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Tips for Making the Most of Your Summer Vacation

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Youíve worked hard all year, and now that summer is here, you want to enjoy your time off with your friends and loved ones.  You might not have the time nor the funds to travel to a faraway destination, but at the same time, the thought of more barbeques and museum trips isnít exactly taking your breath away! 

The Internet offers an easy way to look for fun, local activities that donít require loads of expensive gas, from the comfort of your own home.  Private recreation vendors and civic organizations in your area provide everything from ocean kayaking and paintball to wine tasting and salsa lessons, and in many cases, you can purchase tickets or vouchers online.  Here are a few questions to consider as you select that perfect summer activity: 

Is your goal knowledge accumulation, personal development, or purely fun?  Do you want this activity to be a learning experience where you have to do a little bit of work, or are you content to just kick back and enjoy it?  Donít forget to survey the others in your group to see what they think! 

What size group are you planning to go with?  Ask about the amount of personal attention each participant will receive.  An activity like surfing or golf requires substantial instruction, especially if youíve never done it before!  

Is the activity something everyone can enjoy?  Consider the ages and characteristics of the people in your party.  Will you be bringing children or someone with a medical condition or disability?  Find out in advance if there are restrictions on the activity and make sure that everyone in the group will be willing and able to participate. 

When can you schedule the activity?  Before you begin your search, coordinate a range of potential dates with your group.  Keep in mind that youíre likely to have much more flexibility in your activity choices (as well as lower prices) if you can get everyone together during the week. 

Is the weather likely to cooperate?  Ask your vendor for advice.  Thunderstorms are quite common in the summer, so if you choose an outdoor activity like sailing or rock climbing, you may run into a snag.  Though most vendors will allow you to reschedule due to inclement weather, it might be difficult to coordinate another available date with the others in your party.   

Does the vendor have a good reputation?  Research activity operators to find out how long theyíve been in business in the area, what type of customer feedback theyíve received, and if they have a secure method for processing payment.  Make sure that they carry insurance, are certified for safety if appropriate, and have a satisfaction guarantee.   

Once youíve booked your activity, send your participants a confirmation as well as a checklist of things to keep in mind, such as appropriate dress, transportation details, and arrival time.  If youíve chosen a full-day activity that doesnít involve food, consider arranging a potluck picnic.   

Life in the 21st century is more hectic than ever.  You may only have a few precious days off to spare, but donít stay home and let the good stuff pass you by.  Follow these guidelines to try something youíve always wanted to doFree Web Content, and bring a few friends or family members along for the ride!

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Andrew Playford is the Founder and CEO of Signature Days, a Chicago-based online retailer that allows Americans to celebrate the luxury of life.  Its Internet site, is a centralized service where customers can choose from a wide range of unusual and exclusive experiences and encounters in categories such as action and adventure, gourmet and wine, body and soul, and self-improvement.  Signature Days currently offers more than 1,000 imaginative experiences in the 10 largest US metro areas including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 

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