a close up of a passport

You’ve probably heard the term “corridor” more often than you’re used to in recent days. That’s because as the world looks to open borders, countries are starting off slowly, with limited access to certain neighbors or trade partners they deem safer than others, via “travel corridors”.

These limited access travel corridors opening in the Baltics, between Western European neighbors and now between South Korea and China, and soon Australia and New Zealand are a bold new frontier, and an exciting step toward a new normal, and perhaps one day a new vacation.

But with headlines flashing about a return to international air travel, people are reaching for their passports without important distinctions and clarification on who will be able to move, and of course when and where too.

a city with a building on top of itCorridors First, Agreements Second

Europe plans to open its external borders to visitors from June 15th, 2020. In the interim, countries within the EU are returning to a time where people can hop across one border to another, without any formalities. From June 3rd, Italy, Germany and Austria will allow travelers who haven’t been outside of Europe within 14 days of planned travel to Italy. Even now, Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened borders between neighbors.

What this means, is that it’s not so much your passport that matters, but where you’ve been lately. An American who’s been in Europe for the last two months could move freely to Italy, Germany or Austria from June 3rd, since the countries are allowing travel from within Europe.

The big question mark will be just how wide of a net Europe allows for travel after June 15th, and whether individual countries will make exceptions.

For example, Iceland plans to allow US visitors from June 15th, and Greece from July 1st, assuming the EU sticks to its timeline on external borders. Spain has also now announced a return of broad international travel from July 1st, and is even encouraging people around the world to plan trips.

Once opened up, this would effectively put international travelers within certain areas of the EU, but without any guarantee of exactly when or how they could then enter another EU country, under current restrictions.

That’s still subject to change, and hopefully announcements in advance of Europe opening its external border to the world on June 15th will provide greater clarity for travelers from North America, Asia and beyond. For now, the top picks are Iceland, Greece, or Spain which if you had to pick, are pretty great options. Here’s a look at easiest options for summer travel, based on where you’re based.

USA – Mexico, Iceland, Greece, Spain, or any US state are your best bets for summer travel, so far.

Europe – European countries and Mexico are your best bets at the moment, with hints of Thailand joining.

Why Mexico? The country is opening key travel destinations such as Playa Del Carmen and Cancun to outside visitors from June 1st and doesn’t currently have entry restrictions.

In China, travel from outside won’t be easy for a long time. The country opened its border to South Korea, but terms and conditions definitely apply. Travelers must agree to two weeks of screening before travel in addition to a clean bill of health on arrival at the airport, and then two days of quarantine and a fresh test on arrival in China.

The move is likely to create bilateral agreements between Asian countries, and perhaps a preservation of the vital summer travel season.

According to the South China Morning Post, the stringent immigration rules for China haven’t fettered demand. Against all odds, Korean Air sold out a Boeing 777 with more than 300 seats to Shenyang this week, and plans to increase frequency and add destinations as business travel picks up much faster than expected.

a close up of a passportThe United States Of America

For those interested in visiting the world’s third largest country by visitor volume – aka the United States of America, it’s anyone’s guess.

Currently, only citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members of either are able to enter or re-enter the country from Europe, and there’s been no mention of when these international restrictions against travelers from Europe may end. This creates a conundrum for a US Government keen on rebooting the economy, but also one which has cast outsiders as a key issue in the health crisis and other national interests.

So when will we know more? Soon.

Initial corridors are seen as the safe way to test what a return of international travel will mean for those on both sides of a border, in airports, and in accommodations. If initial travels, boosted perhaps by seasonality do not see a significant spike, there’s a very good chance countries will start to add the number of passports they’ll let back into their borders.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. “USA – Mexico, Iceland, Greece, or any US state are your best bets for summer travel, so far.”

    An update to this Gilbert.

    Travel with in US will be convoluted for a while.

    Alaska and Hawaii have a 14 day on arrival self quarantine right now. Hawaii’s 14 day quarantine is through June 30th, Alaska doesn’t have an end date.

    In Texas May 1, the mandatory 14-day quarantine period is no longer required for travelers from Louisiana. It remains in place for travelers from California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Washington state, as well as the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami.

    Other states have restrictions as well.

  2. Any thoughts on US to New Zealand being possible this year? I’ve got ORD-AKL on hold for November at 53k miles one way in J and REALLY want to pull the trigger.

    1. So hard. I just don’t see it for 2020, though there’s little to lose with a reward booking (you get all miles back if you cancel), of course.

  3. There are many who won’t share your optimism on this Gilbert – especially with the title. International travel has a long way to go before it “returns”. I know your livelihood depends on people traveling, but most health experts aren’t going to agree with taking the trips you suggest in the next few months. Hope I’m wrong, because I miss international travel too, but I won’t be even thinking about it until summer 2021.

  4. I am Canadian / Australian, currently in Toronto and am seriously considering heading back to Sydney and putting up with the 14 day mandatory hotel quarantine. With the country opening up internal borders along with NZ and Fiji in serious discussions to be included I think a winter down under would be less stressful than the (understandably) patchwork openings in Europe. Am glad things are slowing opening up though, but I doubt life in North America will be all that fun for quite a long while yet.

  5. “Currently, only citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members of either are able to enter or re-enter the country, and there’s been no mention of when international restrictions may end.”

    I don’t think this is completely true. There are only restrictions for people coming from most of Europe and China.

  6. I am not as pessimistic as Tim have two international trips to Asia planned in Aug 2020 and January 2021. Let’s all help get the world economy restarted. You can be safe and still travel. Other countries are suffering far worse than ya with little to no help for the citizens.

  7. Any insight on asian destination specifically Nepal? Travel advisories? I’m going there to vent! To scream!

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