The 4 Safest International Destinations for U.S. Families During Covid | The Expedition
Marina Cay in BVI, British Virgin Islands

The 4 Safest International Destinations for U.S. Families During Covid

Road trips can be magical. RV adventures have been a highlight of the pandemic. Covid has prompted many families to spent time exploring their own backyards. But if you’re longing to leave the country for a spell, no judgment here.

Just one question: Where can we go?

Many of the most popular destinations are still closed (we miss you, Canada and Italy). Other countries are open to travelers, but depending on the ages of your kids and your appetite for risk, may not feel safe enough.

Children under 16 are expected to remain unvaccinated until at least the fall. Though kids are at low risk from getting seriously sick from Covid, it can happen; they can also transmit the virus to others.

Medical experts say the decision to travel is a personal one. And some families have been doing so with abandon, visiting countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, which are all welcoming tourists. But the U.S. Centers Disease Control also advises against any travel to those destinations, because of their high Covid-19 rates.

But there are also a few countries and territories—four, to be exact—that are currently welcoming U.S. travelers, and which the CDC considers safe to visit (while masking and practicing social distancing). They’re all in the Caribbean, and they all have strict requirements for visitors, such as pre-approval, Covid tests, and in some cases, staying only in certain hotels. It’s no accident that these spots have had extremely low infections rates, and they intend to keep it that way.

We rounded up the latest information from tourism bureaus and other official government sources, but it’s no substitute for your own research. When planning a trip, check official sites, make sure you understand all the rules, and remember that things can still change on a dime. 

Anguilla

Total Covid Cases: 29* 

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This upscale island is only letting in pre-approved travelers, and also requires them to stay at specific vacation rentals and resorts. You have to submit your application a week in advance, submit a Covid test before traveling, and take another test after arrival. If you’re in a group that includes unvaccinated people (including kids) you’ll have to isolate at your accommodations for at least 10 days. 

British Virgin Islands

Total Covid Cases: 178*

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A favorite of sailors, this gorgeous archipelago is welcoming visitors, with several caveats. Travelers have to apply for a BVI Gateway Authorisation Certificate ($175), submit a negative Covid test and proof of Covid-19 medical insurance, quarantine for four days after arrival and, agreeing to wear a monitoring bracelet. Yes, kids have to do it all to. The upside: Once you’ve cleared all those hurdles, you’re can set sail throughout BVI.

Grenada

Total Covid Cases: 158*

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You’ll also need advance permission to visit “the Spice of the Caribbean.” All travelers, including kids of any age, need to submit in advance or check into their flight with proof of a negative Covid test. They have to stay at government-approved accommodations—though that includes the country’s major resorts and hotels—quarantining there for five days. On day five, if you test negative, you can go about exploring.  

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Total Covid Cases: 44* 

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This lush, serene pair of islands requires that visitors submit a negative Covid test within 72 hours of travel, and stay in one of eight pre-approved hotels (or submit an application for an exemption for a vacation rental). That’s not much of a hardship—the list includes the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, Marriott’s St. Kitts Beach Club, the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour,and Paradise Beach Nevis. If you’re visiting for less than a week, you have to remain on the hotel grounds, but can take part in activities and amenities. If you’re staying longer, you can access more of the islands after you’re tested again. That goes for everyone, including children.

*As reported to the World Health Organization, as of April 14, 2021.

Sara Clemence is a freelance journalist, formerly travel editor for The Wall Street Journal and news director for Travel + Leisure. She's the author of Away & Aware, a guide to mindful travel.

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