The 10 Countries Travelers Are Most Excited to Visit After the Pandemic

Even though some borders are still closed, people are ready to pack their bags

covid-19 warning sign in Coliseum,Rome
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We’re six months into the pandemic now, and things are slowly starting to look up in the travel world. Quite a few people are willing to get back in the air—Labor Day weekend saw a significant spike in passengers—and even more are hitting the road or hopping on trains. And even those who aren’t entirely ready to jet off right now are feeling more optimistic about traveling in the somewhat near future. All this is to say there’s been a bit of a surge in people Googling vacation ideas, especially to destinations abroad.

Visa application and processing firm Official-esta.com crunched Google Keyword Planner data in August to determine the most searched for countries, using search terms like “Flights to X” and “Holidays in X.” The top 10 results are listed below.

Rank Destination Global Annual Search Volume
1 Italy 1,939,440
2 Maldives 1,789,680
3 Mexico 1,722,360
4 Thailand 1,654,320
5 Spain 1,525,560
6 Canada 1,509,480
7 Greece 1,468,440
8 Turkey 1,459,920
9 Japan 1,257,360
10 Australia 1,174,920

Interestingly, Italy took first place, given that it was a COVID-19 hotspot early on in the pandemic. While the country had primarily controlled the spread of the virus over the summer, its case count has been growing since mid-August. Italy currently has restrictions in place for some travelers coming from outside of Europe, but it's wide open to tourists living in the Schengen area and neighboring countries.

Another interesting note: a number of the countries on the list, including Japan and Australia, are still closed to international tourism, meaning that the searches here are purely for future travel rather than imminent trips. Other countries on this list, however, are already open—even to U.S. travelers—including Mexico and the Maldives, which implies that some travelers could be booking their flights right now.

Whether you're ready to travel internationally right now or you're holding out for a vaccine, it doesn't hurt to dream of a vacation. It could even be beneficial for your mental health. According to a poll by the Institute for Applied Positive Research, the act of booking travel significantly increases happiness, even if the trip isn't for a couple of months.

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