Advice for Summer Travel – The New York Times

Our Tripped Up columnist shares tips and approaches.
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The summer travel season is about to start — and this year things look radically different.
Restrictions in tourist hot spots are loosening, mask rules on flights are changing, and more people are making travel plans — even as cases start to tick up again in the U.S.
For advice, I turned to Seth Kugel, who just started writing The Times’s Tripped Up column, where he answers readers’ travel questions and tries to resolve their disasters.
How should we approach travel this summer?
Many people have been revving up to travel for the first time in a few years, and their expectations for how life-changing and perfect their trip is going to be are probably way too high.
There’s an Instagram and TikTok trend in which a person is in an airport or at home, and they put their hand or foot in front of the camera, remove it, and they’re suddenly relaxing on the beach or at the Eiffel Tower. And I just want to take that trend and rip it out of that Instagram algorithm because it ignores the hard part of travel. You don’t just snap your fingers and end up on the beach.
If you’ve been traveling throughout the pandemic, you’re used to an alternate universe of travel where flights are empty, prices are cheap, and everybody is doing everything they can to get your tourist dollars. That world is definitely over.
People need to remember that vacations are tiring, weather is unpredictable, and lines can be long. During the summer, everyone is back out traveling, and there’s just no way your trip is going to be exactly as you fantasized. So be ready for that.
What specific advice do you have?
I recently got an interesting letter from a reader who said that there were literally no car rentals available in Halifax in Canada in August. We’re back to “normal” in a lot of ways, but things are still a little wacky out there. Keep in mind that the industry and supply and demand are still in flux.
It’s also always important to figure out what kind of health insurance you need when you travel. Obviously, now it’s even more important since you might get Covid. Private insurers usually provide emergency coverage, whereas Medicare usually does not. If you are covered, you should know what documentation you’ll need if you have to go to the hospital, and you should also have a credit card that you can hand over, as you’ll most likely have to pay up front.
Any other tips?
Everyone at Expedia will read this and curse, but that doesn’t stop it from being true: Book direct with the hotel and book direct with the airline — it’s potentially much easier to make changes that way, if you need to. If you find a great deal through another site and can’t replicate that directly, it’s OK to book it, but be aware that you’re adding a little bit of risk to your vacation.
People also try to fit too much into their day. If you’re planning a seven-day trip, think of it as a five-day trip, because you’re bound to experience delays. Make a list of things you’d ideally like to do, but be ready to change plans if something better comes along.
What about masking on planes?
I still recommend an N95 mask for travel. But you should also keep in mind that things are changing. I just took a flight from St. Louis to New York, and the pilot said something like, “Federal regulations no longer require you to use a mask. Please respect your fellow travelers’ choices.”
Everyone who has been pro-mask has been snidely commenting on the people who don’t wear masks for a long time, and vice versa. This pilot was saying: That’s over now.
There are fewer and fewer people who are masked on flights, and that’s just going to be the price of travel. People around you are going to be eating. They may be coughing, and you just can’t get mad at them. It’s no longer fair to do that, and it could ruin your own trip. Don’t travel if you are going to go crazy when other people don’t wear masks.
Everyone has to respect other people’s decisions for now. That’s good practice for travel anyway. When you travel, you can’t be as judgmental.
If you have travel questions that you’d like Seth to answer in his column, you can send them to
We asked readers what travel this summer meant to them, and how they were approaching it. Thanks to everyone who wrote in.
“The building excitement toward the first day of June is the same giddiness I felt when I was a child during summer vacation. Summer 2022 to me is exploration, having fun, smiles and laughter, and it’s letting out this deep breath I’ve been holding in for the past two years.” — Julian Lak, New York, N.Y.
“I am cautiously setting the date of July 2 for my unmasking. I will be leaving for summer camp for a month that day, and I don’t want to wear a mask at camp. Since I just got Covid (two days ago), I’m confident that my immunity plus the vaccine and a booster will be enough to keep away Covid for a while, at least for camp, if not for the foreseeable unmasked future.” — Atticus Howard-Recht, age 14, Brooklyn, N.Y.
“More of the same: masking indoors, avoiding crowds, only doing small outdoor gatherings. My almost 2-year-old (born during the pandemic) still can’t be vaccinated, and given all the ups and downs of both Covid and the under-5 vaccines, I’m not holding my breath that this summer will be much different.” — Erica, Alexandria, Va.
“Last week, finally, I began to date again! I feel more alive, ready for the enjoyment of in-person, real conversations, sharing a hike or walk, a meal or movie. As a senior, I take Covid very seriously. With a positive attitude and my N95 mask, I will venture to new horizons and hope the special one comes along!” — Lori Roth, Arizona
“Covid figures are rising, not falling. Hospital figures are going up in Britain as I write. I will not be celebrating the advent of summer by having barbecues with friends, where you get relatively up close and personal. No, I shall still be donning my mask and social distancing. No garden parties on the lawn for me. The end is not yet in sight.” — Lynn Reid, Edinburgh.
“This sums it up: Beaches, barbecues, and boosters. We will keep summer activities local or regional. This is not the time of year we would seek out international travel, anyway.” — Jill Ronda, northern N.J.
“Who’s waiting for summer? I leave tomorrow for three weeks in Wales, southeastern England and Umbria. I’ve packed masks and tests, and will mask obsessively in airports and similar spaces. But, at 81, getting back to walking and hiking just has to happen.” — Katherine Mawdsley, Davis, Calif.
At President Biden’s global Covid summit yesterday, countries pledged billions of dollars to bolster their pandemic response.
China said it would “strictly limit” its citizens from traveling overseas, The Financial Times reports.
The White House may have to ration the next generation of vaccines, Politico reports.
As known cases climb in southern Africa, testing on the continent is falling off.
U.S. meatpackers issued “baseless” warnings about food shortages to keep plants open early in the pandemic, according to a congressional report.
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