With summer (and vaccines for the general public) right around the corner, now is the best time to start planning your summer vacay! Flight prices are cheap, hotels (and Airbnbs) still have lots of availability and more destinations are beginning to open to US travelers. Whether you want to stay in the US or go international, booking now while prices are still low is the best way to save some cash. Plus, it’ll give you something to look forward to for the summer months! Need some inspiration? Here’s 11 of the best places you could travel for an incredible summer vacation in 2021!
1. Kauai, Hawaii
Who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii? No one, of course. And while Hawaii has some strict coronavirus travel requirements right now, that’s not to say you can’t go. Take a look at what Hawaii’s Covid-19 travel guidelines are and then start planning your own summer vacation to paradise. For adventure-lovers, Kauai and Hawaii (the Big Island) are our go-to spots. If you just want to relax on the beach, Maui’s your best bet (though of course, there’s fabulous beaches on every island). For things to do and nightlife, Oahu’s a good choice. Whatever island you end up on, a change of scenery that involves stunning sunsets, white-sand beaches and tropical ocean waves is definitely worth the trip.
Covid-19 guidelines: Travelers to Hawaii need to provide negative Covid-19 test results taken within 72 hours of departure from an approved test partner and upload the results to Hawaii’s Travel system prior to departure. If you don’t have test results, you will need to self-quarantine for 10 days. Make sure to check updated information about Hawaii’s guidelines before you travel.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Hawaii from $275*
2. National Parks road trip
A road trip is of the most quintessential summer trips in the US! If it’s been awhile since you’ve headed to the great outdoors, this is the perfect summer to visit a National Park. Make a list of the parks you want to see, grab a cheap flight and a rental car if you need one, and hit the road for an adventure that’ll help you unplug and relax. Not sure where to start? Check out our favorite National Park road trips for some ideas.
Keep in mind that parks are often more crowded in summer months, so it’s a good idea to start planning now, and make reservations for any campsites you need.
Covid-19 guidelines: Most National Parks are open as usual, with mask and distancing guidelines. State restrictions may require testing before visiting. You can check state-by-state Covid-19 guidelines on our blog.
Flights: Roundtrip flights within the US from $70*
Istanbul is an incredible city—straddling both Europe and Asia, this culture-rich city is steeped in history, with tons of sights, museums, mosques and markets to explore. Even better? It’s open right now for US travelers, making this summer the perfect time to check it off your bucket list. See the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque or go shopping in the Grand Bazaar. On hot summer days, you can go for a swim in the stunning Aegean Sea (aka the same sea that Greece shares a coastline on). Of course, there’s also delicious food to be had all over the city.
Covid-19 guidelines: All travelers to Turkey need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure and fill out an information form on the plane. Travelers returning to the US from Turkey will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight to the US. Museums, places of worship, shops, restaurants, beaches and more are open.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Istanbul (IST) from $750*
4. Weekend in Vegas
Ready for an easy and unforgettable weekend? Why not treat yourself with a getaway to Vegas? Summer weather in Vegas can be a bit sweltering, but most of Las Vegas’ attractions and entertainment is indoors, so it’s easy to avoid the heat. Plus, with huge swimming pools at every hotel, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to take a quick dip to cool off whenever you need to. Stay on the Strip if you want to be close to all the action. If you want to save some cash, stay in a hotel nearby, but off the Strip.
Covid-19 guidelines: Currently, there are no domestic travel restrictions for travel to Nevada. Mask mandates are in place and entertainment venues/activities may have limited capacity.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Las Vegas (LAS) from $70*
5. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is often overlooked as a Caribbean destination. However, it has beautiful beaches, amazing snorkeling, rainforests, hiking, waterfalls and all kinds of adventure. Plus, it has the added bonus of being part of the US, which makes it even easier to travel to right now. You don’t even need a passport!. The best time to visit Puerto Rico is April – June, making it perfect for an early summer vacation. Alternatively, it’s a great place for a spring getaway to sneak in some sunshine.
Covid-19 guidelines: Complete the online health form before arrival and provide proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Travelers returning to the US from Puerto Rico will NOT need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight to the US. Quarantine mandates, recommendations, and entry requirements may vary by state.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to San Juan (SJU) from $120*
6. Grand Canyon river rafting trip
For a serious dose of adventure this summer, why not book a river rafting trip down the Colorado River? This is a super unique (and beautiful) way to explore the Grand Canyon! Spending a few days floating down the river through massive canyons—and rushing along through sections of rapids—will give you just the right blend of adventure and relaxation. Plus, these guided rafting tours include all the camping gear you’ll need, plus meals prepared for you, so you don’t have to do any planning. Just show up, hop on the boat and enjoy some of the best views of your life. Usually these trips book up well in advance. However, this year they have lots of last-minute openings. It’s the perfect chance to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime trip!
Covid-19 guidelines: Currently, there are no domestic travel restrictions for travel to Arizona. You can check Arizona’s Covid-19 travel updates for details.
Flights: Flights to Las Vegas (where many rafting tours begin) from $70*
7. Bosnia & Herzegovina
If you’re dreaming of a trip to Croatia or France, but can’t quite get there yet due to restrictions, Bosnia & Herzegovina is the perfect place for a European summer vacation. It’s been open to US travelers for months now. Bosnia and Herzegovina offers the small-town, fairytale charm of Europe, minus the crowds of tourists. From beautiful medieval villages to stunning parks, alpine mountains and waterfalls, it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the Balkans.
Covid-19 guidelines: All travelers must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours from the time of arrival. Travelers returning to the US from Bosnia will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight to the US.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Sarajevo (SJJ) from $737*
8. A seaside escape
Want to keep it low-key this summer? Why not plan a seaside escape to a nearby (or not-so-nearby) coastal town? We love Bar Harbor, Maine; Nantucket, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; Grayton Beach, Florida; Whidbey Island, Washington; San Clemente, California; and Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. These quiet towns are perfect for a refreshing weekend getaway!
Covid-19 guidelines: Depends on what state you’re traveling to. Some states have guidelines for travelers returning home as well. A full list of state-by-state Covid guidelines is available on our blog!
Flights: Roundtrip flights within the US from $70*
Dubai is one of the most modern, exciting and diverse cities in the world. Although it’s relatively uncommon for US students to visit, it’s one of the most-visited destinations in the world! Whether you want to spend a few days exploring modern luxury, try your hand at some extreme sports, or experience history and culture, there’s so much to do and experience in Dubai. From stunning skylines and record-breaking architecture, amazing beaches, endless shopping and more, Dubai pretty much has it all. Keep in mind that summers can be quite hot in Dubai. We recommend visiting in April-May or September for a pre- or post-summer vacation.
Covid-19 guidelines: All travelers must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours prior to departure and bring a printed certificate to check in. You’ll also need to download Dubai’s contract tracing app. Travelers returning to the US from Dubai will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight to the US.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Dubai (DXB) from $600*
10. Austin, TX
Whether you just have a weekend or several weeks to explore, Austin is a great place for a summer vacation (or spring or fall or winter trip) without leaving the States. From Texas staples like delicious BBQ and live music just about everywhere to exploring Zilker Park in the middle of the city with the 3-mile long Barton Springs Pool, to museums and tons of food, there’s always something to do. Plus, did we mention that Austin is one of Texas’ quirkiest and most instagrammable cities? No matter how long you’re staying, we guarantee you’ll wish you had just a few more days at the end of your trip.
Covid-19 guidelines: Currently, there are no domestic travel restrictions for travel to Texas.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Austin (AUS) from $74*
11. Weekend in Chicago
For another nearby weekend getaway, Chicago is an ideal summer vacation destination! With a flight time of around or under 3 hours for most of the US, Chicago’s an accessible destination, with plenty of direct flights from other US cities. Plus, summer’s in Chicago are beautiful, and the city comes to life under sunnier weather. With outdoor concerts and movie screenings, rooftop dining and festivals in the parks, there’s lots to do and plenty of nice weather to enjoy. If you’re getting a bit too warm, you can always hit the beach (yes, Chicago has beaches!), go sailing or take a boat tour along the Chicago river.
Covid-19 guidelines: Travelers to Chicago must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Otherwise, you’ll need to self-quarantine for 10 days. Mask mandates are in place and entertainment venues/activities may be closed or require advance booking.
Flights: Roundtrip flights to Chicago (ORD) from $58*
Where are you dreaming of traveling to this summer? Find your cheap flights today so you can get exploring!