REDMOND, Wash. —June 27, 2011 —With summer vacation season upon us, many Americans are searching for vacations that will excite the imagination but won’t max out the credit card. Answer? Road trip! Microsoft Streets & Trips and Jamie Jensen, author of “Road Trip USA,” are encouraging everyone to hop on board, turn the key and visit some of the country’s great national parks. Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier are some of the names that come to mind when people think about national parks — yet dozens more offer rich wildlife and stunning scenery. More than 280 million people visited national parks last year and, best of all, many parks are within a day’s drive of most metropolitan areas. Planning a road trip to a nearby national park is a great way to stretch the summer vacation budget and create a one-of-a-kind adventure that the entire family will enjoy and remember.
“Being open to the unexpected, serendipitous encounter is what makes a road trip a memorable experience, instead of just another long drive,” Jensen said. “Visiting a national park in your own backyard this summer is not only a budget-friendly way to vacation, but the national parks are packed with the unexpected, and they make for a great destination that will please everyone in the car.”
It’s Not Just a Drive, It’s an Adventure
To generate excitement among vacationers and help them prepare for their own adventures to the national parks, Microsoft Streets & Trips is hosting Cruisin’ the National Parks Trivia Sweepstakes. All questions will be based on the national parks, and participants will have a chance to win Visa gift cards. The contest starts June 27, 2011, and runs through Labor Day with a new trivia question posted every Tuesday. Those interested can visit http://www.microsoft.com/streets/explore to review full Official Rules and join in on the fun. From there, travelers can go to the Streets & Trips Facebook page to share their stories and photos from the road. For every person who likes the Streets & Trips Facebook page, Microsoft Corp. will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation.1
Best Tips for Hitting the Road
After traveling more than 400,000 miles, Jensen has volumes of road trip tips to help travelers make the most of their time at some of America’s most beautiful attractions. Before hitting the road, Jensen recommends using trip-planning software, such as Microsoft Streets & Trips, to plan the trip. Before even leaving home, the whole family can take part in planning the trip to help provide an enjoyable ride for everyone involved. Travelers can calculate mileage, fuel costs and arrival times — a perfect way for families to stay on top of expenses this summer. Once on the road, travelers can use Streets & Trips on their laptop — without an Internet connection — for stops such as ATMs, gas stations, casinos and wineries.
Jensen also recommends the following cost-saving tips to help travelers keep their vacation budgets in check this summer:
Slow down and save. The slower you drive, the safer you are. Besides giving you more time to appreciate your surroundings, obeying speed limits and taking it easy on the accelerator can also help stretch those precious gallons of gas in your fuel tank.
Close the windows, crank the air conditioning. It makes sense that driving slowly and steadily will improve your gas mileage, but it may surprise you to know that driving with the air conditioner on is more economical than rolling down the windows to keep cool. Open windows increase drag, making your engine work harder and burning more fuel.
Be safe. Before you hit the road, give your car a full safety check — oil, brakes, washer fluids, spare tires, everything. Even little things are worth fixing. Also, remember to pull together an emergency kit, with first-aid supplies, plastic jugs of drinking water, a blanket, a flashlight and maybe an extra, fully charged cellphone, just in case.
Consider camping. There’s no easier and cheaper way to get away from it all than to go camping. Well-maintained campgrounds in beautiful settings in the national parks cost only a few dollars a night. Besides saving hundreds of dollars on hotels, you can save even more because you usually cook your own food when camping.
Share the ride. You can cut your driving costs in half, or better, by sharing the expenses with another driver. Traveling with a friend or extended family member may also increase your fun. Inviting a grandparent or older friend along can have many advantages, including an unexpected one: People older than 62 or anyone with a disability, plus as many as three adults traveling with them, are admitted for free to all the national parks.
Microsoft Streets & Trips is available for an estimated retail price of $39.95.2 Consumers can give Streets & Trips a test drive by downloading a free 60-day trial version at http://www.microsoft.com/streets/explore.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
1 Up to $5,000.
2 Estimated retail price. Actual retail price may vary.
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