Summer Travel Tips For the Last-Minute Lawyer In You

Lawyers are born to procrastinate. Don't let this professional trait spill over into your personal life when it comes to your summer vacation. You have set aside some R&R time this summer, right? Here are some tested travel tips to help you make the most of this summer's most precious commodity: your non-billable hours.

Booking Your Travel On The Web

Web-savvy travelers would do well to book last-minute getaways on travel sites like Site59, Orbitz, or Expdia, and while all are convenient, each has its own advantages and quirks.

Site 59
Site59 lets you book weekend getaways on short notice from as little as 3 hours to 14 days in advance. They've carved out a niche helping unload hotel rooms and flights that still haven't been sold. You choose what major city you want to depart from, the kind of trip you want to take (e.g., sun & beach, golf, international, kids & family), or the place you'd like to visit. You'll generally get a choice of several hotels (with upgrade options,) suggestions about things to do, and flight options. You will need to print out your e-mail confirmation to take to the airport, as all tickets are "e-tickets." Prices are based upon two people traveling together, and you'll pay a supplement for travelling solo. Examples: a 2-night roundtrip shuttle flight from New York City to Boston staying at the Sheraton for $269 per person, plus tax. While Site59 doesn't let you save your frequent flier information so that it's automatically entered when you book your flight, you can easily do that when you check in at the airport.

The biggest advantage of using Orbitz is that the site searches many airlines to give you dozens of flight options from which to choose. The company partners with Site59 for its last-minute getaway packages. If you like to use a particular airline for your frequent flier points, or simply want more flights to choose from, you'll probably like using Orbitz (but you may still hate the company's pop-up web ads that seem to be everywhere). You'd never know how many airlines are actually out there until you've tried this site.

Microsoft's Expedia excels at giving you lots of background information on travel destinations, and extra conveniences to smooth the planning. Its Flight Wizard and Lodging Wizard options let you store frequent flier information so that you don't need to reenter it every time you book a trip. Expedia also has a service to let you get extras like tickets for tours, shows, and transportation quickly.

Travel Agents
It's a virtual no-brainer to explore and book your vacation plans online, but a good travel agent can earn their commission by helping you avoid repeating the horror stories that others have experienced. When my wife and I once consulted an agent when traveling overseas, she told us that if we enrolled in a particular airline frequent flier program, we would be sitting apart from hundreds of other coach travelers, closer to first class, in a quieter and more comfortable section of the airplane, but at still at bargain coach fares. The advice was priceless.

Ride Amtrak While It's Still Here

While Congress debates whether to pump more money into the country's loss-leader passenger rail service, you can still take a trip on Amtrak. The trains may not always be on time, and the pace can be a little slow, but sit back and relax: you're on vacation!

Some of the more scenic routes worth taking include:

  • The Coast Starlight (Los Angeles -- Seattle)
  • The California Zephyr (Chicago -- San Francisco)
  • The Adirondack (New York City - Montreal)
  • If you're a cyclist and want to take your wheels with you, Amtrak will even let you take a set of wheels using it's Bike-On-Board program. For only a $5 - $10 surcharge added to the to cost of a one-way ticket, you can check your bike on the baggage car on select trains traveling between Washington, D.C. and Vermont, New York City and upstate New York, or Los Angeles and San Diego. There are only a few trains that offer the Bike-On-Board option, however, and travelling times can range from O.K. to incredibly inconvenient (i.e., 2 a.m. departures).

    Get Your Money's Worth: Head North

    I've always been a firm believer that the American dollar goes farther in Canada. That's particularly true today. Your dollar is simply worth more As of mid-June, $1.00 U.S. was worth more than $1.50 Can. Folks are friendly, and there's plenty to see.

    Want to be cowboy or cowgirl? Check out the Calgary Stampede in Alberta from July 5 - 14, 2002. Feel like going overseas to try out your French, but want to spend less time in the air more time on the ground? Try visiting Quebec City. Toronto and Vancouver are vibrant cosmopolitan cities with great food, culture, and plenty to do, but without the attitude.

    Find Out More From Those In-The-Know

    If you're bold and adventurous, looking for the thrill of taking the trip without anyone like yours truly spoon-feeding you information, then you should probably stop reading now. But if you want to get the lowdown on cool stuff, hot spots to go, and what to avoid, then ask other folks on the Greedy Associates message boards. Whether you're looking to share getaway advice, great BBQ in Dallas, or killer sushi in L.A., you'd do well to ask here first. Chances are pretty good that you'll get helpful answers to your questions fast.

    Bon voyage, counselor! Tell us how you spent your summer vacation when you get back.