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FEATUREBy Jordan RaneAs the world reopens Travel always inspires a certain grand opening — a broad, unfastened push beyond our everyday lives — whenever we take that energized leap into the greater world.
After more than a year of homebound, global lockdown like no other, the term “open” resonates like never before. And believe it — the world will reopen to travel enthusiasts. It's time to start dreaming about the vacation you're going to take as soon as you're ready to travel again.
Here are a few of our favorite countries to consider. From the outer Caribbean to the souks of Marrakesh to the Dingle Peninsula, these captivating destinations will kickstart your travel bug.Indulge in Ireland American travelers can travel here currently with either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, Ireland remains one of the friendliest, liveliest and every-shade-of-greenest countries to explore — from its famed hub cities to its bucolic coastal peninsulas.The obvious starting point is Dublin — a charming but bustling, provincial yet metropolitan, historical while chic rite of passage into the rest of this richly textured country. Historians gravitate to 800-year-old Dublin Castle and the nearby grounds of Trinity College with its hallowed Old Library. Shoppers, music lovers and action seekers will hit the cobblestone maze of Temple Bar, the city’s cultural quarter and leisure hub. Pub crawlers can pay tribute to the Guinness Storehouse and carry on to the city’s countless vintage taprooms.
Across the border, Northern Ireland’s comparably compelling capital Belfast is rich with Victorian architecture, top dining, poignant historical landmarks and a glittering waterfront decked with modern art and a revived Titanic Quarter (where the “unsinkable” ship was built), and more foot-stomping music in packed-out pubs.
The island’s rugged southwest coast is where all those classic Irish images are hiding. Craggy mountains swaddled in mist. Tilted green hills matted with yellow gorse and lined with old stone walls. Sawtoothed, frothy Atlantic shorelines and an old fellow squinting in a gray tweed cap with his border collie and 10,000 sheep. Catch all of that on the Dingle Peninsula, a microcosm of the outer Irish coast that you can loop around by car — or foot, if you have the time and quad muscles to hoof the 179 km Dingle Way, one of the country’s most spectacular treks. Discover more details hereBreeze through Belize Few tropical outposts less than three hours direct from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport can pack in as much warm and friendly adventure as Belize — home to lush jungles, Mayan ruins, sleepy beach towns, more than 200 sunny islands and the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. Currently open to American travelers with proof of vaccination or a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test, Belize is tough to summarize in a few paragraphs. But here’s a tempting taste. Countless cayes (sandy, coral reef-adjacent isles) span the length of the Belizean coast. At the top of the list is the country’s largest offshore resort hub, Ambergris Caye, furnished with top hotels, manicured palm-lined beaches and major dive outfitters. Less than a mile from the world’s second largest barrier reef, Ambergris is a popular launch pad to the Great Blue Hole — a 410-foot-deep, nearly 1,000-foot-wide limestone sinkhole and world-famous dive site packed with stalactites, groupers, reef sharks and the odd hammerhead.
Wedged between a quiet lagoon and the turquoise sea, the former fishing village of Placencia is a favorite beachcomber’s hideaway in the country’s deep south, furnished with a sleepy row of expat-run inns, rum shacks and beachside grills with names like the Tipsy Tuna and the Pickled Parrott, and boat trips to more outer isles.
Tearing yourself away from Belize’s coast can be tough. The payoff: a lush interior of jungles and rivers, mountains and Mayan ruins, and our favorite feature of all — one of the wildest cave systems in the Americas. For a swift taste of central Belize’s rugged side, hook up with Belmopan-based Caves Branch Adventure Co. & Jungle Lodge, which has pioneered an assortment of caving, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, rappelling, spelunking and jungle survival expeditions deep in the heart of Belize’s Cayo District.Marvel upon Morocco Attention all arriving bazaar hagglers, camel riders, mountain trekkers, tagine tasters and sensory overload afficionados: Amazing Morocco will happily welcome you back into its far-flung fold of bustling souks, classic North African villages, Saharan sand dunes and timeless, fortress-lined interiors. Enough bucket-listable experiences for several trips is sprawled across this vast, varied landscape.Best known for its massive souks (open-air markets), Morocco naturally leads travelers on an exotic consumerist odyssey through its trio of epic souk-soaked cities — Rabat, Fez and Marrakesh. Collectively, these three towns specialize in everything you could ever feast your eyes, cash and taste buds upon — from clothes, jewelry and leather goods to technicolor spice racks, ubiquitous carpets and delicious culinary staples. Tasty dishes include maakouda (deep-fried potato pastries), medfouna (meat and spice-stuffed flatbread) and ubiquitous cups of sweet mint tea.
Delving into the country’s surprisingly alpine interior, those frenzied urban crowds vanish and morph into an endless labyrinth of Atlas Mountains country where hardcore trekkers can head to the 13,671-foot summit of Mount Toubkal (the tallest point in North Africa) while the rest of us explore edenic valleys sprouting with lush palm groves, peaceful Berber mountain villages and crumbling fortresses from many eras ago.
Beyond the coastal towns and the mountains is the Moroccan desert — and the gateway to a little place you may have heard of called the Sahara. Travelers who make it as far as the parched southeastern village of Merzouga will be rewarded with one of the natural world’s most unforgettable — if less than entirely comfortable — experiences. A ride into the world’s largest sea of sand at sunset aboard a dromedary. Touchless travel on American As the world reopens, American Airlines welcomes a new era of touchless travel innovations to put ease, convenience and peace of mind in the hands of travelers returning to the skies.
American Airlines app and VeriFLY: Use American’s app-based travel tool to remotely contact customer care representatives. Download the mobile health passport app VeriFLY to check and confirm specific travel requirements for your destination.
Touch-free baggage check: American has expanded a touchless bag drop trial at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport using biometric technology. Customers enrolling in the trial will be able to drop bags without the need for physical ID or a boarding pass.
Easy lounge entrance and ordering: Enjoy touch-free entrance at DFW’s Admirals Club (in trial stages this year) plus touchless ordering services and news and magazine downloads via QR code or free Admirals Club Wi-Fi — with plans to expand mobile services to Admirals Club lounges at select airports. Jordan Rane is an award-winning travel writer and a contributing editor of Men’s Journal. He’s been vacationing in LA for the last 25 years.