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Samantha Brown's summer travel tips

Kristin Bustamante is a writer and editor who loves her craft. When she's not hunkered down at her computer, she's playing with her family, enjoying the outdoors or experimenting in the kitchen.

Vacation tips from Sam

The U.S. is home to 384 national parks and monuments. That's a lot of vacation options! Luckily, travel expert Samantha Brown, star of her own show on the Travel Channel, is sharing her vacation tips for a trip to the country's national parks and monuments this summer.

Family at Yellowstone

Sam says …

1Plan ahead.

Call the park in advance and see what type of educational or reading material is available on site. Are audio or guided tours available? If offerings are limited, you might want to prepare a bit to get the most out of the experience. Try crowdsourcing online for information and tips, or bring along a library book for reference.

2Make it fun.

Traveling with kids? Look for ways to make it engaging. Create a fun quiz for your kids to complete on the ride home and test them on all of the interesting things they learned. Reward them with small gift-shop mementos as prizes. Summer is a great time for hands-on learning outside the classroom.

3Dress the Part.

To fully immerse yourself in the outdoors, you have to be willing to get dirty. Swap out the flip-flops for sturdy walking or hiking shoes, and be prepared for changes in weather. A light windbreaker is always good to throw in your backpack; temperatures can shift quickly shift at some parks, depending on altitude.

4Make a snack attack.

Staying hydrated and well-fueled is important for any outdoor activity. I like to pack a variety of snacks, and a personal favorite is granola bars. They're easy to stash in a backpack or suitcase, and you can dress them up by layering them with peanut butter, raisins or other dried fruits.

5Get involved.

Eager to make a difference this summer? Many national parks offer volunteer opportunities for locals to get involved -- be it helping to restore plant life or participating in a cleanup event. Visit PreserveTheParks.com for ideas on how you can make a difference this summer.

Start planning

10 U.S. national parks you need to visit
Guide to visiting national parks with kids
20 Must-see national parks

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