Place where I’d like to go now
COVID-19 has changed the travel landscape aplenty the last six months. IATA maintains a handy guide to current immigration (and quarantine) rules here. The information is updated every day and rather authoritative (through consulates often have more detailed information).
What's missing is the information on a per-state basis (i.e. Hawaii or Alaska in the US).
Here are my favorite places that I'd like to go to now.
Croatia & Serbia
Both countries have lifted restrictions for Americans and you are free to travel. This fits with the general 'down-to'earth' attitude I experienced in both places when I traveled last summer. Dubrovnik is a magical place and with less crowds even more so now. I also like Belgrade a lot.
Tahiti was one of the first countries to re-open. Just a negative COVI test is required.
Bora-Bora is one of the world's most stunning locales. It's unfortunate that the Intercontinental hotels in town do not accept the IHG Chase Free night vouchers anymore. However the Sofitel Bora Bora is often priced at just around $200 but it has not yet re-opened.
In general flights from San Francisco to Papeete trade around $250 one-way (on French Bee's new A350 or. United's 787 service).
I have dropped by the Maldives twice every year for the last 5 years. The island nation has re-opened without any COVID tests required. Alas you are not allowed into the main island (and likely also into Hulhumale).
That's a shame but there is even a Radisson in the Maldives now.
Rwanda deserved the title of the 'Switzerland of Africa'. It is more akin to Singapore in fact. I had a great time there - but keep in mind there is not too much to do in Kigali itself. The Gorilla Park Safaris are awesome but also $$$.
Neighboring Uganda and Kenya have not yet reopened but this may change.
Tanzania also opened up to tourism again. I can't think of a reason not to return to Zanzibar.
Turkey has lifted almost all COVID-19 related immigration restrictions. Turkey has so much to offer from Istanbul's- incredible food, great landscape and beaches and the Turkish Lira keeps dropping as we speak. It's very high on my list in fact.
Mexico has dropped almost all COVID-19 related restrictions. Many hotels in tourist areas have reopened. Mexico City wouldn't be my first choice but I finally wanna make it to Yucatan.
I had to cancel a planned to trip to Southern Egypt last year and I'd be curious to go back to Cairo too. Egypt has no more COVID-19 related restrictions.
I'm a big fan of the Dominican Republic and oddly enouh I keep going back to Santo Domingo once every year.
A negative COVID-19 test result is all you need.
Somewhat surprisingly Thailand has not lifted or loosened their quratanine requirements. Thailand is great place for digital nomads and long-term travelers - so what can you do? You can actually enter with a valid reason (Google a bit what constitutes that) but you will be subject to a 2 week quarantine. Some of the certified hotels look pretty nice and the total stay cost is around $2,000 for two weeks.
So you could simply go through two weeks of constant work (or Netflix) since you are not allowed to leave the room. After that all of Thailand is open to you (and there will be much fewer tourists around).
The situation is similar in South Korea - you will have to go through a two week 'work or Netflix camp' before you can roam around. South Korea is one of my favorite countries so it's something I actually consider.
Driving through the US
I just completed a road trip to Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, Zion National Park and Las Vegas. I loved it. Some states (notably Hawaii, Alaska, New York and New Jersey) have tougher quarantine requirements but most of the US is open for your exploration.
Even Brazilians and Europeans CAN travel to the US - but they need to first go to a third country (i.e. Mexico or Turkey) for at least 14 days.
European Union/ especially Greece + Tunisia
I do have a second passport and can travel to most EU countries. 'Most' because some countries require residency in the EU (which I do not have anymore) for entry. For some countries a COVID test is required but for others that is not a requirement.
Athens and Kos in Greece is high on my list to return to.
Prices seem to have fallen given the tourist apocalypse.
Tunis was a very positive surprise on my trip last year. It is open to EU passport holders (sadly not to US passport holders).
I have never been to Ecuador - it's been 'on my list' perennially. The country just dropped all COVID-19 related immigration restrictions.
Minsk (esp. in summer) is such a well working town. I had a blast last year.
The Ukraine has dropped all COVID-19 related restrictions. Kiev is great city (but more in summer than winter)
I had a great time in Brazil when I visited Recife, Manaus, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belem and Fortaleza in 2016. There are no more entry restrictions besides a valid health insurance.
What other countries will likely open up soon?
It is hard to predict but I'd wager that these countries may open up in the next six months:
- European Union (if the US drops their entry restrictions too)
What countries will take longer?
Some countries (for mostly political more than health reasons) will take longer to re-open. Be extra patient here.
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- China & Hong Kong
- Saudi Arabia