The weather is getting warmer as we inch toward the end of a (very weird) school year. That means it is time to start thinking about summer break! If you’ve been following my posts, you know that my family and I have been on the road since September, taking advantage of virtual school to create our own nationwide #2021LemonadeTour. As our journey comes to a close, I’d like to share with you some of my experiences and tips for summer travel in 2021:
- Drive or fly? In 2020, gas prices were super low because, thanks to the pandemic, people simply weren’t driving as much. Now that COVID numbers are decreasing and folks are getting back on the road again, supply and demand dictates that we’ll be paying more at the pump—which is something to keep in mind when planning your summer travel in 2021. By that same token, airfares dropped by as much as 25% last year during the pandemic, and airlines have yet to return to full pricing policies. If you are comfortable traveling through an airport and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, flying *might* be more economical than driving this summer, especially since many airlines still have relaxed cancelation policies. Just be sure to do your homework and read the fine print before booking. The same goes for vacation rentals, which brings me to…
- Hotel or AirB&B? We are big fans of home rentals, whether on AirB&B or VRBO. Being able to prepare our own meals and having an entire (sanitized!) place to ourselves pretty much always beats sharing public elevators and crowded breakfast spaces with strangers—no matter how much they Lysol the rooms. That being said, I wouldn’t automatically rule out a hotel during your summer travel in 2021. There are more sanitation requirements in place than ever before, and you can get a really good deal on a hotel suite—maybe even one with multiple bedrooms and/or a full kitchen. At the end of the day, when you factor in the additional cleaning/service fees, taxes, and owners’ charges, etc., you might actually pay less for a hotel room with all the comforts of home. (We spent almost a week in Texas at one of the Home2Suites by Hilton, complete with microwave, dishwasher, and garbage disposal.) Be aware: Many hotels have eliminated or greatly reduced breakfast options and room service during the pandemic. Lots of pools and hot tubs were closed; gym use was by reservation only. If you do choose to book a hotel for more than just a night or two, you might want to consider registering for a rewards program (Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, etc.) for special offers and members-only deals.
- Do your homework: No matter where you plan to roam, summer travel in 2021 is still going to look very different than in years past. Many restaurants and attractions are not yet operating at full capacity, which means the real hot spots are going to fill quickly. Start planning weeks or even months in advance if there are any “must-dos” on your travel list, and be ready to put down a credit card number and deposit on a reservation at a popular restaurant. (Some charge $40 or more for no-shows.)
- Pack your mask: The most fashion-forward trend for summer travel in 2021 remains the oh-so-stylish face-covering—even in states that have rescinded their formal mask mandates. In Florida, for instance, there is no statewide mandate but some large counties require masks in public. Further, if you go to the Disney parks or Universal Studios, you will be expected to bring a mask and will also have your temperature checked at the entrance. That being said…
- Arrive early: Be sure, also, to allow extra travel time this summer due to ongoing COVID precautions. Theme parks and large attractions with parking shuttle services may have limitations on the number of passengers they can take at one time, so you might be waiting longer than you think for a ride.
- Do a dining download: Most of the restaurants we visited have done away with paper menus. Instead, you’ll be asked to scan a QR code with your phone camera to download a digital menu—not a big deal, if your QR scanner is working. (Mine quit on me!)
- Get outside and enjoy the ride: If this last year has taught us anything, it’s that the future is completely uncertain. If you have an opportunity to make memories with your family, whether at home or during summertime travel, take it! Our favorite adventures have been in the great outdoors—hiking, rafting, kayaking, and bicycling. Plenty of fresh air and opportunities for social distancing; wonderful memories abound. Be smart, be safe, and enjoy the journey!
Where is your family going this summer, and what tips would you add? Please tell us in the comments!
Don’t forget about Summer Camp! Find the perfect one for your kids here!