Everywhere You Can Travel Without a Passport Right Now
No passport? You aren't as trapped within the 50 US states as you might think.
If you're planning any sort of international travel this year, it should come as no surprise to you when I say that passport processing times are a mess right now. As of this writing, the current passport processing time is 10-13 weeks (7-9 for expedited processing), which means your visions of a European vacation could be thwarted without ample planning.
But even if you are unable to get your passport renewed in time for the European Summer of your dreams, that doesn't necessarily mean your wanderlust must remain confined stateside. There are still opportunities to get away beyond the 50 United States that don't require a passport. We've got some options below.
Travel destinations that don't need a passport
As a reminder to those of you who skipped some days of geography class in school, the US has five inhabited territories. Three of them do not require a passport for Americans to visit. These include the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
As for the other two territories, passports are required if you want to visit American Samoa or Guam, although the US government states that Americans with a valid photo ID and proof of citizenship may still be accepted "on a case-by-case basis," which sounds a bit wishy-washy to us so you probably still need one.
The US also has three Freely Associated States, as well, which are Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, but all three of them also require passports to visit.
Which cruises don't require passports?
Of course, one of the perks of going on a cruise is the ability to visit one or often multiple countries when it comes time for your ship to port. But you need a valid passport to do that. That said, some cruises allow you to visit another country without one.
These cruises are known as "closed-loop" cruises, and they begin and end their itineraries from the same US port and travel exclusively within the Western Hemisphere. You'll still need proof of citizenship and a valid photo ID as defined in detail by US Customs and Border Protection, but passports are not required.
Among the destinations outside the contiguous US that can be accessed through closed-loop cruises as of this writing are Alaska, Bermuda, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, and most Caribbean islands.
Many major cruise lines offer at least some closed-loop itineraries, including Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Viking Cruises. When browsing for a cruise through the line of your choice, you'll want to limit your search to the available closed-loop itineraries.
That said, bringing a valid passport with you on a cruise is still encouraged, even if it isn't explicitly required. You never know what could happen on a trip, and a passport will always give you more options in the event of something not going according to plan. And before you book your cruise and bank on not needing a passport, you'll also want to confirm with the cruise line that you hold the documents required to take part in the itinerary you've selected.
If all else fails...
Of course, there's still plenty to explore in the good ole United States, as well. If you need to feel inspired, we've gone ahead and ranked all 50 states by their beauty for you and also identified the least-visited states that still deserve a spot on your bucket list.
Looking for more travel tips?
Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.