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Adventure Travel Cities Outdoors

The 7 Most Beautiful Places on Earth

Need a little inspiration for your next vacation, either real or imagined? SmarterTravel’s editors have crisscrossed the planet, visiting dozens of countries on every continent—and these are the spots they’ve declared the most beautiful places in the world.

The Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

The Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

“Antarctica feels otherworldly. It’s devoid of human life, with an almost eerie emptiness in places—no manmade buildings, no power lines, no planes flying overhead, and no lights. Simultaneously, it teems with natural life, from penguins calling for their mates in a cacophony of sounds to fur seals lurking below the surface waiting to pounce on their next meal. All that against a backdrop of towering mountains, brilliantly blue glaciers, and an unpolluted sky—I’ve yet to find anywhere else on earth that can compare.” — Caroline Morse Teel, Principal Editor

Granada, Spain

sunset over the alhambra in Granada, SPain

“Like all the towns in Andalucia, Granada is something special. The architecture, the food, and the people all make for a memorable trip. But the real gem in Granada is the Alhambra. Climb up the steep, skinny streets of the Albayzin neighborhood to the Mirador de San Nicolás and watch the sun set over the Alhambra. It’s been (accurately) called ‘the most beautiful sunset in the world’ and is one of those magical experiences that will stay with you forever.” — Noemi de la Torre, Senior Photo Editor

South Island, New Zealand

landscape south island new zealand.

“My then-partner (now husband) and I were reduced almost to speechlessness during a road trip around New Zealand’s spectacular South Island. ‘Wow,’ I said as we rounded a curve and a crystalline lake spread out before us. ‘Wow,’ he echoed a few minutes later as the late-day sun cast a rosy glow across hulking mountains capped with snow. Glaciers, fjords, beaches—the South Island has it all, and it’s all stunning.” — Sarah Schlichter, Deputy Executive Editor

Krka National Park, Croatia

Krka National Park was supposed to be a small pit stop on my guided trip to Split, but it ended up being the highlight of the week. Rivers and streams crisscross the ground beneath you as you navigate the forest on elevated wooden pathways. The entire journey has a deep stillness to it, with only your own footsteps and the sounds of water and bird calls to interrupt. Finally, at the end of the walk, you’re greeted by a picnic ground surrounded by tiers of beautiful waterfalls. The views were stunning and, on the way out, I got to visit a family of wild kittens—so it was probably the best day ever.”  — Carol McPherson, Video Editor/Creator

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada

great bear rainforest section

“The Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia haunts my dreams in the best possible way. I only spent two days there, but even that short amount of time earns it a spot at the top of my list. This picture was taken after a short flight from Vancouver Island to the tiny wilderness lodge of Nimmo Bay. It was an intoxicating blur of dense temperate rainforest hikes, paddling bays so still that my kayak seemed to skim above the clouds, and rushing waterfalls that exhaled the rainforest into the sea.” — Christine Sarkis, Executive Editor

Haputale Tea Country, Sri Lanka

Haputale tea country Sri Lanka.

“The most beautiful places are always the ones that photos inevitably can’t do justice. And for me, that paradox always brings to mind Sri Lankan tea country. I took a rickety train ride to Haputale in monsoon-season rains, snaking through verdant slopes and misty gorges made even more dream-like by the drizzle. As if the postcard-esque viaducts and Nine Arch Bridge along the way weren’t enough, meeting Haputale’s local tea pickers in a cloud forest precariously perched at 7,000 feet above sea level certainly was. From the foothills of Agarapatana Plantation I was gobsmacked by the views, which only grew more dream-like as we ascended to the peak to enjoy many fresh cups of tea, served with roti and sweets, overlooking the cloud cover that would occasionally break to reveal miles of rolling greenery below. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to walking into the pages of a Dr. Seuss book and staying a while.” — Shannon McMahon, Editor of News and Features

Tayrona National Park, Colombia 

tayrona national park.

“Many of the world’s most beautiful places come with crowds of tourists and lines that you have to wait in; it’s rare to find that true sense of unspoiled beauty. And when you do, it’s often far, far away from the beaten path. But you’ll usually find that it’s the search that makes the final destination worth it, and that’s exactly the case with Tayrona National Park in Colombia. A trip here makes you feel like you’re on your own journey of youthful exploration in Lord of the Flies. Hours from the vibrant city of Cartagena sit miles and miles of coastline where the Sierra Nevada foothills kiss the Caribbean coast. Find relaxation in the secluded coves and lagoons, or trek in the rainforest to ancient Taryonan ruins. To get here, find the beach city of Santa Marta and then make your way via bus to the forest. There are plenty of hidden retreats and treehouses to stay at, where inviting hammocks swing in the wind waiting for you. There’s nothing quite like following a winding path in the rainforest that suddenly ends with golden sand and open ocean.” —Ashley Rossi, Senior Editor

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At Home Entertainment Health & Wellness Outdoors

Forest Bathing Audio Experience

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

Let’s head into nature for a guided virtual forest bathing experience. Traditional forest bathing strengthens your relationship to nature by connecting you via your five senses.

We’ve created these audio tours to transport you to inspiring destinations around the world, even when you can’t be there in person. So settle in and let’s imagine a peaceful walk through a beautiful forest. Along the way, we’ll practice some traditional forest-bathing techniques to help you relax and connect with the outdoors.

Note that each virtual vacation begins with a short breathing exercise to help you come into the moment and make the most of your virtual vacation.

Discover more Virtual Vacations.

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Entertainment

Fun Travel Quizzes

Trivia Quizzes

Are you a travel expert? Take these trivia quizzes and find out.

Personality Quizzes

No right answers here—just fun ways to learn about different aspects of your travel personality.

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Adventure Travel

The 5 Best National Park Live Webcams We’re Watching

Missing the great outdoors? Us too. While we’re spending more time planning our next national park vacation than we are being outside, we’re making the most of quarantine with these live cams of national parks. 

Did we miss any that you’ve been watching? Share them with us on Facebook! 

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

Watch the upper part of Yosemite Falls in real-time with the park’s live stream of the 2,425-foot falls. Peak flow time is early summer, so lucky for us, the timing is perfect for optimal viewing. 

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Old faithful inn geyser

Want to watch Yellowstone’s famous geyser erupt? Check out this live stream from the park, which features (not always up-to-date) predictions about when it will next go off. 

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Click into Lake McDonald’s webcam for your daily moment of zen. Positioned at the foot of the lake, the camera shows off one of the most iconic views in Glacier.

The North Atlantic Coastline, Acadia National Park

Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park

Pretend like you’re on Maine’s rocky coastline with Acadia National Park’s webcam. This solar-powered camera is perched next to the ocean and offers beautiful views of the water, especially at sunrise. 

Sunrise and Sunset at Zion Canyon, Zion National Park

Follow Zion National Park on Facebook and Instagram to see when they’re live broadcasting the sunrise and sunset at the national park. The live cams are set up at the bottom of the canyon so the views of the canyon wall’s shadows are particularly rare and interesting. 

Listen to our audio tour through Zion National Park:

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

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Money Packing Travel Tips & Advice

14 Ways to Improve Your Future Trips While You’re Stuck at Home

As we wait out the COVID-19 pandemic at home, we’re keeping our spirits up by dreaming about future travels. And the more we’ve thought about it, the more we’ve realized that there’s plenty to do now at home to make the trips we have yet to take better, and to focus our energy on something hopeful and positive. Here’s how we’re planning ahead to better days and better trips. 

Read Inspiring Books About a Destination

When you can’t take a real trip, a journey through a good book can be the second-best thing. Let The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel whisk you away to India, discover everyday life in Botswana with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, or read In a Sunburned Country to ramble your way through Australia.

For more ideas, see 14 Amazing Travel Memoirs to Read When You’re Stuck at Home and 11 Books We’re Reading to Inspire Ourselves and Our Future Travels.

Pre-Pack Regularly Used Items

There’s nothing like getting ready to pack for a trip and being able to mentally high-five your past self for having the foresight to have already cleaned and restocked your toiletries bag. That way all that’s left for you to do is check it over, add in any additional items, and throw it in your bag. Experience the same joy by reserving a drawer or a box in a closet in which you keep pre-sorted baggies of travel essentials like adapters, travel pillows, passport holders, and travel-size toothpaste

Make Virtual Visits to a Destination

Saint Peter's Square and Basilica tourists taking photos

No, it’s not the same as visiting in person, but hundreds of museums, aquariums, zoos, and other tourist attractions are offering virtual tours, live streams, and other ways for travelers to “visit” online. See 21 Sites Offering Virtual Tours and Live Streams for Travelers Stuck at Home for a comprehensive list, and let them inspire an IRL visit someday in the future.

It’s not just museums getting into the virtual game: You can also take virtual hikes and see natural wonders from home.

Fill in the Holes of Your Travel Wardrobe

In travel as in home repair, having the right tool for the job is everything. Does this sound familiar? It’s time to pack, and you realize you’re missing a cover-up and comfortable sandals for a beach vacation, or snow gear for a winter adventure. Instead of waiting until the last minute to panic-purchase items that will come in handy again and again, go through the types of trips you’re drawn to, assess your supplies, and fill in holes as you find them. Then congratulate yourself on making the most of your non-travel time. 

Clean Your Travel Bags

suitcase storage in closet

Right now, most of us are thinking a lot more than usual about hygiene. And when you’re in that frame of mind, it’s easy to see why it’s weird that we don’t all automatically give our suitcases a deep clean every time we come home from a trip. But suitcases actually are pretty easy to clean, and now can be a great time to get them out and spruce them up. Call it the beginning of a great new travel habit. Check out How to Clean and Disinfect a Suitcase to learn how.

Check That All Your Documents Are Up to Date

Don’t yet have your REAL ID? You can now submit your required documentation online (though you’ll eventually need an in-person appointment to finish the process).

Now is also a good time to check the expiration date on your passport. Though the U.S. State Department is currently only processing emergency passports for new applicants and is facing significant delays for renewals by mail, knowing when you need to take action on your renewal will help you be prepared when the time comes to travel again.

Update Your Inspiration List

woman snorkeling in keys coral reef florida

Bucket list, must-do list, five-year travel plan—whatever you call it, this is a good time to dust off the old inspiration list and find some new destinations to dream about. Here are some of our favorite dreamy round-ups, divided by destination and interest.

North America:

Caribbean:

Remote Escapes:

Fun Ways to Choose Destinations:

Build Your Perfect Travel Health Kit

You’re more likely to get sick after a flight than you are under normal circumstances, and after the COVID-19 pandemic we’ll all be a little more cautious about protecting ourselves from germs in flight and on the road. Consider putting together a grab-and-go health kit that you can keep ready to go before every trip, filled with items such as disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and airplane seat covers, as well as a few common over-the-counter medications in case you fall ill.

To learn more, see How to Properly Disinfect Your Airplane Seat and How to Disinfect Your Hotel Room.

Get Inspired by Our YouTube Channel and Podcasts

One way to combat stir-craziness? Distraction and inspiration, of course. Follow SmarterTravel’s YouTube channel for a bit of both. While you’re there, be sure to like, comment, and subscribe.

And don’t miss SmarterTravel’s new Virtual Vacations series of relaxing audio tours around the world.

Save Money Toward a Future Trip

While you can’t go out, take the money you’d be spending on Ubers and fancy cocktails and put it into a savings fund for a future trip. Also, take some time to set a budget for yourself—sites like Mint.com can help you track your spending and find areas to save. Don’t forget to incorporate these sneaky travel costs into your trip budget.

Learn a New Language for Your Next Trip

You know what takes a lot of time? Learning a language. If you find yourself with free time to spare, put it to good use by downloading a language app and jumping in. Most language apps are based on games and repetition, which makes it fun whether you’re learning the basics or going for more advanced mastery. 

Cook Your Favorite Dishes from Around the World

Craving cheese fondue from your Switzerland trip? What about tapas from Spain? Cooking is not only therapeutic, but it’s also a great way to remember your favorite dish from a recent trip. We’re working on curating a Pinterest board with our favorite recipes from around the world; make sure to follow us for future travel inspiration. And don’t miss these international recipes and cocktails.

Support Small Businesses

In this time of uncertainty, do what you can to support your local community as well as your favorite businesses at your vacation destinations. A few ways to do this include shopping the store’s online site or buying gift cards from your favorite restaurants for future use. Some musicians are running fundraisers with online “concerts” that are streamed on social media with the idea that viewers can donate to “tip” local bartenders. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that people’s creativity will shine through, so be creative!

Download Our Packing Lists

ultimate packing list

Take time to create an inventory of your current travel essentials and prepare your own packing list from our templates. Each one is downloadable and editable, and most are even mobile-friendly, so you don’t have to print. Check them out below:

Get in Shape for Future Adventure Trips

Is climbing Everest or taking a cycling vacation on your bucket list? You’ll need to get in shape. There are plenty of free streaming workouts you can do at home, and our list of hotel room exercises you can do without any workout gear works equally well in your living room. In most locations you can still get outside for a walk, jog, or bike ride (as long as you stay at least six feet apart from other people), giving you a good workout as well as some much-needed fresh air.

Stay Healthy and Mindful

Beyond fitness, this is also a time to keep yourself healthy in other ways. Of course, you’ll want to practice behaviors to protect yourself from COVID-19, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and not touching your face, but you’ll also want to protect your mental health during this stressful time. Walking, meditating, taking a leisurely bath, reading a good book, watching a funny TV show, video chatting with family and friends, completing a puzzle, and researching future trips are all good ways to reduce stress and keep yourself sane.

Give Your Home a Travel Vibe

You may not be able to stay in a hotel right now, but you can use essential oils to make your home smell like a hotel spa and trick out your bedroom to make it just as welcoming as a hotel room—including an ultra-comfy mattress. Add a touch of travel-themed decor, and your past trips—and future ones—won’t feel quite so far away. For more ideas, see 6 Ways to Feel Like You’re on Vacation at Home.

Working From Home? Make it Comfy

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At Home Experiential Travel

Virtual Vacations: Meditative Audio Tours Around the World

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

Paris: Settle in, close your eyes, and imagine yourself exploring the City of Light. We’ll wander from the Left Bank over the Ile de la Cite, along the Ile Saint-Louis, and across to the Right Bank. (8 minutes)

Vietnam: Let’s take a peaceful cruise up the Mekong River in Vietnam. Along the way, we’ll admire the scenery and see local life as it unfolds along the sloping banks. (6 minutes)

Zion National Park: Imagine the towering red rocks, hear the gurgle of newly formed streams, and feel the cool mist of waterfalls on your face as you wander the winter canyon. (7 minutes)

Guided Forest Bathing Session: Whether you choose to wander the twists and turns of a deep jungle or stroll the well-worn paths of a childhood wood, allow this mindfulness practice to transport you to where the air is fresh and the trees reach up toward the sky. (9 minutes)

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

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At Home

Audio Escape: Zion National Park

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

Come with us on a meditative hike through Zion National Park. Imagine the towering red rocks, hear the gurgle of newly formed streams, and feel the cool mist of waterfalls on your face as you wander the canyon.

We’ve created these audio tours to transport you to inspiring destinations around the world, even when you can’t be there in person. So settle in, close your eyes, and breathe in the fresh air of one of the United States’ most popular parks.

Note that each virtual vacation begins with a short breathing exercise to help you come into the moment and make the most of your virtual vacation.

Discover more Virtual Vacations.

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At Home Cities

Escape to Paris: A Relaxing Audio Tour Walk

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

Come with us on a meditative walking tour of Paris. Starting at a small, peaceful park, we’ll take a walk to a cafe. Along the way, we’ll wander from the Left Bank over the Ile de la Cite, along the Ile Saint-Louis, and across to the Right Bank.

We’ll pass gardens, parks, and bistros, cross bridges, and soak up the springtime splendor of Paris. We’ve created these audio tours to transport you to inspiring destinations around the world, even when you can’t be there in person. So settle in, close your eyes, and imagine yourself exploring the City of Light.

Note that each virtual vacation begins with a short breathing exercise to help you come into the moment and make the most of your virtual vacation.

Discover more Virtual Vacations.

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At Home

A Meditative Audio Escape to Vietnam

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

Let’s take a peaceful cruise up the Mekong River in Vietnam. Along the way, we’ll admire the scenery and see local life as it unfolds along the sloping banks.

We’ve created these audio tours to transport you to inspiring destinations around the world, even when you can’t be there in person. So settle in and let’s imagine a river threaded by moments of rural life: a ferry shuttling people from one side of the river to the other, children playing along the water’s edge, couples fishing from small boats, and farmers tending to their mango trees.

Note that each virtual vacation begins with a short breathing exercise to help you come into the moment and make the most of your virtual vacation.

Discover more Virtual Vacations.

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At Home Fashion & Beauty Food & Drink

6 Things Our Editors Bought and Loved This Month

From the best moisturizing cream for over-washed hands to a wine box subscription to make staying at home more fun, these are the things our editors bought and loved last month. 

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

cerave moisturizing cream.

“My hands have been even drier than usual thanks to all this hand washing, so this month I stocked up on my favorite moisturizing cream from CeraVe. My dermatologist recommended it to me a few years back, and I haven’t used anything else since; thick and soothing, it has a pleasant but not-too-strong fragrance. It’s not just for hands—I use it pretty much everywhere, including my face.” —Sarah Schlichter, Deputy Executive Editor

 Winc Wine Box Subscription

young woman with wine on laptop at home.

“I’d like for my stuck-at-home wine drinking to be more of a hobby than a habit, so I took the plunge on a monthly wine box from Winc. The service quizzes new members on their palate and the varietals they prefer, and suggests wines you can choose from for your box monthly–I like that I can ultimately choose which bottles my money is going to. The result so far has been trying new wines from around the world (that I already know I’ll probably like) and doing my own tastings at home with the fun and knowledgeable tasting pamphlet Winc shares with the box.” —Shannon McMahon, Editor: News and Features

[st_related]The Best Grocery Delivery and Alcohol Delivery Services[/st_related]

Shutterfly Photo Prints

shutterfly puzzle

“I’m taking the extra time that I now have at home to reminisce through my vacation photos and create photo prints for my new apartment. Shutterfly is running some flash sales this month and you can take advantage of the brand’s at-home-entertainment ideas like building custom print puzzles and personalized kids’ storybooks. Other ideas include custom photo books to remember a favorite trip and personalized monthly planners to keep you organized during this crazy time.” —Ashley Rossi, Senior Editor 

Pettigrew Lift Top Desk

pettigrew lift top desk

I don’t miss my daily commute into the office, but I really miss my standing desk. Turns out sitting on a couch for eight or more hours a day isn’t ideal ergonomically. I found this genius (and cheap) Lift Top Desk on Wayfair–it looks like a normal desk, but the top easily pulls out to turn it into a standing desk as needed. Thankfully for my shoulders and neck, the desk shipped quickly (and for free), making it a worthwhile work-from-home investment. —Caroline Morse Teel, Principal Editor

[st_related]
How to Build Your Own Standing Desk[/st_related]

Heathyoga Eco Friendly Non Slip Yoga Mat

healthyoga eco friendly nonslip yoga mat.

We all need a little bit more zen in our lives these days. Since my yoga studio closed due to the pandemic, I’ve been trying to keep up with some sort of yoga routine at home. I bought this Heathyoga Non Slip Yoga Mat hoping that feeling more legit would motivate me to keep my practice up. The best part about this mat is that it has alignment lines so that you can make sure your pose is accurate and your body is correctly aligned. Also, it has a great grip for when your hands get sweaty and start to slip. —Noemi de la Torre, Senior Photo Editor

Prosource Fit Tri-Fold Folding Exercise Mat

prosource fit tri-fold exercise mat.

My excuse for not working out at home has always been that the floor is too hard. But the prospect of being trapped inside for a month or more with little opportunity for exercise spurred me to problem-solving. I found a super-padded but foldable Prosource Fit Tri-Fold Exercise Mat and now can do everything from crunches to leg lifts with comfort. And it’s nice to know that even when I can exercise at a studio again, I still have the option of working out at home (I’ve been making my way through free streaming workouts to figure out which to subscribe to). —Christine Sarkis, Executive Editor

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Arts & Culture At Home Cities

32 Vacations You Can Take from Home

Vacations are going virtual … for now. So dust off your empty suitcase, pour a drink of choice, and virtually travel with us to your dream destination.

Asheville, NC 

Asheville North Carolina at Sunset.

An arts and culture haven in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is sharing food, music, and outdoor activities you can experience in your home.

Recipes to make at home include this quick and classic vodka martini from the Martini Workshop Lounge at The Foundry Hotel: A twist on the classic vodka martini, Workshop Lounge’s Martini features floral notes from the aromatic mixture of Hendrick’s Gin. In a shaker, add ice, 3/4 oz. dry vermouth, and 3 oz. Hendrick’s Gin. Mix well, strain, and pour the drink into a martini glass. Garnish with an olive.

Music and outdoor activities include an Asheville playlist on Spotify and Asheville experiences featuring 20+ virtual hikes, virtual tours of the iconic Biltmore Estate, a virtual walking tour of Blue Ridge Parkway, and virtual outdoor yoga classes.   

Australia

Head Down Under without the long flight by immersing yourself in Tourism Australia’s 360-degree aquatic and coastal experiences on YouTube. See the waves roll in along the Great Ocean Road, watch the sun set over Sydney Harbour, discover the rugged scenery along Tasmania’s Three Capes Track, and more.

Charleston, SC 

Imagine yourself in Charleston by checking out live Facebook streams of historic walking tours, led by guides at Bulldog Tours. You can also take a peek into the South Carolina Aquarium via virtual visits, held every weekday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. ET. (Past sessions are archived at the page linked above.) Carrie Morey, the founder of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, is offering cooking demos on her Instagram account, and Explore Charleston has put together a “Charleston This Summer” playlist on Spotify.

Charlotte, NC

Check out the tourism board’s complete roundup of virtual activities in the Queen City, here. Highlights include online classes by the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s SPARK! program, virtual concerts with local talent, and online videos and tours at Discovery Place Science.

Chile

Download the free app Chile 360 to discover bucket-list attractions like Easter Island, Torres del Paine, the Atacama Desert, and more. The National Historic Museum of Chile and the Santiago Chile observatory are also offering virtual tours so you can explore the country’s arts, culture, natural landscapes, and skies.

Club Med

The fan-favorite hotel and resort chain has tons of online content with its Club Med at Home program. From yoga routines to hotel virtual tours to quizzes to kid’s activity plans, there’s plenty to do. You can even sign up for a weekly newsletter filled with more ideas and activities.

Czech Republic

From the bustling streets of Prague to kayaking in Cesky Krumlov, there are a variety of virtual experiences available for the Czech Republic’s UNESCO Sights, monuments and museums, as well as its arts and culture, like the Czech Opera. Other ways to virtually experience the Czech Republic are through this curated reading list or take a quiz about which castle in the country you should live in.

Florida

Miami beach tourists couple walking in South Beach, Miami, Florida.

Head to the Sunshine State, virtually that is. Visit Florida has compiled a range of virtual vacations, from aerial views of the beach to underwater videos.

Bring the magic of Orlando to your home with dozens of virtual experiences hosted by the city’s tourism board. Online experiences range from streaming IMAX films, virtual go-karting, and floating down a lazy river.

Naples just launched “Paradise in Place”, which is a collection of resources from area webcams to Facebook Lives of the town’s zoo.

St. Pete is also joining in on the travel-from-home fun by sharing local recipes, live beach webcams, music, and an augmented reality virtual art tour from the Salvador Dali Museum.

You can also check out the Miami region’s live webcams, which include sweeping beach views as well as an underwater coral reef cam and a feed of frolicking meerkats from Zoo Miami. You can add an audio soundtrack with this Spotify playlist from local restaurant Zuma Miami or this playlist from 1 Hotel South Beach.

France

Head to the vineyards in France, climb the Eiffel tower, tour the Louvre, and more from your computer screen with Explore France’s roundup. The tourism board has also curated book and movie lists to keep you further entertained. 

For the true history buffs, you can take an online course through The Great Courses and learn more about the country’s fascinating history and cultural treasures.

Hawaii

Transport yourself to the Hawaiian Islands with online experiences like a virtual field trip of the Battleship Missouri Memorial or learn how to traditional dance with the Polynesian Cultural Center. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII and you can find interactive exercises and commemorations online, here.

Jamaica 

While Jamaica can’t bring its sun, sand, and surf to you, it can help you bring the vacation spirit home. Start out by recreating this traditional Blue Mountain Coffee body scrub at home, courtesy of Playa Hotels & Resorts: “Combine 1/2 cup ground coffee, 1/4 cup cold-pressed coconut oil, and one drop of your favorite essential oil. Apply 1/4 cup coffee oil to the entire body, using strong circular motions to assist the stimulation of blood flow. Use drops of the coffee oil under the eyes and place iced cucumbers on the eyes for added benefits. Rinse and enjoy.”

Then head to the kitchen to whip up some jerk pork chops using the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall’s recipe. Here’s what you’ll need: one ounce pimento seeds (all spice), 1 1/4 ounces Scotch bonnet pepper, 1/2 ounce fresh thyme, nine ounces onion (chopped), three ounces fresh garlic (peeled and chopped), 3 1/2 ounces fresh ginger (peeled and chopped), three ounces scallion (green onion, chopped), a pinch of chopped bay leaf, 1 1/2 ounces brown sugar, a pinch of ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground nutmeg, six ounces soy sauce (low sodium), two ounces olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of black peppercorns, and one ounce of white distilled vinegar. Got the goods? Now follow the instructions: “To prepare your Jerk marinade place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and liquefy. Pour in a jar with a closed lid and keep it refrigerated. This marinade will last you a very long time as long as you keep refrigerated. Bone-in pork chops should be marinated 24 hours in advance with the marinade that you prepared the day before. Using a BBQ smoked grill, grill each chop for approximately eight minutes. Cover grill in between to obtain that awesome island smoke flavor.”

For a more visual taste of Jamaica, you can also check out the live stream at Rick’s Cafe. Things are pretty quiet right now, but you still see the sea sparkle and the breeze ruffle the curtains. 

Japan

Kiyomizu-dera Temple kyoto japan.

While the Olympics might be postponed, you can still explore the host country virtually. From a live feed of the famous Shibuya Crossing to snow monkeys bathing in hot springs, you’ll find a range of experiences online. You can even view the cherry blossoms blooming in locations like Miharu Falls in Fukushima and Hirosaki Park. If you are looking to learn even more, take an online course, like Understanding Japan (the course consists of 24, 30-minute lectures).

Ireland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=GdYD-dNzjdI&feature=emb_logo

You’ll likely recognize many of Ireland’s landscapes from your favorite movies and TV series like the Star Wars series and Game of Thrones; now the country’s tourism board has curated entertainment experiences featuring Hollywood and the Emerald Isle. 

Watch: 

Lexington, KY 

In need of some adorable animals? Visit Horse Country launched virtual tours of thoroughbred farms, where you can watch foals frolic in fields, celebrate horse birthdays, and more. 

Or pour a glass of Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon and watch its new virtual distillery tour for an educational happy hour. 

Macao

Virtually experience this exciting destination with a variety of VR experiences on the region’s YouTube channel, like Chinese New Year and even jump off the world’s tallest bungee jump (from your computer, of course).

Malta

This historic European nation has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to bring you Heritage Malta Virtual Tours. Right now you’ll find more than 25 sites including museums, temples, forts, archaeological sites, and three of the country’s UNESCO Heritage sites, including the capital of Valletta. 

New Orleans

Listen and eat like you’re in NOLA, from home. The city’s tourism board has a list of museums and other learning centers that are offering virtual experiences, like the Audubon Nature Insitute and the National WWII Museum. You can also take a virtual cooking class (or order a cookbook), a full list of participating chefs can be found here. Or, listen to a live stream of some jazz (or other local NOLA-based artists and bands).

Nashville, TN

Nashville’s tourism board, Visit Music City, has put together an entire portal of virtual experiences called “Visit Nashville from Home.” From a virtual tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery to a weekly radio broadcast of The Grand Ole Opry, you can have your Tennessee whiskey and listen to some honky-tonk tunes all from your couch. 

Check out the full list of virtual attractions in Nashville here

New York

Leave it to New York City to put its entire city online. NYC Go has a list of seemingly endless virtual experiences that you can find online. From live streams of performing arts and Broadway shows to genealogy discovery lessons with Ellis Island, you’ll find the complete list of online activities here. You’ll find us virtually exploring the New York Botanical Garden and taking a free ballet class with the New York City Ballet on Instagram.

NYC-boutique hotel brand Arlo Hotels is hosting virtual programming like Monday Movie Nights, Tuesday Tutorials, a Weekend Reads book club, and more on its Instagram Live channel. NYC residents get extra perks with free delivery from Harold’s and different menu combos. 

The rest of the state is also taking part in virtual activities with a virtual experience of Niagara Falls, a baby goat cam from local skincare brand Beekman 1802, online exhibits with the Baseball Hall of Fame, virtual happy hours organized by the state’s brewers association, and more.

Get out in nature virtually with live streams from the Finger Lakes region of central New York. Pretend that you’re at Bristol Harbour watching the sunset over Canandaigua Lake, or virtually hit the slopes via 24/7 live streams from Bristol Mountain and Greek Peak ski resorts.

Philadelphia, PA

For those who want to experience the City of Brotherly Love, check out the tourism board’s roundup of activities to experience Philadelphia from Home. Virtual activities include the Philadelphia Zoo, dozens of museums, and curated playlists on Spotify featuring local and legendary artists.

Portugal 

Visit Portugal has a variety of ways that you can explore Portugal from home, including reading lists and dozens of videos on its YouTube channel as a part of its #CantSkipHope campaign. Pour yourself some port wine and enjoy the views.

Puerto Rico

Escape to the Caribbean with Puerto Rico’s virtual weekend getaway. Each weekend the tourism board is lining up virtual activities like salsa dancing, cocktail making, and cooking classes. Stay up to date on what’s planned by following @discoverpuertorico on social media.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

puerto vallarta beach at sunset.

Velas Resorts is virtually offering classes and workshops for the next 40 days to help share Mexico’s culture and experiences with you at home. Join here and on social media for activities like a Mexican toy workshop, resort-chef led cooking classes, hotel-style bed making, yoga for kids, massage lessons by the resort’s massage therapists, and more. Follow hashtag #BetterTogether on Velas Resorts’ social media channels for more info. 

Qatar

Transport yourself to this culturally important country in the Middle East and view the Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art through Google Arts & Culture.

San Antonio, TX

A handful of the city’s museums and animal attractions have made their entertainment accessible online. Families and kids will particularly find many of the streams exciting, like access to The DoSeum, San Antonio’s children’s museum, as well as the city’s zoo. Additionally, the San Antonio Museum of Art has put its entire collection online, free of charge. The museum is also offering virtual storytime and lesson plans that are free for educators. 

Sonoma, CA 

Sonoma County has been creative in the ways it’s bringing wine-country living into homes around the world. Inman Wines is hosting Meet the Maker happy hours, Belden Barns is launching a virtual tasting series on Sundays, and Kendall-Jackson is hosting virtual wine tastings via Instagram (or watch anytime on its IGTV channel), and has a playlist inspired by harvest time. 

Get your yoga on, Sonoma-style, with online classes from Three Dog Yoga or Yoga on Center, or take an IGTV class with local practitioner Nina Jarnum. If you’re missing nature while you’re cooped up, check out nature-focused meditations from hiking-tour leader Margaret Lindgren. 

Sonoma is a family-friendly place, and that’s on full display in the way that kids can visit virtually right now. Safari West is posting videos to its Facebook page, Charlie’s Acres is running virtual animal visits on its social channels, and the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is offering toddler activities on its Instagram page. The Museum of Sonoma County even has a virtual Escape Room experience. 

St. Lucia

If St. Lucia has been on your bucket list, as it is on ours, head there virtually with the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s “7 Minutes in Saint Lucia.” You’ll find experiences like yoga at the Pitons, tropical cocktail making, hiking the Tet Paul Nature Trail, and Caribbean cooking classes on Instagram @TravelSaintLucia, twice per week.

Tuscany, Italy

The Monteverdi Tuscany is introducing a new streaming music program to benefit the many musicians the hotel has worked with over the years through its cultural programming. Enjoy its efforts to help locals while you’re stuck at home.

The virtual performances have already debuted on the Monteverdi Tuscany Instagram account @Monteverdi_Tuscany featuring a tenor and a violinist of the Metropolitan Opera. Both artists are sharing their memories of performing at the property and performances recorded separately in their homes.

Vancouver, Canada

#VirtuallyVancouver (hosted by the tourism board) rounds up a variety of armchair activities to explore the Pacific Northwest city. Take a virtual tour of the cherry blossoms with a series of Tree Walks, view the live cam at the Vancouver Aquarium, view an entrant film for VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival), and plenty more.

Viator

Our sister site is hosting hundreds of virtual tours, both free and paid, for you to explore from your couch for the ultimate armchair travel. From 360 videos to virtual cooking classes to guided museum tours, the tour-booking site has everything you could possibly dream of virtually doing, all in one place.

Viking.TV

Experience a Viking cruise from your television with Viking’s launch of Viking.TV. In addition to housing onboard content, the cruise line is hosting live content with experts and cultural partners each week. Tune in for Museum Mondays, Resident Historian Tuesdays, Wednesdays with Music, Guest Speaker Thursdays, Fridays at Home at Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey fans take note!), and Wellness Weekends, as well as daily conversations with the executive vice president, Karine Hagen. You’ll also find suggested reading lists, music playlists, and film recommendations for popular itineraries, so you can start daydreaming about your next cruise vacation.

Virtual Disney World 

Experience the thrill of dozens of Disney World rides on YouTube. From classics like Splash and Space Mountain to even Monorail rides, it’s the perfect way to recreate your postponed Disney vacation. The Virtual Disney World YouTube channel (not affiliated, sponsored, or endorsed by the Walt Disney Company) notes that the 360-degree videos are best experienced with a VR headset or a smartphone with a virtual headset, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung VR, and recommends using the YouTube app for the full 360-degree experience.

Share Your Virtual Vacation or Travel Inspiration With Us:

Are you itching to travel? So are we … that’s why we started the #GoLater campaign on social media. We want to see which destinations YOU are dreaming of. Head over to our Instagram channel (@smartertravel) to learn more. 

Our Favorite Items for the Home

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

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Fashion & Beauty Travel Trends

9 Cozy Sweatpants You Won’t Be Ashamed to Wear in Public

Whether you’re crammed into an economy class seat or holed up at home for weeks at a time, sometimes fashion can go out the window in favor of comfort. Now you can have both with these cozy yet stylish sweatpants that you won’t be ashamed to wear in or out of the house, on a food re-supply run, or on a long flight.

Alternative Fleece Jogger Pants

You can’t get any cozier than fleece-lined sweatpants. Alternative’s Fleece Jogger Pants are made from an environmentally-friendly eco-fleece, and have pockets for warming your hands or carrying your phone. The tapered design makes these look more stylish than sloppy, and they are available in both a men’s version and a women’s version.

Adidas Essentials Superstar Track Pants

Adidas originals superstar track pants.

When it comes to sweatpants, there’s no look more classic than the three-striped design from Adidas. This sporty essential has an updated look in the Superstar Track Pants, available in styles for men and women. The tailored fit creates a slimming effect, and the matte finish adds style to these cozy sweatpants.

[st_related]15 Best Travel Pants for Men and Women[/st_related]

Uxcell Women’s Plus-Size Jogger Pants

Uxcell’s Plus-Size Jogger pants come in a variety of colors and sizes (up to a 4X). They’re made from an ultra-soft fabric that won’t make you overheat. The design features two side pockets and an elastic drawstring for a custom fit.

Lululemon Align Jogger

Lululemon align jogger.

Made out of incredibly soft fabric, Lululemon’s Align Jogger sweatpants are even more comfortable than they are stylish. A mix between legging and jogger, these are definitely sweatpants you can wear in public. With a high-rise design and a waistband that won’t dig into your skin, you can look and feel great on your next trip.

American Giant Classic Sweatpants

The jogger silhouette is very on-trend right now, so you’ll fit right in wearing American Giant’s Classic Sweats to the airport or coffee shop. Made out of a super-soft 100 percent cotton French terry, these sweatpants are warm without being bulky. Pockets in the front and back can hold your keys, phone, and other essentials.

Brooklyn Athletic Men’s Twill Jogger Pants

Brooklyn athletic men’s twill jogger pants.

Available in multiple colors, Brooklyn Athletic’s Twill Jogger Pants offer men sweatpants that can look almost professional. The skinny cut and cuffed ankles add to the clean line of these sweatpants, without sacrificing on comfort. Plus, with two back pockets, these sweatpants have extra functionality.

[st_related]9 Travel Gadgets to Help You Sleep Away from Home[/st_related]

prAna’s Cozy Up Pant

prAna’s cozy up pant.

With odor-reducing features and SPF protection, prAna’s Cozy Up sweatpants offer so much more than comfort. Available in two neutral colors with interesting seam detailing, these sweatpants make a statement for that perfect athleisure look.

[st_related]10 Stylish Jeans So Comfortable You Can Sleep in Them[/st_related]

Lands’ End Mid-Rise Sweatpants

When comfort is key but you still want to look pulled together, enlist the help of sweats that could be mistaken for actual pants. Lands’ End Mid-Rise Sweatpants has a soft spandex blend and a slim fit with trouser styling. These sweatpants are perfect for long-haul flights and unexpected delays at the airport, and come in extended sizes, both on the XL end and the XS end.

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Urban Outfitters Woven Jogger Pant

Urban outfitters woven jogger pant.

For a pair of fashion-forward sweatpants that won’t break the bank, Urban Outfitters’ Woven Jogger Pants are a great option. These stretchy and high-waisted sweatpants are a fashionable twist on classic sweatpants. They’ll look great on the plane without sacrificing comfort.

Looking for Our Favorite Footwear for the Season? Check Out Allbirds

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Jamie Ditaranto and Caroline Morse Teel contributed to this story.

Categories
Fashion & Beauty

All the Items We're Buying from Everlane's Major Site-Wide Sale

This is no April Fools’ prank—Everlane is having a site-wide sale (for the first time ever). Every single item from the retailer—spring-y dresses, comfy tees, WFH leggings, even shoes—is a full 25% off. There’s a lot to sift through, so we zeroed in on the items that are absolutely worth adding to your cart ASAP. Check out our picks and get in on the action now because the sale ends Friday night.

Women’s Picks

Long Weekend Tee Dress

Everlane The Long Weekend Tee Dress.

This one-and-done dress is everything you want for spring: a relaxed fit, washable cotton fabric, and an understated chic silhouette. No need to limit it to the weekends as it’s also perfect for work-from-home days and future trips.

Perform Leggings

Everlane The Perform Legging.

With a high waist and buttery smooth fabric, Everlane’s new leggings are ideal for everything from mastering that new TikTok dance to video conferencing from your couch. As one Everlane shopper puts it, “Finally, the search for the perfect leggings comes to an end.”

Day Crossover Sandal

Everlane The Day Crossover Sandal.

Put away those ballet flats. Sandal weather has arrived! And these crossover ones offer all the comfort of Birkenstocks with all the polish of fine Italian leather.  

ReNew Fleece Raglan

Everlane The ReNew Fleece Raglan Sweatshirt.

If your college-era hoodie has been on heavy rotation, consider this a step up. Everlane’s raglan sweatshirt is made from 100% recycled material and features a cropped, slim fit that’s both cozy and chic. One fan even called the pullover an “essential for a stay-at-home life.”

Pima Cap-Sleeve Tee

The Pima Micro Rib Cap-Sleeve Tee.

Scrunchies. “Friends.” Doc Martins. The ‘90s are back in a major way. This T-shirt gives a subtle wink to our favorite decade with it’s fitted, cap-sleeve cut, but it’s classic enough to ride out any trends (which we can’t exactly say about tube tops).

Clean Silk Puff-Sleeve Shirt

The Clean Silk Puff-Sleeve Shirt.

Just because we’re holing up doesn’t mean our work wardrobe has gone down the drain. This eco-friendly silk top has an easy, light fit and a crisp, clean look that’s great on webcams now—and IRL in the future.

Men’s Picks

Court Sneakers

The Court Sneaker.

Cool leather sneakers for under $75? We’re sold. It helps that these kicks can go casual or dressy and are crazy comfortable. Until we return to our regularly scheduled program of office days and social nights, we’re grabbing these for virtual workouts and (solo) walks around the block.

Cotton Crew Tee

The Cotton Crew Tee | Uniform.

We thought this classic crewneck T-shirt was a steal at full price, but with a price drop down to $13, we’re stocking up on this 100% cotton staple. And since it’s backed by a year-long guarantee, you know it’ll hold up with zero fraying.

Performance Chino Shorts

The Performance Chino 7" Short.

It’s time for a shorts upgrade. These chinos are true to their “performance” name, with four-way stretch fabric that’s also sweat-wicking and quick-drying. And they’re good-looking to boot, with a classic slim-fit cut.

Bomber Jacket

The Bomber Jacket | Uniform.

A quality jacket for less than the price of dinner for two is a rare thing indeed. This bomber gives a streamlined “Top Gun” silhouette and multiple pockets. It’s also covered by the site’s 365-day guarantee.

Baseball Cap

The Baseball Cap.

In desperate need of a haircut? Hide your shag with this all-cotton cap that’s available in solid black and off-white. The adjustable hat gets rave reviews for its breathability, light weight, and cool minimalist look (no logo here).

Linen Short-Sleeve Shirt

The Linen Short-Sleeve Standard Fit Shirt.

Leave it to Everlane to create a Zoom-ready (i.e. presentable) shirt that’s high on style and comfort. The 100% linen fabric allows for airflow so you don’t sweat on camera—a plus for future trips, too.

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At Home Photography

Bring a Vacation Vibe to Your Zoom Calls with These Free Custom Backgrounds

Editor’s Note 4/3/20: Due to Security Concerns with Zoom please be sure to upgrade your Zoom software to version 4.6.9 which has two critical security patches.

Miss travel? We do, too. But we’ve got a sorta-solve: these custom backgrounds you can download and use on all your Zoom calls.

There’s a backdrop for every occasion. Work Zoom? Class things up with the Amalfi Coast backdrop. Virtual cocktails with friends? Drink beneath tropical palm trees. Family dinner a la video call? Channel the fun of a day at the beach. As we all hunker down for another month of sheltering in place, video conferencing continues to be an important part of reducing social isolation.

Download your favorite travel-inspired backgrounds below, and then follow these instructions to bring the vacation vibe to this stay-at-home time.

Beach Dreams

Download: Palm Trees | Beach Day | Bungalow Sunset

Zoom background palm trees
Zoom background beach day
Zoom background bungalow sunset

European Adventures

Download: Madrid | Amalfi Coast | Santorini

Zoom background
Zoom background
Santorini zoom background

City Lights

Download: Shanghai | San Francisco | New York City

Zoom background
Zoom background
Zoom background

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Airport Security

Everything Travelers Need to Know About the REAL ID Act

Are your days of flying domestically using only your driver’s license numbered? They could be, if you don’t have a new type of license. As the deadline for the REAL ID Act looms, it’s vital for you to know if your current driver’s licenses doesn’t meet the new criteria. If you are without a REAL ID come October 1, 2021, (previously October 2020, until the global pandemic pushed off the deadline) you might not be able to fly in the U.S. with just your state-issued ID.

Here’s a quick and easy primer with everything you need to know about the REAL ID Act, about when to use a REAL ID vs. a passport, and about the Department of Homeland Security’s hard deadline on the changes.

What Is the REAL ID Act?

In 2005, the REAL ID Act established nationwide requirements for state IDs as a post-9/11 security measure. States had well over a decade to make the changes: The deadline is now October 2021. Some states struggled to make the switch to issuing the new, compliant licenses; having trouble finding the budget for the new licenses, or lacking other logistical means to enact the changes until as late as mid-2020. This made for a short deadline that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ultimately pushed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many governmental agencies to close indefinitely. If you don’t have a REAL ID come October 2021, you’ll need a passport or alternate form of identification for domestic air travel.

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REAL ID Changes Timeline: When to Worry About Invalid IDs for Flying

The original deadline to implement the new regulations passed in 2016, but all non-compliant states were granted extension periods and the REAL ID deadline was pushed back multiple times to accommodate them. The Department of Homeland Security provides an up-to-date map on its website showing which states are compliant.

October 1, 2021: According to the DHS website, by this date “every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel” as well as to enter federal government buildings. If by this date your state license is not a REAL ID compatible one, you will need to bring another form of ID to the airport, like a passport.

How Do I Get a REAL ID?

The process for getting your REAL ID is a little more difficult than the last time you renewed your license: You’ll probably have to visit a DMV and provide paperwork, like proof of residency and proof of lawful presence in the United States. You can, however, submit this paperwork (which you’ll still need to bring with you) online ahead of time for approval: Check your state’s DMV requirements online for more information.

If you’re a non-citizen or you think getting your ID might be more complicated for any other reason, check the Department of Homeland Security’s DHS REAL ID FAQ page for more information on your particular case.

REAL ID vs. Passports

If your state is unable to provide REAL IDs or if you don’t acquire one yourself before October 1, 2021, you’ll need to bring a passport or another TSA-acceptable document with you to the airport in order to pass through security. The DHS reminded travelers often of the looming deadline, in part because if everyone rushes to get a REAL ID at once, there could be long wait times in many states.

If you don’t have a passport, there’s also some urgency to get one before late 2021: the State Department has warned of longer-than-usual passport processing times in recent years. This first happened in 2017 after a large number of passports expired (10 years after the U.S. first required passports for Canada and Mexico). The REAL ID fervor could cause another spike in passport applications close to October 2021, so it’s best to renew early.

Also, keep in mind that some destinations require six-month passport validity to enter the country—so you should be thinking about renewing your passport early regardless of your ID type.

Does a REAL ID Replace a Passport?

The short answer: no. You’ll need a REAL ID at minimum for domestic travel come October 2021, and your passport can work in place of a REAL ID for domestic travel—but a valid passport will still be required for international travel. So whether you have a REAL ID or not, a passport will always get you through airport security. And whether you have a REAL ID or not, a passport will always be required for international travel.

Looking for Our Favorite Footwear for the Season? Check Out Allbirds

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

More from SmarterTravel:

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated to reflect the most current information. Shannon McMahon and Jamie Ditaranto contributed reporting.