As much as winter is about bundling up at home, the holiday season also signifies travel. Any other year, travelers would have booked their end-of-year trips months ago, eager to experience a white Christmas in Vienna or ring in the new year at the Sydney Opera House. With the travel restrictions currently in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the prospect of closing out 2020 in Austria or Australia is slim to none for Americans. Luckily, all hope is not lost for US travelers. Dozens of countries around the world are welcoming Americans right now — and the following destinations aren’t even requiring a two-week quarantine. These are the best options for US tourists itching to get abroad this winter.
- North America
- Central America
- South America
- Asia and the Middle East
Technically, the US has banned all nonessential cross-border travel between the US and Mexico, and this restriction will remain in place until at least November 21. But there’s a loophole that allows US citizens to travel freely and legally to Mexico: While the US closed its borders to Mexico, Mexico never technically closed its borders to US citizens, and US citizens returning from an international trip are still allowed to reenter the country.
Mexico does not require a negative COVID-19 test for entry, though travelers should prepare to face health screenings, temperature checks, and thermographic cameras at the airport. Passengers without COVID-19 symptoms will not be required to quarantine for any period of time; those exhibiting symptoms may be asked to quarantine or return home. Before traveling Mexico, note that each state is at a different stage in its reopening process. Each Mexican state falls into the red, orange, yellow, or green category, which dictates what’s open and at what capacity. The updated list of states and their color designations is available online.
Curaçao is currently welcoming American tourists from just three states: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Residents of these states will be asked to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before traveling and fill out an online immigration card and Passenger Locator Card within 48 hours of departure. You’ll have to show a state-issued ID to prove you reside in one of the three approved states. Other states will likely be permitted as time passes, according to their respective public health situations.
To enter Grenada, you must show a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of departure and have a hotel booked for a minimum of at least five days so you can quarantine. On day four of your trip, you can take another PCR test, and if you test negative you’ll be allowed to leave the property and move freely around the island. If you choose not to take a PCR test, you’ll have to remain at the hotel for the duration of your visit. You’re also required to fill out several travel forms, including acceptance of the Waiver Of Liability Agreement. You’re also asked to download a contact tracing app, though the app isn’t available to iPhone users yet (they are exempt from this requirement).
At the end of November, Chile will lift its international air restrictions through the Arturo Merino Benítez Airport to all international visitors. Before their flights, travelers will need to fill out an affidavit mentioning their origin and destination, as well as their health condition and the eventual presence of COVID-19 symptoms. Travelers are required to present the negative result of a PCR test from a recognized laboratory and taken no earlier than 72 hours before departure. They will also need to download a contact tracing app — currently in development — that will monitor their health for 14 days.
US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands requires visitors to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of arrival. You can also show the results of a positive antibody test taken within the previous four months. If you don’t have a test result, you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days or the duration of your stay. You can take a test on the island to leave quarantine early.
Antigua and Barbuda
All US travelers arriving to Antigua and Barbuda must complete a Health Declaration Form upon arrival, a traveler accommodation form, and complete a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of arrival. Passengers should also expect to pay for an additional COVID-19 test upon arrival if authorities determine it’s necessary. No quarantine is needed unless you’re arriving by sea, in which case a 14-day self-isolation period is required until a negative test can be produced.
Like most other Caribbean islands, visitors to St. Lucia are required to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within seven days and complete a travel registration form. They must also have confirmed reservations at a COVID-certified accommodation, a list of which is available online. Health screenings will be carried out at the airport. Those without symptoms must take a taxi to their lodging and are required to remain on the hotel or resort grounds during their stay with the exception of water-based activities arranged by the hotel.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
US citizens must fill out a pre-arrival travel form, as well as show a negative COVID-test taken within the five days prior to departure. You must also have proof of paid accommodation in an approved facility and quarantine there for five days. Between day four and five of quarantine, another test must be taken. All travelers are asked to track their temperature for two weeks and report any concerning signs.
Visitors to Jamaica must present negative results of a COVID-19 test taken within 10 days of their arrival to the island. All passengers must also complete a Travel Authorization screening form to be submitted for approval between two and five days before departure. Travelers must also take a test upon arrival and quarantine at their lodging while awaiting the results. Some properties operate within the “resilient corridor” — with hospitality workers specially trained in COVID-19 protocols, and those guests will be free to move about the corridor upon receiving a negative test. All others must quarantine for the full 14 days regardless of their test result.
Additionally, as part of the Jamaica Cares program, travelers are required to pay a $40 health insurance fee to cover emergency medical treatment while on the island.
St. Barts is open to US visitors but requires travelers older than 11 to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. If you’re staying longer than a week, you must take a second test on the eighth night of your trip at your own expense (around $155). If you choose not to take a test, or you test positive, you’ll be expected to quarantine on the island for 14 days.
To enter Bermuda, US travelers are required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure and complete the Bermuda travel authorization form online that comes with a $75 fee. Upon arrival, visitors will undergo mandatory temperature checks, another COVID-19 test at the airport, and must quarantine until results are ready.
Travelers over the age 10 arriving in St. Martin are required to fill out a health declaration form and have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of travel. You’re also asked to bring a thermometer, mask, hand sanitizer, and have travel insurance that covers COVID-19. US travelers specifically are asked to monitor their body temperature and any flu-like symptoms for the first 14 days of their trip.
US citizens can enter the Bahamas as long as they’ve submitted a Travel Health Visa Application online. The application requires a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than seven days before arrival. Applications take approximately 72 hours to process, and you must submit the final confirmation document upon arrival in the Bahamas. Tourists are also asked to download the HubbCat Monitoring Platform app to their phone, which will allow the government to conduct contact tracing. Since November 1, a negative PCR test has been sufficient to skip quarantine, though a rapid antigen test is also required upon arrival and another one four days later.
No COVID-19 test is required to enter the Dominican Republic, but since September 15, rapid tests have been randomly administered to travelers upon arrival. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be targeted for testing. Through the end of 2020, the Dominican Republic will provide free emergency travel assistance to tourists staying at hotels, covering the expense of testing, lodging, and flight change penalties in the event of an infection during the trip. A curfew is currently in place Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM and Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM. More details can be found online.
Aruba is only allowing residents of half the US states — those considered low risk — to enter with a negative PCR test taken between 12 and 72 hours before departure. The high-risk states have to upload test results online or take one at the airport upon arrival for $75 and quarantine for 24 hours while awaiting results. All incoming visitors must complete an Embarkation/Disembarkation card and purchase mandatory Aruba Visitors Insurance covering up to $75,000 in expenses should they test positive during their stay. The updated list of high-risk states can be found online.
Since the US is considered a high-risk country by the government of Barbados, US citizens must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival and fill out an immigration and customs form online. Incoming passengers will also undergo health screenings at the airport. All travelers will be asked to self-isolate at their pre-approved hotel, resort, or villa, and then get retested four to five days after the first negative test. If that test is negative they will be allowed to move freely about the island.
Visitors to Puerto Rico should present the results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. If you’re still awaiting results, you should quarantine for 14 days. Those arriving without a test will be required to quarantine for 14 days. An online travel declaration form is also required before entry.
Turks and Caicos
To travel to Turks and Caicos, you must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of travel and have insurance covering any COVID-19-related costs you may incur. All passengers must also complete the online Travel Authorization Form before boarding their flight. Upon arrival, travelers should expect a health officer to take biological samples by swabbing or other means at the airport. No quarantine is required for those who test negative.
The US is on Dominica’s “red list” of high-risk countries, but that doesn’t mean US citizens can’t visit. US travelers are required to fill out an online health questionnaire and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 24 to 72 hours before arrival. Upon landing, travelers will be given a rapid test at the airport and must quarantine (even if negative) at a government-sanctioned quarantine facility for five days. After five days, another test will be given.
Cuba is reopening Havana Airport to commercial flights on Sunday, November 15. Authorities will be testing all incoming passengers for COVID-19 upon arrival, charging a sanitary tariff to cover the costs of hygiene protocols. You don’t have to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before entering, but tourism agencies are encouraging visitors to monitor their health before traveling.
Belize reopened to tourists from the US on October 1, as long as visitors book a hotel compliant with the country’s Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program. Hotels in the program have implemented health and safety measures deemed acceptable and necessary to keep everyone safe. Visitors must also download the Belize Health App at least three days before boarding the flight for the purpose of contact tracing (you’ll be asked to check in the app daily) and present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
El Salvador reopened its international airport on September 19, 2020. A negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure is required, and as long as you fulfill this requirement no quarantine is necessary.
Last month, Costa Rica removed all COVID-19 test requirements for entry, which were previously required for US citizens since August 2020. Under the new protocol, visitors will have to fill out an online health form and purchase travel insurance covering accommodation and medical expenses in case quarantine becomes necessary.
US citizens can enter Honduras with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test. Those who have symptoms of COVID-19, have been in contact with a confirmed case within the past 14 days, or have traveled to a country with confirmed cases may be isolated in a medical center or the traveler’s residence for 14 days. Some curfews and movement restrictions are also in place, and the details are available online.
Panama opened to all international tourists, including those from the US, on October 12. The country requires incoming passengers to fill out an electronic affidavit before checking into their flight and present evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test taken within 48 hours of departure. You can also choose to take a rapid test upon arrival at your own expense ($50). If the rapid test is positive, however, you must quarantine for seven days at a hotel in Panama at the government’s expense. To start filling out the affidavit, visit the Panama Digital platform.
Although Brazil has been assigned a Level 4 travel advisory (Do Not Travel) by the US Department of State, Brazil is open to US tourists traveling by air. The country does not require a negative COVID-19 test, quarantine, or health insurance.
Americans are allowed to enter Ecuador quarantine-free as long as they have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 10 days before entering the country. Those who don’t have a test can take one at their own expense at the airport upon arrival, though you must quarantine while you await your test result. Those wanting to visit the Galápagos Islands must show a negative PCR test taken no more than 96 hours before entering the Galápagos province.
As of October 1, all incoming passengers to Colombia must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 96 hours before departing. They must also complete Migracion Colombia’s Check-Mig immigration form. As long as you fulfill these two requirements, you won’t be expected to quarantine.
Although land, river, and lake borders remain closed, Bolivia’s air borders are open for commercial flights. US tourists will be allowed into the country with no quarantine as long as they submit proof of a negative PCR test taken within seven days of departure. Expect health screening procedures, including temperature checks, at airports, and if you’re found to have a temperature exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, you will be evaluated by the airport medical unit. Entry rules are expected to change without notice, so make sure to stay up to date.
French Guyana’s international airports opened on October 12 to international flights. To enter, you must complete a Passenger Locator Form at least 48 hours before your arrival and have a copy of your negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your departure. If the results are more than 72 hours old, you will be tested at the airport at your own expense and then required to wait for the results at a government-approved facility or at the airport itself. Results are usually available within 24 hours. Approval must be granted before your flight. Keep in mind that a curfew is in place from 9:00 PM until 4:00 AM every night.
Croatia is one of the only countries in the EU allowing US tourists to visit. All you have to do is present evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, with a result no more than 48 hours old, and have proof of accommodation. Without a test you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days at your own expense, or for one week if you take a test within seven days of entering the country. Before arriving you’ll also have to fill out an online travel form with a confirmed hotel or accommodation booking.
North Macedonia is welcoming US citizens with no testing or quarantine restrictions.
Serbia is welcoming US citizens with no testing or quarantine restrictions, though all foreigners entering from Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia are required to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours.
Albania is welcoming US citizens with no testing or quarantine restrictions, though travelers can expect health screenings at the airport upon arrival.
Belarus is welcoming US citizens with no testing or quarantine restrictions.
Asia and the Middle East
These paradisiacal islands in the Indian Ocean have been open to international tourism since mid-July, with no quarantine requirements. As long as you present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, you’ll be free to enter the Maldives. The only catch is that you need to have a confirmed booking from a tourist facility for your on-arrival visa, and you can only stay at one tourist facility through the entirety of your stay. Temperature checks and other screening measures will take place at the airport. Random PCR tests may be conducted on inbound travelers.
Just in time for the fall trekking season, Nepal is welcoming international visitors who intend to trek or climb one of the country’s peaks. To enter Nepal, travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. They must also provide the details of their itinerary, hire a local outfitting company, and show proof of health insurance covering COVID-19 treatment. Even with the negative COVID-19 test, you’re required to quarantine for one week at a hotel in Kathmandu upon arrival, and then take another test before being allowed to embark on your climbing adventures. This is the first stage of Nepal’s phased reopening, and restrictions are likely to either relax or tighten depending on the public health situation and the virus’ rate of transmission.
Unlike many other countries, Turkey is opening its borders without even requiring a negative COVID-19 test. Upon arrival, travelers are asked to complete an information form and will be screened for COVID-19. If you show symptoms of COVID-19 at the airport a test will be administered, but otherwise US citizens can enter the country quarantine-free. If you do test positive upon arrival, you will be referred to a private hospital. Turkey’s entry requirements are among the lightest in the world right now for international travel.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE is open to US citizens, with tourist visas being issued in all Emirates on arrival. Proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of departure is required before flying to the UAE. Travelers need to have international medical travel insurance before they fly to the UAE. If arriving in the UAE via Dubai, travelers will undergo medical screening and must present a completed health declaration form and a quarantine undertaking form. Travelers may also be tested upon arrival at the airport. Before leaving the airport, travelers are required to download the COVID-19 DXB app for contact tracing. Those arriving in Abu Dhabi are required to wear a GPS bracelet for 14 days and must take COVID-19 PCR test on the sixth day if they are staying six days or more.
Flights to French Polynesia are currently limited to the Faa’a Airport in Papeete on the island of Tahiti. All travelers, including US citizens, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken three days prior to departure. Travelers will also need to register their accommodation and travel plans with the French Polynesian registration website three days prior to arrival. Travelers staying longer than four days will be required to take a second test during their stay, the details of which will be organized on arrival in Papeete.
1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo
All travelers 11 and older must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of departure to the DRC. This same age group must also take a COVID-19 test at the airport upon arrival — it costs $45. Quarantine is required until negative test results are received, usually within 24 hours. Travelers must also provide a World Health Organization (WHO) card with proof of yellow fever vaccination.
To exit the DRC, travelers 11 and older must present negative COVID-19 test results taken within three days of departure — the cost of this test is $30. In certain situations, you may be required to quarantine at a government-nominated hotel for up to a week. Visit INRBCOVID.com for registering and paying for testing before you start traveling.
US citizens over the age of six must have paper copies of negative test results (not digital), taken within 96 hours of departure for Egypt. Proof of health insurance is also required. Expect health screening procedures in place at airports and at other various ports of entry. Though it has been so in the past, US citizens do not need to quarantine as of early November 2020. Most businesses in Egypt — including restaurants and bars — are operating at 50 percent capacity. Masks are required on public transit.
US citizens must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test and pass a standard health check — temperature, flu symptoms, etc. — in order to enter Kenya with ease. Those with symptoms will be referred for a secondary assessment by Port Health staff. Visitors from California, Florida, and Texas must quarantine for 14 days at either a government-designated facility or at their Kenyan residence, regardless of health.
Americans are allowed into Namibia with negative PCR test results taken no more than 72 hours before their flight. Those with negative test results more than three days old are asked to quarantine for a week at their hotel. Travel insurance, a completed health declaration form, and a completed health surveillance form are required. Note: Most land borders are closed for tourism purposes.
To enter Rwanda, travelers must have a negative COVID-19 certificate from a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within five days prior to your flight. RDTs (Rapid Diagnostic Tests) are not accepted. You are required to take a second PCR test at the airport and quarantine at your hotel until negative results are received, usually within 24 hours.
You must have negative COVID-19 test results taken within the past 72 hours to enter any of the country’s national parks. Private test centers have been set up; the cost is $50.
For entry into Uganda, travelers must have negative PCR COVID-19 test results from within 72 hours. Upon arrival, visitors undergo health screenings, and those who show symptoms will be transferred to an isolation center. To exit the country, you must also have negative PCR test results from within 72 hours of departure. An additional health screening will take place prior to boarding. Masks and social distancing are enforced in all airports.
To enter the country’s national parks, travelers will be required to undergo temperature screenings, wear face masks, and sanitize their hands. Social distancing will also be enforced — visitors must stay 6.5 feet away from each other and a minimum of 32 feet away from primates they may encounter in the parks.
COVID-19 restrictions are light in Tanzania compared to the other African nations currently accepting American tourists. International visitors must complete a health surveillance form and undergo a screening, usually a temperature check and a possible COVID-19 test. Do remember, though, that while 68 countries can visit Tanzania visa-free, US citizens must obtain their visa at the airport or in advance for a fee of $100.
On November 11, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced via Twitter the reopening of the country’s border to all international travelers, including US tourists. Although dates and details have not been released, travelers wanting to vacation in South Africa will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to departure to the authorities upon arrival. Health screenings will be in place at the airport, including temperature checks. Those who do not present their negative test result will need to quarantine for 14 days at their own expense. Travelers will also need to download the South Africa coronavirus mobile tracing app.
International air travel will resume on December 1 at Phillip G. Matante International Airport in Francistown. All incoming travelers to Botswana will be expected to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure and must undergo screening for COVID-19 symptoms on arrival at the airport. Those who show symptoms will be tested and may be required to quarantine for 14 days. All travelers are expected to remain in contact with local health authorities for 14 days and report.
A version of this article was previously published on November 6, 2020, and was updated on November 13, 2020, with more information.