Ever since the first signs of travel started returning to normal, people around the world have been eager to finally take their long-awaited vacations, which has led to an increase in passport renewals.
With more and more countries easing all restrictions, travelers are now booking trips in record numbers.
Increased demand for passports in the United States has led to a backlog in applications, increased processing times, and wait periods of up to 2-3 months.
The U.S. Department of State suggested that Americans might see even more delays as summer travel approaches.
Even with a passport in hand, some countries require your passport to have at least six months of validity beyond the departure date, a specific number of blank pages left in your passport, or even a visa that you must apply for beforehand.
Whatever the case, Americans have options that don’t require a passport other than a great American road trip.
Although that is well worth consideration, if you’re craving that overseas feeling without the need for a passport, you’re in luck.
The United States has a handful of breathtaking territories scattered across the Caribbean and Pacific that are accessible to Americans – no passport needed.
These territories offer a unique blend of American culture and local traditions, stunning beaches, and lush landscapes.
Here’s where Americans can travel off the mainland without a passport:
Traveling to Puerto Rico offers an enticing mix of sun and sand, natural beauty, and vibrant culture.
The island’s tropical climate means warm temperatures and occasional showers but also lush greenery and blooming flowers.
The summer months of June to August are considered the high season for tourists, so be prepared for both higher temperatures and bigger crowds.
However, there are many festivals and events taking place during this time, including the San Juan Bautista Festival celebrations in June.
It’s a great time to bask on the island’s beautiful beaches, try out the local cuisine, and explore the historic sites and colorful streets of Old San Juan.
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For a quieter time, you can consider the islands of Culebra and Vieques, which are both a short ferry ride from Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.
Although nearby, these islands see less tourist traffic and offer some incredible natural beauty.
Both islands are covered in nature reserves, with Vieques being home to an impressive bioluminescent bay as well as wild horses roaming the beaches.
The U.S. Virgin Islands
Right next door to Puerto Rico you’ll find the U.S. Virgin Islands (not to be confused with the neighboring British Virgin Islands).
The archipelago is made up of several islands and cays, with the three main islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John being the largest.
Although they are in the same geographical area as Puerto Rico, summer is actually the low season here, giving visitors the best deals on hotels as well as fewer crowds.
While all three islands share a rich cultural heritage, each has its own unique characteristics.
St. Thomas, the most populated of the three, is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, diversity, and vibrant nightlife scene. Aside from its luxury shopping and dining options, it also has historical sites such as Fort Christian and Blackbeard’s Castle.
St. John has a more laid-back, eco-friendly vibe, with a focus on preserving its natural beauty. The island is smaller and more secluded, with over 60% of its land designated as a national park. It is renowned for its pristine beaches, hiking trails, and ecotourism activities.
St. Croix, the largest, offers a mix of historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures. Its blend of African, Danish, and French influences results in a distinct cultural fusion.
Visitors to St. Croix can try local rum, go horseback riding, or explore the Buck Island Reef National Monument.
All three islands offer opportunities for sunbathing on the sandy beaches or activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The Northern Mariana Islands
The most underrated – and possibly even unknown – destination on this list is the Northern Mariana Islands.
Part of the Mariana Archipelago, the 14 islands are located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. (Guam, although part of the same archipelago, is a separate territory and does require a passport to enter.)
This off-the-beaten-path tropical paradise provides opportunities for outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, and peace and tranquility.
Like St. Croix, the Northern Mariana Islands also have a unique blend of cultural influences, including Micronesian, American, and Asian.
Visitors can watch traditional dance performances, indulge in the cuisine, and enjoy local crafts.
Of course there’s also plenty of diving and snorkeling to be done, as well as historical sites offering a look into the island’s World War II past.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Sunday 23rd of April 2023
When did Guam start requiring a passport? I missed that.