It’s happening [slaps face with fresh trout]. Travel! Glorious, but cautious, travel. Brain breaks depend on it. Economies depend on it. It used to be so normal, yet stepping back into it feels exciting, weird, scary, and so very healing if done with care.
ICYMI, some countries around the world are opening up again. It’s a lot of info to digest, so have a sit on the old Britney Spears blow-up chair (a safe space, if ever there was one), and let’s talk about what all these announcements mean for your summer travels and beyond—from what countries are opening up and what guidelines are in place, to what post-lockdown travel will actually look like when you show up with your Stone Island backpack.
The good news for those of us stateside is that the United States is one of the leading countries in vaccinations. As of mid-May 2021, more than 58 percent of US adults have received at least one shot, according to the most recent numbers from the New York Times. But in many countries, far fewer citizens have had access to the vax, and as the CDC states, “even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants,” so do take the safety precautions of your destination seriously, and don’t board that plane, train, or zeppelin for domestic or international travel until you are fully vaccinated. Peep those CDC notes, and know that reentry to the US requires a negative COVID test no more than three days before departure. Then, after doing the homework, you can give yourself the thumbs up to surprise mom with a fresh ticket for that formerly “pandemic-postponed” trip to Iceland, where they now really want vaccinated tourists to show up and spend some money.
Again, while it may be technically legal to travel to many countries that are still dealing with a crisis situation—do not go there (no!!!) unless you have a crazy family emergency or other ridiculously important reason to do so. The following are spots that are saying it's now totally cool for vaccinated American tourists to show up just to hang out and vacay; we'll give you the rules and even a couple of ideas of where you might wanna stay. Fellow responsible people, let’s gooo.
This Caribbean country is made up of one main island, offshore islets, and has one of the best-named beach stretches. Can you imagine saying, “Meet me at Rendezvous Bay?” Ports open to travelers on May 25, and tourists will have to apply to visit.
Whether you’re vaccinated or not, as part of the Bahamas Travel Health Visa application, it was announced that “travelers will be required to opt-in to COVID-19 health insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay.” The cost of the insurance is included in the Bahamas Travel Health Visa application fee.
The Barbados Ministry of Tourism announced that, as of May 8, vaccinated tourists with a negative COVID test taken no more than three days before arrival can visit, and will be subject to take a PCR test upon arrival during a five-day window. After that, your quarantine time ends. Read more in their official booklet (then start getting excited about Oistin’s Friday Night Fish Fry; a favorite of Rihanna’s.)
Can you imagine finishing your novel at this oceanfront beach cabana? According to the Belize Tourism Board, everyone can travel to the country, but must: “Bring along an Official Vaccine Card reflecting the receipt of the dual or single-dose vaccine at least two weeks prior to arrival,” or a negative test taken within 96 hours of travel, or a “Rapid Antigen, Sofia, SD Biosensor, ABBOTT (Panbio) test taken no more than 48 hours prior to travel.” If you don’t do any of that, you can still take a test upon arrival. While tourists visiting Belize can go wherever, it is recommended that they remain within what’s being called the “Tourism Safe Corridor” (i.e. certified hotels and tourist attractions).
British Virgin Islands
If you’re fully vaccinated, the British Virgin Islands’ government has announced that you can visit as soon as May 15 (we suggest stopping in Anegada). You’re still required to provide a negative PCR test within five days of travel, as well as “provide satisfactory evidence of being fully vaccinated, and will be subject to a PCR test upon arrival (day zero).”
Enjoy Ancient Roman history, but already done the Eternal City/had your Lizzie McGuire Movie adventure? Welcome to Croatia. Land of gladiator amphitheaters, Windex-blue waterfalls, cuttlefish risotto, Game of Thrones, and an underwater winery (yes, lil wino, it is exactly what it sounds like). Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior has stated that you will be able to travel to the country without the need to self-isolate or get tested upon arrival (although you will still have to show proof of a paid accommodation). While Croatia is generally an extremely safe and friendly country, it's important to note that there has been a recent rash of homophobic crime in some areas, including Zagreb. While the likelihood of experiencing violence while traveling there is still relatively rare, it's wise to keep up on the news and exercise caution. (But that, of course, is true of traveling pretty much anywhere.) Two of the most popular tourist destinations are Dubrovnik (a.k.a King's Landing from GOT) and Pula, for its Roman ruins and warm-water beaches. First-timers, consider staying in Split to see Diocletian’s Palace. This quaint Airbnb is one gladiator’s spear away from the epic ruins:
If writing the Great American Novel is on pause—for now—and you’re long overdue for a brain break, this cute two-person apartment in Split is the move for you. Plus, if you book the place but can’t travel due to COVID, they give you the option to use your reservation as a voucher within two years, the description reads.
Villa Split Art-Pistacio Apartment (sleeps up to 2), $39/night on Airbnb
Or this nice terraced Airbnb, also in Split:
Split: Apartment with a View and a Terrace n.2 (sleeps up to 2), $49/night on Airbnb
Kopiaste! Welcome! The Cyprus tourism board has announced that fully vaxxed tourists can forgo the testing and quarantine requirements that would otherwise be needed to visit the Republic of Cyprus, an island in the east Mediterranean. You’ll still need to fill out the Cyprus Flight Pass, though, at 24 hours before departure. Don’t forget the water booties before exploring the beaches.
Ah, Ecuador. It’s home to some of the most beautiful volcanic landscapes, rafting, and general outdoor bliss on earth. While vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists can visit, the US Embassy in Ecuador announced that there are still confirmed positive cases of COVID in all 24 provinces. If you must go to Ecuador, fully vaccinated travelers are exempt from providing a negative test (taken no more than three days) prior to arrival, and unvaccinated tourists must quarantine for 10 days. They’ve also said that “there are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in Ecuador [...] with test results reliably available within 72 hours.”
Republic of Georgia
Got vaxxed already? Congrats, you can go to Georgia. Fully vaccinated travelers from any country are allowed to enter, provided they present documentation confirming their COVID-19 vaccination status. Hot tip: The wine is good. Like, really good—this is where wine may have been invented, after all. For unvaccinated travelers, a negative COVID-19 PCR test result conducted within 72 hours prior to travel must be submitted to cross the Georgian border. Three days later, while in Georgia, you’ll need to submit a second PCR test. (If you can't make it to Georgia, you can still buy its glorious wine online at Total Wine, Drizly, or Wine.com.)
All travelers to Grenada must present a negative PCR test result taken within three days prior to travel, according to the US Embassy in Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS. “Travelers who are not fully vaccinated must enter quarantine in a government-approved facility and can only leave quarantine after undergoing another COVID test, usually on the fourth or fifth day after arrival in Grenada.” Additionally,
fully vaccinated folks must provide proof of vaccination and will be required to quarantine for 48 hours pending a negative result from a PCR test administered on arrival. Fully vaccinated persons are still required to provide a negative PCR test taken within three days prior to travel. “All travelers to Grenada are also required to pay a one-time ($150 USD) COVID-19 test fee, which will cover their day-four test or any test taken while on island to leave quarantine,” they add.
Guat do you mean, you haven’t been to this beautiful country in Central America? Anyway, now’s your chance, since you can enter Guatemala provided you can present either a COVID-19 vaccine certificate completed at least two weeks prior to arrival, a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, or proof or having tested positive and recovered from COVID-19 within three months of arrival, according to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. Note: Entry into Guatemala is restricted (with limited exceptions) for individuals who have visited Brazil, the U.K., and South Africa within the previous 14 days.
The ridiculously scenic, Nordic island country recently announced that it is opening its elfen borders to vaccinated tourists. We’ve created a detailed itinerary for first-time, second-time, and seasoned visitors alike (if you belong to the latter, it’s definitely time to take a course at the Reykjavik Elfschool), and highly suggest booking a roundtrip flight from Agoda, which is slinging trips from New York City to Reykjavik (again: roundtrip) for around $300. Then, since renting a car abroad can be tricky, we recommend using a company with stateside customer care like Expedia, and most importantly, don't forget to book your spot at the iconic Blue Lagoon (right by the airport, and a must for first-timers) in advance.
The South Asian island nation of Maldives is going above and beyond to offer vaccine vacations—yes, that’s a thing—to all its tourists. “Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, the country’s tourism minister, announced last week that the country was initiating a ‘3V’ strategy to encourage holiday-goers to ‘visit, vaccinate and vacation,’” Shamani Joshi recently reported for VICE. Joshi points out that “the country is offering tourists both doses of the vaccine,” so those who sign up will end up having a sejour of several weeks on the island nation. Getting the vaccine by any means is a privilege, of course, but this definitely wins for one of the most enticing paths to getting juiced. Consider staying by popular cities like Male (don’t miss the epic fish market), Hulhumale (sign up for a traditional cooking class), Bodufolhudhoo (home of Atoll Scuba), and Maafushi Town (where you can fulfill your submarine fantasies). Overall, the Maldives is where you can kayak, snorkel, hike, repeat, and become best friends with a whale shark (we *just* watched My Octopus Teacher) in between doses. (FYI, there was a recent assassination attempt on the former president, which may or may not have ramifications that affect future travel.)
This little archipelago in the central Mediterranean will actually pay you to visit. We repeat: You will be paid to visit Malta, the land of crystalline beaches, medieval streets, and a storybook, waterfront duck village. The island’s livelihood depends on tourism, and they recently announced an “Incentives for Free Independent Travellers” program, starting in June, that will compensate you up to around $140 if you book a stay through select partner lodgings, like the Pergola Hotel & Spa in Mellieha and The George, a boutique hotel in the middle of Paceville, St. Julians, the heart of the entertainment and leisure spots on the island.
There’s so much to do in Montenegro besides fawn over the beautiful landscapes of mountains, lakes, and coastline—but we suggest doing some fawning anyway. The country is accepting travelers that can present either a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours or proof that they received the second dose of a vaccine more than seven days before their arrival, but it’s important to note that rental accommodations are limited to two people or one family.
Nepal, home of some of the best hiking and mountaineering in the world (see: Mt. Everest), is now accepting vaccinated travelers. All tourists entering Nepal must have the following documents, according to the US Embassy In Nepal, “1) PCR negative report taken before 72 hours of boarding OR document showing complete vaccination against COVID-19; 2) Visa to Nepal OR recommendation letter from the Department of Tourism or Nepal Tourism Board to participate in tourism activities within Nepal; 3) Hotel booking confirmation or guarantee of accommodation; 4) Proof of Travel Insurance which covers emergency search, rescue, treatment, among others, for the duration of their travel; and 5) Barcode generated from the online application of the Online International Travel Arrival Form.”
Seychelles is rife with opportunities for diving, fishing, and romance. It’s also the most vaccinated country in the world, and is welcoming all visitors—regardless of vaccination status—provided they have a valid negative PCR test result of not more than 72 hours prior to travel, according to the US Embassy in Mauritius and Seychelles. “All visitors require a valid Health Travel Authorization (HTA) for entry into Seychelles. This must be done through the online portal at seychelles.govtas.com. Visitors who have been to South Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil, within the 14 days preceding arrival to Seychelles are not permitted.”
Have you ever been to a black sand beach? NO? Well, Tahiti has loads of them, and they’re open for business to vaccinated travelers. Non-vaccinated or immune travelers must quarantine for 10 days, and valid negative PCR tests are still required on arrival within 72 hours of departure.
Most importantly, do NOT lose your vaccination card—it can mean the difference between an easy airport experience or getting stranded abroad. (Don’t worry, we've got you covered.)
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