Oh say can you see…the massive crowds, skyrocketing
airfares, and impossibly long lines that have become synonymous with Independence
Day travel? We asked pro wanderer and OneTravel blogger Suzy Guese to share her
best tips for dodging throngs of tourists, packing what you really need, and the best locations to
catch the fireworks.
And if you like what you see here, don’t forget to join
@OneTravel and @suzyguese for a special Fourth of July Twitter party (July 3rd,
2014 at 2pm EST). It’ll be chock full of tips, tricks, and a fabulous prize. Follow
#OneTravelChat to participate. We can’t wait to celebrate the red, white, and
blue with you!
What's your favorite music to listen to/books to read while on the road/in-flight?
I don’t think a road trip can officially begin without Tom Petty. Classic rock is played on repeat whenever I hit the road. In terms of books, I usually like to find something set in where I am going. It adds a certain excitement when you are traveling throughout the pages in which you are reading.
When/why did you start blogging about travel and what has been your favorite post to date?
I started travel blogging after I graduated from college in 2009. Growing up in a very travel-friendly family, I always knew I wanted to incorporate travel into my life. And as I love telling the stories of travel in hopes that someone will read my experience and go mentally or physically with me, travel blogging and writing seemed like a way for me to live the life I wanted. My favorite post to date is probably The Sicilian Love Story, a tale of how travel doesn’t just lead you places but also to people you will never forget.
Tell us about your first travel experience.
I don’t remember much about my first travel experience. I was three months old when my parents took our family to Disney World. However, my earliest travel memories are those on car trips around the United States. We would often head out to National Parks every summer or spring break. It was on these early trips around the United States that I fell in love with travel.
Tell us about your most memorable July 4th experiences.
My most memorable July 4th experience has to be as a four-year-old. We would decorate our bikes with red, white and blue streamers and partake in the neighborhood parade. I also had a rather unusual July 4th experience in Florence, Italy several years ago. My sister flew down to visit me and we celebrated our nation’s independence by finding all of the American-looking snack food in Italy. Italian Cheetos are a far cry from the real thing, however!
What are a few little-known, last-minute spots to visit over the July 4th weekend?
Growing up in Colorado, most people head to the mountains for the 4th of July. As a result, I feel like Denver isn’t overly crowded for the 4th and there are loads of fireworks displays and events taking place. While New York, Washington D.C. and Boston will always be top July 4th destinations, travelers looking for a last minute destination should try smaller cities like Kansas City or Portland. You can still find good deals and not everything is all booked up for the holiday.
What types of places should travelers try to avoid?
I often steer clear of the biggest and largest fireworks displays along with large cities. While these events might have the largest displays, they can also be nightmares to park and enjoy amongst the crowds. Try seeking out July 4th events that are smaller in nature. I think that it’s hard to beat small towns with not much more than Main Street to parade down for a truly, all-American 4th of July experience.
What are your best tips for finding a prime location to watch fireworks?
Go near the country clubs! They always have amazing shows and virtually every city or town has dozens that you can find. I grew up down the street from a country club so we would always watch the show from our backyard, up close and personal.
When packing for Independence Day festivities, it can be easy to overdo it. What are your best packing tips for holiday weekend vacation-goers?
The easiest way to not over-pack is merely to set parameters for yourself with your bag. If you start out with a giant bag, you are going to fill it. If you pack a simple weekender bag, you will be forced to pare down in the packing department. And don’t forget to pack for the sun. Most July 4th activities are outdoors. You don’t want to wake up the next day looking the color of a red firecracker. You should never leave behind sunscreen and a hat.
What are five things travelers should remember when making a holiday trip?
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