Your 4-Step Guide to Planning a Pandemic Vacation

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Here's how to plan a vacation when life is getting back to normal, but isn't totally there yet.

A lot of people decided not to travel in 2020 due to the pandemic, and are eager to get away this year. But remember -- it's still a pandemic, and there are certain logistical and financial matters to consider when mapping out your plans. Here's a step-by-step checklist to help you nail down your vacation itinerary.

Step 1: Decide if you're comfortable flying

Though things have improved on the pandemic front and a lot of people are vaccinated against COVID-19, you may not yet feel comfortable getting on a plane. Or, maybe you are good with it. It's okay either way, but think about your comfort zone, because that could dictate where you end up on your vacation. If you're not willing to fly just yet, and you don't want to spend days on the road, then that'll help you narrow your trip down to a closer destination.

Step 2: Figure out what activities you want to do

From a pandemic perspective, outdoor activities, like visiting national parks, are a safer bet than cramming into indoor spaces -- especially if you're traveling with people (like younger children) who have not yet been vaccinated. On the other hand, if everyone in your family has gotten a vaccine, you may feel comfortable visiting a more heavily-trafficked area and spending your days in museums. Think about the things you want to do on your trip and how they align with your safety concerns.

Step 3: Set a budget

Even if your finances didn't take a hit during the pandemic, it's still important to come away from your vacation debt free. To that end, set a budget so you know how much you can afford to spend. Maybe you saved extra money over the past year by not socializing with others much. That's cash you could use for your trip, but you may not want to spend beyond that point, or dip into your savings too heavily to cover your expenses.

Step 4: Make sure you have the right credit cards

The right credit cards could save you money in your travels -- namely, by putting more cash back in your pocket and offering other perks, like trip cancellation protection. Once you figure out your itinerary, see if your credit cards are right for your plans. If you're taking a road trip, for example, you may want a credit card with generous gas rewards. On the other hand, if you're traveling by airplane, you may want a new travel rewards credit card that offers benefits like free checked baggage, which could save you money.

Better yet, see if you're eligible for a new card with a sign-up bonus. If you use it to book your plans, you could get a pile of cash back to spend while you're away.

At this point, we all deserve a nice getaway. Follow these tips for a stress-free vacation -- one you can not just afford, but truly enjoy.

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