Top 10 Places To Travel In 2021

After over a year in quarantine, travel for pleasure is finally coming back. To be sure, there are still places that aren’t open yet to tourists, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. There are also places, like Brazil and India, which are not deemed safe to travel to yet.

But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo vacationing this year too. No matter what kind of vacation you are looking for, whether it’s beaches, forests, mountains, or luxurious amenities, there are options available right now, under the right conditions. Here are the top 10 places to travel to in 2021 and what you need to know about Covid protocols and entry requirements if you’re going to go.

Costa Rica

This Central American nation borders the Caribbean and has become a bucket-list destination for many. There are pristine beaches and mysterious jungles, offering ziplining, surfing, and other adventuresome activities. Costa Rica is also gaining a reputation for conservation and sustainability, and has been progressive socially. The country is not at this time requiring vaccination or negative test results, and is only quarantining those who arrive by sea, not by air. Completing a health pass form is required, and you must have proof of travel medical insurance. Expect to follow all protocols like mask wearing and social distancing.

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New Mexico

One of the most overlooked states in the U.S., New Mexico has some of the wildest and most beautiful land in the southwest. It is home to tourist must-sees like Carlsbad Caverns and the Petroglyph National Monument. There are also quirky locations like Roswell, the UFO capital of the world, and Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed. Beautiful vistas range from the desert to the snow-capped mountains, and there are many resorts built around natural hot springs. In short, you can get a whole range of vacations in just one brief stop. 

Hawaii

Hawaii has always been a top destination, and consequently much of its revenue comes from the tourist trade. Locking down for the pandemic has cost the state a lot of money. But they have also managed to keep a lid on spreading the virus. You can visit Hawaii with a negative PCR Covid-19 test, or be prepared to spend 10 days quarantined in your hotel room. The great thing about visiting Hawaii now, though, is that there won’t be huge crowds. This will give you a more private experience and you’ll get more personal attention.

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Caribbean Islands

Want to get that sun/sea/surf fix but actually leave the U.S.? The Caribbean islands are just the spot. After a few rough years between the pandemic and assorted hurricanes, the islands are back up for business. The rules for entering the countries depend on who’s in charge. Some islands are Dutch, French, or English, and some are independent nations such as Jamaica. Fortunately, there are few places in the Caribbean that require more than a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination. Many of these countries will test you upon arrival. But once that’s out of the way, there are many secluded bungalow properties available for social distancing in a tropical paradise. 

Thailand

Thailand is one of the first Southeast Asian countries opening up for tourism. Phuket is scheduled to drop any quarantine requirements beginning in July, and other locations will follow afterwards. Thailand is hugely dependent on tourism for its economy and is eager to get back to business. If you’re looking for a faraway tropical destination with lovely resort towns and fascinating cultural displays, Thailand is a great bet.

A negative Covid PCR test within three days before departure is needed to enter the country. Alternatively, if you have proof of having recovered from Covid in the past three months, this will also be accepted. The bad news is you must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, and you will be subject to mandatory additional Covid tests during your stay. But the good news is, if you’re fully vaccinated you only have to quarantine for seven days.

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Iceland

Looking for something a little more dramatic in the north? Iceland is the home of massive glaciers, active volcanoes, and aurora borealis at night. It is a perfect nature lover’s destination. All you need to enter the country besides your passport is proof of vaccination or prior Covid infection. (This means you need actual documentation of having had the disease previously.) Otherwise, you must adhere to testing and quarantining requirements. Just a few hours away from New York’s JFK airport, Iceland is an increasingly popular destination for good reasons.

French Polynesia

Just an eight-hour plane trip from San Francisco or Los Angeles, the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea reopened to tourists in May and are expecting to do well. U.S. travelers to these islands face no visa or quarantine restrictions at this time, but there are Covid testing requirements before departure, upon arrival, and on day four of your visit. You are required not to travel internationally for 30 days before your visit, and you must fill out an online ETIS form before you go.

In an encouraging move to tourists, Tahiti has initiated a Common Cancellation policy until November 1. This means that if your trip is cancelled due to an unexpected lockdown or a positive test result, they will waive the change and cancellation fees normally imposed.

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Kenya

Many parts of Africa are still struggling with containing the coronavirus. But Kenya is one African country that has done a good job getting its tourism economy going again. The country does require negative test results within 96 hours of arrival, and you need a visa to enter the country in addition to your passport.

While Kenya is still under many protocols for coronavirus, such as curfews and limited indoor gatherings, the wide open spaces are still out there. And with resorts operating at one-third capacity, your tourist dollars will go a long way and you have many more options. Properties that are hard to get into normally, like the Giraffe Hotel in Nairobi, actually have available reservations at this time.

Croatia

This beautiful country on the Adriatic is currently famous for being the site of many locations in the TV series Game of Thrones. But scenic towns and cobbled streets are only half of the story. Croatia has some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the Mediterranean, second only perhaps to Greece. Negative Covid-19 tests are required before entering the country, and if you stay longer than 10 days you will be required to retest. But there is plenty to do. While sporting events and nightclubs remain closed, open air venues and casinos are still open. 

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California Wine Country

Tourism to Northern California’s famous wine regions in the Napa and Sonoma counties has been hard hit in recent times. Not only has tourism slowed to a crawl thanks to the pandemic, but huge wildfires in the past few years have decimated parts of the area.

But that’s not stopping the wineries and resorts from kicking into gear this year, ready to show off their resilience. Even the famous Napa Valley Wine Train is back on track. If you’re not into wine, the area has many other amenities, such as geyser hot springs, hot air ballooning, and some of the best restaurants in the state.