How To Plan A 2021 Vacation

Travel today looks different than it used to, so here are some tips to plan a trip this year.

After more than a year of dealing with a global pandemic, many people are anxious to enjoy some type of vacation this summer or fall.

Travel is definitely more doable these days, but it’s still not quite the same as it used to be. It’s recommended that you be fully vaccinated before you travel, but it is not a requirement. Even if you are vaccinated, there are still people who are not. Pandemic-related recommendations seem to change daily and there is uncertainty about virus surges and variants in different parts of the world. This can all make planning a trip different than what you’re used to doing.

When you’re ready to hit the open road or fly the friendly skies, keep the tips below in mind when planning a vacation this year.

Enjoy an outdoor adventure

Even as restrictions ease across the U.S. and in other parts of the world, staying away from crowds as much as possible isn’t a bad idea. Summer and early fall are great times to travel because the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities and adventures. Skip the sightseeing tours in busy cities and instead opt for a trip that keeps you and your family outdoors, enjoying nature and being physically active – and away from crowds – such as:

  • A road trip, camping along the way or renting an RV
  • A mountain backpacking adventure
  • A secluded lakefront cabin or beachside cottage

Research, research, research

Now is not the time to pile in the car to see where the road takes you. And you won’t be flying somewhere with the intent of “just exploring.” It’s important to research and plan every step these days. This is true whether you’re travelling within the U.S. or abroad. Check current restrictions at your destination and verify them right before you go in case they’ve changed.

  • Do you need a vaccine passport or other documentation?
  • Do you have to show proof of a negative COVID test?
  • Do you have to quarantine?
  • What are restrictions like at your destination?

Make reservations

Yes, you probably do need them. And even if they’re not required, they’re definitely a good idea. Call ahead or go online to schedule, verify before your trip and bring confirmations with you.

  • Accommodations: Not just hotels and vacation rentals, but also campsites.
  • Car rentals: There’s a shortage of rental cars because many companies sold off parts of their inventory during the pandemic, so cars are harder to find.
  • Activities: Many tourist attractions and guided tours may still be operating at limited capacity and on a reservation basis (with staggered entry times), so you can’t just drop in.
  • Restaurants: Reserve a table, preferably outside, at places you know you want to eat. Occupancy restrictions vary by location so seating may be limited.

Protect your investment

Since this virus has shown it can be unpredictable, know what to expect if you have to cancel or change your trip for any reason.

  • Be mindful of airline change fees and refund policies
  • Verify hotel cancellation and refund policies
  • Find out if you can get a refund for pre-paid activities
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance


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Date Last Reviewed: April 16, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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