Family splashing on dock (Photo: Shutterstock)
Photo: Shutterstock

What Will Summer Vacation Actually Look Like This Year?

Much of the country—even the world—has either begun “reopening” or plans to do so in the next few weeks. If you’ve been itching to take that summer or fall vacation, you’ll have your opportunity. But don’t get ahead of yourself: COVID-19 has not gone away, and most reopenings do not look anything like the pre-coronavirus normal.

The ‘Safe’ Summer Vacation Choice

Many folks in the travel industry are saying that a “safe” road trip in the U.S. is the least risky choice for a family vacation this summer. They may be right. Before you hop in the car, though, be sure to check local restrictions in any state you plan to visit.

Although a majority of U.S. states have re-opened to some degree, restrictions and limitations continue to apply. For travelers, the easiest-to-understand resource for current information comes from the travel site Kayak, which is maintaining a state-by-state rundown of current conditions updated every few days. Although it isn’t official, it’s an easy way to get an overview when planning your itinerary.

Monitoring Major Attractions in the U.S.

Of course, you should check the reopening status of any major attraction you’d like to visit. The National Park Service maintains a page with links to each individual park. Beyond that, I haven’t come across any nationwide compilation of the status of major commercial and government attractions. You just have to head to each organization’s website.

You can also find regional tabulations published by local media; just do a search for each area. The problem, however, is that many that are currently closed do not specify a reopening date.

International Vacations in Summer

If you’re thinking about an international trip—driving to Canada or flying to Asia or Europe—start with the State Department’s special COVID-19 country-by-country information page. Kayak also posts worldwide restrictions summaries.

Note that as of May 26, Canada remains totally closed to US visitors, and the U.K. just established a 14-day self-quarantine requirement for international visitors. The prospect of international travel is getting better, but the end is still nowhere in sight.

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Ed Perkins
Ed Perkins is a longtime consumer advocate and reporter. He spent 25 years in travel research and consulting and was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter. He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004). He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union. Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America,” "The CBS Evening News," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.