Here’s important vacation preparation information from “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead” by Max Brooks: “If you believe you can accomplish everything by ‘cramming’ at the 11th hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining.” In other words, it’s time to start planning your summer vacation. Here are 15 things you need to know as you look ahead to taking time off — and you are taking time off. Read on.
You need a vacation. If you work full time, you’re averaging 42 1/2 hours a week in the hot box. Almost 7% of you work 60 hours a week or more. Those are the 2014 stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So why not put on the brakes for a week or more? After all, more than three-quarters of full-time workers are compensated with paid vacation time, according to the bureau. Even your company wants you to take time off not because it worries about you but because unused vacation creates a financial liability — about $ 224 billion that shows up on the books, says the Project: Time Off report “The Hidden Costs of Unused Leave,” an initiative of the U.S. Travel Assn. “Harrumph,” you say. “That’s the company’s problem.” But it’s also your problem because the same study says you’re giving back an average of 3.2 days of vacation. It’s one thing not to want to give your company a break; it’s quite another not to give yourself one.
If you usually spend vacations with friends or family, insist they move to Europe so you can save more money. Summer will be hot, hot, hot (economically speaking) for Americans visiting the Continent, partly because the U.S. economy is strong. The website TradingEconomics.com says disposable income in the U.S. reached an all-time high in February, partly because the dollar is beating up the euro. For every $ 10 exchanged, you get 9.31 euros, according to a recent exchange rate. A year ago, you got 7.24 euros. That means a hotel room that cost you 150 euros in 2014 — $ 207 U.S. — will cost you $ 161 a night this year if rates remain the same. Stay 10 nights and you have an extra $ 460 in your pocket.
There’s a chance your airfare to Europe won’t be quite as expensive. Two positive signs: Fuel prices are moderating, said Warren Chang, vice president and general manager for airfare search aggregator Fly.com, and competition is having an effect. Although fuel isn’t the only determinant in setting airfares — competition and demand play huge roles — Chang thinks airlines are offering a bit of relief to consumers. A bigger plus for L.A. fliers: Norwegian Air. The low-cost European carrier is making other airlines squirm a bit, he said, by offering prices as low as $ 711 for a round trip from LAX to London or Oslo, a recent search showed. (These fares were for May 6-13 and may no longer be available.) Last year at this time, the lowest fare to London in the Travel section’s April 6 airfare chart was $ 811 — significant because Norwegian didn’t make its debut in L.A. until May.
Read More »