With school out for the week, many college students and families alike will be looking to escape their winter blues with a trip to a hot, tropical location. If you’re looking to plan an overseas vacation but don’t have a U.S. passport, here is a list of five popular destinations where you won’t need a passport, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
You don’t need a passport to visit Puerto Rico as it is officially an unincorporated territory of the United States. The island has long been a favorite of U.S. travelers, which for some is only a short plane ride away. English and Spanish are the official languages of Puerto Rico, and most Puerto Ricans speak English. The U.S. dollar is also the official currency of the island so there is no need for a currency converter. Puerto Rico also boasts several of the world’s bioluminescent bays and most pristine beaches.
United States Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands lie mere minutes away from Puerto Rico by plane. Visited by more than 2.6 million people each year, the U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of three main islands — St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John — plus a scattering of smaller isles. Each island has its own unique appeal. St. John is best for those who like to explore, with its national parkland and legendary scuba diving points. St. Thomas is ideal for shopping, with seemingly endless boutiques and jewelers, as well as two bustling cruise terminals. St. Croix is a favorite among honeymooners, offering luxury accommodations and a Danish influence. It is important to note that travelers will need to have a passport if they wish to visit the neighboring British Virgin Islands.
Northern Mariana Islands
These Micronesian islands have been governed by many in their long history, first by Spanish colonists in the 16th century, then by Japanese forces during WWII, and finally by the United States after the Battle of Saipan in 1944. Due to their location, these islands are popular among northern neighbors Japan and Korea. The Northern Mariana Islands consist of three main islands — Saipan, Tinian and Rota. Saipan, the largest island of the Marianas, is home to several war museums and memorials, making it the perfect getaway for history buffs. The Mariana Islands also offer crystal clear beaches, world class diving and rich history.
Much like the Northern Marianas, Guam was colonized by Spain and changed hands during WWII before becoming an official unincorporated territory of the United States. It is now a tourist destination for Japanese and U.S. nationals. Guam’s second largest source of income is the U.S. military, whose navy, coast guard and air force base makes up about one-third of the total land area. Military aside, there is much to do on this beautiful island. Guam’s beaches are known for perfect snorkeling and the bordering seas offer visibility to scuba divers up to 150 feet. Nearby cliffs also provide pristine panoramas from 400 feet above the Philippine Sea.
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States consisting of five volcanic islands and two atolls between Fiji and the Cook Islands. This destination is truly off the beaten path and may not be suitable for the average tourist looking for luxury amenities. However, for those looking for adventure, the island offers coral-filled waters, craggy coastlines sculpted of lava and untouched beaches. Unlike some of the other Polynesian destinations, the native Samoan culture is still very present there.
If you are a foreign national and have questions on traveling or applying for a U.S. immigration benefit, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!