Summer’s almost here! But what does that even mean this year?

Making plans when everything’s in flux.

It’s getting to be that time of year when warm temperatures and the end of school usually equal summer fun. And boy, we could all use a few carefree months right about now.

But, alas, it feels hard to plan for tomorrow, much less two weeks or two months from now. That said, some states are slowly re-opening and easing travel restrictions. So what should you do about various summer activities or travel you’d like to put on the calendar? How can you minimize stress and enjoy the moment, while being smart about your budget and your health?

Here are few things to keep in mind…

Thinking local-ish makes a lot of sense

If your main goal is to get out of your house, this can be accomplished without going very far (plus, it’s great to support your local economy). Are there some cool day-trips you’ve been meaning to take forever? Or is there a small inn or rental property nearby that is accepting reservations? Alternatively, maybe you’ve always thought the idea of renting an RV or boat might be fun? Now’s the time!

Thinking local is also the easiest thing to do right now. You’re probably best-informed about the constantly shifting rules and regulations that apply to your own county/state/region—and if you can get somewhere by car, you’ll be a lot more nimble if you need or want to change plans at the last minute.

Socially distanced activities for the win!

Do you and/or your family enjoy camping? Fishing? Biking? Outdoorsy activities like these are a fantastic option this summer. And, if you feel comfortable socializing with friends or other relatives, maybe you can invite them to participate.

Send your kid(s) to online camp

Do you have kid(s) who were planning to attend in-person camps this summer—either close to home or far away? And were those cancelled? Well, nothing can fully replace the in-person experience, but more and more virtual “camps” and multi-day learning opportunities are popping up online for the coming months. One popular platform is Outschool, which offers a wide variety of options.  Famed Chicago-based comedy troupe The Second City is even offering Comedy Camps for kids and teens.

If you’re making more ambitious travel plans, can you cancel without penalty?

The reality is that there are still many unknowns about this summer—what will be open, what won’t be open, whether there will be new waves of COVID-19 outbreaks in certain areas, etc. But if you’re feeling bold and want to plan an out-of-town trip, read the fine print (twice!) on any sort of transportation, accommodation, or other travel plans you’re looking to book.

For instance, Travelzoo’s weekly Top 20 has recently been highlighting deals with "no penalty for cancelling," "no change fee," etc.  These are common right now, as the travel industry is desperate for business. But just make sure what your rights are if things change for yourself or at your destination.

Pack smart

Whatever you’re doing, pack smart if you’re hitting the road. Of course it makes sense to bring hand sanitizer, masks, and any cleaners you may want to use especially if you’ll be using any kind of mass transit, staying over at a hotel, etc. You might also bring a thermometer. Also, if you can plan ahead and bring extra supplies, you’ll avoid extra trips to stores while you’re out of town.

Be prepared for the unexpected

This is always good advice but especially now. Recognize that things you expect to be open could close at a moment’s notice. And know that any plans you make are subject to change. This summer is going to be about balancing risks and enjoyment. We’re hoping for, and wishing you, a lot of the latter!

For the latest CDC travel-related advisories and other useful information, visit here.

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