Why wait for a delayed passport when you can travel to these places without one?

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  • Published on April 19, 2023
  • Last Updated June 8, 2023
  • In Passport

Passports are required for entry to nearly all countries, but there are still a number of places you can visit until your backlogged passport arrives

The approximately 200 nations that make up the world can be accessed with a passport, but even without that official travel permit, Americans can still visit some fascinating regions of the world.

Because of the current delays, passport applications are taking an extra eight to 12 weeks to process, which severely restricts people’s ability to plan trips. Fortunately, there are still plenty of exciting vacation options available for U.S. travelers with just their state-issued ID. While international destinations may not be accessible without a passport, there are still many great places to explore and enjoy.

Five U.S. territories are home to permanent populations:American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You’ll need a passport to enter American Samoa. However, per the federal government, citizens of the United States can visit the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands without a passport.

Caribbean, St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Caribbean, St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands SCStock Shutterstock

The U.S. Virgin Islands offers the perfect opportunity to soak up the sun on their internationally-recognized white-sand beaches, such as those found on St. Croix and St. Thomas. In addition, you also have the chance to discover the vibrant marine life in crystal-clear blue waters.

Top view of the poolside and beachside of Mariana Resort & Spa on Saipan, a tropical destination in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Top view of the poolside and beachside of Mariana Resort & Spa on Saipan, a tropical destination in the Northern Mariana Islands. RaksyBH Shutterstock

The Northern Mariana Islands are a great destination for those seeking a perfect blend of serene beaches and thrilling mountains that make them ideal for hikers. Puerto Rico offers travelers the opportunity to explore the rich history and culture of San Juan, as well as embark on exciting adventures in the El Yunque tropical rainforest.

Beautiful jungle path through the El Yunque national forest in Puerto Rico.
Beautiful jungle path through the El Yunque national forest in Puerto Rico. Dennis van de Water Shutterstock

Guam’s entry and exit rules state that U.S. citizens must have a passport, although “photo I.D. and proof of citizenship may be accepted” in some circumstances. In addition to its stunning scenery, Guam also has some fascinating remnants of World War II.

Cruise ship in Puerto Rico ready to depart.
Cruise ship in Puerto Rico ready to depart. eskystudio Shutterstock

Alternative vacation options, such as closed-loop cruises, provide vacationers a chance to see the world. Travel editor for CBS News, Peter Greenberg, believes they are more complicated and not as fantastic an alternative as they may sound because just a few companies provide them.

“How many of those are there? Very few,” Greenberg said. “We’re talking about a cruise that leaves a port in the United States and goes to another port in the United States, and those don’t happen very often.” This is because of a 1939 piece of legislation called the Jones Act, which said that any ship not registered in the U.S. could not sail between two U.S. ports without stopping in a foreign port first.

“Most cruise ships are not registered in the United States, Greenberg added, making them susceptible to this law. “Closed-loop cruises are really a misnomer because while they’re technically possible, nobody does them.”

Prior to the change, it was possible for Americans to travel between Canada and Mexico without a passport, but this is no longer possible, according to CBS.

Greenberg also noted that while delays are increasing passport wait periods, the best advice he could give those who wish to travel the world is to complete their applications.

Your vacation plans might still be impacted by the delays even if you already have a passport. Since most nations need passports to be valid for at least six months beyond the duration of your trip, it’s crucial to renew your passport as soon as you can if your travel plans depend on it. Also, be sure to check the requirements for entry; if you don’t have the necessary blank passport pages available, you’ll need a new passport as some nations may demand as many as two.

There are many locations in the United States worth seeing even if acquiring a passport in time for your next vacation is not a possibility. The Grand Canyon was ranked as the top tourist attraction in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the years 2022–2023, with tourists traveling there from all over the world to admire the stunning formations and other desert treasures.

The 2022 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards poll has revealed the most popular destinations in the United States, as voted by travelers. Las Vegas is an unbeatable destination, especially if you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife experience. Oahu and Maui in Hawaii are the perfect spots for folks who want to bask in the warm sun and experience exciting island activities. Key West in Florida is an absolute must-visit destination as it is the southernmost point of the United States. New York City, New Orleans, and Nashville were also very highly rated.

Evie Blanco is a journalist with nearly a decade of experience who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Queens, New York. She is extremely well-versed in hip-hop music and culture and is always aware of any developments within it. Whether it’s the latest in pop culture, a fascinating foreign destination, a truly amazing new restaurant, or breaking news, she loves to write about it all.