Where can Americans travel to in February?

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We have reason for optimism that 2021 will be far better than 2020, what with vaccinations being rolled out across America, and of course a new President taking office, who appears determined to get on top of Covid.

This is clearly exciting, and good news for all, especially those keen to travel again. Whilst there are still restrictions on where Americans can travel, and judgment must be exercised, it is possible to travel – and make a difference – even in February.

However, the recent requirement for Americans to have a negative PCR test from within 72 hours of arriving back in the US and to self-isolate for 7-10 days when you return to the US needs to be kept in mind when you decide whether or not to travel.

And before you start planning your trip, it is important to ask yourself: “should I travel?” This is an individual decision, and some factors to take into account are:

  • your age (if you are over 70, reconsider travel right now)
  • your immunity levels and overall health
  • the prevalence of COVID-19 in the areas you are traveling to
  • the availability of travel insurance to cover you if you require hospitalization

Naturally, if you have COVID-19 you should not travel.

Before making any travel plans, check the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory page, which has links to country pages that explain restrictions. The countries I am suggesting below do not necessarily have low rates of COVID-19, and may even be against U.S State Dept recommendations. The situation for each country can change rapidly, so always check for updates before you travel.

The following countries allow Americans to visit in February with no quarantine (but you will have to self-isolate for at least 7 days when you get home, and present a negative PCR test), along with ways you can travel with purpose and give back whilst there, in sustainable eco-luxury:

USA

Yes, domestic travel is an awesome option! The USA is so underrated, with a plethora of incredible sights, and being so vast, space does not allow me to do anything more than scratch the surface, but here goes:

–       New Orleans is at its most temperate, with very pleasant temperatures, and where you can explore the bayous and the French Quarter, as well as help renovate a home damaged by Hurricane;

–       Florida is also best enjoyed in February, with Disneyworld open again, but don’t miss vibrant Miami (home to eco-luxe gem 1 Hotel South Beach) and the Keys (stay in Key West and enjoy superb snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park)

–       Texas is epic in winter, and this one state can keep you busy for weeks; for the intrepid luxury lover, head to Cibolo Creek Ranch, and from there discover Big Bend National Park, then go north to Dallas to make your trip meaningful by helping at Riding for the Disabled

–       Yellowstone can be explored by snowmobile in February – truly a bucket list experience to encounter herds of bison with steaming hot pools as the backdrop, surrounded by snow;

–       Alaska will be huge come the summer (book now to have any chance of securing a spot)

Costa Rica

Americans can enter Costa Rica with no PCR test required (but one is needed to re-enter the US).

February is peak season in Costa Rica, and thus is normally booked out many months ahead, so this your chance to stay in the sublime eco-luxe accommodation that Costa Rica does so well. My February favorite: El Silencio, which is donating 10% of your rate to fighting Covid in their community.

To be even more socially distanced, stay in villas with an in-house chef or book out captivating Kasiiya for your family’s exclusive use.

Costa Rica offers jungle, Fair trade coffee and chocolate, volcanoes, zip-line, kayak, spot wildlife, surf, snorkel, and much more.

Travel with compassion and purpose by helping at a free medical clinic that primarily for Nicaraguan refugees: enter patient data, take patient notes during consultations, dispense medications in the pharmacy, and generally make patients feel welcome and calm.

Or, volunteer at a wildlife rescue center or at a turtle protection site and inspire your kids to be wildlife conservationists.

Belize

You need to show a negative PCR test in order to enter Belize (and provide a negative PCR test taken within three calendar days of travel to re-enter the US).  You must stay at Gold Standard approved hotels, and travel with Gold Standard approved guides and operators.

Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America, and offers so much in its small size, from Mayan ruins in the jungle, to organic farming and chocolate making, blissful beaches and the 2nd longest Barrier Reef in the world with sublime snorkeling and the opportunity to dive the legendary Blue Hole.

You can inspire your children to be world changers by constructing an eco-friendly stove for a Mayan family, which enables you to meaningfully engage with the local culture and gain insights into their lives.

These stoves are superb because:

  1. They are much safer as they replace open flames and thus reduce burns, which are all too common with young children running around;
  2. They include a chimney to safely remove the smoke, reducing respiratory issues such as asthma and lung cancer;
  3. They are more fuel-efficient, so are a win from an environmental perspective as well.

Belize

Mexico

Fly to the Yucatan Peninsula where you can relax on the beach or get active and explore the Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza and Tulum, participate in a cooking class, swim in your own private cenote (fabulous freshwater underground limestone reservoirs)snorkel, swim with Whale Sharks (seasonal), or explore the spectacular Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. In Cancun you can make your time meaningful and teach at a school, sort donated clothes and food, renovate classrooms, or entertain the elderly at a Seniors Home.

Eco-luxe pick: Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Luxury volunteer travel Mexico

Kenya

Americans from all states except California, Texas and Florida can now enter Kenya without quarantine if the following conditions are met:

1) you do not have a body temperature above 99.5°F;

2) You do not have a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, or other flu-like symptoms;

3) You have a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test conducted within 96 hours of arrival.

Kenya has arguably the world’s best parks to encounter wildlife, with the iconic Masai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, Selankay, and Tsavo parks top of the list. A captivating coastline is also on offer (the archipelago of Lamu is like stepping into another world) as well as vibrant Nairobi (stay at Giraffe Manor if you would like giraffes to join you for breakfast!).

Help your children appreciate how fortunate they are and volunteer together to build a classroom in a school on the edge of the Masai Mara, or even help teach there. You will leave feeling like you are a Masai.

Kenya

Namibia

Namibia is perfect for social distancing as it has one of the lowest population densities on earth. What’s more, it is spectacular on an epic scale, from the world’s grandest sand dunes, to the second largest canyon in the world, to the haunting Skeleton Coast, and are the best place to observe desert-adapted elephants and rhinos.

Even better, you can leave a legacy and help conserve these desert elephants, preserving them from being shot by digging alternative water sources far from human settlements where elephants can hydrate without coming into conflict with villagers.

The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic no longer requires COVID tests, so you can travel there easily.

In addition to relaxing on the incredible beaches, Santo Domingo’s Zona Central is the oldest European city in the Americas and well worth wandering around in. Adventure loving families can descend the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua, white-water raft on the Caribbean’s only raftable river, and you can make 2021 positive by creating a basketball court to provide enjoyable exercise for the locals, or preparing and serving healthy food to young Dominicans in need of nutritious meals.

The Maldives

All Americans need to enter the Maldives is a negative PCR test result.

If you can tear yourselves away from arguably the world’s finest resorts and beaches and exploring the ocean’s delights, you can bond closer as a family, get immersed in the culture and change lives by helping build a classroom in the local village.

Ecuador

A negative COVID-19 test is your gateway to encounter the habituated wildlife on the Galapagos Islands with only a few tourists with you. You can even charter a yacht (my pick is Ecoventura’s Theory) to explore with just your family bubble (and your sanitized staff). Other parts of Ecuador, including the Amazon with its abundant wildlife, Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest, Otavalo Markets, colonial Cuenca, are all well worth exploring.

Show your children that 2021 will be a positive year by renovating a low-income day-care center, or by caring for the children in the center.

Luxury family volunteer vacation Ecuador

Rwanda

A negative COVID-19 test is required to enter Rwanda. You must provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate for a test taken no more than 120 hours before your initial flight. The U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers carry a printed copy of their negative test results during all legs of their flights to Rwanda.

Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills and although some are actually mountains, this is an apt description and with lakes interspersed, and savannah in the east offering excellent game viewing, it is a stunning country. Its awful recent past should not be ignored, and the genocide museum and memorials provide sobering overviews of what the people went through. Of course, the Mountain Gorillas are high on many peoples’ bucket list (I consider it one of the most spell-binding hours of my life), the minimum age to hike to them is 15, so keep this in mind if you have young children.

You can bond closer with your kids and make your trip even more memorable and significant by helping build a home for former street-kids in Kigali, Rwanda’s energetic capital.

Tanzania

Testing is no longer part of your entry requirements to Tanzania, and sublime safari beckons in reserves whose very names conjure up longing for adventure: the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Selous and Tarangire. You can marvel at – and even trek up – Mt Kilimanjaro, and the beaches and Stone Town of Zanzibar are a superb way to relax and finish off your trip.

Whilst in Tanzania, you can make a difference by building a home for a family – this is sure to be one of your highlights, and will get 2021 off to an awesome start.

Luxury volunteer vacation Tanzania

Whatever you end up doing in 2021, be safe and fill it with compassion!

NB: this is a fluid situation so the status of the destination you are interested in may have changed by the time you read this.

Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.





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