Lenore Wilkas wasn't sure whether she should take a summer vacation.
But then the number of COVID-19 cases started to drop. And she got her vaccination. And then, she found some availability for her Marriott timeshare on Kauai. So she booked flights for early September.
"I feel safe going," says Wilkas, a real estate agent from Vista, California.
What will it take for you to take a summer vacation? Fewer COVID-19 cases? Cheap accommodations? A vaccination? It all depends.
"We’ve also recently seen an influx of travel deals offered by airlines, hotels and tour providers, with travelers taking advantage of price cuts and flexible booking," says Anna Gladman, CEO of World Nomads.
The bottom line: A lot of people want to go somewhere this summer.
“I think summer travel is going to explode," says Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, a provider of travel risk management services. "Much of the West will be approaching herd immunity, and people are going to want to travel."
What would make you feel safer?
Feeling safe can mean different things to different people. If you're concerned about another outbreak, it might mean a destination maintaining a lower level of COVID-19 infections. Or it could mean waiting for the State Department to lift its travel warnings.
For others, it means getting a vaccination. This card is the ultimate safety for travelers, according to Neville.
"If you're vaccinated, then there's not a lot to fear," he says.
Ask a professional
A competent travel adviser can help you sort through all questions about taking a summer vacation. Travel agents have had to become therapists during the pandemic, and this summer those skills will be even more in demand.
"The first thing I always ask someone during our initial consultation is if the thought of travel will cause them to feel overwhelmed or give them anxiety," says Maria Diego, owner of Diego Travel. "If their answer is yes, then I suggest they hold off on travel until they feel completely comfortable again. No one will enjoy a vacation with an overwhelming sense of anxiety."
A travel adviser can help guide you to a destination where you will feel less anxious.
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If you're still on the fence about taking a summer vacation, it's time to ask whether a trip is right. And not just right for you, but right for everyone else as well. If you're unvaccinated, the answer to the ethical question may be no.
Is it right to travel?
If you're still on the fence about taking a summer vacation, it's time to ask if a trip is right. And not just right for you, but right for everyone else as well.
"Travel is ethically OK only if you can reasonably believe that the advantage you gain from travel is not outweighed by the health risk you pose to yourself and others," says John Hooker, who teaches business ethics and social responsibility as well as operations research at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.
If you're unvaccinated, the answer to the ethical question may be no. Which is to say, you may endanger yourself and others by taking a vacation – especially if it's one of those maskless spring break romps we saw in Florida. But if you are vaccinated and you practice social distancing, a summer vacation might be right for you.
How practical is a summer vacation?
It may also be a practical question. Consider what happened to Jerry Flake and his wife. Last year, they had big plans for their summer vacation, with trips to South Korea, New Zealand and Hawaii. They had to cancel all of them.
The pandemic made them rethink their summer 2021 itinerary. In the hopes of going somewhere more cancellation-proof, the Flakes planned more modest trips to Colorado and Utah. They'll be taking a road trip and visiting national parks.
"I'm hoping others are as observant about health safety as we are," says Flake, a retired insurance company owner from Wilmington, North Carolina.
While domestic destinations may be popular this summer, they aren't your only choices. You can stay in this hemisphere and still have an international summer vacation, says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.
"While domestic travel may be the safest choice for some, countries such as Iceland are now waiving quarantines for those who are fully vaccinated," he says, though he notes that country does require all visitors to be tested upon arrival.
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So for some Americans, the answer to the question, "Should I take a summer vacation?" is yes.
"After a year and a half of isolation and social distancing, the industry will be open and ready to go," says Jon Grutzner, president of the tour operators Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. As more people get vaccinated, and as cases go down, he says people will become more confident and willing to travel again. "Things continue to evolve."
And for summer travelers, it's a good kind of evolution.
What to do before you go
Review the warnings and advisories. "An important checklist item for international travel is to review the current requirements for the country you're planning to visit," says Sherry Sutton, vice president of marketing at Travel Insured International. That includes travel advisories from the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control, as well as outside sources, such as those from the Canadian government. Read before booking.
Check your travel insurance. Each destination differs in how it chooses to respond to guidelines and limitations on travel, says Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners. "There's always a possibility that your travel plans may take an unexpected turn," he adds. He recommends reviewing your insurance to make sure it covers cancellations and interruptions. "Adding a travel insurance policy with an interruption for any reason benefit could be the perfect answer for those who are concerned about safety of summer travel," he says.
Be flexible. Patience is perhaps the most important thing to pack this summer. "While many destinations are delighted to have travelers return, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all hotels and resorts are staffed at normal levels," says Kate Sullivan, a travel adviser with Embark Beyond. "If the occasional service snafu drives you nuts, you might want to wait a bit."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Summer vacation 2021: Should you take a trip? Ask these questions