The good news: Vaccinations are rolling out fast and furiously. The bad news: Children can not be vaccinated yet, which makes summer planning a challenge. Here's what the experts think.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly changed most families' summer plans – and despite the growing number of Americans who have already received their vaccinations, coronavirus will also affect this year's summer plans.
How should parents handle a second pandemic summer? Will families continue to limit their travel plans and avoid interactions that may inadvertently spread COVID-19? We wanted to know what real parents actually did – so we asked and compiled a list of family summer vacation ideas.
"Less is more this summer," says Jaymi Torrez, parent blogger at The Salty Mamas. "It means we both reduce our plans and use our children's lowered expectations." Her 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son will visit vaccinated grandparents and spend a week in an outdoor camp.
"We feel it is safe enough to travel under controlled conditions," said Leo Young, founder and editor of OptimizedFamily and father of two boys, ages 6 and 8. “So no hotels, cramped malls, restaurants and beaches yet. But yes to visiting close relatives who have been vaccinated. A kind of hybrid mode between the old normal and the new.
What does this new standard mean for you and your family? Here's what we learned when we asked parents about their summer plans:
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Some families still choose stays
Quinn Cummings, a literary advocate and podcaster who blogs at Aidyn & # 39 ;s Books , will not be taking his family on vacation this year. "We are waiting for the vaccine to be fully distributed," she says.
Instead, Cummings plans a summer stay where her 7-year-old son will travel the world through books. "Children's books are pure magic and I plan to create experiences around well-chosen." As her son learns about world cultures and explores different perspectives through literature, Cummings will help him expand his knowledge and build memories through shared family activities – such as cooking recipes that are popular in the culture they are currently reading about. "It gives us a worldview without the plane ticket." Jen Bradley, mother of five children and founder of Jen Bradley | Moms, also chooses a stag cat this year instead of a traditional family vacation – and although vaccine distribution is one of the factors in her decision-making, she is also planning a home-summer to help her family achieve a personal financial goal. "This summer we will stay at home and wait for the coronavirus vaccine to spread more and save money to buy a motorhome."
Planning a low-key, low-cost summer is a way to get back on track after the stress of 2020 – especially if your family experienced downturns, layoffs or other financial sources. Many of us are rethinking and rebuilding our budgets after the pandemic, and a summer stay can be a way to help your family save money while taking some time to relax, recover and regroup for what may turn out to be a "back-to-normal" autumn.
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Some families plan to visit vaccinated relatives.
Instead of visiting an amusement park or water park, some families choose to take a family trip to visit relatives.According to the CDC, adults who are fully vaccinated can safely spend time with other adults who have also been fully vaccinated without having to wear masks or follow social distancing protocol – and many families plan to take full advantage of this public-
"We booked a lake house with my newly vaccinated mother and aunt," says Kristy Esparza, founder of JJ & The Bug and mother of 6-year-old and 3-year-old boys. "My husband has received his first shot, and I aim to get mine as soon as possible."
Jaymi Torrez also plans to take her children to her fully vaccinated grandparents – and spend a week hanging out at each of the grandparents' homes. "There will be more excitement than they have had throughout the year," Torrez says, "and a welcome break for all of us."
Cynthia Matthews von Berg, blogger at Sharing the Wander, plans a six-week trip. to see vaccinated relatives. “Grandparents will be vaccinated and we parents will be vaccinated at the end of May. My sister had her first child in January 2020, which my daughters have only met via FaceTime. A second baby arrives on July 1, so we end our drive in Los Angeles to finally meet two cousins that the pandemic has kept us away from.
Of course, you can not drive to a destination like Los Angeles without spending some time with people who may not have been vaccinated – so families like Matthews von Berg still take all the necessary precautions when traveling. “We will mask and socially distance ourselves as needed when we are with the family. As it gets hot, we expect many picnics and places we can eat out. The girls [ages 4 and 6] have been real troops who have kept their masks on so far, so I know I can trust them to help us all be safe.
Some families plan socially distant vacations
Families who took vacations last summer are already familiar with the coronavirus risk reduction routine: Choose sites that require minimal contact with others, such as campsites and national parks. Rent completely detached holiday homes, including Airbnbs, instead of booking a hotel. Drive instead of fly; pack meals instead of visiting restaurants; use as few public toilets as possible.
These guidelines are also likely to apply to this summer's travel plans – and many parents are already taking this into account.
"Last summer we planned two camping trips and a drive to Yosemite where we lived in a holiday home," Esparza said. “We kept to ourselves and brought all our food from our grocery stores. We aimed to do our best to move our cramped little family bubble to new environments with minimal changes in our interactions with others. "
This year, Esparza is planning another national park camp trip and a Utah road trip that she planned and canceled twice in 2020." All our reservations are flexible, and we are prepared to cancel for the third time per public health guide if needed. "
Some families are still waiting to make their plans  "My plans are the same as they were last year at this time", says Jeanne Visser, mother of 6-year-old twin girls and a 4-year-old boy. "Which is that I currently do not have a plan for the summer holidays."
Visser, who blogs at Have Twins First, wants to wait and see if cases of coronavirus decrease before making final summer plans – especially since her children, like most children, will not be vaccinated. (At the time of writing, vaccine providers such as Pfizer are beginning clinical trials for children to determine the correct vaccine dosage for children.)
"We definitely plan to visit grandparents this summer because all adults will be vaccinated then," Visser explains. "We will also be able to follow the current CDC guidelines where fully vaccinated families can visit a low – risk family that is not fully vaccinated."
Beyond that – yes, she will wait and see.
If you also take a wait-and-see strategy for your summer plans, you can be sure that you are not alone. There's a lot we still do not know about how this summer can play out, from vaccination efficacy to viral mutations – and parents can still have a lot of concerns about safety, both for their own family and for other families.
As Leo Young puts it: "We will continue to observe sensible social distancing in contact with strangers or cramped spaces and take hygiene measures until we can be sure that children are not at risk."
Sounds like a reasonable – and realistic – summer plan.
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