It’s finally summertime in the USA! Memorial Day, May 27 is not just a somber annual commemoration of the invaluable heroism of brave American servicemen but also an indicator that those living in America can finally greet the warmest season of the year. School is out (almost out for some); there are no home works and class projects to do; and there is nothing else to look forward to but rest and relaxation and quality time with family and friends.
A few clarifications before we get to the fun part
If you ask scientists, now is not officially summer yet, but we are still counting the last few days of spring. The actual first day of summer in the northern hemisphere is the Summer Solstice. This year, it falls on June 21. For those who have forgotten what this astronomical event signifies, the solstices in both hemispheres mark the beginning of summer or winter. And on June 21, Friday, the sun reaches its highest altitude in the sky. How is that relevant to regular folks? Well, it so happens that it is the longest day of the year.
This means that June 21, 2013 has the longest period between sunrise and sunset for the year. The length of the longest day (not a metaphor) averages 14.5 hours. That’s a lot of daylight to enjoy. People can take advantage of the extra hours to thoroughly delve into whatever summer activities they have planned.
And with the advent of summer comes another hurricane season in the USA. The NOAA or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a tireless agency in the service of Americans, has officially set the start of this year’s hurricane season in the Atlantic basin at June 1, 2013. But, take heart, because that does not mean you are not getting any sun this summer. Most hurricanes arrive around August to October, like last year. There are still plenty of carefree, sunny days in June and July to spend vacationing with family and friends.
What are your summer plans?
Memorial Day saw people doing the usual post-ceremonial, more light-hearted activities such as outdoor cookouts, barbecues, and country fairs. The adventurous ones chose to go hiking and went ahead with all sorts of water sports. Still, others took advantage of the three-day holiday weekend to do some shopping.
Now, for the rest of summer, the sky is the limit for those who have a few bucks set aside. The whole family can get away to the countryside (or the city, if they are from the country already), visit natural wonders in the many national parks scattered across the continental US, or go all the way to the ocean, and east coast or west coast depends on how long they want to drive or fly, for that matter.
Summer is also a great time to indulge in food best enjoyed during the season such as lobster and other types of seafood. And there are plenty of ice cream and cold beverages to choose from to cool off such as iced tea and cocktails complete with tiny colorful umbrellas. And of course, there is the perennial favorite, ice-cold beer.
Choosing your summer destination
Summer is the warmest of the four seasons enjoyed by temperate countries such as the United States. But, before clicking on any destination on a virtual map of the world, it is best to remember that it is not summer everywhere. When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and in order to enjoy the summer sun, it is best to stick to the upper half of the globe where the weather is generally hot and dry.
And it bears remembering that it is not the whole of the Northern hemisphere as well. In tropical and sub-tropical countries, the hot and dry season is virtually over in June and the wet or monsoon season is just beginning. The sun will be high and up, but there would be periodic comings and goings of typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes – three different words that mean the same thing and not paying attention to these things could end up with rainy days indoors rather than blue surf and hot sand.
But there are quite a number of places the family can go to where the sun reliably shows up on most days bringing in the summer heat. The question these days is whether to go far, far away or just make do with destinations that are much closer, and essentially more affordable. There have been many summer vacation trends in the past year, but this year, with the state of the economy as it is (recovering yes, but it’s not yet there), people are opting for “nearcations.” That means going for local or regional attractions closer to home.
Summer fun means staying closer to home
Despite economic issues, American families are still going on vacation this summer. But rather than spend a fortune on airfare and hotels to summer destinations abroad, many are opting for shorter tips to destinations that they can drive to. “Nearcations” have become the new regular American family’s choice.
The most popular destinations today, aside from amusement parks that kids do not tire of are water parks (it’s summer!) and resorts that have “everything under just one roof.” These destinations have proven to be a great way to stretch the dollar as far as it would go. When plans are made early and bookings are made in advance, the family’s summer getaway can take advantage of off-peak rates, huge discounts and other promotional offers.
For example, it would be more economical to choose a mid-week road trip or set out on days when the regional attractions offer the cheapest rates available. It pays to start planning by signing up for online promo updates and investing time in front of a computer to find out the best money-saving offers available.
There are many ways to save up on a road trip if that’s what the first family summer getaway is going to be. There are a number of preparations that need to be done to ensure that everything goes smoothly and hassle-free, without complications that could prove to be expensive and time-consuming. The car has to be tuned up, gas stations with the cheapest gas found and marked on the map, and meals and snacks prepared and packed to minimize take-outs that aren’t that nutritious (or delicious) anyway.
Summer may not yet be officially here, but it is definitely coming. Where do you want to spend it?