Summer Safety Still Includes Masks

It almost goes without saying that summertime safety now includes taking precautions against #COVID-19. Mask up if you are not yet #vaccinated or immunocompromised; the Delta variant spreads more quickly and is just as deadly as the original. Fully vaccinated individuals don’t need to worry as much about mask, the Washington Post says, but if you are vaccinated and travel to an area with low vaccination rates, you might want to consider masking anyway. And again, outdoor activities tend to be safer. #SummerSafetyTips

Planning Summer Travel in 2021

Not so long ago in 2019, the unofficial beginning of summer was the beginning of summer travel season. COVID-19 put a stop to that last year, but now that the United States is (mostly) vaccinated against the deadly disease, pent-up demand is fueling summer trips large and small.

Air travel is at almost 90% of prepandemic numbers, and with more countries overseas easing lockdowns, international travel is starting to creep upward. But as you plan your summer trips, don’t expect the fine-tuned machine that served travelers in ’19.

For one thing, you may not be able to rent a car — or afford one in your chosen vacation spot. Auto rental companies slashed fleet inventories during the pandemic to stay solvent, the Washington Post says, and may not replenish them until next year at the earliest.

Business travel is expected to rebound late, leaving the leisure traveler with plenty of options in hotels and accommodations. Rooms may be somewhat more expensive in popular locations, USA Today says, but change and cancellation fees have largely disappeared during the panemic.

For travelers who are still wary of crowded indoor environments, the great outdoors beckons. Roadtrippers.com suggests booking campsites now to avoid disappointment as pretty much everyone tries to get safely back to a new normal, travel-wise.

The road trip is still perhaps the best option for summer travel in 2021. Pack the car and take off to visit the friends and family you couldn’t last year; gas prices are up due to the Colonial Pipeline hack and other supply issues, but it remains a great way to see the sights.

Roadtripper’s planning tools allow you to build an itinerary that will suit your budget and checklist, whether your ideal trip is city or country, active or 100% R&R. The Organizing Blog can offer advice on keeping your vehicle #neat, #clean and #organized during long stretches on the road.

If you pick up any #tchotchkes or #souvenirs on your summer trips, make sure they are things that you want to use every day; otherwise, they will quickly turn into #clutter. If you are already overburdened with #stuff, take only pictures to remember your travels.

As you pack, set aside any stuff you don’t use and contact ClothingDonations.org to schedule a free, contactless #donation #pickup. It will clear your head before you take off on a leisurely weekend or bucket-list trip — and make your home a welcoming place to come back to.

Check Your Destination’s Guidelines Before Traveling

More than 37 million people are expected to travel over the Memorial Day weekend, AAA says, and those who do should continue to exercise caution against the spread of COVID-19. Travel restrictions are still in effect nationwide, so even fully vaccinated travelers should check their destinations to avoid disruptions, closures and cancellations. Always keep a face mask handy for entering stores or public spaces; many retailers and municipalities are setting their own rules to enhance safety for all patrons. #MemorialDayTips

Travel Without Causing a Summer Surge

New #COVID-19 infections in the U.S. are at their lowest in almost a year, according to Johns Hopkins, and 61% of adults have had at least one vaccination shot. But Memorial Day weekend is not that time to let your guard down while enjoying a beach, parade or cookout with family and friends. Continue to mask up when social distancing isn’t feasible (especially in enclosed spaces with strangers) and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. There’s no reason to contribute to a summer surge.

Save More Money With Tax Credits

COVID-19 relief payments aren’t taxable, since they are essentially tax credits that the IRS awarded early. But there are other tax credits that can help  lower your tax liability, the College Investor says. For example, you can claim up to $2,000 for adult educational expenses under the Lifelong Learning Credit, or use the American Opportunity Tax Credit to reduce liability as an undergraduate. And if you are a working parent of modest means, you may qualify for an Earned Income Tax credit of up to $6,660. #LastMinuteTaxTips