So you're ready to hit the skies for an international flight after more than a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions, but where can you go? Some countries are reopening to Americans, but the degree of reopening varies.
Some countries will let you in, but only if you agree to a multiday quarantine. Other countries require a negative COVID-19 test even if you're vaccinated, which will add extra items to your pre-departure to-do list.
These locations are among the least complicated to get into and are largely embracing American tourists this summer:
Mexico has always been one of the most convenient countries for Americans to visit because of the short flights. Now, it's among the countries with the fewest restrictions for entry: According to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, travelers do not need a negative COVID-19 test and there is no requirement to provide proof of vaccination.
Instead, you'll need to fill out a form at the Vuela Seguro website to complete a quick but mandatory health questionnaire, either upon arrival in Mexico or up to 12 hours before your arrival. After completing the questionnaire, you'll receive a personal QR code. Screenshot this QR code and save it to your phone for easy access as you'll need to show it before immigration processing in Mexico. Save yourself some time by filling it out in advance and you'll walk right past all the other passengers scrambling to fill it out at the airport.
2. THE BAHAMAS
Visitors traveling to the Bahamas who are fully vaccinated with approved vaccines and have passed the two-week immunity period are exempt from COVID-19 testing requirements.
If you haven't yet been vaccinated, you can still visit, but you must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test no more than five days before arrival. You need to upload vaccination proof or a negative test result to the Bahamas travel health site, as well as apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa, which costs $40 for U.S. visitors.
Once you're there, there are a few restrictions, including curfews between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Nassau and Paradise Island, and between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Grand Bahama Island. While you're permitted to roam around your resort during those hours, you can't be out on the town.
If the Bahamas isn't the perfect fit for you, consider one of the other Caribbean island nations, as many have similarly easy access rules.
3. THE EUROPEAN UNION
The European Union announced in May that it would welcome fully vaccinated travelers who have received EU-approved vaccines without needing to take a test or quarantine.
Individual countries will create systems to check vaccination status, and member states will set their own requirements. Some countries are using what's called an EU Digital COVID Certificate for travel clearance. The certificates are expected to become available in all EU member states as of July 1. An EU spokesperson told media outlets that the certificate system may soon be available to U.S. citizens, but that decision is up to individual countries for now.
More EU countries will open as the summer progresses. But for now, popular destinations like Spain , Greece and Germany are open for U.S. tourists who can prove they've been vaccinated. Unvaccinated children should also be allowed in when traveling with vaccinated parents but may need a negative test in place of vaccination. If you're eyeing a specific EU country for your summer travel, check the U.S. Embassy website for entry requirements.
WHAT ABOUT RETURNING TO THE U.S.?
While these countries may let you in, don't discount your return trip home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires that all airline passengers — regardless of vaccination status or country you're from — arriving in the U.S. who are 2 years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel (or you can show documentation that you recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days).
Many Mexican and Caribbean resorts and hotels are offering complimentary COVID-19 tests to certain travelers. Check your hotel's website or call directly to see what's offered. If not, hotels can likely point you in the right direction for a test, but you'll need to pay for it.
Wherever you decide to venture off to, be sure to do your homework ahead of time and know the entry requirements for the specific location.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sally French is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SAFmedia.