes flight during the pandemic

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man and a woman standing in a room: After months on a ventilator, Renato Aquino became the first known Covid-19 patient to receive a “Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant” in the U.S. Now he’s looking forward to the future with his family.

    Man receives first Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Craig Melvin holding a sign: TODAY’s Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer wish Craig Melvin a happy birthday with personal cards. Afterward, he is surprised with a sweet message from his wife and kids.

    Watch 3rd hour hosts celebrate Craig Melvin’s birthday

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a group of people sitting at a table using a laptop computer: Asian Boss Girl founders Helen Wu, Melody Cheng and Janet Wang talk to TODAY’s Natalie Morales about taking a leap of faith to start their podcast, which has now grown into a multimedia company where Asian American women find support in each other.

    Meet the founders of Asian Boss Girl

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: A federal civil rights investigation underway in Louisiana is looking into the death of a Black man at the hands of police in 2019. Now newly obtained body-cam video shows the deadly encounter. NBC national correspondent Miguel Almaguer reports for TODAY.

    Video showing deadly arrest of Ronald Greene released after 2 years

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Nick Offerman wearing a suit and tie: Best known as red meat lover Ron Swanson on

    Nick Offerman of 'Parks and Rec' talks about documentary 'Look and See'

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a sign on the side of a building: On the Jersey Shore and at other vacation spots across the U.S., businesses are trying to fill key summer jobs before the season officially kicks into high gear. NBC senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle reports for TODAY from Hudson River Park in New York City.

    Summer hot spots across US struggle to find staff amid labor shortage

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Meghan Markle, Prince Harry posing for the camera: Murray Fraser and Parisa Fitz-Henley opened up to TODAY about playing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Lifetime's much-anticipated new movie.

    Lifetime stars on getting into character for 'Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance'

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man and a woman sitting at a table in front of a window: Chefs Kevin Tien and Tim Ma tell TODAY’s Al Roker how they are fighting violence directed toward the AAPI community through food. They discuss the dinner events they are hosting to raise money and share their culture.

    Chefs fight violence against AAPI community through food

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man standing in front of a brick wall: Actor Kyle MacLachlan, known for his role as Trey MacDougal in “Sex and the City,” tells TODAY whether or not his character will be in the reboot of the beloved show.

    Kyle MacLachlan discusses ‘Sex and the City’ reboot

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Maggie Wheeler et al. taking a selfie: Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice on “Friends,” talks about working with Matthew Perry and looks back on her character’s best moments.

    ‘Friends’ actress Maggie Wheeler re-creates Janice’s best lines

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry posing for a photo: People magazine is out with an exclusive inside look at the long-awaited “Friends” reunion special, which will include appearances by former guest stars, re-created sets from the series and a table read by the original cast. TODAY shares a look.

    ‘Friends’ reunion: An inside look

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a woman sitting on a couch: Stephanie Mansour, host of the PBS show “Step It Up With Steph,” leads a five-minute ab workout using a textbook as a weight.
    5-minute ab workout requires only a textbook as weight
    Stephanie Mansour, host of the PBS show “Step It Up With Steph,” leads a five-minute ab workout using a textbook as a weight.

    TODAY Logo
    TODAY

  • a group of people standing in the grass: Bird-watching is getting a boost as more people are spending time outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting for Weekend TODAY, NBC’s Sarah Harman meets a group of young people of color who are bonding over birds.
    Bird-watching takes flight during the pandemic
    Bird-watching is getting a boost as more people are spending time outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting for Weekend TODAY, NBC’s Sarah Harman meets a group of young people of color who are bonding over birds.

    TODAY Logo
    TODAY

  • a man and a woman standing in a room: After months on a ventilator, Renato Aquino became the first known Covid-19 patient to receive a “Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant” in the U.S. Now he’s looking forward to the future with his family.
    Man receives first Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant
    After months on a ventilator, Renato Aquino became the first known Covid-19 patient to receive a “Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant” in the U.S. Now he’s looking forward to the future with his family.

    TODAY Logo
    TODAY

UP NEXT

Eugene, Oregon

If you’re a fan of the Olympics, look no further than Eugene, Oregon or TrackTown, USA.

“The track and field trials for the U.S. will take place in Eugene, Oregon, because of course, this is where Nike started, it is TrackTown. It’s a fitness town, 42 miles of trails downtown, and there is a Nike Live store, which is basically its ultimate flagship. There’s one in New York, one in L.A., one in Tokyo, and one in Eugene, Oregon, so really well worth going there,” noted Ellwood.

For lodging, one option is the Gordon Hotel at $199 per night. It’s an art-centric boutique hotel that just opened its doors and is located adjacent to the new Nike store in the newly expanded 5th Street Public Market. Bonus: You’ll be offered complimentary wine, beer or local ice cream at check in.

  • a woman sitting on a couch: Stephanie Mansour, host of the PBS show “Step It Up With Steph,” leads a five-minute ab workout using a textbook as a weight.

    5-minute ab workout requires only a textbook as weight

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a group of people standing in the grass: Bird-watching is getting a boost as more people are spending time outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting for Weekend TODAY, NBC’s Sarah Harman meets a group of young people of color who are bonding over birds.

    Bird-watching takes flight during the pandemic

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man and a woman standing in a room: After months on a ventilator, Renato Aquino became the first known Covid-19 patient to receive a “Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant” in the U.S. Now he’s looking forward to the future with his family.

    Man receives first Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Craig Melvin holding a sign: TODAY’s Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer wish Craig Melvin a happy birthday with personal cards. Afterward, he is surprised with a sweet message from his wife and kids.

    Watch 3rd hour hosts celebrate Craig Melvin’s birthday

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a group of people sitting at a table using a laptop computer: Asian Boss Girl founders Helen Wu, Melody Cheng and Janet Wang talk to TODAY’s Natalie Morales about taking a leap of faith to start their podcast, which has now grown into a multimedia company where Asian American women find support in each other.

    Meet the founders of Asian Boss Girl

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: A federal civil rights investigation underway in Louisiana is looking into the death of a Black man at the hands of police in 2019. Now newly obtained body-cam video shows the deadly encounter. NBC national correspondent Miguel Almaguer reports for TODAY.

    Video showing deadly arrest of Ronald Greene released after 2 years

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Nick Offerman wearing a suit and tie: Best known as red meat lover Ron Swanson on

    Nick Offerman of 'Parks and Rec' talks about documentary 'Look and See'

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a sign on the side of a building: On the Jersey Shore and at other vacation spots across the U.S., businesses are trying to fill key summer jobs before the season officially kicks into high gear. NBC senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle reports for TODAY from Hudson River Park in New York City.

    Summer hot spots across US struggle to find staff amid labor shortage

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Meghan Markle, Prince Harry posing for the camera: Murray Fraser and Parisa Fitz-Henley opened up to TODAY about playing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Lifetime's much-anticipated new movie.

    Lifetime stars on getting into character for 'Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance'

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man and a woman sitting at a table in front of a window: Chefs Kevin Tien and Tim Ma tell TODAY’s Al Roker how they are fighting violence directed toward the AAPI community through food. They discuss the dinner events they are hosting to raise money and share their culture.

    Chefs fight violence against AAPI community through food

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a man standing in front of a brick wall: Actor Kyle MacLachlan, known for his role as Trey MacDougal in “Sex and the City,” tells TODAY whether or not his character will be in the reboot of the beloved show.

    Kyle MacLachlan discusses ‘Sex and the City’ reboot

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Maggie Wheeler et al. taking a selfie: Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice on “Friends,” talks about working with Matthew Perry and looks back on her character’s best moments.

    ‘Friends’ actress Maggie Wheeler re-creates Janice’s best lines

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry posing for a photo: People magazine is out with an exclusive inside look at the long-awaited “Friends” reunion special, which will include appearances by former guest stars, re-created sets from the series and a table read by the original cast. TODAY shares a look.

    ‘Friends’ reunion: An inside look

    TODAY Logo

    TODAY

  • a woman sitting on a couch: Stephanie Mansour, host of the PBS show “Step It Up With Steph,” leads a five-minute ab workout using a textbook as a weight.
    5-minute ab workout requires only a textbook as weight
    Stephanie Mansour, host of the PBS show “Step It Up With Steph,” leads a five-minute ab workout using a textbook as a weight.

    TODAY Logo
    TODAY

  • a group of people standing in the grass: Bird-watching is getting a boost as more people are spending time outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting for Weekend TODAY, NBC’s Sarah Harman meets a group of young people of color who are bonding over birds.
    Bird-watching takes flight during the pandemic
    Bird-watching is getting a boost as more people are spending time outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting for Weekend TODAY, NBC’s Sarah Harman meets a group of young people of color who are bonding over birds.

    TODAY Logo
    TODAY

  • a man and a woman standing in a room: After months on a ventilator, Renato Aquino became the first known Covid-19 patient to receive a “Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant” in the U.S. Now he’s looking forward to the future with his family.
    Man receives first Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant
    After months on a ventilator, Renato Aquino became the first known Covid-19 patient to receive a “Covid-to-Covid double lung transplant” in the U.S. Now he’s looking forward to the future with his family.

    TODAY Logo
    TODAY

UP NEXT

The only way you can go wrong is to delay making plans as prices are likely to rise as more people continue to book. Need more inspiration? Check out these great deals by region:

Northeast

  • Kennebunkport, Maine: This coastal town is celebrating its bicentennial anniversary in 2021 and this summer, actor Alan Cummings will bring his New York cabaret bar to the Kennebunkport Inn. Rates start at $189 a night in June.
  • Roosevelt Island, New York City: Located just east of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island is perfect for history buffs and park lovers and offers beautiful views of New York City. The Graduate Roosevelt Island Hotel opens June 1 and is the first hotel on the storied island and one of the first new hotels to open in the Big Apple since the pandemic began. Rates start at $219 for two people and every room has a river view of New York City.

Midwest

  • Chicago, Illinois: Home to institutions like The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the city is a museum lover’s paradise. 21c Museum Hotel Chicago is one of nine 21c locations in the U.S. that form North America’s only multi-venue museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting 21st century art. Room rates start at $129 per night.

South

  • Miami, Florida: Stylish, playful and cosmopolitan, Miami Beach is a great summer destination. Moxy South Beach has rates starting at $159 from mid-July through August.
  • Fort Worth, Texas: Cowtown is going through a major development boom this summer and The Harper Hotel is part of it. This trendy hotel will feature local art and seasonal book recommendations and has rates starting at $168 a night.

West

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: Home to the Raiders and Golden Knights, Las Vegas is eager to welcome back sports fans again. Ellwood recommends Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, which has rates starting at $103 per night.
  • Portland, Oregon: If you’re a fan of bikes and flowers, you’ll love Portland in the summer. The Hoxton has rates from $150 a night and be sure not to miss their rooftop restaurant featuring the best spicy margarita.
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: Mesa Verde National Park is the seventh oldest park in the National Park System and is only open late May, June, July and August (closes in September). Far View Lodge is situated in the park and offers guests 360-degree views into the “Four Corners” region of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Rates starting at $176 for two people.

Source: Read Full Article