We’ve covered which states are open (read here), and which U.S. destinations offer the experience most similar to a number of famed international locales (read how Alaska’s an awesome wildlife tracking alternative to South Africa and The San Juan Islands’ lavender will have you thinking you are in Provence, here).
But that’s all within the U.S. What if you cannot contemplate not using the passport once this year? A) you’re not alone and b) it’s actually possible. Our tour operations team is talking to local and federal governments and our local guides in every one of our regions weekly. And we’re seeing border updates and new destinations available every time we check.
And if some international borders are open, is a culturally-rich, crowd-free experience achievable? It appears to be the case. Look at Croatia as an example. Its National Tourist Board is projecting tourism to be at 30% of 2019 levels in 2020. And with the Center for Disease Control and the Cruise Line Industry Association extending their ‘no cruise’ ban until deeper into 2020 (or possibly into 2021), it means even fewer travelers at the most popular tourist sites during prime visiting times. The result may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk the cobblestone streets of Dubrovnik with just locals, or to explore the ruins at Ephesus without ever seeing a crowd of 100 passengers following an activities coordinator with a tall flag leading the masses.
Even before COVID, the biggest travel trend of 2020 was the continued migration from large group tourism to small group tours to micro-groups and private tours. And now, the driver for this trend continuing is that micro and private groups are adaptable to social distancing, support local businesses, allow for travel within your household or in a very small group of likeminded travelers (who have all been tested negative), so that everyone feels safe and comfortable in their micro group.
We’re keeping an eye on the world and talking to our guides, hoteliers, and local municipalities daily. Here are our favorite destinations you can travel to now.
South Africa opened to all international travelers on November 11. In a statement, South Africa's chief of tourism, Sisa Ntshona, said:
“We know that now more than ever, traveler behavior is influenced by trust and confidence so our country has put in place globally-benchmarked health and safety protocols...we look forward to welcoming those tourists that are able to come. They can finally get to enjoy the wide-open spaces, scenic landscape, unique and authentic cultural experiences that South Africa has to offer."
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter South Africa? Yes. Negative results from a PCR test must be provided, and they must be given no more than 72 hours before your date of departure. You will also be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival at the airport, and if you show any symptoms, you will have to take another test at your own cost.
Does South Africa require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No. Unless you test positive, in which case you will be required to self-quarantine for 10 days.
What's the best way to travel to South Africa? On one of our expertly planned Culture + Walking, Family or custom-made itineraries, with a local guide who has a phenomenal knowledge of the areas you'll visit, as well as all the emergency contacts necessary and a plan B, C and D should any issue arise during your trip. (Click here to read how our South Africa guide, Clive, helped two Classic Journeys guests get the last flight out of Cape Town in early 2020.)
Which airlines fly to South Africa? United (nonstop from New York-Newark), Delta, American Airlines, South African Airways, British Airways, Emirates
When can I travel to South Africa? Anytime, South Africa is open to US travelers now. Join one of our published tours, or book a private trip on any date of your choosing.
Americans who have a reservation with a hotel and travel agency (a Classic Journeys tour has that covered) can now enter and leave Morocco.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Morocco? Yes. All travelers are required to take a test within 72 hours of entering Morocco. Printed results must be presented at check in and arrival. Children aged under 11 don't need to take a test.
Does Morocco require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No
What's the best way to travel to Morocco? With a local guide who is completely on top of the evolving situation of social distancing requirements in Morocco. Our Culture + Walking, Multisport and Family tours will be adapted to the official #SafeTravels guidelines for the dates of your trip.
Which airlines fly to Morocco? Royal Air Maroc are running a direct flight from JFK International airport and Casablanca.
When can I travel to Morocco? Morocco is open to US travelers now.
Since November 1 Costa Rica has been open to visitors from any country. This follows a staggered opening to U.S. travelers from certain states, since the start of October.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Costa Rica? No. Since October 28, no COVID test is needed (prior to that, a negative PCR test was required).
Each traveler will need to complete an electronic epidemiological HEALTH PASS form. It has to show proof of valid health insurance that covers medical expenses (for at least US $50,000) and accommodation (for at least US$2000) if they contract COVID-19 while in Costa Rica.
Does Costa Rica require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No.
What's the best way to travel to Costa Rica? Safe in the hands of your expert local guide, who knows Costa Rica inside out, from its history, to its natural wonders, to how travel has adapted in this 'new normal'.
Which airlines fly direct to Costa Rica? Delta, United, American, Southwest, Spirit, JetBlue
When can I travel to Costa Rica? If you live in one of the permitted states, you can visit Costa Rica on any date, whether on one of our scheduled multisport, family or turtle nesting tours, or a private or custom trip on a date of your choosing. If your state isn’t included in the list, keep an eye on this page, which we will keep updated with the latest information.
Ecuador & The Galápagos
These isolated volcanic islands burst in biodiversity, and from hundred-year-old tortoises to newborn sea lions, the wondrous wildlife of The Galápagos is welcoming visitors once again.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Ecuador and the Galápagos? Yes – negative PCR test results must be provided, taken no more than 10 days before entering. If you do not have results to provide, you will be required to take a test upon arrival at your own expense, and quarantine while you wait for results. There will also be temperature checks at the airports.
Do Ecuador and the Galápagos islands require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No, unless you test positive for COVID.
Which airlines fly to Ecuador and the Galápagos? American Airlines, Delta, LATAM, United, jetBlue
What's the best way to travel to Ecuador and the Galápagos? This is a new normal, but years of running trips to the islands—and guides who’ve been on the ground throughout—are the key to ensuring a trip is socially distant as well as smooth and spectacular as ever. We’ll show you where to eat the best ceviche, which beach has the cutest baby sea lions and the best spot for snorkeling with sea turtles, and take you and alongjungle lava trails with heaps of wildlife but hardly any people.
When can I travel to Ecuador and the Galápagos? The islands are welcoming guests from the U.S. now, and you can visit on any date that suits you with a Classic Journeys private tour.
Direct flights between America and Peru have resumed, Machu Picchu has reopened, and we've created a safe travel bubble. Questions? Read our expert Q&A here.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Peru? Yes. A negative RT-PCR test must be presented, no more than 72 hours after it was issued. Other health screening procedures (temperature checks, hand and shoe sanitization) are in place in Peru's ports of entry.
Does Peru require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No, unless they contract the virus.
What's the best way to travel to Peru? Join the Classic Journeys Peru travel bubble, where our Family and Culture + Walking tours have been adapted to social distancing and safety requirements. Or book a private trip exclusively with friends and family.
Which airlines fly direct to Peru? United, Delta, Spirit, American, LATAM, JetBlue, Avianca.
When can I travel to Peru? Anytime. Peru is open now.
After December 7, there will be no mandatory quarantine for all travelers entering Chile through Santiago Airport.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Chile? Yes. Negative PCR test results must be presented before you board your flight to Chile. The test must have been taken within 72 hours of boarding. Anyone who does not provide a valid negative result will not be permitted to fly. All travelers must have health insurance covering any possible needs associated with COVID. They must also complete a Heath Passport.
Does Chile require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No.
What's the best way to travel to Chile? Travel with a local guide who is fluent in English and Spanish, and has all he necessary connections in the places you are visiting (as well as a plan B, C and D) should circumstances change for whatever reason. Form a vacation bubble with other travelers on a group tour, or book a private trip exclusively for your friends or family.
Which airlines fly direct to Chile? Delta, United, American, LATAM.
When can I travel to Chile? Anytime after December 7.
Colombia was one of the biggest trending travel destinations before border closures put a dramatic pause on tourism. As of September 21, those closures have now lifted to a select list of countries including the USA.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Colombia? Yes. Visitors will have to show negative results of a PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival. You will also need to complete a CheckMig form to enter.
Does Colombia require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No, this changed on October 1. As long as your test results are negative, you will not have to quarantine.
What's the best way to travel to Colombia? Fly in with your preferred airline, then your Colombian guide will meet you and fill your trip with authentic experiences. Travel in a micro group on one of our scheduled tours, or together with friends or family on a private departure.
Which airlines fly direct to Colombia? American, United, JetBlue, Spirit, Avianca
When can I travel to Colombia? Anytime, as of October 1 all land and sea borders are open. Choose between our scheduled tours or a request a private trip on any date that suits you.
From October 12, Panama’s borders will reopen to all visitors, regardless of the state or country they are traveling from.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Panama? Yes. Within 48 hours of arrival. If your results are older than this, you will need to pay for a rapid test at the airport, which will cost around $30. Travelers will also need co complete an electronic affidavit declaring that they will comply with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 safety protocol.
Does Panama require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? Only if they contract COVID, in which case they will have to quarantine for seven days in a hotel paid for by the government. If they test negative at the end of the quarantine period, they can continue to travel in Panama.
What's the best way to travel to Panama? On one of our micro-group tours adapted to social distancing, or on a private tour within your 'vacation bubble' of friends or family.
Which airlines fly direct to Panama? United, Delta, Spirit, American, Copa
When can I travel to Panama? Anytime from October 12 onwards. Join one of our family, multisport or special edition tours, or ask us to custom make a private Panama trip suited to your dates and needs.
For those of us craving Europe’s fairy-tale coastal charm, Croatia’s been a leader in flattening the curve and is now welcoming travelers from America under the category of ‘Third party countries’.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Croatia? Yes, negative PCR test, taken within 48 hours of border crossing. You will need to present proof of your Classic Journeys hotel booking and reservation of your COVID test. Your guide and driver will take you directly to your hotel, and transport you to your drive-in test. Once results are available (same day or morning after), you can freely travel through Croatia.
Does Croatia require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No, unless you refuse to take a test.
Which airlines fly to Croatia? Delta, American, United
What's the best way to travel to Croatia? On a carefully curated tour with our Croatian guides, who have been named best in the country and guide the Croatian president and family. Their local knowledge will bring you to the best bits of Dubrovnik, and lovely, lesser-known areas where you can get a truly authentic experience (or even the perfect Game of Thrones photo op). Intimate interactions woven into your itinerary might include exclusive winery visits, the best table of the best restaurant booked on your behalf, or a picnic in a picturesque spot of the Dalmatian coast that tourists haven’t discovered. We will also ensure you have the necessary documents to present at the airport so that you can proceed with your trip.
When can I travel to Croatia? The country is open now and our Croatia guides have already been hosting US travelers. Our Dubrovnik to Split Culture + Walking tours depart on September 6 and October 4. Private tours put you in charge of whatever dates and details work for you, and for 2020 they don’t cost more than scheduled tours for groups of 6 or more.
Rich in history, rivetingly pretty, cuisine worth crossing continents for. Turkey has shown a steady decrease in cases of COVID and is reopening for tourism along the guidelines of the country’s ‘Safe Tourism Certification Program’, which sets in place standards for cleanliness and safe social distancing.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Turkey? No, unless screening on arrival shows a high temperature.
Does Turkey require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? If tested positive for coronavirus.
Which airlines fly to Turkey? Turkish Airlines (Houson, LA, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC).
What's the best way to travel to Turkey? There’s no need to write off the sensory spectacle that is Istanbul because of crowd concern—not with the total absence of cruise ship passengers who normally flood the capital city and your own local Classic Journeys guide who knows the backroads like the back of their hand and has a plan b and c for every part of your trip, just in case. And you can’t social distance more spectacularly than in your own yacht, cruising the Turkish coast. Sail between secret coves, sleepy villages and stunning islands, stopping to take a coastal walk or visit an ancient attraction—all handpicked and planned to give you the most authentic, crowd-free experience possible.
When can I travel to Turkey? Turkey is open for US travelers now. Pick your dates, tell us your preferences, and we’ll put together the perfect private Turkey tour for your group.
Commercial flights and public transport are operating in beautiful Montenegro, which has been gradually reopening since July. Americans can now visit with negative COVID tests. You need to fly direct to Montenegro, or if you've stopped at or connecting through another country en route, it must be a country permitted to enter Montenegro. Here is the list of permitted countries.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Montenegro? Yes. You'll need a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, or a positive antibody test (ELISA serologic test) taken within 72 hours. Children aged under 5 do not need to be tested. There will be additional health screening (such as temperature checks and hand sanitization) at the airport.
Does Montenegro require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No, unless you contract COVID.
What's the best way to travel to Montenegro? Form a vacation bubble when you book our tour privately on any date for friends and family, or join one of our scheduled tours where all necessary measures will be taken to adapt to social distancing and cleaning standards.
Which airlines fly to Montenegro? Montenegro Airlines, Air Serbia, Alitalia, Etihad, and Air France.
When can I travel to Montenegro? Montenegro is open to U.S. travelers now.
The off-grid gorgeousness of Tahiti’s islands is open to all travelers arriving by air, and the abundance of outdoor activities—hikes to waterfalls and blue lagoon bike rides, paddle boarding, canoes—makes social distancing second nature.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Tahiti? Yes, negative PCR test results must be presented, taken no longer than 3 days prior to travel. Then another self-test has to be taken 4 days after arrival (this will be given to travelers at the airport). Each visitor will also need to complete a ‘Sanitary Entry’ form.
Does Tahiti require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No
What's the best way to travel to Tahiti? With a guide—and local islander—in the lead throughout your trip, you’re in safe hands when it comes to recommending restaurants for the best French cuisine, showing you the best sunset spots and much more.
When can I travel to Tahiti? Tahiti is open now and private tours can be totally tailored to your preferences when it comes to the date you arrive and depart.
It’s long been legendary for its Piton peaks, but St Lucia’s been praised this year for its absence of peaks in infection. The island has seen only 22 cases and zero fatalities and its phased approach for slow, safe reopening is setting the benchmark for travel in the ‘new normal’. Hotels and businesses are having to qualify for certification by meeting several set criteria for sanitization and social distancing, and while reopening only began recently, requirements and restrictions have already been eased (as opposed to increased, as seen elsewhere). The next phase, expected to further ease restrictions by allowing more activities and excursions, begins August 1.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter St Lucia? Yes, negative PCR test results must be provided, taken within 7 days of travel (formerly 48 hours). All passengers will be screened and temperature checked and must also complete a pre-Arrival Travel Registration Form.
Does St Lucia require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No
Which airlines fly direct to St Lucia? American Airlines (Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia) JetBlue (New York, Boston) Delta (Atlanta) United Airlines (New Jersey and Chicago)
What's the best way to travel to St Lucia? A local guide gives you insider island knowledge you just can’t get from a guidebook. Like where to get the best view of the Piton peaks…which beach you’ll have to yourself at sunset…which fisherman will catch the meatiest marlin for the perfect Caribbean picnic. Plus, they’ll have alternative activities should any plans change thanks to an island-wide network of friends and family.
When can I travel to St Lucia? Whenever you like. The island is open to international visitors and our private St Lucia tours can be arranged on your preferred travel dates.