4 best places to travel without a passport from the US – The Points Guy

Although we love an international travel moment, there are many reasons why you might be looking at destinations to visit without a U.S. passport.

Maybe you are staying closer to home this year to save money, or maybe you were a victim of passport processing delays. Or, perhaps you’ve decided on a whim that you need to feel the sun on your face and your toes in the sand to momentarily cure your seasonal depression.

Well, you are in luck: Regardless of the reason, here are four places you can visit without a passport.

Where can you travel without a passport?

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are accessible to U.S. citizens sans passport as a U.S. territory or freely associated state, per the U.S. government.

U.S. citizens may be able to visit Guam without a passport, per the government. The Guam Visitor Bureau says U.S. citizens (18 years or older) can enter Guam with either a Real ID or a valid U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID and a copy of their birth certificate.

U.S. Virgin Islands

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The three U.S. Virgin Islands — St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix — are beautiful year-round. They offer sparkling turquoise waters and soft, sandy beaches surrounded by lush green forests. It’s the perfect spot for adventurous water sports or lazy days on the beach.

Each island hosts its own Carnival celebrations throughout the year, with parades, colorful costumes, music, dancing and food to honor Caribbean heritage and culture.

Visitors can also explore the Danish forts and plantations to gain a deeper awareness of slavery and colonialism in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

With a year-round tropical climate, it’s always warm in the U.S. Virgin Islands, though there is a higher risk for rainfall and hurricanes between July and October. A springtime or early summer visit is your best bet for sunny skies and fewer crowds after the snowbirds return home.

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Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach on Culebra, Puerto Rico. DISCOVER PUERTO RICO

If your soul needs a quick tropical getaway without a full day of travel time, look no further than Puerto Rico. Nonstop flights from eastern cities like Miami, Orlando and Atlanta can have you in San Juan in less than four hours — just in time to enjoy a full afternoon in the sun.

In addition to its year-round beach weather, Puerto Rico is known for its dynamic culinary scene, arts districts (including vibrant street art in trendy Santurce) and biodiverse ecosystem.

The island is home to three of the world’s five glowing bioluminescent bays, with Mosquito Bay known as the brightest. You can also hike or zip line through tropical rainforests, snorkel among marine life in calm cays protected by barrier reefs or relax on one of Puerto Rico’s idyllic beaches.

You’ll never be far from delicious food, but if it’s your first visit to Puerto Rico, you must try the traditional mashed, fried plantain dish, mofongo. Puerto Rico’s history as a purveyor of rum dates back hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that it’s also the birthplace of the pina colada (if you need something to wash down the mofongo, that is).

Puerto Rico is also one of the most affordable Caribbean islands, offering diverse accommodation options ranging from eco-friendly mountain lodges to luxurious beachfront resorts.

Guam

LEEZEL TANGLAO/THE POINTS GUY

Guam is the only island on this list in the Pacific Ocean. Because of its location, the easiest way to get there is via Honolulu. The Hawaiian capital offers limited nonstop flights via United Airlines, though you can also find availability from major Asian cities like Tokyo; Osaka, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea.

In Guam, you can explore mile after mile of beaches and learn about the island’s storied history through Spanish forts, World War II battle sites and relics from Guam’s precolonial culture. A visit to the Guam Museum is a good jumping-off point, followed by Guam’s Spanish Forts and the educational outdoor adventures at the Valley of the Latte.

When you are ready for some fun in the sun, head for the beaches in and around Tumon for calm, crystalline waters. Or, hike to a more secluded spot like Sharks Cove Beach or Tanguisson Beach for snorkeling.

Just be aware that the guidance on whether or not you will need a passport to enter Guam is somewhat ambiguous, so double-check entry requirements before your visit.

Cruises that don’t require a passport

Viking Sea near Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda. WHITE RAIN/VIKING CRUISES

In addition to these land-based destinations that don’t require a passport, there are certain places you can cruise without a passport.

Because of an international agreement called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, U.S. citizens traveling on certain cruise itineraries can use their government-issued photo identification and proof of citizenship (like a birth certificate or certified copy of a birth certificate) as acceptable documentation. In some cases, a passport card may work in lieu of a photo ID and birth certificate.

This includes round-trip cruises departing from U.S. ports to destinations in Alaska, the Caribbean, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mexico and Canada.

Though a passport is not required by law on certain cruises, some ships have limits on the excursions you can choose without a passport. Also, you would be stuck without the option to fly home from a foreign country should any unexpected issues arise.

Bottom line

Even without a passport, you will still need valid government-issued photo identification to visit each destination.

You may also need a birth certificate (or certified copy), so be sure to review a country’s specific requirements before you visit. When the Real ID requirements take effect in 2025, you’ll need to upgrade to a Real ID-compliant driver’s license.

If you have a passport, we still recommend you travel with it as a backup plan but know your next tropical getaway is within reach, even without a passport.

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