With so many travel rules and regulations constantly fluctuating, it may be difficult to decide if you should take a vacation this winter — and if so, where to go. While this article on traveling during Covid-19 should put some of your general travel concerns at ease, the question still remains: where exactly can you go from the U.S?

Right now, U.S. citizens aren’t allowed in a number of countries and territories. Some of the ones you can visit, like Turkey or Egypt, may seem a little too far.

But there are several sunny destinations fairly close to the U.S. you can visit this winter. Just make sure to confirm travel rules and regulations as they can change at any time. Winetraveler also recommends booking easily amendable travel you can cancel last-minute and getting travel insurance. You can browse the best flight deals into the following destinations right here.


RELATED: Download the Free Winetraveler App for Self-Guided Vacations Around The World


Winter Travel Ideas in the Carribbean - Aruba
Aruba offers plenty of sunshine and activities, whether you want to just lounge or be active with watersports and more. Image courtesy iStock.

Aruba

Why go: Aruba is located outside the Atlantic hurricane belt, meaning it makes for an ideal trip at any time of year. Although you may get occasional showers, you can expect sunny weather and mild temps year-round.

Aruba offers those exotic white sand beaches, perfect for some fun in the sun. Active travelers will love the Arikok Natural Park, which spans over 20% of the island. Here, you can swim in rocky, natural pools and enjoy quad tours of the cacti-covered desert landscape. For fancy hotels, head to the north of the island. Those wanting to enjoy more local vibes should head south, where island time holds a whole new meaning.

Good to know: Depending on the state you hail from, you may need to show proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of flying. Or, you may have to take a test upon landing at the Oranjestad’s airport. If you choose the second option, you’ll need to quarantine in your hotel room until you get the results. These tests will be paid for by the visitor. Browse and book a hotel ahead of time here.


5 Winter Travel Destinations With Sunshine To Escape the US
The famous “Blue Hole” found in Belize. Image courtesy Michael Conlin / iStock.

Belize

Why go: A joyful rainbow of cultural influences, Belize has it all. You can enjoy the Creole cuisine, vibrant island culture (this tiny country has around 450 islands) and fine white Caribbean sands. Caye Caulker is one of the most charming islands (it’s car-free), easily reachable by boat from Belize City. For all the amenities, consider Ambergis Caye, a busier island. For a rustic private island experience, consider Thatch Caye Resort. The overwater bungalows are on their own private island, and can only accommodate up to 30 guests.

Belize also offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in Central America. Head underwater at marine reserves like Hol Chan and the Turneffe Atoll. And, Belize is famous for its marine sinkhole, The Blue Hole. Aviation enthusiasts can opt to see it from above via helicopter too.

Good to know: You’ll have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before arrival, or take a test upon arrival ($50). Tourists are only allowed to lodge at hotels certified by the Tourism Gold Standard. You’ll want to download the Belize Travel Health app, which will alert you to any changing rules, and also provide information on which hotels meet these Gold Standard requirements.


Places to visit in the winter with sunshine and tropical islands
Mexico offers several options for those seeking tropical winter destinations. Image courtesy Daniel Conde / iStock.

Mexico

Why go: Mexico is one of the easiest places to get to from the U.S. Major airlines like American, Delta, United, Spirit, Frontier, Aeromexico, JetBlue and Southwest fly between several U.S. and varying Mexican destinations. 

Mexico is ideal for all types of winter breaks, with regions that feature beach, culture and both! Obviously, one of the most popular areas to visit for some winter sun is the Riviera Maya — spots like Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cozumel. But, there are plenty of other destinations to explore if you’d prefer to get off-the-beaten-path a bit. Oaxaca is an option for those wanting the best of art, nature and ocean options. Wine gurus should head to Valle de Guadalupe. For more Riviera Maya alternatives, check out Winetraveler’s top picks for Mexican destinations here. 

Good to know: Currently, land borders between Mexico and the U.S. are still closed to non-essential travel, so flying may be the best option. As hurricanes and tropical storms occur frequently during the rainy season, it may be best to wait until December for your visit.


Puerto Rico: Winter Travel Vacation Ideas
Puerto Rico offers more than white sand and tropical waters. Image courtesy iStock.

Puerto Rico

Why go: Puerto Rico may just be the easiest spot on this list to visit. U.S. travelers won’t need to bother with their passport, and the country uses US dollars as its currency. English is also widely spoken, especially in San Juan. Plus, it’s only a short flight from many major U.S. cities.

San Juan is also a wonderful place to enjoy the beach, as well as the cultural offerings of Old San Juan. Stroll past the colorful colonial houses, enjoy live salsa music and make sure to visit the El Morro Castle and Fort at sunset. Beyond the capital, Puerto Rico has many hidden gems. Surfers should head to Rincon for the best waves, while art buffs should visit Ponce’s art museum. On the eastern side of the island, the beaches become longer, sandier and more local. A must-see is the El Yunque rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S.

Good to know: Presently, the borders of Puerto Rico are open to U.S. travelers. But, there is a nationwide curfew in effect from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am. Bars and clubs also remain closed. So, if you’re looking for nightlife, you may want to consider another destination on this list. Or, keep updated with these requirements, which could be lifted at any point this fall or winter. Take a look at accommodation options here.


Saint Lucia provides an accessible sunny winter getaway. Image courtesy Raul Arosa / iStock.

Saint Lucia

Why go: Whether you love tropical beaches, rainforest walks or mountain hikes, St. Lucia’s got it all. You can swim in the fresh waters of the Toraille waterfall or admire the bubbling sulfur at the Soufriere Volcano, known as the world’s only drive-in volcano. You can actually drive up close to the volcano and spot its action directly from your vehicle. 

Afterward, hit one of the island’s sandy spots, Jalousie Beach, to catch some rays. The nearby Tet Paul Nature Trail has some incredible views of both the volcano, the sea and runs through some of the tropical flora and fauna. Pigeon Island is also an ideal spot if you’re looking for a combo of beach, hiking and even some educational/cultural activities. Don’t forget to check out the Pigeon Island museum and some 18th-century ruins.

Good to know: U.S. travelers must show proof of a negative Covid test done within seven days of arrival. They’ll also have to go through possible airport screening such as temperature checks upon arrival. They must also fill out this travel registration form within three days prior to travel and show proof of approved lodging. Take a look at some beautiful hotel options in Saint Lucia here.


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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Lori Zaino is a travel expert that's lived in Madrid, Spain for over a decade. A self-taught oenophile and culinary connoisseur, she's just as comfortable backpacking through Latin America's wine country as she is demurely sipping Champagne in French castles.

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