Luxury volunteer vacation Mexico
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Europe’s out; where to for American travelers?

The EU has just announced that US citizens cannot yet enter Europe, so where can Americans travel this Summer? Here are some locations currently (or soon to be) accepting Americans, along with ideas for how to make a luxury trip there meaningful and fulfilling: 1. Mexico *Important Note: The reopening of tourism activities is dependent on the approval of the Mexico federal government. Be sure to check with local and state authorities before traveling.  The tourism hotspots of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen have officially reopened to tourists. There doesn’t appear to be a mandatory quarantine once you arrive in Mexico and don’t display possible coronavirus symptoms. However, you can anticipate a temperature screening and personal interview upon arrival. Traveling while symptomatic may require you to self-quarantine or return to the United States. In Cancun, you can help renovate a classroom, sort donated clothing and food, or provide medical care if you are suitably qualified. Do note that Mexico is not Covid-19 free; in fact, it has one of the highest infection rates at present. 2. St Lucia *Important Note: The reopening of tourism activities is dependent on the approval of the Saint Lucia federal government. Be sure to check with local and state authorities before traveling.  US citizens are required to bring a negative COVID test, taken no longer than 48 hours before departure in order to board their flight to Saint Lucia.
Dominic Fedee, the destination’s minister of tourism said “COVID-19 has kept us apart for too long. What a devastating few months we’ve had as a destination and as travelers,” Fedee said in a video message. “But there is good news – we are getting ready to host you again. Our people, our beaches, and our mountains await you in all of their splendor. Now, the way we used to vibe will change just a little bit [with] responsible tourism [and] heightened protocols. There’s still going to be plenty of fun in the sun.”
On a trip to St Lucia, you can make a difference by assisting at a remedial reading program and helping with homework in the library after-school, and provide mentoring and support to disadvantaged youth. 3. Dominican Republic As of today, U.S. tourists can travel to the Dominican Republic. At this time no requirement for tests has been announced. Miami, Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Charlotte, and Miami all show direct flights in July and August and will increase throughout the year. Here’s how you can be the change:
  • House building (we get most of the work done before our clients arrive, leaving the client to do the finishing touches and hand over to the family)
  • Renovating a school in need of repair
  • Team building rafting and treasure hunt, then donate food items to families in need
  • Renovating a basketball court
  • Baseball coaching, game with the youth, and donate baseball equipment to them at the end
  • Building bikes for children in need and hand them over to them
4. Barbados Beautiful Barbados is reopening for American tourists on July 12th, 2020. Travelers from the United States are considered ‘high-risk’, so you will need to bring a negative-PCR test no older than 72 hours before departure. Direct flights resuming from the USA– New York on JetBlue starting July 25 Miami on American starting Aug 5 Charlotte on American starting Aug 5 Animal lovers can help at a dog rescue center: socialize the dogs, exercise them, and help keep their enclosures clean and habitable. 5. Belize The Belize City International Airport is officially reopening August 15th and to ensure the safety of all travelers and citizens, hotels have implemented enhanced health standards and protocols following the latest CDC guidelines. Belize has had one of the lowest COVID-19 counts in the world making it a good choice to visit this summer (though do be aware of the hurricane season, which normally runs until October). Many hotels have also implemented an ultra-flexible cancellation policy that allows for fully refundable cancellations up to one week prior to scheduled arrival dates, thus giving you more confidence in traveling. And while you are there, make your trip meaningful by installing eco-friendly stoves for Mayan families in villages in Southern Belize. These stoves are fantastic in that :
  • they reduce the incidents of burns as the open flame is replaced with an enclosed stove;
  • respiratory problems such as asthma from smoke inhalation are much diminished by installing a chimney; and
  • they are much more energy-efficient, so are better for the environment.
6. USA The obvious option! My advice is to head to the more remote parts of this beguiling country, such as Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, where superb accommodation such as Ultima Thule, Amangiri, and Amangani awaits. The above is not official, and is subject to change at any time, and the good news is that there are still some places you can travel to in and from the US! Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill is the Founder of both Hands Up Holidays and Impact Destinations. Hands Up Holidays specialises in sustainable luxury family trips that help kids appreciate how fortunate they are and inspire them to become future leaders by blending curated sightseeing with meaningful volunteering opportunities. For example, in Zambia, experience Victoria Falls, white-water rafting, safari, and help build a home for a widow and her children. Impact Destinations provides ultra-luxe sustainable trips that leave a legacy: a traveller’s philanthropic donation unlocks a unique experience. For example, whilst on safari in South Africa, fund and witness a rhino relocation from a heavily poached reserve to a safe one in Botswana. Christopher’s companies offer over 30 destinations worldwide and personally oversees every client’s trip.

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  1. I’d vote for Mexico. That Cancun coastline was purpose built for holidays, literally purpose built. I love the golf courses with some having spectacular views. My wife will sit and read and swim by the pools each day. while I’m playing golf. Then you’ve got the Mayan Riviera and all its history too. Many of the hotels are simply massive giving you the chance to get away from people. For kids and grown-up kids there’s the Xcaret theme park but it’s way more than your regular theme park. In my view I think you get fantastic value for money in Mexico too.

    1. I’d have to agree with you, though I wonder why people don’t talk about the western coast of Mexico more often. It seems much safer to me and like a place that is more worthwhile and unique.

  2. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to Barbados. I love the Caribbean but Barbados has to be the most sophisticated of the islands, not that it hasn’t got its wild and remote spots like up on the coast by Bathsheba. If you are really worried about Covid then there are plenty of top quality self-catering apartments or villas where it is very easy to keep yourself to yourself. It’s a brilliant place to top up on Vitamin D to boost your immune systems!

    1. Ha ha, that’s an interesting take on what it’s like to visit there! I actually can’t think of any better reason to visit the Caribbean, that’s a really good way of looking at traveling there.

  3. I keep wondering whether it is really safe for anyone to travel right now to anywhere in the world. I still worry every time I go out for a grocery run given the virus is still out there with no cure in sight yet. But I do understand the effects of cabin fever and the depression the lockdowns and quarantines have been putting on each of us. Having said that, it is good to know that ever as slowly and with lots of precautions, travel and tourism in some parts of the world are opening. Though I think it is still more of the hopeful side, the industry could be beating predictions about it opening and recovering not until 2 or 3 years after.

    1. Thanks Sam,
      I think we each have to decide based on our own situation.
      And by taking precautions and traveling to places with relatively few people, you can maximize your chances of staying safe.

  4. To quote Donald Trump I thought you should have put “America First”. Or were you saving the best until last?

    The USA stretches from the Arctic Circle in Alaska in the North down towards the equator. It stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It’s a country of deserts, forests, lakes, mountains and plains with virtually every terrain there is that can be found on the planet. Just contrast the Everglades with the Mojave Desert or the Rockies.

    Americans can have all that without unpacking their passport or queueing in immigration lines.

    1. I’ve got loads of relatives and friends who have never left the USA for a holiday, with states going from Hawaii to Alaska why should you?

      Like Jack, I think that we should be spending our dollars at home and helping to help the hospitality industry through some difficult days.

  5. Yes, I’ve been talking to a few friends who have been currently traveling around America. They are usually so busy with work but now they have a chance to get out and see the country. America is one of the best places to travel around in my opinion. There are so many different things to see there and the geography across the country is wide open…

  6. The real danger is on the airplane, in the airport and at other transportation hubs. So wherever you go private travel is best during COVID – road trips for example.

  7. While I love the Caribbean – having sailed and visited most of the islands between the BVIs and Trinidad – let’s not forget this year’s hurricane season, which “officially” only ends in November!

    1. Yes, you are of course correct Peter – hurricanes are a risk that need to be taken into account when considering a trip to most of the destinations listed above.

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