As a resident of the United States of America, it’s very easy to forget that there is more to the nation than what’s found within the Lower 48. Not even speaking of Hawaii, which is tucked off in the Pacific Ocean, there is an assortment of territories that just beg to be visited.
As of 2019, there are five United States territories: American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Partially self-governed, these lands are exotic when compared to their continental counterparts. Their climates are different, their landscapes more vibrant, and traveling to them is relatively easier than booking a trip to a different country.
In case you needed reasons laid out for visiting the United States territories, here are three that will have you packing your bags.
Cover photo credit: Laszlo Peto / iStock
You Don’t Need a Passport
Before you embark on any overseas travel, or even if you just want to cross the border into Canada or Mexico, you’ll need an essential document. Securing your passport is a relatively simple task to complete before any vacation, but the whole point of a relaxing getaway is to not have to worry about anything. Travel to any other country, and you’ll always have to worry about where your passport is and whether or not you left enough time for it to arrive before your flight.
With the five U.S. territories, you can have the experience of leaving the country without the headache of actually doing so. Since they are a territory of the United States, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana islands, and Puerto Rico are all accessible with just your driver’s license. This also means you don’t have to deal with customs during either leg of your travels.
You Don’t Need to Exchange Your Currency
A big hassle that comes with most overseas travel is trying to understand the currency exchange rate. To top it off, you’ll need to determine what the best course of action is when it comes to getting your money exchanged. Is it cheaper to exchange it before you leave the United States or when you get to your destination?
Traveling to the U.S. territories means you don’t have to trade in those dollar bills. All five of the territories utilize U.S. currency as their official tender. Being able to avoid determining the “dollarization” saves you from having to do math before or during your vacation.
English Is a Primary Language
Sometimes, the most difficult part of visiting a foreign land is knowing that being fluent in English may not get you far. When traveling to most of the five U.S. territories, you’re guaranteed to run into someone that speaks fluent English. When it comes to getting comfortable on your travels, hearing a language you’re familiar with is one of the most comforting things when you know no other language.
There are five U.S. territories, four of which have English as a primary language. The fifth, Puerto Rico, is dominated by Spanish, but many residents are capable of speaking English. Not having to carry around a translator just means more room in your luggage for souvenirs and stylish clothing.
Though English is a primary language, traveling to a U.S. territory also gives you the opportunity to try and learn a little bit of a different language. In Guam, you could try and pick up some Chamorro, while you’re still able to hear Samoan in American Samoa.