How to Responsibly Travel This Summer Amid COVID-19

·3 min read
woman wearing face mask on ariplane
woman wearing face mask on ariplane

Waves crashing on the shore, sunsets by the pier, shops abuzz with tourists, and camera rolls full of good times are all things we have missed in summer travel. Excursions—both near and far—over the past year have been complicated if not entirely non-existent for most people. However, with more and more Americans receiving their COVID-19 vaccine cards, travel this summer looks far more promising.

According to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fully-vaccinated Americans can now travel without having to quarantine or test for COVID-19 as long as they follow rules outlined by local jurisdictions. However, with many of us still uncertain and perhaps a little hesitant about how to travel this summer, we tapped two experts—Pavia Rosati, founder of travel website Fathom and co-author of Travel North America (And Avoid Being a Tourist)?, and Dr. Vino K. Palli, emergency physician and CEO of MiDoctor Urgent Care—to weigh in on the topic of traveling responsibly this summer.

Related: 12 Ways the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Change How We Travel, According to Industry Experts

Get vaccinated.

Before you pack your favorite swimsuit, Dr. Palli recommends getting your COVID-19 vaccine before traveling anywhere or, as a backup plan, get tested before you hit the road: "Best ticket you can buy this summer is a vaccination ticket! The best part of it—it's free." For instance, if you live in New York state, Dr. Palli elaborates, "Many big events require vaccination card or negative COVID test. If you are vaccinated, go to Excelsior's website and register your vaccine. Or take a picture of your vaccination card and it's always on your phone." It's worth noting that the CDC still discourages non-essential travel for Americans who are not fully vaccinated.

Abide by local and out-of-state regulations.

When in possession of a vaccine card, the next step in planning as a responsible traveler is all about patience and respect. Rosati emphasizes, "Responsible travel this summer will be all about respect, consideration, and flexibility." Educating yourself on the state of the pandemic in the destination of your planned trip is acting responsibly—that means keeping a watchful eye on the rate of infection, rise and fall of case numbers, as well as color-coded tiers that signal coronavirus restrictions.

Travelers need to "first and foremost, respect for the practices and regulations in the places we visit," continues Rosati. "Because the pandemic is getting both better and worse depending on where you are, whether in the United States or around the world, the rules in the places you go may not be the same in the place you came from." Understanding the pandemic guidelines prior to arrival is key in enjoying a safe summer. "If you are flying internationally, you may still need a negative PCR test," says Dr. Palli. "Check with airlines! Always follow local public health precautions like washing hands and wearing masks when you are with folks that are not vaccinated."

When in doubt, get tested and self-quarantine.

Of course, the utmost responsibility of any traveler is to stay home if you're feeling unwell or getting tested and self-isolating in your room if you're already at your destination. Finally, the last step in traveling responsibly is to be a flexible tourist. Rosati informs that many of your bucket list spots may still be closed or operate on restricted hours. "If you can't do that thing you had your heart set on, ask a local for an alternative recommendation and above all, don't let it ruin your mood. After all, your unexpected plan B may turn into the highlight of your vacation."