Planning a 2021 Summer Vacation? Here's Your Post-COVID Peace of Mind Travel Checklist

Planning a 2021 Summer Vacation? Here's Your Post-COVID Peace of Mind Travel Checklist

WATCH NOW: Solv It! Keeping kids healthy in the face of COVID and the Delta variant

UPDATE: As of July 17, 2021, the latest CDC guidance on masking for fully vaccinated individuals is as follows, particularly with the prevalence of the Delta variant:

  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces if you are in an area of potentially higher transmission
  • Wear a mask if you have a weakened immune system or you are at increased risk for severe disease.
  • Wear a mask if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
  • Wear a mask when required by local regulations, including business and workplace guidance.

It’s summer vacay time! Finally, you can leave your house, your Zoom calls, and distance learning behind, roll down the windows, and take a deep breath of much-needed freedom.

But as much as we'd like to go full wild-abandon on summer 2021 travel, we still need to exercise some degree of COVID-caution, especially because children under 12 aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated. What should you do before, during, and after your trip to stay safe? We put together this guide so you can enjoy a worry-free trip.

First off, is it safe to travel this summer?

Most experts agree that travel for those fully vaccinated is generally safe, provided local guidelines are followed. The CDC has given its blessing, and the vaccines have proven to be highly effective against COVID. 

Still, wearing a mask and social-distancing indoors is smart, especially if you’re traveling with children. “Though it’s rare that younger children get sick from COVID—and even more rare that they’re hospitalized—we still don’t know everything about this virus, and what the long term consequences are of getting infected with COVID,” says Dr. Rob Rohatsch, Solv’s Chief Medical Officer.

If you’re not vaccinated, traveling still isn’t a great idea. It’s easy to find a vaccination appointment with Solv and you should. We want you to be able to get back out there!

Where can you travel during COVID?

Outdoor Destinations

“Things out in the open air—like camping, beaches, and hiking—are your safest bets,” says Dr. Rohatsch. “National and State Parks across the country are open and are a great place to avoid the crowds and get away.”

A few hour road trip is the safest mode of COVID-travel, but be sure to reserve your rental cars and RVs early—as you might imagine, a lot of people have the same idea.

Domestic Travel

You can travel domestically, but first check the COVID numbers and vaccination rate at your destination. It’s a good idea to avoid hot spots when traveling with younger kids. The CDC has a tracker and great domestic travel planner tool.

It’s okay to fly if you’re vaccinated and mask up. “Just keep in mind that if you’re traveling by plane, you’ll be wearing a mask the entire time. That may make longer treks a bit uncomfortable, especially for the kiddos,” says Dr. Rohatsch.

As of now, there are no significant restrictions based on vaccination status or requirement for recent COVID testing. However, for unvaccinated individuals, the CDC recommends getting tested 1-3 days prior to your trip and 3-5 days after travel. Additionally, the CDC states it is necessary to self-quarantine for 7 days, even with a negative test. If you choose not to get tested upon return, self quarantine for 10 days. As you can see, not being vaccinated restricts how you travel, even domestically.

International Travel

Traveling abroad is doable, but a bit more complicated. While more than half of the world’s countries are now open for tourists, the U.S. requires proof of a negative COVID test no more than three days before you fly home. Additional protocol (like quarantines upon arrival) may also be required at your destination. The International Air Transport Association and the U.S. State Department have continually updated country-specific Covid travel information.

Before you travel this summer

There’s a fair amount of legwork to be done before you hit the road, but it’ll all be worth it so you can relax on your trip. Here’s a checklist:

  1. Get vaccinated! It’s easy to find a vaccine appointment through Solv. You’ll be most protected if you travel at least two weeks after your second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  2. If you’re unvaccinated, get tested 1-3 days before your trip and set up a testing appointment for 3-5 days after your return.
  3. Research up-to-date COVID activity at your destination using the CDC planner tool for domestic trips, and the State Department’s website for international trips.
  4. If you’re traveling internationally, set up COVID tests no more than three days before you board your return flight. You’ll need negative results to get back into the country.
  5. Make reservations well ahead of time, especially for car rentals, which are in high demand. Many attractions also require advance bookings during COVID.
  6. Pack those vaccination cards. Keep them protected in something like this or this. Also on your COVID packing list: Masks (plus backups, especially for the kids), hand sanitizer (TSA now allows 12 oz in your carry on bag), antibacterial wipes, a clean travel towel for drying hands, and a thermometer
  7. Get Ubers or Lyfts to the airport farther in advance than normal and plan for potential fare hikes due to heavier traveler volume.
  8. Allow extra time at the airport—tons of people are now traveling so long check-in and TSA lines may slow things down.

During your summer 2021 trip

A lot of restrictions have eased up, but still, err on the side of caution for your safety and peace of mind.

  1. Mask up in the airport and on the plane, it’s required. You should also wear a mask on public transportation and in any space that’s crowded.
  2. Wipe down your seating area (airplane tray tables are especially grimey) and ventilate as much as possible.
  3. Avoid crowded indoor activities with poor ventilation. “Things like crowded stores, concerts, or movie theaters can still be risky, especially if you’re traveling with children under 12,” says Dr. Rohatsch.
  4. Dine outside whenever possible.
  5. If you’re feeling sick, don’t panic. You can book a same-day virtual appointment through Solv to talk through your symptoms and get medical care if needed.
  6. If you’re international, get a COVID test no more than 3 days before your return flight.
  7. Remember, this is a stressful time and we are all in this together. Patience and good manners go a long way.
  8. Enjoy yourself!

After you get back from your summer vacation

  1. It’s not required, but to assuage any worries, get a COVID test 3-5 days after you return, particularly if you are unvaccinated.
  2. Unvaccinated people should plan to quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  3. If you’re feeling sick, Solv’s got you. Just book a same-day telemedicine appointment and we’ll help you figure out next steps.
  4. Share your fun vacation pics!

Summer vacations in 2021 may look a little different than years past, but that’s no reason not to get out and enjoy yourself. With some advance planning and a few precautions, you can have a stress-free trip. So go enjoy that beachfront cocktail, you deserve it.

2021 Summer Travel FAQ

Is it safe to travel this summer?

According to the CDC, it is generally low risk to travel this summer if you’re vaccinated. If you’re traveling with children under 12, who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine, wear masks, socially distance, and avoid crowded indoor spaces.

Where can Americans travel in 2021?

Many places are now open for travelers, but COVID activity varies from country to country. Check the CDC and the U.S. State Department for country-specific information, including COVID-related entry requirements.

Are masks required on airplanes and in airports?

Yes. TSA just extended its mask mandate through September 13. So while mask requirements may be easing up elsewhere, you still have to wear them on planes and at the airport.

Do I need a vaccine to travel internationally?

It depends where you’re going. Some countries require proof of a vaccine for entry. If you’re traveling internationally, the CDC recommends that you complete your full vaccination series at least two weeks before your trip.

Where can I get a COVID test before traveling?

It’s easy. You can make an appointment to get tested at a nearby location via Solv.

Where can I get a COVID test before traveling?

It’s easy. You can make an appointment to get tested at a nearby location via Solv.

Find COVID Testing location near you

Find COVID Vaccination sites near you

The content provided here and elsewhere on the Solv Health site or mobile app is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as, and Solv Health, Inc. does not provide, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always contact your healthcare provider directly with any questions you may have regarding your health or specific medical advice. For current information from the CDC, please visit

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