a close up of a passport

It’s official. The head of the US Centers For Disease Control (CDC) says vaccinated Americans can travel again freely, and is no longer discouraging the practice of doing so. For airlines, hotels, and people who’ve been holed up at home for far too long, it’s joy to the ears. The question is, where to, since much of the world remains shuttered.

Here’s what American hoping to travel now can bank on, what’s open, what’s not, and when some travel favorites are expected to say come on in, Americanos.

New CDC Travel Advice

The CDC says Americans who’ve been fully vaccinated are able to travel again, but it’s not quite the “free pass” it was just a couple years ago. Countries remain closed and testing, at least for the time being, may still be involved. Yes, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated – for now. Here’s how that plays out for varying travel goals…

a close up of a passport

Domestic USA Travel

New York just dropped domestic quarantine restrictions, meaning vaccinated travelers can travel pretty much travel anywhere in the domestic USA once again without the need to isolate or take a covid-19 test.

Travel shaming for the vaccinated is now also completely ridiculous, since the grey area has been entirely removed. That doesn’t at all mean you shouldn’t take a covid-19 test, just as a courtesy, or watch out for symptoms, but it’s by no means mandatory for most states to isolate or test, just to travel.

For domestic travel, minus the masks, things are almost like they were.

The CDC cited 90% plus effectiveness in vaccinated people being unable to catch or spread covid-19, which is an extremely positive green shoot for the rest of the world as it also vaccinates populations and hopes to return to travel. North American neighbor Canada still remains closed to US visitors, even the vaccinated.

a pool with palm trees and chairs

International Testing Requirement

Despite the all clear for vaccinated US travelers to resume moving around, a testing mandate remains for all travelers outside of the USA hope to enter or return. That includes all US citizens and permanent residents, as well as potential visitors.

So yes, for the time being, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you’ll still need a covid-19 antigen or PCR test taken within 3 days of flight to enter the USA, and there’s no telling when that’s going to change.

Testing in most of the USA is free and easy, even for PCR tests, but it’s not the same everywhere else, where each test can cost between $50-$250 per person. It’s just something to factor in to any trip budgets. Many hotels abroad now provide on-site testing to make the “who, when and where” a lot easier.

US Travel To Europe

Europe’s Schengen Area, which includes most of the popular countries Americans love to visit like France, Germany, Italy and Spain, remains closed to Americans and most other outsiders. Yes, even if you’ve been vaccinated.

Some countries within the zone however are planning to open up to anyone with proof of vaccination, a negative covid-19 test, or ideally both. Greece is one “worth the trip” spot which says it’ll open to Americans in either category by May. Iceland is ready to welcome American visitors with proof of recovery of vaccination too.

The UK is in intensive discussions with the USA to open a travel bubble, or “corridor” by June, which could present another attractive option for Americans looking to get away. Once vaccination in Europe speeds up, expect others to join the party.

Throughout the pandemic, some countries including Turkey and Albania remained open to Americans, with varying degrees of hassle. Portugal’s Madeira Islands is also attempting to lure digital nomads to live and work from the idyllic islands after far too much time in their own four walls. The same logic applies for people who live in non rectangular spaces as well.

a woman walking under a wooden arch

US Travel To Asia Pacific

For the most part, Asia Pacific is a bust for Americans right now. Don’t feel too bad though, just about everyone else is excluded as well.

That means India, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Korea, China and many of the most popular countries for American travelers are out of reach, for now.

A growing list is possible though! The Maldives has been open to Americans for months, Thailand is already a possibility if you’re willing to quarantine, and Phuket is actively working on quarantine free travel by summer. Thailand expects to open to all vaccinated travelers without quarantine by October. Bali is also rapidly attempting to reopen to vaccinated travelers.

Japan, a GSTP favorite, has ruled out visitors for the Olympics, but is eager to open to travelers by autumn, which is sadly a delay on previous hopes for spring 2021. The story remains the same with most other country queries: once vaccinations catch up, many more will open as fast as possible.

US Travel To Central & South America

There are more options for US travelers in Central and South America than most places. Central America is experiencing a boom of US travelers eager to catch some vitamin D and relax by a beach.

Costa Rica is one of many countries without any pre-flight testing needs for US visitors, and Belize is another great choice which accepts proof of vaccination in lieu of a test. Further South, Colombia remains open to US visitors who can produce a recent test result, as does Peru, Chile, Brazil and a variety of others.

While technically a part of North America and not Central or South, Mexico is also open and remains so without any testing requirements. Airlines have added unprecedented flights to the sunshine paradise amid booming demand, thanks to easy testing access and no additional entry requirements.

US Travel To Africa And Middle East

The Middle East is largely open to visitors, and who couldn’t use some lovely dry heat and sunshine right now? A nice big infinity pool overlooking the sea doesn’t hurt either. Dubai, Oman, Egypt and a variety of other countries and city states are up for grabs, either with little, or no quarantine.

Lebanon is also open, and rumor has it Israel is moving rapidly towards opening to all vaccinated travelers, including those from the USA. It could happen as early as April 9th, 2021.

US airlines added a variety of new routes to Tel Aviv this year, and UAE carriers Etihad and Emirates have continued robust US services. Qatar, while not open to US visitors, is an excellent way to transit from the USA to Dubai or any other destination via Qatar Airways.

an aerial view of a blue ocean

Easiest International Trips For US Travelers

Throughout the pandemic the Caribbean and Mexico proved to be the easiest options for US travelers, thanks to lax testing requirements, direct flights or both. Places like Turks and Caicos, The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, US and British Virgin islands and a variety of others are all open and welcoming visitors, either with or without a test and most without any quarantine.

As vaccination passports, or other means of securing vaccination records become clearer, it’s safe to expect many other countries will quickly reopen to Americans with proof of vaccination.

Check Entry Restrictions: They Change

So great, we’re all doing the happy dance that travel is coming back and life may not be dystopian forever. Failing to pay attention to critical trip details, with greater scrutiny than ever before, could ruin a trip though.

Some countries don’t allow transit, or make you take additional testing to, whereas others are happy for you to fly through. Airlines will still happily sell you itineraries you wouldn’t be able to take due to restrictions, so check before you buy.

Entry restrictions which are valid today could be tossed out tomorrow, and exchanged for something more relax, or much stricter. Be sure to use “Can I Travel There” for all up to date tips on how to ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes and can have an enjoyable first foray back into the joy of travel!

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. Please check your British Virgin Islands statement about being open.
    It’s not quite open
    You need a reservation to get in and you must quarantine for 4 days. You also can only arrive by air as all ferries and boat shuttle services are suspended until at least April 15

  2. If you travel to Oman you are required to do 7 day quarantine in an approved hotel and pay for a test!

    1. As have I, but many (often correctly) heed the advice or general sentiment of authorities. This was an important message because it removes grey areas and moral dilemmas for many.

    1. Um, it’s not. I’ve spent considerable time there this year and have always been able to get free PCR or antigen test from any local Walgreens, CVS or other drug store. Insurance or not. What’s your counter argument?

  3. Lol, like we would trust anything they say ,they have been wrong since day 1 , we have flown 6 times to different destinations domestic and overseas since March 2020, we’ve also spent 4/-1/2 weeks domestically here in the states at different beach locations , so thanks but no thanks for the perverted guidelines, and they can shove the experimental vaccines too

  4. “Iceland is ready to welcome American visitors with proof of recovery of vaccination too.”

    If I read the initial news release on this correctly, it’s not just vaccination – one can enter Iceland with a test proving that you have antibodies from exposure to the virus that causes COVID19.

    What’s the difference?

    Well, my wife and I had COVID19 in January and recovered quickly. While the CDC is pumping out information that we should get vaccinated anyway, other medical experts like Dr. Hooman Noorchashm are saying that getting vaccinated after having recovered is unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Until that gets settled, we are not going to get jabbed just because some health official basking in the glory of sudden fame tells us to just shut up and just get in line.

    Millions of people have had COVID19 and recovered. Sadly, many haven’t recovered. But I hope that we can recognize that all those who suffered through the illness and now have natural immunity to it don’t necessarily need to get vaccinated. A simple blood test can prove whether my antibodies are still present, so why have an unnecessary vaccination that may cause harm?

  5. State of Hawaii still requires pretravel NAAT negative test results for entry. Or a 10 day quarantine upon arrival.

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