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Where Can U.S. Citizens Travel Without a Passport?

Travel enthusiasts often praise the value of a U.S. passport. After all, United States citizens have some of the greatest travel freedom in the world, being able to travel to 173 countries visa-free with only a U.S. passport in hand. That’s a world of possibilities! 

But here’s the secret: You don’t always need a passport to embark on exciting adventures. Yes, you read that correctly! There are plenty of places where U.S. citizens can travel passport-free.

Whether you are looking for pristine sandy white beaches and a tropical island feel, historical locales steeped in culture and tradition to explore, world-renowned authentic local cuisine to indulge in, or majestic mountainous landscapes to traverse, American travelers have plenty of places to travel to without needing a U.S. passport.

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U.S. Destinations: Explore Your Own Backyard

Lake in Alaska showing perfect reflection of sky, mountains, and trees

American citizens have the privilege of traveling to any of the 50 states without the need for a passport. A simple state-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, can unlock a host of popular destinations.

Travelers often underestimate the vastness and diversity of the United States. Compared to other nations, America boasts a wide variety of climates, landscapes, and attractions.

The United States is home to pristine beaches, towering mountain ranges, stark deserts, and lush forests. Alongside these natural wonders, there are cities and towns rich in culture and history, each offering unique experiences within the U.S. borders.

In contrast, while continents like Europe, Africa, and South America also offer diverse and enticing locales to visit, they are continents divided into separate countries, each requiring passports for border crossings.

This is not the case within the United States. You can traverse all 48 contiguous states (and the District of Columbia) without a passport. Often, a large welcome sign by the roadside is the only indication that you’ve crossed from one state to another.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, nature, stunning beaches, breathtaking glaciers, mountainous landscapes, or historical landmarks, you can find all these experiences within the U.S. borders—no passport required!


scenic drive on cliff-side dirt road along Hawaii coast

A common question we get is: Do I need a passport to visit Hawaii?

The answer: No!

Hawaii, America’s 50th state, is an archipelago of 137 islands located over 2,000 miles from the U.S. west coast. Despite its distance, Hawaii is an ideal tropical getaway for American citizens who wish to travel without a passport.

Most travelers will arrive on the largest island, Hawai’i, also known as “The Big Island.” This island is the heart of the state, housing the capital, Honolulu.

In addition to “The Big Island”, there are seven other major islands, each boasting stunning beaches and a unique tropical island feel. According to travel experts, the top five islands for visitors are Hawai’i, Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i, and Lana’i.

For those seeking relaxation, Lana’i and Maui are excellent choices. These islands offer beautiful beaches, lush hiking trails, towering volcanoes, and a slower pace perfect for unwinding.

Conversely, Oahu and “The Big Island” provide more diverse experiences. While they still offer amazing beaches and scenic hikes, these islands also boast a variety of world-class resorts, delectable dining options, energetic nightlife, and popular shopping venues.

Destination Deep Dive: 

  • Spotlight Feature: Just imagine standing on the edge of a volcanic crater, the warm Pacific breeze in your hair, the scent of tropical flowers in the air, and an unforgettable view of the sun setting over the ocean. 

    This is the essence of Hawaii, a place where nature’s beauty is magnified and every moment feels like a scene from a postcard. Imagine the pictures and memories you’ll create in such a stunning place!
  • Cultural Gems: Hawaii’s culture uniquely blends native traditions and influences from Asia and the West. 

    The spirit of ‘Aloha’ permeates every aspect of life here, from the hula and lei-making to the ukulele music and the ‘ohana (family) values. 

    The islands’ history is rich, from the ancient Polynesian voyagers who first settled here, to the plantation era, and the path to statehood.

Must-Experience Activities: 

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel. 
  2. English and Hawaiian are the official languages, but English is widely spoken. 
  3. A few Hawaiian words to know: ‘Aloha’ (hello/goodbye/love), ‘Mahalo’ (thank you), and ‘Ono’ (delicious).
  4. While someone might reside in Hawaiʻi, the term “Hawaiian” is reserved for those with Native Hawaiian ancestry. For individuals living in Hawaiʻi without Hawaiian lineage, terms like “local,” “locals,” or “kamaʻāina” (meaning long-time resident) are more appropriate.

Local Voices:

“Hawaii is the most beautiful place in the world. I’ve been to a lot of places, and Hawaii is just… paradise.” –Kelly Slater, professional surfer and Hawaii resident.

Overall, the Hawaiian islands are among the best places for U.S. citizens to travel without a passport. 

Please Note: Although Hawaii is a state, not all of the Hawaiian islands are open to tourists. For instance, the small island of Niihau is privately owned and not accessible to visitors, regardless of nationality or passport status.


view of Northern Lights over Alaska glaciers and water

As the largest state in the U.S., Alaska is a sanctuary of pristine, undisturbed, natural wonders. There are few places in the world where one can immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring, subarctic wilderness like you can in Alaska. 

A wide variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, river rafting, mountain climbing, observing the Northern Lights, whale watching, and more await nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Do You Need a Passport to Travel to Alaska? In some cases, yes.

While a passport isn’t necessarily required to travel to Alaska, there are situations where you might need one.

Geographically, Alaska is separated from the contiguous 48 states by Canada. Therefore, if you’re embarking on an overland journey, you may need to present a U.S. passport at the Canadian border unless you have a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document for entry into Canada. However, if you’re flying directly from within the United States to Alaska and returning the same way, a passport is not required.

Destination Deep Dive:

  • Spotlight Feature: Experience what it’s like to stand at the edge of Denali, the highest peak in North America, as the breathtaking Northern Lights dance across the sky. 

    Alaska offers many memorable experiences just like this. Alaska is a truly remarkable destination, a place where the wilderness is still wild, and natural wonders surround you.
  • Cultural Gems: Alaska’s culture is a blend of Native Alaskan traditions and influences from the Russian and American frontiers. From the totem poles of the Tlingit people to the Iditarod sled dog race, Alaska’s cultural heritage is as vast as the state itself.

Must-Experience Activities:

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens traveling directly from other states, one might be required if transiting through Canada. 
  2. English is the primary language, but you might hear some Alaska Native languages too!

Local Voices:

Alaska is the only place in the world where you can see grizzly bears, bald eagles, and beluga whales all in one day!” –John Muir, American Naturalist and Author.

In essence, Alaska stands as one of the premier destinations for U.S. citizens to explore without needing a passport.

Key West, Florida

Key West dock-side dining experience

Ask anyone who has visited, and they’ll confirm: Key West, Florida, is a destination like no other.

Nestled at the southwest tip of the Florida Keys, Key West boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the continental U.S. The crystal-clear waters and soft, warm sands provide an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing, and a host of water sports.

Speaking of sports, the Keys offer a plethora of options, including snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and fishing.

If sports don’t appeal to you, consider embarking on a sunset cruise, joining a ghost tour, or enjoying a street performance at Mallory Square.

Key West is also steeped in history. The town is dotted with numerous historical landmarks that date back to the early 1800s. Among the most popular are:

  • The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • The Key West Lighthouse
  • The Truman Little White House

No visit to Key West would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Seafood reigns supreme here, and there’s no shortage of waterfront restaurants serving up the day’s fresh catch. Don’t miss the chance to sample local Cuban cuisine or a slice of the famous Key lime pie.

Perhaps the most endearing aspect of Key West is its relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. The island, with its charming architecture, pristine beaches, and lush tropical foliage, is the perfect destination for those seeking to unwind and recharge—all without needing a passport.

Destination Deep Dive:

  • Spotlight Feature: Enjoy strolling down Duval Street as the sun sets, the air filled with the sound of live music and the scent of the sea. Watch Key West transition from a relaxing day to an energetic night.

    That’s the essence of Key West, a place where every day feels like a tropical island escape and a party just waiting for you.
  • Cultural Gems: Key West’s culture is an eclectic mix of Cuban influences, maritime history, and a laid-back island lifestyle. From the iconic Conch houses to the legendary sunset celebrations, Key West’s cultural charm is as captivating as its natural beauty.

Must-Experience Activities:

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel.
  2. English is the primary language, but you might hear some Spanish due to the Cuban influence!

Local Voices:

“It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms…” –Ernest Hemingway, American Author and Resident of Key West, Florida

All in all, Key West, Florida emerges as a must-see destination for U.S. citizens to visit without the requirement of a passport.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

scenic cabin in front of the Teton Mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

If you’re seeking to travel without a passport and prefer mountains over beaches, consider Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

First and foremost, the landscape is simply breathtaking. Jackson Hole is home to some of the country’s most spectacular natural vistas. The towering Teton Mountains and the winding Snake River dominate the valley town’s scenery, creating picturesque views that resemble a masterful painting.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Jackson Hole is a haven. During winter, the area transforms into a skier’s paradise, boasting world-class Rocky Mountain ski resorts.

The excitement continues into the summer. Visitors can indulge in a myriad of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and whitewater rafting. Wildlife spotting is also a popular pastime. As you traverse the numerous trails, keep a lookout for moose, elk, bison, or even a grizzly bear!

The town of Jackson Hole exudes a charming Western ambiance, complete with a variety of shops and restaurants. It also boasts an interesting arts and culture scene, featuring numerous galleries, museums, and theaters. History enthusiasts should not miss the reenactment of the historic Jackson Hole Shootout.

Lastly, one of the most endearing aspects of Jackson Hole is its strong sense of community. The locals are warm and welcoming, and there’s a palpable pride in the town’s heritage and natural beauty. 

Destination Deep Dive:

  • Spotlight Feature: Imagine standing atop a snow-capped peak in the Teton Mountains, the crisp winter air filling your lungs, the vast Wyoming landscape stretching out before you. You feel like the only human on earth, surrounded by pure natural beauty.

    That is just one of the many experiences of visiting Jackson Hole, a place where nature’s grandeur is always within reach.
  • Cultural Gems: Jackson Hole’s culture is a unique blend of Old West charm and outdoor adventure. From the wooden boardwalks and antler arches of Town Square to the annual Elk Fest and Fall Arts Festival, Jackson Hole’s cultural heritage is as rich as its natural beauty.

Must-Experience Activities:

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel. 
  2. English is the primary language, but you might learn some Western slang!

Local Voices:

“We love the lifestyle. It reminded me so much of Patagonia, but a way better version. Much more organized, better taken care of. I immediately loved the culture of taking care of nature and protecting it, being respectful, and the kindness in the community.” –Daniela Peterson, Resident and Local Therapist

Whether you’re in search of adventure, culture, or a tranquil getaway without a passport, Jackson Hole is a truly unique destination that is not to be overlooked.

Boston, Massachusetts

USS Constitution docked in Boston Harbor

For travelers seeking a blend of history, culture, and attractions without the need for a passport, Boston, Massachusetts is an exceptional choice.

Boston’s rich history, having played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, is evident in its numerous historical sites and landmarks. These include the Freedom Trail, the USS Constitution Museum, and the Paul Revere House. 

Beyond the city limits, there’s even more to discover, such as Plymouth, the famed landing spot of The Mayflower and the Pilgrims.

Boston’s culinary scene is another highlight, renowned for its seafood and chowder. The city boasts a thriving foodie scene with an array of excellent restaurants and must-try dishes like lobster rolls and clam chowder.

The city is also home to world-class museums such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Whether your interest lies in art, science, or history, there’s a wealth of knowledge to be gained.

Boston’s passion for sports is undeniable, with legendary teams like the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins calling the city home. Visitors can catch a game at Fenway Park, TD Garden, or Gillette Stadium.

Surrounded by New England’s stunning scenery, Boston offers ample opportunities to connect with nature. The Arnold Arboretum is a city gem, while a short drive south leads to the stunning beaches and picturesque towns of Cape Cod, as well as the quaint island communities of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Destination Deep Dive:

  • Spotlight Feature: Walk the historic Freedom Trail, the echoes of the American Revolution resonating around you, the thriving city life of Boston unfolding before your eyes.

    That is the spirit of Boston, a place where our nation’s history and modern life have naturally emerged for an unforgettable experience.
  • Cultural Gems: Boston’s culture is a fascinating blend of historical significance and cultural diversity. From the old cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill to the bustling Italian neighborhood of the North End, Boston’s cultural heritage is as diverse as it is rich.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Walk the Freedom Trail and explore the city’s historical landmarks on a guided tour.
  • Visit the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Children’s Museum.
  • Catch a Red Sox game or take a guided Fenway Park Tour.
  • Enjoy a scenic stroll along the Charles River Esplanade.
  • Sample local cuisine on a guided food tour, especially the fresh New England seafood and iconic Boston cream pie.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel. 
  2. English is the primary language, but you’ll definitely hear that distinctive Boston accent!

Local Voices:

“It’s such a great city, visually. You can’t get that kind of look in Canada that you can get in Boston: the old-brick historical buildings, the winding streets, the old but funky neighborhoods like Southie and Somerville. You can’t get that elsewhere. It’s a very unique place in that way.” –Brad Anderson, Film Director

“Honestly, I didn’t understand how special of a place Boston was until I got here. But this is a special place.” –Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

In essence, whether your interests lie in history, culture, food, sports, or nature, Boston and its surrounding areas offer a unique experience for everyone, with or without a passport.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur beach with cove and cliffs

The West Coast is replete with remarkable destinations that can be visited without a passport, and Big Sur, California, stands out among them.

Big Sur’s natural splendor is truly extraordinary. The coastline, characterized by its rugged beauty, features towering redwood forests and steep cliffs that descend into the Pacific Ocean. 

The vistas are absolutely breathtaking, with numerous hiking trails and scenic drives allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the incredible landscape fully.

Big Sur is also a haven for a diverse range of wildlife, including sea otters, harbor seals, elephant seals, whales, and dolphins. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted by the many species of seabirds and raptors that inhabit the area.

For the adventurous, Big Sur offers ample opportunities for exploration. Numerous state parks and wilderness areas, such as Andrew Molera State Park, provide settings for hiking, camping, surfing, kayaking, and more.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is renowned for its unique pink sand beach. The sand’s purple hue, particularly striking after rainfall, is derived from the impressive rock formations that line the beach.

However, Big Sur isn’t solely about outdoor pursuits. It also boasts a rich artistic and cultural history. Over the years, it has been home to many famous writers, musicians, and artists. Places like the Henry Miller Memorial Library, which celebrates the life and work of the renowned writer, offer insight into this location’s creative legacy.

Additionally, Big Sur brings relaxation and rejuvenation to a whole new level with numerous luxurious resorts, spas, and retreats that dot the gorgeous landscape, offering breathtaking views and all the amenities needed for a tranquil getaway.

Destination Deep Dive

  • Spotlight Feature: Imagine yourself relaxing as you get a hot stone massage while you look out over the edge of a cliff in Big Sur, over the Pacific Ocean, the scent of redwoods in the air, and the sound of waves crashing below.

    Big Sur provides a truly beautiful, serene seaside destination, a place where nature’s splendor will relax and rejuvenate you.
  • Cultural Gems: Big Sur’s culture is a captivating mix of natural beauty and artistic inspiration. From the iconic Bixby Bridge to the Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur’s cultural heritage is as engaging as its natural beauty.

Must-Experience Activities:

  1. Hike the trails of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
  2. Visit the pink sand beach and witness the purple tint of the sand.
  3. Explore marine life by kayaking, surfing, or scuba diving.
  4. Watch for whales on a boat cruise in Monterey Bay.
  5. Relax and rejuvenate at one of the luxurious spas or retreats.
  6. Take a Carmel-by-the-Sea guided walking tour.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel. 
  2. English is the primary language, but you’ll get a taste of California’s laid-back vibes by hearing local vernacular!

Local Voices:

“This is the way life goes in Big Sur. Waiting for the mail, watching the sea-lions in the surf or the freighters on the horizon, sitting in the tubs at Hot Springs, once in a while a bit of drink – and, most of the time, working at whatever it is that you came here to work on, whether it be painting, writing, gardening or the simple art of living your own life.” – Hunter S. Thompson, American Journalist and Author, Resident of Big Sur

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always.” – John Steinbeck, American Author and Resident of Big Sur

For those seeking a place to relax and rejuvenate without a passport, Big Sur is an ideal destination. 

Every region and state within the United States boasts a unique story; the history and culture present a diverse array of must-see attractions for visitors to experience. From the bustling, world-renowned cities of New York and Los Angeles to the tropical paradise of Hawaii and Florida, the United States is home to hundreds of destinations that can easily compete with any location worldwide. 

U.S. Territories: Do I Need Passports or Not?

San Juan Puerto Rico coastal hotels

While most U.S. citizens are aware of their freedom to travel within the United States, many may not know that numerous enticing destinations outside of the U.S. do not require a passport.

The United States governs 14 territories, five of which are permanently inhabited and can be visited without a passport.

Among these are the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, both nestled in the Caribbean and favored by U.S. travelers for their tropical allure.

The remaining 3 passport-free U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam, and the recently included Northern Mariana Islands—are situated in the Pacific Ocean.

These territories serve as excellent alternatives to other popular Caribbean countries that necessitate passports. In essence, if you’re seeking tropical destinations to visit without a passport, these territories are your prime choices.

The U.S. Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands, a Caribbean archipelago, comprise 9 distinct islands under 3 different political jurisdictions.

1. The U.S. Virgin Islands, some of America’s most popular unincorporated territories, include St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix

These tropical paradises are easily accessible to Americans without a passport. 

St. John, in particular, is a haven for nature lovers. Two-thirds of the island is designated as the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, home to historical ruins, world-class snorkeling, exotic wildlife, and some of the finest beaches in the Virgin Islands.

St. Croix and St. Thomas also offer abundant natural beauty, from lush rainforests to sprawling white sand beaches and turquoise waters, perfect for relaxing and scuba diving.

2. The Spanish Virgin Islands, which include Culebra and Vieques (and are technically part of Puerto Rico, another U.S. unincorporated territory) are excellent passport-free destinations for U.S. vacationers. 

Culebra and Vieques islands boast beautiful beaches, colorful coral reefs, and awe-inspiring hiking experiences.

3. The British Virgin Islands, (formally known as simply the Virgin Islands), are a British overseas territory comprising Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke

Please note: U.S. citizens are required to have a U.S. passport to travel to and from the British Virgin Islands due to their political jurisdiction. 

That said, these islands offer unique opportunities for vacationers to experience some of the world’s best beaches and the thrill of international travel without leaving the Western Hemisphere. The British Virgin Islands represent some of the best reasons to get a passport!

Destination Deep Dive:

  • Spotlight Feature: Picture this: pristine white sands on a secluded beach in St. John, dazzling turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, and the warmth of the sun enveloping you. 

    The U.S. Virgin Islands offer a truly remarkable island getaway, a place lush with natural beauty, tranquil settings, and a warm, welcoming climate.
  • Cultural Gems: The U.S. Virgin Islands’ culture uniquely blends Caribbean charm and American convenience. From the vibrant carnivals and festivals to the historical ruins and local cuisine, the cultural heritage of the U.S. Virgin Islands is fascinating to experience.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Explore the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park and Coral World Ocean Park in St. John.
  • Dive or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Volunteer for the sea turtle monitoring program.
  • Visit the historical ruins scattered across the islands.
  • Relax on the pristine beaches of the Virgin Islands.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens to visit the U.S. and Spanish Virgin Islands, a valid ID is required for air travel. 
  2. Remember the British Virgin Islands are not a U.S. territory; U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport to travel to and from these islands. 
  3. The local currency is the U.S. dollar. 
  4. English is the primary language, but you might hear some local dialects and Caribbean slang!

Local Voices:

“St. Croix is the largest of the three US Virgin Islands, with many things to do and places to explore. That’s why, if you are on limited time, it’s essential to carefully craft an efficient St. Croix itinerary to experience as much as possible. After all, it’s no easy task to witness and enjoy all the things to do in St. Croix: the great beaches, historic sugar plantations, lively nightlife, underwater scenery, and fantastic cuisine.” Andrew Bloem, Adventure Travel Writer and Resident of St. Thomas

All in all, whether you’re looking for a tropical paradise without needing a passport (or reasons to get one) the Virgin Islands offer something special and for everyone to enjoy.

Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico castle view

Contrary to common belief, Puerto Rico, the fourth-largest island in the Caribbean, is not an independent nation. It is a U.S. territory. This means American citizens can visit this Caribbean jewel without a passport.

Puerto Rico boasts a rich Spanish colonial history, prominently displayed in its capital, San Juan. Numerous tours of Old San Juan provide access to impressive sites, vibrant nightlife, bustling cultural and musical scenes, and all the culinary delights, shopping, and excitement you would expect from a modern metropolis.

Venturing beyond the city limits reveals gorgeous white sand beaches, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and diverse tropical wildlife. 

Destination Deep Dive: 

  • Spotlight Feature: Witness the historic walls of Castillo San Cristobal, along the Atlantic Ocean, with the vibrant city life of San Juan behind you. Try to imagine the history and cultural influences that have shaped and developed this amazing place.

    This is Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island full of history and deep ancestral roots.
  • Cultural Gems: Puerto Rico’s culture is a rich blend of Spanish colonial heritage and contemporary Caribbean influence. From the historic streets of Old San Juan to the lively salsa music that fills the air, Puerto Rico’s cultural charm is appealing and entertaining.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Explore the historic sites of Old San Juan on a guided walking tour.
  • Visit the El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System on an adventure tour.
  • Enjoy the vibrant nightlife and culinary scene of San Juan.
  • Relax on the stunning beaches of Vieques and Culebra.
  • Discover the bioluminescent bays of Puerto Rico.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel.
  2. The local currency is the U.S. dollar. 
  3. Spanish and English are the official languages, but Spanish is more commonly spoken.
  • Local Voices: “While there are so many beautiful similarities in culture, community, and climate that indisputably bond islands together, Puerto Rico is an explosion for the senses in a way I’d never experienced before. With its tapestry of peoples (most notably, Taíno, African, and Spanish), vast biodiversity, dramatic landscapes, and colorful cities, you’ll quickly see why the island earned its nickname of La Isla del Encanto.” –Rachel Off Duty, Travel Writer

Among all the places to travel without a passport, Puerto Rico truly offers a truly eclectic experience of excitement and fun in a beautiful tropical location.


Beach chairs on a Guam beach under tree cover

Guam, a stunning American island territory situated in the western Pacific Ocean, is a destination that offers more than just its natural beauty. 

With pristine white-sand beaches, warm waters, and expansive tropical forests, Guam is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The island provides a variety of activities, including world-class snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, and fishing.

The cultural and historical richness of Guam is equally impressive. The island’s control has changed hands multiple times throughout history, resulting in a fascinating blend of Chamorro, Spanish, and American influences. 

Culinary enthusiasts will find Guam to be a delight, as the island offers a unique fusion of flavors drawn from its multicultural heritage. Fresh seafood, local Chamorro cuisine, and international dishes can all be savored here.

Guam also presents excellent shopping opportunities. The island hosts numerous duty-free stores offering designer brands at discounted prices, as well as local shops and markets selling handmade crafts and souvenirs.

Above all, Guam is renowned for its hospitality. The locals, known for their welcoming nature, are eager to share the island’s beauty and culture with visitors, making every trip a truly unforgettable experience.

Destination Deep Dive: 

  • Spotlight Feature: Think of how it would feel to bury your toes in the warm, pristine white sands of Tumon Bay, while you overlook the Pacific Ocean stretching out before you, with lush greenery and the sounds of nature all around you.

    This is what you can experience in Guam, an exquisite destination of unparalleled natural beauty.
  • Cultural Gems: Guam’s culture is a fascinating blend of Chamorro traditions and Spanish and American influences. From the ancient latte stones to the vibrant festivals, Guam’s cultural heritage is truly enchanting.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Explore the War in the Pacific National Historical Park.
  • Dive or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve.
  • Visit the Latte Stone Park and learn about the ancient Chamorro culture.
  • Experience a Karera Show at Sand Castle Guam
  • Enjoy the local cuisine, especially the seafood and Chamorro dishes.
  • Shop for local crafts and souvenirs at the Chamorro Village Night Market.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel.
  2. The local currency is the U.S. dollar. 
  3. English and Chamorro (an Austronesian language) are the official languages, but English is more commonly spoken.

Local Voices:

“Guam’s beaches are one of the island’s major attractions. Imagine picture-perfect beaches with gorgeous white sand, twinkling turquoise water, and swaying palm trees, and you’ll get pretty close to reality. If you’re a beach person, you’ll love Guam.” –DeWitt Guam

Whether you’re seeking a vacation that includes immersion in nature, cultural exploration, gastronomic delights, or warm hospitality without the need for a U.S. passport, Guam is the ideal destination for you!

American Samoa

American Samoa wilderness coastline view

American Samoa, a breathtaking and culturally rich U.S. territory, is among the more unique places you can visit without a passport.

Home to some of the world’s most pristine and untouched natural beauty, each of the 5 islands of American Samoa boasts stunning beaches, vibrant coral reefs, lush tropical forests, and cascading waterfalls. 

American Samoa also offers a rich immersion in traditional Polynesian culture. The locals, proud of their heritage, provide opportunities for visitors to experience it firsthand. Attend a traditional dance performance, visit a local village, or learn about Samoan crafts and art.

For food lovers, American Samoa is a paradise. The local cuisine features fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and unique Samoan dishes like palusami (taro leaves cooked in coconut cream) and oka (raw fish in coconut milk).

History enthusiasts will find American Samoa fascinating, with many sites of cultural and historical significance, such as the Jean P. Haydon Museum and the Aunu’u Island Archaeological Preserve.

Destination Deep Dive:

  • Spotlight Feature: Imagine attending a traditional Samoan dance performance. The drums beat a hypnotic beat all around you as you listen to the sweet, melodic singing while watching the uniquely choreographed dancing and the beautiful, vivid traditional dress of the Samoan dancers.

    This is just one of the many experiences you can have when you visit and embrace American Samoa, a tropical paradise steeped in rich culture and tradition.
  • Cultural Gems: American Samoa’s culture is a very unique blend of traditional Polynesian customs and American influences. From the traditional Samoan ‘ava ceremony to the vibrant performances of the siva dance, American Samoa’s cultural heritage is fascinating to experience.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Explore the National Park of American Samoa.
  • Attend a traditional Samoan dance performance.
  • Sample the local cuisine, especially the seafood and Samoan dishes.
  • Visit the Jean P. Haydon Museum.
  • Relax on the stunning beaches of American Samoa.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel.
  2. The local currency is the U.S. dollar. 
  3. English and Samoan are the official languages, but Samoan is more commonly spoken. A few important words and phrases to know: “Talofa” (Hello), “Tofa” (Goodbye), “Fa’afetai” (Thank You), and “Fa’amolemole” (Please). 

Local Voices:

“Halfway between Hawai’i and New Zealand rests the only U.S. National Park Service site south of the equator. A tropical forest, a beach where you’ll be the only person you see, and a culture that spans five inhabited islands are what make a visit to the National Park of American Samoa unique.” –Mikah Meyer, Road Trip and National Parks Expert

Overall, American Samoa offers a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. The slower pace provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, making American Samoa an exceptional destination for those seeking to truly unwind and enjoy their surroundings—without needing a passport!

The Northern Mariana Islands

Secluded beach on the Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, the newest American territories, are an idyllic destination nestled in the western Pacific Ocean. 

Like the other territories we’ve covered, these islands boast breathtaking natural landscapes, a fascinating history, and an eclectic mix of cultures.

For nature enthusiasts, the Northern Mariana Islands offer a variety of outdoor activities. Renowned for its stunning coral reefs, turquoise waters, and white sandy beaches, these islands provide ample opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing.

Beyond the beaches, you can explore the lush green forests, hidden waterfalls, and ancient lava tubes through hiking or guided tours.

The Northern Mariana Islands also serve as a unique cultural destination. The diverse population reflects the islands’ rich history, with the Chamorro culture, influenced by centuries of Spanish and American colonization, prominently displayed. During your stay, immerse yourself in the traditions of the Carolinians, the native people who have inhabited the islands for over 2,000 years.

The local cuisine is a culinary delight. Enjoy fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and unique Chamorro dishes like kadon pika (a spicy chicken soup), and tinala katne (grilled marinated beef).

Destination Deep Dive

  • Spotlight Feature: Immerse yourself in the ancient culture and legends of the House of Taga. Amid the beautiful tropical landscape lay the ruins of an old house and supports made of heavy stone that legend tells was constructed over 3,000 years ago by Chief Taga, a man with superhuman strength. These megalithic structures, surrounded by lush flora and fauna, are truly a sight to behold.  
  • Cultural Gems: The Northern Mariana Islands’ culture is a unique blend of traditional Chamorro customs and American influences. From the ancient latte stones to the vibrant Flame Tree Arts Festival, the cultural heritage of the Northern Mariana Islands is as enchanting as its natural beauty.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Explore World War II historic sites such as American Memorial Park.
  • Dive or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the Grotto.
  • Visit the ancient Chamorro village of the House of Taga.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine, especially the seafood and Chamorro dishes.
  • Relax on the stunning beaches of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Practical Tips for Travelers:
  1. While no passport is needed for U.S. citizens, a valid ID is required for air travel.
  2. The local currency is the U.S. dollar. 
  3. English and Chamorro are the official languages, but Chamorro is more commonly spoken. Some important words and phrases to know: “Håfa adai” (Hello), “Adios” (Goodbye), “Pot fabot” (Please), “Si Yu’us ma’åse’” (Thank you), “Hunggan” (Yes), and “Åhe’” (No).

Local Voices:

“Escape to a place of magnificent beaches and crystal clear aqua waters, rich history, year-round outdoor activities, world-class diving and golfing, international shopping, a wide range of ethnic restaurants, and a wide variety of international and indigenous cultures adding their unique flavors to this island paradise.” –Marianas Visitors Authority

Above all, the Northern Mariana Islands offer a peaceful and serene atmosphere. With a slower pace of life, it’s the perfect destination to relax on the beach, enjoy beautiful sunsets, or embark on an adventure to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, all without the need for a U.S. passport.

U.S. Neighbors: Visiting Canada and Mexico Without a Passport

Peace Arch near Western U.S. and Canadian border

Traveling to Canada and Mexico: A Guide for U.S. Citizens

Two of the most common questions we receive regarding travel document requirements are: 

  1. Do I need a passport to visit Canada?” and 
  2. Do I need a passport to visit Mexico?” 

The answer to both is: it’s complicated

In a few specific cases, U.S. citizens can travel to Canada or Mexico without U.S. passports. 

For instance, children under 16 without passports can visit Canada or Mexico via land or sea border crossings, but must bring their original certified birth certificates. This documentation is vital for their re-entry into the United States. However, no American can fly internationally without a valid passport, regardless of age.

As such, traveling to Canada or Mexico without a passport can carry risks. There’s always the possibility of needing to return to the U.S. by air because of an emergency. Without a passport, that would be impossible.

Generally, a passport gives American citizens the most flexibility and the smoothest travel experience when crossing borders from the United States to visit Canada or Mexico.

Exceptions to this rule include those in possession of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-approved documents. These include the Trusted Traveler Programs card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry, or FAST), or an Enhanced Driver’s License. WHTI-approved travel documents can be obtained through an application process and used in many of the same ways as a passport.

Fortunately, there are ways to expedite obtaining a passport, broadening your travel horizons swiftly.


Destination Deep Dive

  • Spotlight Features: Picture the moment your eyes and ears take in the sights and sounds of the majestic Niagara Falls. A breathtaking view of the gushing waterfall, the sound of roaring water, and the unforgettable feeling of cool mist on your face. 

    This and many more awe-inspiring experiences await you in beautiful Canada, where natural beauty and wonders surround you.
  • Cultural Gems: Canada’s culture is an interesting blend of British, French, and Indigenous influences. From the historic sites of Quebec City to the multicultural vibrancy of Toronto, the cultural heritage of Canada is as diverse as it is captivating.

Must-Experience Activities:

  • Explore the historic sites of Ottawa.
  • Visit the stunning natural wonder of Niagara Falls.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine, especially poutine and butter tarts.
  • Experience the vibrant festivals and events.
  • Explore the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies.

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. Familiarize yourself with Canada’s Travel Requirements before planning your trip.
  2. The local currency is the Canadian dollar. 
  3. English and French are the official languages in Canada.

Local Voices:

“The expanse of Canada’s natural beauty, from mountains and glaciers to secluded lakes and forests, is almost unparalleled worldwide. But Canada’s allure is not just the great outdoors. Canada has cosmopolitan cities that are clean, safe, friendly, and multicultural.” –Jane McLean, Canadian Travel Writer

Natural beauty, cultural diversity, and warm hospitality are what make Canada a must-visit destination for American travelers.


Destination Deep Dive

  • Spotlight Feature: Explore the ancient Mayan ruins, history unfolding before your eyes, and the thriving modern city life of Mexico City just a short distance away. 

    This is Mexico, a place where rich heritage, ancient history, and modernity coexist beautifully for a unique and memorable experience.
  • Cultural Gems: Mexico’s culture has been cultivated from a mixture of Indigenous, Spanish, and modern Mexican traditions. From the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan to the lively markets of Mexico City, the cultural heritage of Mexico is enchanting and exciting.

Must-Experience Activities:

Practical Tips for Travelers:

  1. Know Mexico’s Travel Requirements before planning your trip.
  2. The local currency is the Mexican peso. 
  3. Spanish is the official language in Mexico. However, in tourism hot spots such as Cancùn, English is also spoken within the resorts to accommodate English-speaking tourists.

Local Voices:

“Mexico has something for everyone and it’s one of the most varied countries I’ve ever been to – it has big cities, quaint cobblestoned towns, rich history & culture – that vastly differs across the states, a beautiful language, delicious cuisine, beaches, mountains, ruins, and so much more. “ –Lauren from Out of Office Girl, Travel Expert and Blogger

Fascinating history and culture, world renowned cuisine, and some of the most breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders place Mexico at the top of the must-see destinations for American travelers. 

Canada and Mexico, respectively, have an abundance of amazing sites to see and unforgettable memories to be had. Just remember to familiarize yourself with each location’s travel requirements for a hassle-free getaway you won’t soon forget!

Closed-Loop Cruise Destinations: Set Sail Sans Passport

cruise ship docked in a tropical bay

If you’re a U.S. citizen embarking on a cruise from a U.S. port, traveling within the Western Hemisphere, and returning to the same port, you’re in luck! You can reenter the U.S. with just two documents:

  1. Government-Issued ID: Your driver’s license or state ID serves as proof of identification.
  2. Certified Birth Certificate: This document establishes your citizenship.

Closed-loop cruises—those that start and end at the same U.S. port—offer a passport-free escape. Imagine exploring the sun and warmth of tropical paradises like the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, or Jamaica without worrying about a passport!

However, know that if you board a cruise in the U.S. without a passport in hand, you may not get the full experience. If the cruise stops at countries requiring a U.S. passport for entry, you might find yourself ship-bound while others explore the port city. Also, some cruise lines may insist on a U.S. passport regardless of the itinerary, so check before booking.

Remember, closed-loop cruises beyond U.S. territories will always provide information regarding travel document requirements up front. To minimize any missed exploration opportunities, be sure to read all the fine print before booking a closed-loop cruise.

Why Get a Passport? Unlock Your Travel Horizons

woman's hands drawing on a map with a passport and camera resting on it

With so many passport-free travel options, you might wonder if you’ll ever need one. 

While destinations like American Samoa and The U.S. Virgin Islands allow entry without a passport, there’s a compelling case for obtaining this little blue book. Here’s why:

  1. Expanded Travel Opportunities: A passport opens doors to some of the most sought-after destinations. From the pristine beaches of the Dominican Republic to the dramatic landscapes of Iceland, some of the most popular destinations Americans visit worldwide await passport holders.
  2. RealID Convenience: Both a valid passport and a passport card serve as RealID documents. They’re not only essential for international travel but also handy for domestic flights and cruises.
  3. Plan Ahead: Applying for a new U.S. passport or renewing your passport takes time. Don’t limit yourself—start the process early so that you can plan your next trip to explore the world—without boundaries!

Whether you’re chasing sunsets on the beach, savoring the exotic flavors of authentic cuisine, or hiking through untouched wilderness, know that there are plenty of places to go with or without a passport.

Looking for more travel destination ideas or travel document advice? Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss any of the latest news and updates!

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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