The sun is out, vaccines are out, and passports are starting to come out. As the world slowly begins to recover from the pandemic, summer solo travels of 2021 is becoming less of an aspirational Pinterest board and more of a reality. Before you spontaneously hop on the next flight out, there are still some important travel restrictions, risks, and precautions to make note of.
Here is a guide for where you can and cannot go, as of May 2021. Bear in mind that travel rules are changing constantly, and your best course of action at any point is to check the CDC website to see what risk level your destination is coded as.
Currently, travel in this area is advised against because of the recent COVID-19 spikes in countries like France, Germany, and Italy. As of May 3, the CDC website has coded the entire continent of Europe as Level 4: Very High Risk. The EU has designated a small (but growing) list of countries where tourists are accepted.
That being said, two weeks ago it was announced that Europe is planning to allow vaccinated American tourists back into their borders. While this has yet to be solidified, there are some European countries that are allowing Americans in early: Greece, Iceland, Croatia, the UK, Malta, Slovenia, and most Eastern European countries like Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, and Albania.
Traveling to India and most of South Asia at the moment is definitely not a good idea in light of the massive spike in cases happening at the moment. The US has banned nonimmigrant travelers from entering, though the ban does not encompass US citizens or residents and commercial flights between the US and India continue to operate. Creating tentative plans for South Asia travel for late summer is probably not a wise idea, as there is not nearly enough clarity on when the COVID wave will end there, and most businesses and activities are shut down.
South Asia may be off limits, but East and Southeast Asia are in fact classified as Level 1 (Low) and Level 2 (Moderate) Risks. In late April 2021, China began to accept vaccinated American tourists into the country. Thailand, a Level 2 country, is accepting American tourists but with a two-week mandatory quarantine upon arrival until July, when vaccinated Americans can enter without quarantining. Vietnam is another low-risk country with similar arrival requirements to Thailand. Malaysia and Indonesia, however, are Very High-risk countries that the CDC does not recommend traveling to until circumstances change.
Four out of five of Africa’s top tourist destinations (Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, and Mozambique) are essentially off-limits for American tourists. All four of these countries are labeled as Level 4 risks on the CDC website. While borders are not firmly closed to Americans, travel to these countries has various arrival requirements like mandatory COVID testing, quarantine periods, and enforced mask-wearing. Morocco, the number one most popular tourist destination in Africa, is at a slightly lower Level 3 risk but still has mandatory testing and quarantine enforced for all foreign travelers. Morocco is also under a partial lockdown at the moment, so if you do visit you may find certain activities and restaurants restricted.
Thanks to stellar pandemic policies and early-stage precautions, Australia and New Zealand have both been cruising at a mellow Level 1 (Low Risk) on the CDC website for months now. But their low cases is also due to incredibly low rates of international travel. To this day, Australia and New Zealand are not accepting American travelers. In fact, they are even restricting some Australian nationals entering from abroad. There is no new information on when this strict ban will end, and some even speculate that it won’t be for another two or three years. It is safe to say that you can knock Australia and New Zealand off your summer 2021 bucket list. Do keep an eye out on the situation, as travel restrictions and requirements are constantly changing—especially as vaccination rates climb.
North & Central America
Canada is a Level 4 (Very High Risk) country, and tourism travel is not recommended. The Canadian government has restricted travel by almost all foreign nationals, including Americans, for non-essential purposes. Most of North America including Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America are classified as Level 4 countries. Still, many flights are operating between the US and Mexico. Resorts and hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean remain open for Americans and usually offer COVID-testing on-site. The only countries in Central America and the Caribbean that are not Level 4 are El Salvador (Level 3), Belize (Level 2), and Haiti (Level 3). Despite the fact that flights are operating and resort deals are luring more and more travelers, it is recommended to vaccinate before your trip, wear a mask at all times, and avoid large social gatherings.
All countries in South America are listed as Level 4: Very High Risk, other than the Falkland Islands. Chile and Uruguay have a total ban on American entry, while Venezuela allows Americans under certain conditions. All other South American countries do allow Americans in as long as you have a negative COVID test and complete mandatory quarantines upon arrival (the length of quarantine varies per country, but generally falls between 10-14 days). Because tourism is a major industry in South America, many countries making optimistic opening plans to kickstart their economies by way of allowing tourists back in freely. These plans are yet to be confirmed, but your South American vacation may be on the horizon very soon—especially if you are vaccinated.
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By Sarah John & Chizoba Anyaoha
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