I think we can all agree that 2020 was a doozy, and with such a hard year behind us, we're all looking to surround ourselves with some inspiration for the start of 2021. Which for some, might include riding out the rest of the frigid, dark winter in a tropical paradise instead.
Looking to escape the cold this winter, but not really wanting to travel for just 1 or 2 weeks? A longer-term stay could be a great solution.
An extended trip in a warm country sounds ultra-intriguing these days, especially as many people are more location independent than ever.
Below, we’ve listed the Top 10 places you can escape to for the rest of winter – if you so choose to travel at this time.
Of course, these aren’t the only 10 places open for tourism in the world right now, but a curated list of ideas that take into account a wide range of budgets and experiences. Our criteria for the below list includes countries that have:
- easy enough entry requirements
- frequent and affordable flights (direct to/from USA, Canada, and Europe)
- great winter weather
- are actively seeking tourists
Remember, the decision to travel is your own. Travel Off Path does not recommend traveling when your local government advises against it. All the countries on this list have reopened for tourism and allowing visitors for non-essential reasons, but check with local authorities if you have any doubts about your itinerary. Traveling during the pandemic can come with risks, including potentially being stuck abroad or an increased risk of contracting the virus. Please do your independent research.
Looking at Aruba on a map, you'd think it would be a long journey, but you can fly there directly from NYC in just 4.5 hours, or Miami in just 3 hours.
Aruba is a great option for people who have ‘been there, done that' around the rest of the Caribbean. While prices aren't the most budget-friendly, monthly rental deals can still be found, especially with lower visitor rates this year.
Mexico is officially the easiest place to visit during the pandemic. Flights are frequent and affordable, tourist-friendly cities are in abundance throughout the nation, and the entire country has something for everyone.
Its ‘wide-open door' policy makes it very simple to go, but of course, that comes with a few cons as well. In reality, Mexico has a lot of active cases in some areas, so tourists will want to research their specific destination before going.
Entry Rules: no tests, no quarantines! Only a simple form needs to be filled out.
Tourists Can Stay: 180 days
Direct Flights From: Literally everywhere. Mexico is one of the most connected countries, flying to almost every major Canadian and American city, as well as Europe.
Turks and Caicos
Water lovers will fancy spending the rest of their winter snorkeling and diving in the Turks and Caicos, which boasts some of the best water activities in all of the Caribbean.
The islands are very easy to get to, being only a 1.45-hour flight from Miami.
Jamaica has positioned itself as the perfect place to get away during the pandemic. They have easy enough entry requirements to fulfill but are still very strict about safety.
In fact, Jamaica has seen some of the lowest case numbers in the western hemisphere, even with tourism actively recovering, due to their ‘travel corridor” restrictions that protect both visitors and locals.
Longer-stay tourists can contact hotels about extended stays, or choose a rental apartment inside the tourism corridor.
Entry Rules: 10-day PCR for arrivals from the USA, no tests or quarantines for Canadians. Read more about Jamaica's entry rules
Tourists Can Stay: 180 days
Direct Flights From: Calgary, Toronto, Atlanta, Dallas, London, and many more.
Warning, the Bahamas is not a great long-stay option for a budget traveler, but it sure is a beautiful one! While it can be tough to find a monthly rental under $2000, the ease and convenience of spending time on the islands might be worth the price for some.
The islands are vast and super close to the USA, in some cases a 45-minute flight, and with such great connectivity, easy to return home.
Entry Rules: 5-day PCR test to enter, 2nd PCR test after 4 days on the islands. See all the Bahamas entry rules
Tourists Can Stay: 90 days
Direct Flights From: Toronto, Houston, Montreal, Philadelphia, Orlando and many more
Colombia is a great option for budget travelers and also offers more than just coastal cities. With Mountain towns and high-altitude metropolises, Colombia delivers a wide variety of lifestyle options, more than just sandy beaches.
The entire nation has become much safer over the last decade and is now rated as one of the top backpacking destinations in the world.
Known for the ‘Pura Vida' way of life, unlimited outdoor adventure activities, lush national parks, super-chill beaches, and decent prices, it's no wonder Costa Rica draws snowbirds from all over the globe.
Costa Rica is also quite easy to enter, with no testing or quarantines. Tourists do however have to come with hefty travel health insurance for the total length of their stay.
The Dominican Republic has made one thing clear – they are open for tourism and want visitors to come on down. They're even providing free travel health insurance that covers covid for tourists staying in resorts or hotels.
The country is known for its beautiful pristine beaches, both luxury and budget resorts, incredible tropical weather, and a chill lifestyle, ticking all the boxes for a relaxing winter stay.
Curaçao, a Dutch island just off the coast of Venezuela, has recently updated its entry requirements to allow visitors from all American states, as well as many other nations.
While this hidden gem is lesser-known to many novice travelers, the island quickly becomes a favorite to most everyone that visits. To give you ideas on where to stay, the Curaçao tourism board has published a list of hotels, guest houses, and vacation rentals that are all health and safety approved.
St. Maarten is well known for its exotic native heritage, beautiful beaches and lagoons, a mountain range, luxury hotels and elegant villas.
While St. Maarten's tourism was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation has begun recovery after reopening for international tourists back in July.
Again, St. Maarten is not going to be the cheapest choice on the block, but remains popular for many other reasons.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories