An American passport is like a golden ticket to go almost anywhere you want. Visa? Letter of invitation? Pre-approval? Excessive paperwork? Ha — not for nine out of ten countries. They’re all easy countries for Americans to visit. The only problem is barely a third of all Americans have a passport and many never even use it. If they do, all-too-often it’s only for a brief visit to Mexico or Canada. It turns out that most Americans have a lot to learn about international travel.
While the length of a non-visa stay does vary country to country — sometimes three weeks, others three months — Americans are free to buy a plane ticket and fly just about anywhere they want on a whim. That’s why so often you can find “walk into an airport and buy a ticket for the next flight out” on the bucket list.
Of course some countries make it even easier. They’ve caught on that tourism is big business and only getting bigger. Easy navigation, reliable public transportation, and the presence of enough English to comfort Western visitors can do wonders to enhance the sights and natural beauty of a country.
Here are a few atypical ideas for your next trip:
Let’s start with the often-overlooked continent of Africa
If you have never set foot in Africa then Morocco is probably one of the best countries to start with. Given its’ proximity to Europe it is a great transitional country to hit before trekking further into the subcontinent. Many of the larger cities are blending the old with the new, European with Islamic, budget and luxury. Whatever you crave, you can find it here!
Transportation around the country, at least amongst the larger cities, is a breeze. Morocco actually boasts one of Africa’s most modern and developed railway systems, with many lines offering first, second, and third class options. From the perspective of foreigners, especially Europeans, none of these are what we would consider expensive.
For US citizens (and residents of 37 other countries around the globe) no visa is required for the first 90 days of your visit. Combine that with famous and historical cities like Casablanca, Tangier, and Marrakesh, and it’s a surprise that this country is not on more travelers’ lists.
Oh and did I mention that Moroccans are some of the most welcoming hosts in all of Africa? I should have started with that 😉
Located deeper in the continent is the one of the smaller African countries, Malawi. It is also one of the safest and most stable of all the African nations. Plus it turns out that the locals are quite fond of Westerners and thus very hospitable. That is part of the reason why the country is often referred to as “The Warm Heart of Africa.” To top it all off English is widely spoken, which will be a particular benefit to my American friends. For as they say…
If you speak 3 languages, you're trilingual. If you speak 2 languages, you're bilingual. If you only speak one language, you're American.
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) December 25, 2012
Don’t let the size fool you — Malawi offers plenty to keep visitors amused. For starters there are plenty of water-sports and a wealth of great diving spots in Lake Malawi, which runs vertically through 2/3rds of the country. Top it all off with an abundance of national parks and wildlife reserves and my friends, you have found paradise!
Visitors from the United States, Europe, and the more advanced nations of Asia can freely enter the country without a visa for up to 30 days. Additional 30-day extensions can be purchased for about $13 USD.
Yes, we all know this country has a rather sordid history. But hey, so does Germany. And many others. The point is that we evolve and move beyond our past misconceptions. Modern travel should not be hindered by any past taboos or cultural transgressions.
Nowadays South Africa is unlike any of the other African countries. It offers both urbanized living as well as a seemingly never-ending supply of luxury resorts and hidden getaways, especially along the Garden Route. It is also home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Regardless of what you seek, I promise that you can find it somewhere in South Africa.
Not only Americans will have an easy time visiting South Africa, but so too will citizens of nearly 100 other countries around the world. Basically all of Europe, Africa, and the more industrialized nations of Asia and South America for all golden. Not only that but you can stay for either 90 or 120 days without a visa, depending on your home country. That is more than enough time to explore the region 😉
This great country connects the Eastern and Western worlds and is one I have long been fascinated by. While the capital is Ankara, Turkey’s largest and most famous city is undoubtedly Istanbul. This is the only metropolis in the world bridging two separate continents; You can literally have breakfast in Asia and lunch in Europe via a short walk. And as Napoleon famously said, “If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.”
Turkey is an especially excellent destination for those on a gap year or any other young travelers eager to absorb some culture. With fully half of the population 25 years old or younger, it should come as no surprise that the larger cities also offer a bustling nightlife. By day there are a seemingly never-ending list of historic sights and cultural experiences to occupy your time, including the excavation site of the ancient city of Troy and 10 other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the famous and gorgeous Cappadocia region, and much more.
Shops in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (Courtesy of Natalie Sayin, who runs the awesome Turkish Travel Blog)
Americans actually need a Turkey visa, however it is painless to get one. Visa in hand, visitors have a full 90 days to wander the countryside and experience as much of the impressive Turkish culture as they wish. Have fun!
Clean, efficient, and reliable, traveling around Denmark is both easy and safe. It is also a very family-friendly nation, offering plenty to amuse the younger generation as well as a wealth of sights and a touch of Scandinavian style to keep everyone else impressed.
Denmark is home to several notable sights and cities as is also home of the world famous Lego. Now let’s be honest, what kid wouldn’t a trip to Legoland? It can even be entertaining to us adults, as my buddy Raymond demonstrated with his post 12 Mildly Disturbing Miniland Scenes from Legoland, Florida
As with most of the countries in this list, visitors from the United States are allowed up to 90 days without a visa. English is widely spoken as well, further simplifying the navigation and transportation processes. And to top it all off, the Danish people are extremely friendly.
The Kiwis caught on fast. Being an island nation they realize that tourism is a key industry for the country and thus they have made sure to handle it properly. From the moment you arrive in Auckland you will find it easy to get around and a breeze to interact with the locals (who by the way are super friendly).
The way to Mt. Cook village (Courtesy of Jessica de Heiji, HoliDaze author and blogger at World Tripping)
Citizens of the USA, the EU, and a few dozen other industrialized nations scattered around the globe are allowed to visit the country for up to 90 days without a visa. UK citizens are even given a full six months.
What other countries do you think are easy for Westerners to visit? Share your comments below!