A vacation this year can be more stressful than it’s worth

The entirety of 2020 was brutal for most people, and the first few months of 2021 weren’t exactly the panacea many had hoped for. But now, you may have been lucky enough to get a vaccination appointment, and you may feel more confident.

Old-Not Vaccinated-Wouldn’t get on a plane, even if airfare was very cheap. New-Vaccinated-You is ready to embark on a 40-hour (plus stopover) two-stage trip in Dubai to finally check that Kenya safari is off your bucket list. You may have a two-year vacation fund to spend, not to mention a lot of stress to put aside. And on that note, a whopping 78% of respondents in the March 2021 American Express AXP, + 1.45% Global Travel Trends Report indicated that they want to travel this year for stress relief starting in 2020. However, even if you are vaccinated, 2021 trips may not. Be the stress reliever you’ve been waiting for. In many ways, traveling alone has become more stressful. Here’s what to expect when traveling this year and what you can do to prepare for or avoid the added stress. You need proof of a negative COVID test to enter the US Even if fully vaccinated, all travelers returning to the US must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test performed within the three days after boarding your return flight. Scheduling flights, hotels, and activities is stressful enough, but now you’ll have to schedule a COVID-19 test in another country on top of that. Sitting in a doctor’s office is probably not the way you want to spend the last leg of your vacation. Also, if the result is positive, you will not be allowed to board the plane and will have to make further arrangements for your stay abroad. See: Five Reasons You Should Renew Your Passport Now Solution: Stay in the country. Discover a US city that feels like your favorite international destination. Or leave the contiguous US by flying to the Caribbean to visit US territories like the US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico (you can avoid the COVID return and passport test rules in both places, but As requirements change, stay tuned for updates) Restrictions continue to decline and re-enforce themselves You’ve probably seen the photos or videos of Miami Beach, where crowds of vacationers forced local officials to impose a curfew at 8pm. Even though the local hotels stayed open, and you could hit the beach during the day, you might not be thrilled about having to finish dessert before 8 p.m. Solution: Do your homework before you book. Find out what the restrictions are and book trips just for your comfort level. But because restrictions could change later, make sure you’ve booked a refundable trip. View: 10 Countries Vaccinated Americans Can Travel, But It Won’t Be Cheap Many airlines have eliminated domestic exchange fees, though not all have, and some basic budget fares still can’t be changed later. Likewise, many major hotels have waived rates, but read the fine print; most will refund reservations canceled at least 24 hours in advance. You may feel more anxiety about the holidays. You may have read too many headlines about the potential dangers of air travel. Perhaps you’ve always been careful to touch the hotel room TV remote, but now you’re not even sure you want to stay in a hotel room, period. Solution: If you are anxious about your first post-vaccination trip, but still desperately want a change of scenery, consider other types of travel. You can rent an RV and take a road trip. Or stay outdoors camping. If camping is too rustic, try glamping. Reservations are likely required. You’ve probably always made hotel reservations or booked your airfare in advance, but now there’s more to add to your vacation planning to-do list: making reservations for almost every aspect of a trip, including restaurants and attractions. You can’t just show up at the Magic Kingdom Park gate and hope to buy a ticket; Walt Disney DIS, -0.68% World Resort now requires advance reservations for each of its theme parks. And it’s not just the usually crowded places that require reservations, even some campgrounds and national parks now require advance reservations. Solution: use a travel agent. A good travel agent will be familiar with where you are going. Not only can they help you make restaurant or theme park reservations, but they can also help you recommend the best one. Additionally, many travel agents have relationships with travel companies and tourist attractions, so they may also be able to offer you a discount. Contrary to popular belief, a travel agent will probably cost you nothing. Most agents generally get their money from travel providers, not travelers. In short, you will soon be vaccinated (if you are not already) and traveling again. According to the American Express Global Travel Trends report, a large majority (87%) of Americans say that having a planned trip in the future gives them something to look forward to, 63% added that planning future trips makes them feel excited and 53 % said it makes them feel hopeful. And after a year in which you may have felt less than excited and perhaps far from hope at times, having a trip in the books could be the spark you need to ignite another video conference meeting. Don’t Miss: A Disney Fan Complains Walt Disney World Is Waking Up Too Much – Here’s What’s Changed At The Park And Why But if it’s the first time you’ve been away from home in over a year, you should know that things have changed. . Moderate your expectations and be aware that some aspects of travel in the COVID era could be more stressful than before. More from NerdWallet Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: sfrench@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SAFmedia.