There’s no question travel has changed drastically in the past year. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up all hope for a getaway in 2021.
If you’re looking to take a trip yet this winter or spring, or are planning ahead for summer or fall, there may be no safer bet than heading to Central America or the Caribbean. From Mexico to the Dominican Republic to the U.S. Virgin Islands and even Hawaii, many islands and countries are already open to travelers. It’s a rare bright spot for travel as most international remained shut down – for now.
And let’s be honest: It’s never too early to start planning your next winter getaway. You can book flights as far out as January 2022 right now. Sitting on a beach to kick off 2022 sounds perfect, right?
It’s a short flight and trust us: There are cheap flights to be had for your future escape.
Tips for Booking Your Tropical Getaway in 2021
Before you start searching, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
- Book on an airline with flexible change and cancellation policies. Most U.S. airlines are offering fee-free changes or cancellations on all flights booked through March. Take advantage of this flexible time to book to protect your flight’s worth.
- Know the travel testing requirements for your destination. Do your research and check if the island you’re heading to requires a negative COVID-19 test to enter. Check our country-by-country guide.
- Plan to get your required COVID-19 test to return back to the U.S. Yes, if flying internationally, you’ll need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before your return flight home.
- Start with a cheap flight deal and build your trip out from there. The flight is often the most expensive part of any trip, so let the cheap flight guide your tropical destination choice – and trip dates.
When it comes to cheap flights, we’ve got you covered. Our Thrifty Traveler Premium members have been getting tons of great flight deal alerts to tropical getaways recently.
We’ll give you a taste…
Tropical Destinations Open for Travel
Pulling off a trip to the beach this year requires two things: a country (or state or territory) that’s allowing U.S. travelers; and a cheap flight. Lucky for you, there are plenty of islands that meet both requirements. These are your best bets for a cheap – and easy – getaway this year.
If you’re looking for the easiest international getaway, look no further. There are no COVID-19 testing requirements for entry to the Dominican Republic, though authorities will administer random quick breath tests to 3% to 15% of arriving passengers.
Plus, tourists visiting a hotel can get a cheap insurance policy that will cover emergencies, COVID-19 testing, lodging for prolonged stays, and the cost of changing flights in the event of an infection. This insurance can be purchased for $34 total.
Read what our first-hand account of what it’s like in the Dominican Republic right now, or watch for yourself:
And the recent flight prices to the Dominican Republic have been just as stellar. We sent Premium members this recent flight deal from just $245…roundtrip!
Had the Bahamas on your bucket list for ages? Good news: U.S. citizens are permitted entry into the Bahamas by submitting a Travel Health Visa Application and a negative COVID-19 test taken within five days of travel. Children under 10 do not need to present test results.
And we’ve been seeing cheaper-than-ever flight prices to the Bahamas lately for travel all the way through January 2022! Take these sub-$300 flights to Nassau we sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members this past week, for example:
While Costa Rica isn’t in the Caribbean like these other islands in this list, it deserves a mention!
Costa Rica slowly opened its borders last summer and fall. As of Nov. 1, all U.S. citizens and residents are allowed to travel to Costa Rica. And the country eliminated its requirement for a negative COVID-19 test for entry, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Board. Travelers will just need to fill out a “Health Pass” form and have travel insurance with medical coverage for entry.
And if you think flights to Costa Rica have to cost a small fortune, you’re gonna want to see this. Lately, we’ve been seeing flight prices to Costa Rica drop under $300 roundtrip – over half of the usual price! In some cases, we’ve seen nonstop flights to Liberia (LIR) drop closer to just $200 total!
Many cheap fares like this one are already gone! Get Thrifty Traveler Premium to get cheap flights delivered straight to your inbox!
Jamaica reopened its borders to tourists several months ago, making it a great option for a change of scenery this year. All U.S. travelers currently must present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 10 days prior to their flight to Jamaica.
And no, flights to Jamaica don’t have to break the bank. These flight prices are gone now, but we alerted Premium members to sub-$300 flights to Jamaica a few weeks ago! Don’t miss the next deal we find to Jamaica!
Thrifty Tip: Use Chase or Hyatt points to book your stay at the Hyatt Ziva or Zilara all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica for free!
St. Lucia is a bucket-list destination for many, and it’s open to travelers. All travelers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 taken no more than five days prior to departure and will be subject to screening and temperature checks at the airport.
Cheap fares to this stunning island are rare. Flights can often cost $700 or more. But we recently found jaw-dropping flight prices to St. Lucia all the way through the spring!
Thrifty Tip: Wondering about other destinations not on this list? Check out our country-by-country guide to see up-to-date information on travel requirements.
No Passport? No Problem!
If you’d rather stay within the U.S. but are still craving a tropical getaway, you’ve still got some great options. Head to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Hawaiian Islands, and leave your passport at home. Plus, you won’t need to provide a negative COVID-19 test before returning home, since these are technically domestic flights.
If you’ve never been, Puerto Rico should be on your list for potential tropical getaways this year! All passengers must fill out a travel declaration form and present a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to arrival.
It’s easier than ever to snag a cheap flight, making Puerto Rico is a great getaway option. Here’s a recent SkyMiles flash sale we found and sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members. The usual cost? 40,000 SkyMiles, or more!
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands reopened for tourism last fall. A negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than five days before travel must be presented upon arrival. Temperature checks and health screenings will also be administered on arrival.
Need a cheap flight to get you there? Lucky for you, there’s been a trend of sub-$200 flights to the USVI lately! We sent this deal from several cities to Premium members recently with fares as low as $124 round-trip.
Thrifty Tip: Check out the island of St. Croix while you’re there!
Hawaii is now allowing travelers to come to the state without quarantining for 10 days if they present a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival in the state. Be sure to read our Master Guide to Hawaii Travel Requirements for the full low-down.
Like the U.S. Virgin Islands, we’re seeing unprecedented price drops to the Hawaiian islands. Typically, you’d pay $700 or more for a flight to the U.S.’s most exotic destination. But as of late, we’ve seen flights drop under $300 roundtrip to all of the islands:
In this recent SkyMiles flash sale we found, you can fly to the islands for just 10,000 miles – roundtrip! There may never be a cheaper time to book a flight to Hawaii.
With travel restrictions in place for many other pockets of the globe, these exotic destinations are your best bets for travel this year. Whether you’re looking for a last-minute getaway or planning ahead for book flights as far out as January 2022, there are plenty of flight deals to get there for cheap.
Start planning your 2021 getaway now to one of these destinations now open to travelers. Save hundreds on your flight there with our flight deal alerts!