Thanks to COVID-19 being not yet under control in the US, the number of countries offering visa-free access to Americans has decreased markedly to about 40 countries, and several of these have restrictions.
But before you start packing your bags, it is important to ask if you should travel. This is a personal judgment call, and factors to take into account are:
- your age
- your immunity levels and overall health
- the prevalence of COVID-19 in the areas you are traveling to
- travel insurance to cover you if you require hospitalization
Naturally, if you have COVID-19 you should not travel.
Before making any plans or going, check the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory page, which has links to country pages that explain restrictions. The countries on the following lists do not necessarily have low rates of COVID-19. The situation for each country can change rapidly, so always check for updates if you must travel.
The following countries allow Americans to visit with no testing or quarantine, along with ways you can make a difference whilst there, in luxury):
Health insurance covering COVID-19 is required.
So much to explore, from the Amazon and Pantanal, to Rio and Salvador, plus Iguassu Falls, Lencois Maranhenses, Paraty and Buzios for good measure. You can help run sports clinics in Rio to make it meaningful.
2. Dominican Republic
You are subject to random breath tests.
In addition to relaxing on the beautiful beaches, you can help create a basketball court or provide healthy meals to young Dominicans.
If you can tear yourselves away from arguably the world’s finest beaches, you can get immersed in the culture and help build a classroom in the local village.
You must arrive by plane, and the Yucatan Peninsula is a great choice, where you can explore the Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza and Tulum, swim in your own private cenote (freshwater sinkhole), snorkel, swim with Whale Sharks (seasonal), or discover the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. Whilst there, you can teach at a school, sort donated clothes and food, renovate classrooms, or entertain the elderly at a Seniors Home.
You may be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, so it is best to have a negative test just before you leave the US. Safari beckons in spectacular parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Selous. You can see and even trek up Mt Kilimanjaro, and the beaches of Zanzibar are a superb way to round out your trip.
Whilst there, you can make your trip meaningful by building a home for a family.
The following destinations allow Americans to enter, with some restrictions:
6. Costa Rica
A test is required, and only certain US states can enter (this is subject to change).
An extraordinary country that leads the world in terms of eco-luxury, you can view volcanoes, zip-line, kayak, spot wildlife, surf, snorkel, and much more.
Inspire your kids to be wildlife conservationists by helping at a wildlife rescue center or at a turtle protection site.
A COVID-19 test is required, and if you pass, the rare opportunity to encounter the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands with few tourists awaits. The same applies to the Amazon, Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest, Otavalo Markets, colonial Cuenca, and more.
Make your stay meaningful by renovating a low-income daycare center in Quito.
Travelers from Texas, California, and Florida must quarantine for 14 days, but if you live in one of the 47 other states, you can catch the end of the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara with far fewer visitors than in previous years.
Other wildlife parks, Mt Kenya and a gorgeous coastline are also on offer, plus you can help your children appreciate how fortunate they are by working together to build a classroom in a school on the edge of the Masai Mara.
A COVID-19 test is required to enter Rwanda.
One of the world’s most beautiful countries, with its mountains and lakes, its harrowing recent past should not be ignored, and the genocide museum and memorials are excellent. And of course, there is the Mountain Gorillas (minimum age to hike to them is 15) – the hour you spend with them is unforgettable.
You can bond closer with your kids and help build a home for former street-kids in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.
Taking a PCR test within 72 hours of your arrival date will help ‘fast track’ your arrival process. You may still be required to take a test on arrival. You must stay at Gold Standard approved hotels, and travel with Gold Standard approved guides and operators.
Inspire your children to be world changers and build an eco-friendly stove for a Mayan family.
Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects.