USA Passport: Can I travel without a passport? 

Although having a passport allows access to nearly 200 countries worldwide, travelers from the United States can still explore exciting destinations even without this international document. Currently, there are significant delays in applications, with wait times ranging from eight to 12 weeks, which may limit travel plans. However, it’s important not to give up hope of enjoying vacations entirely. While international destinations require a passport, there are still several places where U.S. travelers can visit using only their state-issued ID.

Where can I travel without a passport? 

The United States has five permanently inhabited territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. While American Samoa requires a passport for entry, the federal government states that United States travelers can visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico without a passport.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, travelers can enjoy the renowned white-sand beaches of islands like St. Croix and St. Thomas, as well as explore vibrant coral reefs in crystal-clear waters. The Northern Mariana Islands offer a combination of tranquil beaches and thrilling mountain landscapes, making it ideal for hikers. In Puerto Rico, visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of San Juan or venture into the enchanting El Yunque tropical rainforest.

Regarding Guam, the territory’s entry and exit requirements specify that U.S. citizens visiting are generally required to have a passport. However, there may be exceptions on a case-by-case basis, where a photo ID and proof of citizenship could be accepted. Guam also offers stunning beaches and significant World War II historical sites.

Are there cruises that don’t require a passport?

In addition to the mentioned options, there are some unique travel opportunities such as closed-loop cruises that allow people to explore different destinations. However, these cruises are not as readily available as they may seem. According to Peter Greenberg, CBS News’ travel editor, only a few companies offer closed-loop cruises. These are cruises that depart from and return to a port within the United States. The reason for their limited availability is the Jones Act, a legislation from 1939, which states that ships not registered in the U.S. cannot sail directly between two U.S. ports without making a stop at a foreign port first. Since most cruise ships are not registered in the United States, they are subject to this law. As a result, closed-loop cruises are technically possible but rarely offered.

It is worth noting that previously, Americans were able to travel between Canada and Mexico without a passport. However, as Peter Greenberg explains, this option has been changed and is no longer available.

Despite the current delays in passport processing times, Peter Greenberg advises people who want to explore the world to still proceed with filling out their passport applications. While the wait times may be longer than usual, it is important to initiate the application process in order to be prepared for future travel opportunities. By submitting the necessary paperwork and fulfilling the application requirements, individuals can ensure they are ready to embark on their global adventures once the passport is issued.

The delays in processing can indeed impact travel plans, even for those who already possess a passport. Many countries require passports to be valid for at least six months beyond the duration of the trip. If these requirements cannot be met, it is crucial to renew the passport promptly. Additionally, some countries may demand a certain number of blank pages in the passport, which could necessitate obtaining a new passport if there is insufficient space.

Peter Greenberg emphasizes that despite the challenges and delays, obtaining a passport is a worthwhile investment. The number of countries accessible without a U.S. passport is relatively limited, making it an essential document for international travel.

If obtaining it in time for an upcoming trip is not feasible, there are numerous captivating destinations within the United States that are worth exploring. According to a U.S. News & World Report ranking for 2022-2023, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is the top destination in the country, attracting visitors from around the world to marvel at its breathtaking formations and explore other desert treasures. The TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards poll for 2022 also revealed popular destinations within the United States, with Las Vegas topping the list for its vibrant nightlife. Oahu and Maui in Hawaii offer stunning beaches and thrilling island activities, while Key West in Florida represents the southernmost point of the country. Other highly-rated destinations include New York City, New Orleans, and Nashville.