Every week more countries are reopening to U.S. travelers, but which will deliver a Covid-era experience you’ll be happy with? We asked our WOW Listers based around the world to share on-the-ground intelligence in a live conversation and Q&A on May 3, 2021. During this WOW Week talk, they shared smart options for travelers and weighed in on whether you’re better off going soon, or later this year, or next year instead.
The hour was packed with valuable trip-planning insights, which we’ve outlined here for quick reference. Watch the video above for the full conversation (start at 3:25, which is when viewers had arrived and we got started in earnest.) For a complete list of the countries that are open to U.S. travelers now, click here. And for a list of the countries where vaccinated U.S. travelers can go with no pre-trip testing required, click here.
The most popular U.S. national parks will be packed this summer. Forward the video to 10:40 to learn about lesser-known yet spectacular national parks. Read reviews of superb national-park trips that our readers have taken during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire to ensure your own national-parks trip is extraordinary.
To hear about Colorado ski resorts in summertime (where you’ll find 5-star hotels at 3-star prices) and Hawaii specials, skip to 13:10. Read reviews of exciting ski-resort and tropical-resort vacations during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire for a five-star mountain or beach vacation.
To learn how to visit Disney World safely, skipping the lines and enjoying private experiences, forward the video to 16:10. Read reviews of Disney trips during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire for a low-risk, high-reward Disney trip.
For Alaska by small expedition ship (think Glacier Bay all to yourself, with no large cruise ships and everyone on your ship vaccinated), skip to 17:45. Use our questionnaire for a low-risk Alaska adventure.
To learn about safe travel to Mexico, with no pre-trip Covid testing required, skip to 20:47. Read reviews of successful Mexico trips during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire for a low-risk, high-reward experience there.
Think Belize for Caribbean beaches, coral reefs, and boating adventures, and forward the video to 25:00. Read reviews of Belize trips during the pandemic so you can understand why we’re recommending it so highly, and use our questionnaire for a low-risk, low-hassle trip there.
If your dream is a private overwater bungalow in Tahiti or Bora Bora, skip to 28:30 to learn how French Polynesia has kept Covid cases low. Read reviews of these islands during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire to get your own extraordinary experience of French Polynesia.
To learn about safe sailing in the Galapagos Islands, with few other boats around, skip to 32:00. Read reviews of Galapagos trips during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire for a low-risk, high-reward trip there.
Pre-Covid-style private-island idylls in the Maldives are addressed at 36:14. Read about Brook’s trip to the Maldives during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire for a low-risk, high-reward trip there.
“Outdoor Museums”: A Unique Moment for Iconic Sights Without the Crowds
Soak up Croatia‘s medieval walled towns and charming islands, minus the tour groups and cruise hordes that normally pack the streets in summertime. Learn more at 48:06. Read reviews of carefully planned Croatia trips during the pandemic, and use our questionnaire for your own low-risk, high-reward experience there.
Turkey‘s legendary archaeological sites are all but empty, no tour groups or cruise crowds in sight. Watch the video at 50:42, and use our questionnaire for an extraordinary Turkey trip.
In Morocco, you can stroll the winding alleyways in the medinas of Marrakech and Fez with few people around and enjoy private, plush, well-ventilated villas, with external entrances off charming courtyards, at a great value. Watch at 1:16:08, and use our questionnaire for an extraordinary Morocco trip.
Egypt has few visitors at its tombs and temples now, and you can spend most of your time outdoors, sailing in feluccas along the Nile and dining al fresco. Skip to 1:13:10 to learn more, and use our questionnaire for an extraordinary Egypt trip.
African Safaris: If You’re Vaccinated, an Optimal Moment is Actually Right Now
A well-constructed Kenya safari can be safe from start to finish, with physical distancing, private vehicles, standalone accommodations, and abundant wildlife throughout. Local infections are low in much of Africa, and in Victoria Falls, the gateway to Zimbabwe, the entire local population has been vaccinated. Watch at 1:03:18 and read reviews of safe safaris during the pandemic. Then use our questionnaire for your own low-risk, extraordinary safari.
In Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia, private and socially-distanced experiences are easily had now, and you will pay much less this year than next. (As we learned from professor of pathology Dr. Timothy Triche in our to-be-published-soon WOW Week Zoom talk on May 4, the situation in South Africa has improved dramatically, it looks like herd immunity has been reached there, and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective against the South Africa variant.) Watch at 1:05:50, and use our questionnaire for a low-risk, high-reward safari.
Western Europe: Summer and Fall Possibilities
Consider France in the fall, once the summer crowds from other European countries have dissipated. Forward the video to 41:20, and use our questionnaire for an extraordinary trip to France.
Italy’s iconic museums and monuments, as well as transportation around the country, are all operating at reduced capacity, so book ahead to get the timing you want. A WOW trip should be feasible starting in July. Watch at 56:10, and use our questionnaire for an extraordinary trip to Italy.
Fall is a lovely time for Italy’s many outdoor delights, from ancient ruins to village-to-village hikes to cooking experiences on farms and in vineyards. Skip to 59:00 and use our questionnaire for safe itineraries in Italy’s countryside this fall.
Thanks to the success of the vaccination roll-outs in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, travel without quarantine could resume between the two countries as early as this summer. Watch at 1:01:17, and use our questionnaire for an extraordinary trip to the U.K.
Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.
What about Portugal and Spain?
You can keep up to date on which countries are open, and their rules/restrictions in our other article, “The Countries That Are Open to U.S. Travelers and What You’ll Find There,” which we update with news as it is announced.