After more than a year in quarantine, leisure travel is finally coming back. Granted, there are still places that are not yet open to tourists, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. There are also places, like Brazil and India, which are not yet considered safe to travel.
But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo vacations this year as well. Whatever type of vacation you are looking for, be it beaches, forests, mountains or luxurious amenities, options are available now, under the right conditions. Here are the 10 best places to travel in 2021 and what you need to know about Covid protocols and entry requirements if you plan to go.
This Central American nation borders the Caribbean and has become a must-see destination for many. There are pristine beaches and mysterious jungles, offering ziplining, surfing, and other adventurous activities. Costa Rica is also gaining a reputation for conservation and sustainability and has been socially progressive. The country does not currently require vaccination or negative test results and only quarantines those arriving by sea and not by plane. It is necessary to fill out a health card form and you must have proof of travel medical insurance. Expect to follow all protocols like wearing a mask and social distancing.
One of the most neglected states in the United States, New Mexico has some of the wildest and most beautiful lands in the Southwest. It is home to must-see sights like the Carlsbad Caverns and the National Petroglyphs Monument. There are also unusual places like Roswell, the UFO capital of the world, and Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed. Beautiful views range from desert to snow-capped mountains, and there are many resorts built around natural hot springs. In short, you can get a whole range of vacations with just one quick stop.
Hawaii has always been a destination of choice, and as a result, a large portion of its income comes from tourism. Locking down the pandemic has cost the state a lot of money. But they were also successful in preventing the spread of the virus. You can visit Hawaii with a negative Covid-19 PCR test or be prepared to spend 10 days in quarantine in your hotel room. The great thing about visiting Hawaii now, however, is that there won’t be huge crowds. It will give you a more private experience and you will get more personal attention.
Want to get that sun / sea / surf solution but leave the United States? The Caribbean islands are just the spot. After a few difficult years between the pandemic and various hurricanes, the islands are resuming their activities. The rules for entering countries depend on who is responsible. Some islands are Dutch, French or English, and some are independent nations like Jamaica. Fortunately, there are few places in the Caribbean that require more than a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination. Many of these countries will test you when you arrive. But once that’s no longer the case, there are plenty of secluded bungalow properties available for social distancing in a tropical paradise.
Thailand is one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to open up to tourism. Phuket is expected to drop all quarantine requirements from July, with other locations to follow. Thailand is extremely dependent on tourism for its economy and is eager to recover from business. If you are looking for a faraway tropical destination with pretty resorts and fascinating cultural exhibits, Thailand is a great bet.
A negative Covid PCR test within three days before departure is required to enter the country. Otherwise, if you have proof that you have recovered from Covid within the past three months, this will also be accepted. The bad news is that you need to quarantine yourself for 10 days upon arrival and will undergo additional mandatory Covid testing during your stay. But the good news is, if you’re fully vaccinated, you only need to quarantine yourself for seven days.
Looking for something a little more dramatic in the north? Iceland is the home of massive glaciers, active volcanoes, and aurora borealis at night. It is a perfect nature lover’s destination. All you need to enter the country besides your passport is proof of vaccination or prior Covid infection. (This means you need actual documentation of having had the disease previously.) Otherwise, you must adhere to testing and quarantining requirements. Just a few hours away from New York’s JFK airport, Iceland is an increasingly popular destination for good reasons.
Just an eight-hour flight by plane from San Francisco or Los Angeles, the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea reopened to tourists in May and expect to do well. U.S. travelers to these islands are not subject to any visa or quarantine restrictions at this time; but there are Covid testing requirements before departure, upon arrival, and on the fourth day of your visit. You are required not to travel abroad for 30 days prior to your visit; and you must complete an ETIS form online before leaving.
In an encouraging gesture for tourists, Tahiti initiated a common cancellation policy until November 1. This means that if your trip is canceled due to an unexpected blockage or a positive test result, they will waive the change and cancellation fees normally imposed.
Many parts of Africa are still struggling to contain the coronavirus. But Kenya is an African country that has done a good job of reviving its tourism economy. The country requires negative test results within 96 hours of arrival; and you need a visa to enter the country in addition to your passport.
While Kenya is still subject to many protocols for the coronavirus, such as curfews and limited indoor gatherings; the great outdoors is still there. And with resorts operating at one-third of their capacity, your tourist dollars will go a long way and you’ll have a lot more options. Properties that are difficult to access normally, like the Giraffe Hotel in Nairobi, actually have reservations available at the moment.
This beautiful Adriatic country is currently famous for being the site of many locations from the Game of Thrones television series. But the quaint towns and cobblestone streets are only half the story. Croatia has some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in the Mediterranean, perhaps behind Greece. Negative Covid-19 tests are required before entering the country; and if you stay longer than 10 days, you will need to retest. But there is a lot to do. While sporting events and nightclubs remain closed, outdoor venues and casinos are still open.
California Wine Country
Tourism to the famous wine regions of northern California in Napa and Sonoma counties has been hit hard in recent times. Not only has tourism slowed to a ramp thanks to the pandemic; but huge forest fires in recent years have decimated parts of the region.
But that doesn’t stop wineries and resorts from stepping up a gear this year, ready to show their resilience. Even the famous Napa Valley Wine Train is back on track. If you’re not into wine, the area has plenty of other amenities; such as geyser hot springs, hot air balloons; and some of the state’s best restaurants.
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