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 five favorite destinations you can travel to this summer.
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.
Paradise on the world’s second largest barrier reef. The colorful Central American country has maintained its position as one of the world’s destinations with the fewest number of coronavirus infections (total cases stand at only 37) and the Prime Minister of Belize recently announced that international flights will resume from August 15th.
Do you have to take a COVID-test to enter Belize? Yes – PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. At the airport, travelers will undergo shoe sanitizing and a thermal imaging camera check. Anyone whose temperature falls under 100F may proceed. Travelers will also need to register for the Belize Health App, where they will be allocated a unique number.
Does Belize require visitors take a 14-day quarantine? No
Which airlines fly to Belize? American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, United
What's the best way to travel to Belize? This is a new normal, but decades of running trips to Belize before that—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 best snorkeling and take you on private tours with friends who are cacao farmers, to Mayan sites without the masses and alongjungle trails with heaps of wildlife but hardly any people.
When can I travel to Belize? Belize will be welcoming guests from August 15, 2020, after which you can visit on any date that suits you with a Classic Journeys private tour.
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.
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.