Summer is all about leaving your troubles behind and relaxing as far away from “ordinary” as possible, right? For some, that’s the backyard; for others, that’s Thailand. If you’re preparing to travel during your summer break, there are a lot of variables to consider when making your plans. Check out these tips before finalizing your trip!

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Picking Traveling Companions

Do you really want to waste your one big summer trip on your significant other? Sorry, lovebirds, but let’s be real here: Summer trips are better with more people.

You can split off when you want, you can make your own vacation, and you can have a romantic night if you must. In general, that summer cruise or trip to Mexico will be much more enjoyable if you’ve got a handful of dancing and drinking partners.

However, make sure you know what your traveling companions want out of this trip. Are they looking for endless parties? Are they the doers who can’t sit still in the sunshine? Do they actually want to relax with a book or would they prefer to drink away their real life and make some mistakes? Even your best friend might surprise you with her travel alter ego; so before you commit to any big trips, choose your companions carefully.

Choosing Your Destination

This is where the fun begins! You have the whole wide world ahead of you. If you just want to go a few states over, that’s fine, but if you can afford the plane ticket, go somewhere awesome.

There are a lot of great travel sites that can help you choose places based on your budget, such as the new site Adioso, which lets you type things like “Seattle to San Diego any Thursday return 5-8 days later,” and then searches for the cheapest date to fly.

You and your traveling companions should be reasonable about time frames, budgets, and activities, and then do some quick research to find the perfect match. And if you’re really looking for cheap accommodations, you can always try Couchsurfing or AirBnB.

Buying Your Flight

Many reports say that the sweet spot for buying domestic flights is 21 days before departure, though international flights are normally priced best about 3 months in advance — if you buy on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Need some help? Check out Bing’s fare predictor to see if your desired flight is expected to increase or decrease in price.

Additionally, if you want to use the most amazing flight finder of all time, go to Hipmunk. You can sort by price, departure, arrival, agony, flight time, and more, to find the perfect combination.

Planning for Heat

There are two things that remain your best friends throughout summer, especially as you travel closer and closer to the equator: water and sunblock.

If you’re heading to countries with lots of sun, make sure you bring your own sunblock because they’ve often got bleach and whitening agents in their lotions.

Also, be sure to budget for the cost of bottled water because you certainly can’t drink it from the tap! Seven liters of water might only cost about a dollar where you’re headed, so it might not be much of an expense.

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How to Access Cash

Finally, for any international traveler, it’s hard to know the best way to spend money in a foreign country.

If you can, you should get an international credit card with no fees. Something like that Capital One Venture rewards card. You should also make sure your bank knows that you will be traveling; otherwise they might shut down access to your credit card or bank account as soon as foreign transactions come through.

Secondly, find out if your bank has a branch or partnership in your desired location. (For example, Bank of America customers can take money from China Construction Banks fee-free.)

If not, see if you can open an account at a bank that has international locations — such as CitiBank or HSBC. This way, you won’t get stuck spending $50 on transaction fees and you don’t have to carry a bunch of cash. For those of you staying on your country’s soil, ATMs should be easy to find, especially if you have a national bank. Just keep a close eye on your budget!

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