It’s no surprise that travel searches spiked on the internet on days that the news broke about the vaccine rollouts and a possible COVID Passport. And while it’s going to be a while before things get back to normal, these two key game-changers will hopefully make it a little bit easier to resume canceled plans — or even plan an entirely new adventure — very soon.
But what’s not entirely clear is what countries are open for travel? What are the best vacation spots during covid? Not to worry. We’ve gathered all of the necessary information so that you can spend more time working on planning that next much-needed getaway.
While it’s true some countries are slowly opening their borders, those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to regularly check local government rules, restrictions, and safety measures associated with COVID-19. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities for these guidelines to change either. Also, be sure to take your current state of health and ability to adhere to the rules into consideration. Masks, in many cases, are still a requirement — even if you are vaccinated, as there is still a possibility that you can still carry the virus and pass it along to a non-vaccinated individual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that "travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19."
When it comes to COVID vaccine travel, It’s still vital to practice vigilance for yourself and others’ health and safety. Also, keep in mind that travelers returning home from an international destination are required to test negative for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status.
What’s the COVID Passport?
Here’s the thing: As much as you may be itching to go to Paris, Rome, or Berlin, even if you are vaccinated, most countries in the European Union have not opened up their borders to Americans yet, and it’s undetermined yet when they will. Regardless, the EU has been working on a digital vaccination project called the COVID passport, making it easier to recognize and organize vaccination and (and possibly, COVID-19 test documents) and without the need to enter quarantine. If you want to keep tabs on when European countries are open, check out the website, reopen.Europa.eu, which provides real-time travel regulations for each E.U. country. Additionally, here’s how to get the vaccine passport and how to travel in Europe without a vaccine passport.
Which Countries are Open for Travel?
This list is likely to change in real-time, but for now, these are the countries welcoming fully vaccinated Americans.
- Greece (May)
- The USA
While the safest travel option — even with the vaccine — is staying closer to home, it’s understandable that you may want to cross international borders. While the list mentioned above offers a variety of cultural diversity and trip types, we’ve highlighted three destinations that are guaranteed to help you reacquaint your love for travel after the COVID vaccine.
Rules and Regulations: Croatia welcomes vaccinated travelers from the U.S., exempting you from pre-arrival testing or self-isolation requirements. You must arrive at least 14 days after receiving your final shot of either the two-dose vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. All U.S. tourists, regardless of their vaccination status, must also show proof of paid accommodations of any kind — a reservation alone won’t count.
Even if you’re not fully vaccinated, you can visit Croatia, providing you show proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arriving — or show evidence they have contracted COVID-19 and recovered within the last six months. Children under seven years old with a parent or guardian are exempt. If your trip lasts longer than ten days, you will have to get retested within those ten days.
Split: Located on a peninsula off the Dalmatian Coast, Split (Croatia’s second-largest city) is dotted with fiery orange-roofed houses and stunning ancient Roman architecture — an arresting juxtaposition to the azure blue waters and striated mountainscape. When you’re not busy taking in the 1,700-plus-year-old historical sites, strolling the charming streets of old Split, eating a bowl of Dalmatian Brodetto (fish stew), or taking advantage of the vibrant nightlife scene, hop on a ferry and visit one of the many Adriatic islands.
Dubrovnik: Dubbed the “pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. You can’t miss the historic old town, complete with commanding palaces, winding cobblestone streets, defensive walls, and ornate churches. After having a dinner of Pašticada (an old Dubrovnik recipe consisting of herb stuffed beef marinated in vinegar, roasted, and stewed), grab a bag of arancini (candied orange or lemon peel) and take a stroll around the illuminated Onofrio’s fountain from the 15th recipe. Once you’ve had enough culture, head out to the famous nearby beaches of Lapad and Banje for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
Zadar: After chilling in athleisure for the past 16 months, how does visiting a three-thousand-year-old city on the stunning Dalmatian Coast sound? Medieval architecture and Roman ruins aside, another desirable aspect about Zadar is that it has plenty to do and see minus all of the crowds of other popular cities. As with other cities in Croatia, the Old Town is the heart of Zadar and is best explored by foot. When you’re ready to relax, head to the string of stunning beaches along the coastline. Don’t miss the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation structures. The Organ uses the sea’s power to make music because waves push air through 35 underground pipes. After absorbing energy from the sun, at night, the Sun Salutation produces a colorful light show.
The Thai government is using a tiered approach to open its borders. Since April 1, tourists can travel to the provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya and will be permitted to enter if they have a vaccination certificate and quarantine for a week in a hotel. As of July 1, visitors will still need the certificate but will not have to quarantine.
Phuket: Situated on the Andaman Sea, Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand. It’s known for its stunning beaches, including Paton, Rawai, and Laem Phromthep, where you can see some of the most spectacular sunsets in Thailand. Take a stroll through Old Town to see the Historical Temple (Wat Chalong), which also serves as the world’s first Thai cultural theme park. Phuket also has a significant Chinese presence, so you’ll see copious Chinese shrines, restaurants, and festivals around the city. If you’re into nightlife and entertainment, you’ve come to the right place.
Chiang Mai: Pre-COVID-19, Chaing Mai had millions of foreign and Thai tourists per year, but there’s no doubt that number will start to spike again soon. After shopping for souvenirs from local artisans on the legendary Nimmanhaemin Road, take a nature or mountain tour and step on the highest point of Thailand, Doi Inthanon, to get a bird’s eye view of the rice fields. Reward yourself with a steaming bowl of Khao Soi, the most famous Chiang Mai food. It’s a northern Thai noodle soup made with a rich and spicy coconut curry and served with chicken or beef and two types of yellow noodles.
Krabi: If you truly want to relax and become one with nature in Thailand, head to Krabi on Thailand’s west coast, where you’ll find dense mangrove forests, caves, waterfalls, craggy limestone cliffs, exotic wildlife, and over one hundred offshore islands. Two of the most popular destinations to get in some quality swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, jungle trekking, and sunbathing time are the rainforested Phi Phi islands and Railay Beach, accessible only by boat or a well-known rock-climbing location.
Providing you have proof of being fully vaccinated, Belize will waive COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers. However, international travelers must book their stay at a "Gold Standard Hotel" and download the country's health app. Being Gold Standard means that the facility has put COVID-19 health and safety measures in place. Belize is also welcoming non-vaccinated travelers, providing they have proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours of travel or a negative rapid test from within 48 hours of travel. Alternatively, airport testing is available for $50.
Ambergris Caye: The largest island in Belize also happens to be the most popular, mainly due to its world-class snorkeling and diving at the barrier reef. While it’s a great destination to visit if you’re looking for a laid-back vacation, the lively downtown vibe in the town of San Pedro is over bursting with beach bars and restaurants. Work off all those tamales, stewed chicken, rice and beans, and ceviche by dancing into the night.
The Cayo District: While most people are drawn to Belize because of its beautiful beaches, water sports, and nightlife, the Cayo District is worth a visit for a few days — ideally, before any R and R — from a cultural perspective. It’s a treasure trove of natural wonders, including Mayan ruins and caves and San Ignacio Town, the ultimate eco-tourism nerve center of Belize. Before making your way to one of the cayes or coastal towns after exploring, try a plate of Cochinita Pibil, marinated and very slow roasted tender pork that falls off the bone.
Placencia: The up-and-coming-town of Placencia is for those who wish to stay at one of the country’s poshest resorts, many of which are perfectly positioned on sunny, sandy shores. While it’s no longer the sleepy little village it used to be, it’s still not run with overtourism like other areas of Belize.
Before You Go…
Before determining your travel budget, ensuring you have the proper documentation, and purchasing trip insurance, make sure the travel guidelines haven’t changed for the destination of your choice. If you’ve got the green light to take your trip, do a little due diligence to learn how to disinfect your hotel room in case you need to pack any additional supplies. While it’s exciting to see the world again, we’ve all got to make sure we’re vigilant for ourselves and others’ health and safety. Bon voyage!
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