How to Plan a COVID-Safe Summer Vacation in 2022

covid travel summer

Verywell Health /Danie Drankwalter

Key Takeaways

  • Experts say it’s safe to travel this summer as long as you plan ahead and take precautions to protect yourself against COVID-19.
  • If you have young children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, you’ll need to take extra steps for COVID-19 safety.
  • Many countries are lifting vaccination mandates for travelers, but check before traveling internationally. Remember that a negative COVID-19 test is required for everyone flying into the United States.

With the kids getting out of school, many families are ready to embark on the long-awaited summer vacations. Most pandemic travel restrictions have been lifted despite increasing COVID-19 cases.

Here’s what you should know about traveling this summer, including logistics and tips to stay safe.

Travel and Vaccination Status

COVID-19 cases are rising again due to a surge in Omicron infections. In the second half of May, an average of 100,000 daily cases were recorded, up from 40,000 in April, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, hospitalization and death rates remain low.

Most of the previously mandated COVID rules are still lifted, and people are free to travel without wearing a mask or showing their proof of vaccination.

But vaccination status—especially among young kids—remains a top concern. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to authorize a COVID vaccine for children younger than 5, leaving mixed emotions for parents traveling with unvaccinated infants and children.

“I’m hesitant to fly with my infant son, especially now that masks are not required,” Melissa Larkin, a parent to three children, including a six-month-old, told Verywell. “I don’t want to risk a COVID exposure while he is this young. We will stick to outdoor activities this summer.”

While some parents are worried about their family’s vaccination status, others are not too concerned about traveling this summer.

“I’m not letting COVID affect our summer plans,” Donna Reese, a grandmother to five children under the age of 10, told Verywell. “Our kids are unvaccinated and we are not worried about the delay in vaccines. Many have had COVID and it was so mild that we didn’t even know they were ill.”

For parents traveling with unvaccinated children, planning ahead and choosing a destination with low to moderate COVID transmission rates is key.

Vacation Planning Tips

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning a family vacation this summer:

  • Consider your unvaccinated child’s risk factors including health conditions that put them at high risk for severe illness if they get COVID
  • Avoid places that are having a surge in COVID cases (you can check the CDC data tracker)
  • Plan activities that allow for social distancing 
  • Stay in rental properties instead of crowded hotels

To Fly or Not to Fly

Since the CDC mask mandate was thrown out by the court in April, people are no longer required to wear face masks on planes or public transit, except in certain places like New York City.

While passengers can decide what's best for them, a previously built-in safety measure for air travelers is no longer there. Some travelers celebrated the removal of mask mandates, but others may be less comfortable with flying.

Currently, major airlines also do not require proof of vaccination for people traveling domestically. Many countries, including New Zealand and Australia, are reopening their borders to U.S. citizens but may require proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test.

The CDC strongly recommends full vaccination before traveling, especially internationally. All people flying into the U.S., including U.S. citizens, will be required to show a negative COVID test result before boarding a U.S.-bound flight. Purchasing a COVID travel insurance policy may help offset some additional costs if you do end up having to postpone your return trip due to COVID-19.

Tips for Planning a Flight

To keep your family safe while flying both internationally and in the U.S., experts recommend that you:

  • Make sure you are up-to-date with your COVID vaccines before traveling
  • Check your destination’s COVID restrictions and follow all local governments policies
  • Wear a mask indoors, on public transportation, and in crowded areas
  • Check if your airline requires any COVID testing or proof of vaccination
  • Do not travel if you have COVID symptoms or tested positive for COVID

Is It Safe to Cruise?

With updated COVID guidelines, many cruise ships are setting sail once again.

If you are planning on taking a cruise this summer, be mindful of safety precautions. COVID and other infectious diseases can easily spread among people in close quarters.

If you test positive for COVID or develop symptoms while onboard, you will have to be isolated according to the cruise line and public health protocols.

After your cruise, it is recommended to get a COVID test as a precaution three to five days after returning regardless of your vaccination status.

Tips for Planning a Cruise

To keep cruise passengers safe, the CDC recommends taking these steps before setting sail:

  • Make sure you are current on COVID vaccines
  • Check the cruise ship’s case rate and color status using the CDC’s webpage
  • Take a COVID viral test no more than three days before departure
  • Understand your cruise line’s COVID requirements
  • Purchase travel insurance in case your plans change
  • Wear a mask on public transportation and in large crowds

When to Cancel a Trip

You may plan the perfect vacation only to end up canceling because someone gets sick. While postponing a long-awaited trip can be disappointing and inconvenient, there are times when it is unsafe to travel.

The CDC recommends holding off on travel under the following circumstances:

What This Means For You

Being fully vaccinated is the best way to stay safe during travel this summer. You should avoid visiting destinations that have high COVID case counts. You can also take a rapid test three to five days after returning from your trip to make sure you haven't been infected.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in Number of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in the US Reported to CDC, by State/Territory.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the US reported to CDC, by state/territory.

  3. Food and Drug Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA announces tentative advisory committee meeting schedule regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

  4. Connecticut Children’s. If everyone but your child has their COVID-19 vaccine, is summer travel safe for your family?

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Order: Wearing of face masks while on conveyances and at transportation hubs.

  6. New York Times. I’m a U.S. citizen. where in the world can I go?

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestic travel during COVID-19.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cruise ship travel during COVID-19.

By Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN
Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN, is a registered nurse with over six years of patient experience. She is a credentialed school nurse in California.