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13 of the Safest Vacations You Can Take This Summer

When looking for a safe place to travel, try to find your fun where the crowds aren't flocking and where lockdowns have lifted.

Camping With A Tent In The Monument ValleyMartina Birnbaum / EyeEm/Getty Images

Ready to get away?

We may be masked and armed with more hand sanitizer than usual, but soon some will want to scratch the travel itch that has been growing since flights, hotels, cruise ships, and theme parks shut down in mid-March. Because the pandemic has impacted certain cities and countries differently, with every government responding in its own unique way to it, some places will be safer than others to travel to once restrictions do ease.

This is because just about every country in the world has reported cases of coronavirus. When travel resumes, there will be risk involved no matter where you choose to go. Air travel, too, will look a lot different.

Note: At press time, the Global Level 4 health advisory issued on March 31, 2020 from the U.S. State Department remains in effect. It urges U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

Gettysburg battlefieldPgiam/Getty Images

Civil War battlefields

The East Coast of America is dotted with Civil War battlefields, consecrated patches of woods, and rolling green hills where men and women once made the ultimate sacrifice. It is always a good time to visit these historical sites, to learn from the past so as not to repeat the mistakes made by previous generations. Today though, as coronavirus lockdowns are lifted, getting outside in expansive open spaces makes Civil War battlefields some of the safest places to travel. Once we’re able to do so freely and safely again, considering heading to West Virginia for a stroll around the quaint town of Harpers Ferry, and the National Historical Park there commemorating the John Brown-led abolitionist raid before the war in 1859, and to Gettysburg for a thrilling audio driving tour of the most famous Civil War site in America from the comfort and safety of your own car. These are 16 other top cities for American history buffs.

Corona CampBrad McGinley Photography/Getty Images

Campgrounds

Whether you opt for a trusty and clean KOA campsite, pitch a tent on your own in a state park, or rent an RV, camping far away from the crowds this summer and fall might just be the safest kind of travel post-lockdown. In fact, in a recent SWNS poll, commissioned by Pilot Flying J and conducted by OnePoll, 52 percent of respondents said the pandemic has made them more likely to take an outdoors-focused trip and 31 percent specified that meant a hiking or camping trip in nature. Find out the best campsite in every state.

glaming in zion national parkCourtesy The Nomadic People

Glamping

If that all sounds a bit too rustic for you, try a glamping vacation with Under Canvas to take advantage of new contactless check-in and food ordering system, not to mention its private safari-inspired canvas tents fitted with plush mattresses, high-thread-count sheets linens, and wood-burning stoves. Its properties in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tenessee, Moab and Zion in Utah, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore are set to be up and running before the end of June.

Otter Cliffs SeascapeKenCanning/Getty Images

Maine

The picturesque Pine Tree state is poised to be a safer place to travel once lockdowns are lifted and quarantine periods no longer required. However, Maine currently still has a 14-day quarantine order in place for out-of-state visitors. In Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park, there are many upscale motels with direct access to rooms that allow for safer stays without the need to walk through hotel hallways or share elevators. Find out which is the safer option for your next vacation: an Airbnb or a hotel.

Washington School House Hotelvia tripadvisor.com

Washington School House Hotel, Park City, Utah

With a mere 12 rooms, the Washington School House, one of the last surviving original schoolhouses in the United States, in Park City, Utah, is one of the safer places to lay your head after a day of mountain biking, hiking, or partaking in other summer activities in the Rocky Mountains. Prior to its reopening on May 15, the hotel reconfigured the room entrances so entryway to each is virtually private without another door entry nearby. The hotel has expanded its private dining offerings with more options for in-room dining, lounging poolside or in its private gardens, and guests may order complimentary in-room afternoon snacks, including cookies and milk, cold-pressed juices with nuts or fruit, coffee and tea, and sweets, or more. Find out 10 things you won’t see in hotels anymore.

Aerial view of Cousine island.SeychellesMartin Harvey/Getty Images

Private islands

Privacy, in many cases, means safety and that is certainly true when it comes to a private island getaway. Private islands are usually associated with lifestyles of the rich and famous but, while not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, renting one doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to take on a second mortgage to foot the bill to enjoy a safe, worry-free, socially-distanced vacation. Travel blogger Michael Moebes of Dadcation flew to Little Raccoon Key in Georgia for Mother’s Day weekend and reported: “It was the first day in months that we had no plans or obligations; we just explored the island and its beaches, read books and enjoyed one another’s company somewhere besides our house and yard in Atlanta.” Moebes adds: “It would have been a nice break from normalcy at any time, but it was especially welcomed during a time when ‘normalcy’ has meant deprivation from the activities we typically enjoy as a family.” Check out these private islands you can actually afford to rent.

sail boats and yatchs anchored in marinaPierdelune/Getty Images

Port Roberts, Washington

With all due respect to the good people of Port Roberts, there’s nothing to do on this odd sliver of America but as far as safe places to travel to as lockdowns are lifted, it is hard to beat Port Roberts. “A small town on a five-square-mile peninsula is connected solely to Canada, but it extends just below the 49th parallel, officially making it part of the United States,” the Guardian reports. This geographical anomaly may just be the safest place on earth right now because, “Point Roberts, a tiny community cut off from the rest of the country by Canada, has had no reported [COVID-19] cases yet,” according to the Guardian.

High Angle View Of Trees In CityVirginia Collins / EyeEm/Getty Images

Rural American cities

With densely populated and wildly popular tourist cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco still dealing with the fallout of COVID-19, there is an opportunity for smaller, rural American cities like Bozeman, Montana, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, to welcome visitors for a vibrant mix of entertainment, dining, and sightseeing without the intense fear that may linger in metropolises. While there will be a risk no matter where you travel until a vaccine is discovered, the western states of America suffered far less COVID-19 infections throughout the pandemic. As of May 18, the entire state of Montana has a mere 18 active cases of coronavirus. “Wyoming’s death rate (one in 72,345 residents) is lowest in the continental United States, according to the Star Tribune. Discover the most charming small town in every state.

Aurora Displaygolf was here/Getty Images

Norway

Norway should prove one of the safest places to visit going forward, that is once it opens its borders to U.S. visitors, which will not be during the summer of 2020. Not only is the Nordic country (especially the western portions of it) stunningly beautiful, with picturesque fjords and colorful clapboard villages, the way the Norwegian government handling COVID-19 has led to one of the lowest rates of death in the world. Norway, which has nearly 5.4 million people, has seen 8,309 cases (through May 11), per the U.S. State Department, and a death rate per capita of 3.37 per 100,000 people. For comparison, the United States has a death rate per capita at 13.1 deaths per 100,000 people through April 20. Some travel writers and photographers were already choosing Norway instead of overcrowded places like Iceland—you should do the same once coronavirus lockdowns are lifted to avoid throngs of travel-hungry tourists visiting more famous destinations. Discover other less crowded alternatives to popular destinations.

Warwick Long Bay BeachOrchidpoet/Getty Images

Bermuda

The British isle with the famous pink sand beach is approaching phase two of its reopening, with beaches and golf courses already welcoming visitors. While impacted by the novel coronavirus, Bermuda has seen only 125 positive tests as of May 18. Being sparsely populated not only reduced the spread of the pandemic but will help to make Bermuda a safe place to travel after lockdowns are lifted. At the time of publication, Bermuda’s borders remain closed to visitors but the country’s Tourism Authority is giving those dreaming of a safe, relaxing beach holiday in Hamilton, Southampton or St. George’s some comfort when they say: “Rest assured, once normalcy returns and safe travel resumes, we stand ready to welcome you to our beautiful shores.” Until that day comes, satisfy your wanderlust with these photos of the most gorgeous pink sand beaches in the world.

Beautiful white sand beach in Saint Lucia, Caribbean IslandsIngaL/Getty Images

Saint Lucia

With only 18 positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and zero reported coronavirus-related deaths, Saint Lucia is ready to safely welcome travelers looking for a tropical escape when the first phase of reopening the Caribbean island begins on June 4. To maintain the health of the island’s residents and its guests, various safety protocols are being implemented, including requiring tourists to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flight, continued use of face masks, and ongoing physical distancing. Additionally, travelers to Saint Lucia will be subject to screening and temperature checks by port authorities. While this will likely seem cumbersome to some travelers, what Saint Lucia is doing to ensure a coronavirus-free environment offers a glimpse into the future of safe travel when lockdowns have lifted.

Glencoe, ScotlandFedevPhoto/Getty Images

Scottish Highlands

At the time of writing, like most other destinations, this magical place in the north of Scotland remains locked down for the safety of its residents. But as travel restrictions ease around the world, one of the safest places in the entire world and certainly one of the prettiest, are the Highlands of Scotland. Whether you want to look for the Loch Ness monster, ride the picture-perfect Jacobite Steam Train, tour castles, trek through Britain’s largest National Park, or explore the Highland’s compact capital city of Inverness on foot, this special place of the world offers a safe, naturally socially-distant getaway. For lovers who have grown closer during the coronavirus pandemic, partake in the Scottish wedding ritual known as handfasting while in the Highlands. In the meantime, take a gander at these jaw-dropping photos of Scotland.

Generation Spring Picnicvgajic/Getty Images

Staycations

Even as stay-at-home orders are lifted, one could argue that the safest travel in the age of coronavirus is a staycation. Now, you may think that being at home and surrounded by your familiar messes and piles of laundry doesn’t make for a memorable vacation, but there’s a way to do it right. A staycation can feel like, if not an exotic getaway, at least a getaway from everyday life. Enjoy takeout meals from local independent restaurants you haven’t tried, spend time in that state park, or the museum you keep meaning to visit and bring the spa experience you would receive at a fancy resort to your family room. Have kids at home? Check out Traveling Mom’s parent-tested staycation tips. Find out the best staycation idea in every state.

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment, and more for Reader's Digest. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. He is the proud dad of teen daughters. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.