A backlog of passport applications is making many Americans want to book their trips to passport-free destinations. Here are six great options.
1: Puerto Rico
Known as “the island of enchantment,” the tiny island of Puerto Rico sits approximately 1,000 miles from Florida. Travelers seeking a tropical getaway do not need a passport to enter Puerto Rico as it’s a U.S. territory. Puerto Rico offers stunning hiking trails, gorgeous beaches, and historic sites like Old San Juan.
Situated in the North Pacific Ocean, Americans visiting Guam can do so freely without a passport. That said, you must have a valid ID like a driver’s license. Guam is just under 6,000 miles west of San Francisco and offers travelers some of the best scuba diving experiences in the world.
3: St. John
St. John Island, one of the many US Virgin Islands, is ideal for couples seeking a romantic vacation. The territory is known for its friendly locals and warm weather. With approximately 20 square miles of land, tourists can expect to be amazed by the crystal-clear blue beaches and immaculate white sand.
4: St. Croix
St. Croix is one of the most populated US Virgin Islands and doesn’t require a passport for Americans to visit. The island attracts thousands of visitors annually and is a hotspot in the Caribbean tourism industry. It offers beautiful colonial architecture, scenic mountain views, and amazing restaurants.
5: Northern Mariana Islands
Travelers who visit the Northern Mariana Islands can comfortably put their passports away, given its US territory status. The island offers visitors various activities like scuba diving, hiking, and relaxing beaches. The Northern Mariana Islands has a population of over 58,000 residents and is known for its friendly atmosphere.
6: American Samoa
Calling all ecotourism lovers! American Samoa is a U.S. territory in the South Pacific. It encompasses seven eye-candy islands and atolls. Rainforests, coral reefs, and soft sand beaches await Americans who choose to visit, no passport required.
What’s Up With US Territories?
Apart from being comprised of 50 states, the US also has 14 territories. Such territories include American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Although US territories have different voting and other rights from citizens in the States, Americans are free to visit them without a passport.
Travel Is Trending
Around 15.5 million Americans received a passport in 2021, 11.7 million more than the previous year. On average, over 50% of American adults own a passport.
A Cruise, Anyone?
Certain cruise routes don’t require Americans to have a passport. For example, the Caribbean cruise line Carnival offers cruise packages that depart and arrive in ports like Baltimore and New Orleans.
The Grueling Wait
As of now, the US Department of State (DOS) says it can take 10 to 13 weeks to receive a passport. Mailing times aren’t included with these numbers, meaning you may have to tack on up to an additional four weeks of wiggle room, according to the DOS.
If you have a trip coming up soon, you can apply for an expedited passport that will “only” take 7 to 9 weeks to process. Remember, you must add up to four weeks if you choose to mail in your passport application.
A Better Option
Should you be traveling within 14 days, bring your passport to a US embassy or consulate in person. That way, you may be eligible for the “expedited at agency” clause. That said, due to the massive current passport delays, nothing is guaranteed.
If you have a family emergency, the US offers a life-or-death emergency appointment to tourists who need to travel internationally within three business days. A family member outside the United States must have passed away or had a life-threatening illness to qualify.
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