Spring break is typically a busy time for travelers—college students and others alike—with the Transportation Security Administration’s reporting averages of more than two million passengers per day in March 2019. But since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, TSA checkpoint numbers for March have dropped dramatically, sometimes by less than half the amount of pre-pandemic numbers. Fortunately, COVID-19 restrictions are easing worldwide and we’re seeing opportunities to travel again. Students have many opportunities to get away with spring, summer, and winter breaks, and future plans look more promising as things continue to improve. Here are 10 destinations to keep in mind as you plan a safe trip during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Costa Rica
For outdoor enthusiasts, Costa Rica has it all, including beaches, rainforests, mountains, volcanoes, and more. Having this range of outdoor attractions and activities could be nice for avoiding heavy crowds, and fully vaccinated visitors are welcome. If you’re looking for a summer travel job, it could make sense to explore a destination like this beforehand.
Related: The Effects of COVID–19 on Study Abroad
Croatia is farther away than many common travel destinations, but this could benefit you. The possibility of fewer visitors could give you more opportunities to explore this Balkan gem—including cities such as Dubrovnik and Split—at your leisure. Croatia currently has COVID-19 testing requirements in place for the safety of everyone, but it’s still open to US travelers.
3. The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
If going on a mountain getaway, breathing in fresh air, and enjoying awesome views sounds like a fun and relaxing time for you, consider the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. This National Park is massive, so there’s plenty of room to spread out and find many outdoor activities to do. This type of trip may also save you money on flights if you live in this region of the US.
Fancy a visit to the land of ice and fire? In Iceland, you can explore waterfalls and black sand beaches to your heart’s content with minimal testing requirements if you’re fully vaccinated. Keep in mind that the winter months are very cold here, which could mean fewer travelers, but you’ll want to plan accordingly and bundle up if you don’t mind it. This could also be a great opportunity to see the Northern Lights, depending on the time of year!
Related: Top European Travel Tips for College Students
5. Kauai, Hawai‘i
Picture-perfect beaches, beautiful weather, and a unique blend of cultures are often the right ingredients to create unforgettable memories. If you want to avoid the bustling activity of the more popular islands of Honolulu and Oahu, consider visiting Kauai—it’s known as the “Garden Island” because of its lush valleys and forests. Hawai‘i is currently open to all travelers, though it’s easier to visit if you’re fully vaccinated.
6. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe offers the unique opportunity to go skiing or snowboarding while still enjoying mild temperatures in an outdoor paradise. It’s also a top vacation destination, so there are loads of activities offered in the area. But if you want to avoid big groups, there are plenty of outdoor spaces to explore and feel less crowded.
7. Puerto Rico
If you’re seeking warm weather, diverse landscapes, and tasty cuisine, the island paradise of Puerto Rico could prove to be your ideal travel destination. This US territory welcomes all American travelers, but COVID-19 policies are typically less strict if you’re fully vaccinated. Puerto Rico isn’t far from the US mainland, but it could still be far enough away to attract fewer visitors than other locations, which only works in your favor.
Related: Great Colleges if You Want to Live by the Beach
8. Salt Lake City, Utah
Similar to Lake Tahoe, the area around Salt Lake City and Park City offers plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. And as long as you don’t go during the winter, you’re likely to avoid much of the extreme cold temperatures. If you have time, southern Utah is home to many beautiful national parks and even more outdoor fun.
Are you interested in rugged outdoor spaces and plenty of ancient history? Consider visiting Scotland. The UK has recently relaxed its COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers. If you don’t feel comfortable staying in the busy cities of Glasgow or Edinburgh, head to the highlands to explore. This type of trip could also provide ample opportunity to see whether you’d be interested in studying abroad in the future.
10. Yucatan, Mexico
Mexico is a top travel destination for many college students, but have you considered the Yucatan region over Puerto Vallarta or Cabo? Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state, and its surrounding area is known for its history, food, and proximity to loads of cenotes (underground caves you can swim in). Mexico has been open to travelers for much of the pandemic, which makes it easy to travel there.
Tips for saving money on travel
As you’re planning your trip, consider these tips to help you save money on travel:
- Use travel cards: Having the right travel credit card could provide you with rewards and benefits to help offset your travel expenses. Choose from the best travel credit cards to find the right fit for your situation.
- Create a budget: Knowing how to make a budget helps you plan for any travel expenses you’ll encounter, including food, activities, lodging, and more. If you’re planning to use credit card rewards, that’s money saved to put back into your budget.
- Choose the right destination: If a destination is often busier during a certain time of year—like spring break or summer—it’s also likely to be more expensive. Consider shoulder season destinations that might be less busy because it’s not a peak travel time, which could mean lower expenses for you.
Related: Top 10 Money–Saving Tips for College Students
While spring break can be an ideal time to unwind during a busy semester of school, it’s not the only time of year you can plan great trips and travel to interesting places. In fact, it may be to your benefit to plan a trip during another time of year when it’s less expensive and crowded. Just remember to use money-saving strategies while you’re planning to help pad your wallet while you have fun on vacation.
If you’re more interested in learning while you travel instead of just a vacation, check out the tag “study abroad” to learn all about your options for global academics.