Luxury family volunteer vacation Ecuador
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Where can Americans travel to in October?

Thanks to COVID-19 being not yet under control in the US, the number of countries offering visa-free access to Americans has decreased markedly to about 40 countries, and several of these have restrictions. But before you start packing your bags, it is important to ask if you should travel. This is a personal judgment call, and factors to take into account are:
  • your age
  • your immunity levels and overall health
  • the prevalence of COVID-19 in the areas you are traveling to
  • travel insurance to cover you if you require hospitalization
Naturally, if you have COVID-19 you should not travel. Before making any plans or going, check the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory page, which has links to country pages that explain restrictions. The countries on the following lists do not necessarily have low rates of COVID-19. The situation for each country can change rapidly, so always check for updates if you must travel. The following countries allow Americans to visit with no testing or quarantine, along with ways you can make a difference whilst there, in luxury): 1. Brazil Health insurance covering COVID-19 is required. So much to explore, from the Amazon and Pantanal, to Rio and Salvador, plus Iguassu Falls, Lencois Maranhenses, Paraty and Buzios for good measure. You can help run sports clinics in Rio to make it meaningful. Travel to Brazil 2. Dominican Republic You are subject to random breath tests. In addition to relaxing on the beautiful beaches, you can help create a basketball court or provide healthy meals to young Dominicans. 3. Maldives If you can tear yourselves away from arguably the world’s finest beaches, you can get immersed in the culture and help build a classroom in the local village. 4. Mexico You must arrive by plane, and the Yucatan Peninsula is a great choice, where you can explore the Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza and Tulum, swim in your own private cenote (freshwater sinkhole), snorkel, swim with Whale Sharks (seasonal), or discover the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. Whilst there, you can teach at a school, sort donated clothes and food, renovate classrooms, or entertain the elderly at a Seniors Home. Luxury volunteer travel Mexico 5. Tanzania You may be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, so it is best to have a negative test just before you leave the US. Safari beckons in spectacular parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Selous. You can see and even trek up Mt Kilimanjaro, and the beaches of Zanzibar are a superb way to round out your trip. Whilst there, you can make your trip meaningful by building a home for a family. The following destinations allow Americans to enter, with some restrictions: 6. Costa Rica A test is required, and only certain US states can enter (this is subject to change). An extraordinary country that leads the world in terms of eco-luxury, you can view volcanoes, zip-line, kayak, spot wildlife, surf, snorkel, and much more. Inspire your kids to be wildlife conservationists by helping at a wildlife rescue center or at a turtle protection site. Luxury family volunteer trip Costa Rica 7. Ecuador A COVID-19 test is required, and if you pass, the rare opportunity to encounter the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands with few tourists awaits. The same applies to the Amazon, Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest, Otavalo Markets, colonial Cuenca, and more. Make your stay meaningful by renovating a low-income daycare center in Quito. Luxury family volunteer vacation Ecuador 8. Kenya Travelers from Texas, California, and Florida must quarantine for 14 days, but if you live in one of the 47 other states, you can catch the end of the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara with far fewer visitors than in previous years. Other wildlife parks, Mt Kenya and a gorgeous coastline are also on offer, plus you can help your children appreciate how fortunate they are by working together to build a classroom in a school on the edge of the Masai Mara. 9. Rwanda A COVID-19 test is required to enter Rwanda. One of the world’s most beautiful countries, with its mountains and lakes, its harrowing recent past should not be ignored, and the genocide museum and memorials are excellent. And of course, there is the Mountain Gorillas (minimum age to hike to them is 15) – the hour you spend with them is unforgettable. You can bond closer with your kids and help build a home for former street-kids in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Luxury volunteer vacation Rwanda 10. Belize Taking a PCR test within 72 hours of your arrival date will help ‘fast track’ your arrival process. You may still be required to take a test on arrival. You must stay at Gold Standard approved hotels, and travel with Gold Standard approved guides and operators. Inspire your children to be world changers and build an eco-friendly stove for a Mayan family. 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. As you say from the off, travel takes a lot of planning in 2020.

    A lot of the local projects that you mention will have been neglected this year. When people tighten their belts charities get less and there wouldn’t have been enough people passing through to help out this year.

    If people can give some time to these great causes it would make their trip all the more memorable and worthwhile.

  2. Getting involved with the local community on a charity project puts you in touch with the local people. It’s real world and you get to see how the local people live.

    I can see that people want to escape into a world of luxury for their holiday. The problem is that many resorts have high walls and security. Not only does it keep local people out it also discourages travellers from going out beyond the resort. Anything that gets the two worlds to come together is a good thing in my book.

    1. You are correct Caroline – and the high walls can make travelers think that it is dangerous to go outside the resort.
      Sometimes it is, but much more often you can take your trip to the next level by engaging with the local community.

    2. “engaging with the local community,” is a well intentioned observation but can lead to disappointing and often dangerous outcomes for individual travelers. If you want to take your chances with strangers and foreign cultures join something like the Brethren Service Committee or the Quakers or the Peace Corps that have proven experience with outreach projects and provide some security from the great unknowns. ANYWAY, now is the time to stay home! For how long? Who knows.

    3. Thanks P.J.
      The organisation I run also has proven experience with successful community outreach projects, with a key advantage over the likes of Peace Corps: you can make a difference in just a few days rather than having to commit months.
      Our understanding of the needs of the luxury traveler is another factor.
      Whether it is best to travel right now is a personal judgment call.

  3. Love that dress in the Ecuador photo. It’s got the drama of a Vogue photo-shoot with a touch of Titanic thrown in too.

  4. The Dominican Republic requirement surprised me. Random breath tests? I didn’t know there were breath tests for covid, I thought they were all swab tests for the back of the mouth and nose? It’s good to be aware of the latest advice and restrictions, especially where some states may be banned from entering altogether at the moment. Things are changing all the time, it’s hard to keep up. Personally I’d like to head to the Maldives, but I’d like to see requests for testing upon arrival.

  5. So much from here on is strictly individual judgement balancing things travelers have taken for granted in the past. The usual complications and risks do seem greater than ever for international travel. Personally, I think staying put for the moment, wherever you are in the USA, is the best thing to do. Getting a snootful of an infectious disease like covid or pneumonia in a foreign land like, say, Mexico, with or without medical insurance, can lead to unpleasant outcomes. (Nothing against Mexico which has pretty good doctors and private hospitals.)

  6. Now that it’s October, I would imagine that almost 8 months into the pandemic people are itching to get out. This difficult time has certainly dealt a fierce and grave lesson to Americans. We used to enjoy entry to almost any country in the world without so much restrictions, now we are down to 40. Still, 40 countries and that’s a lot. However, I am still on the fence about going out of the country, though I’ve heard a lot of close friends, or friends of friends, who have flown out of the country and came back relatively unscathe. In this list, Maldives tops my list. A few more weeks and we’d be griping about the cold and a tropical destination sounds like heaven.

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