My Sunday column on summer travel tips is designed to save you time and money. Here are some extra tips that weren't in the column:
If you'll be driving long distances, consider roadside assistance coverage. It's there if you need a tow truck, a dead battery jumpstart or you lock your keys in the car. There's the tried-and-true AAA, as well as plans through some insurance companies, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and others. Fees vary. Basic AAA and AARP plans, for instance, run about $60 a year.
If you want to avoid fast-food freeway meals, stop at produce stands or farmers' markets for fresh fruits, nuts and snacks. For restaurants, ask the locals or check websites like www.Roadfood.com, which lists readers' favorites nationwide. In the Sacramento region, its picks for "authentic regional eats" run from Ford's Real Hamburgers in Land Park to Al's Place in Locke to Putah Creek Cafe in Winters.
Foreign travel extras
Here are a couple extra notes about overseas travel from Ed Perkins, a SmarterTravel.com correspondent:
Never change money at an airport kiosk or currency exchange office. "The markup (on exchange rates) is way higher and you'll lose money. The best bet is to use a local bank."
Never use your credit card for a cash advance - whether here in the U.S. or overseas - because you'll pay hefty interest charges that are higher than your regular charge card rate.
Best way to improve long flights overseas?
Get out of economy class. Seriously. "The idea of a comfortable economy seat is an oxymoron," says Perkins.
The veteran traveler says he's always willing to stay in cheap, 2-star hotels, but when it comes to flying, Perkins happily uses up his accumulated airline miles to get an upgrade for more leg room, roomier seats and better meals. For those of us who don't have that luxury, he says paying for upgrades is pricey. A number of foreign airlines, like Air France for instance, now offer "premium economy" seats, but they're "40 percent more room and 100 percent more money."
For his money, Perkins says JetBlue has the most comfortable economy-class seats.
For a list of airline fees and the best credit cards for travellers, visit sites like www.NerdWallet.com, which has a new comparison tool for airline fees.
It's a good idea any time you've paid a large, nonrefundable deposit or there's a hefty cancellation penalty. "You never know what's going to happen. If you have an expensive cruise, vacation rental or tour package, it's recommended, " said Perkins. Don't buy travel insurance from airlines or cruise companies, he says, because coverage can be limited. Go to travel insurance sites, such as InsureMyTrip.com, SquareMouth.com and QuoteWright.com. Look for "cancel-for-any-reason" policies.
Last travel tip: Leave your preconceptions at home. Whether it's the food, the people or the customs in other locales, don't expect anything to be quite like it is at home. After all, that's why we travel, isn't it?