To which countries can I not easily travel?

Occasionally I will fantasize about traveling to somewhere far from here.

Sometimes as a result of these fantasies I sit on my PC at night and put various destinations into expedia and find out stuff about how I might get there - which airports I would go through, how much time I would spend getting there, how much it might cost and so forth. I have also noticed it that if I type in the “going to” box a word like “Iraq” or “Pyongyang”, expedia cannot find any airports.

Which leads to a hypothetical question:

I am Joe Citizen from Springfield USA. I have no criminal record, no disabilities, good health, etc. I have no insider information, no special clearance, no official badges or ID. I have never served in the military nor do I know anyone who does. I run into a good bit of money and want to spend it traveling. I want to get in my car, drive to the airport and get to other countries. I’m leaving next week. Money is no object as far as paying airfare, accommodations, food and expenses, et cetera. I have no obligation to home or work life. I can use publicly available cars, planes, trains, subways, ships, ferries, and anything else that I don’t need some special permission to use.

To what other countries can I not easily travel?

For starters, any which require a pre-obtained Visa for US tourists. I can’t promise that this list will be accurate.

According to that list, most countries in Africa require Visas for US tourists; other regions are much less problematic. There’s some countries which have special restrictions such as being part of an approved group or needing a local sponsor.

Define “easily”, to me just having to apply for a visa in advance is not very hard.

You can go to North Korea but only on a group tour and you’ll need to apply for and get permission long in advance. You can go to Bhutan but you have to pay in full $250 US-$200US per day package tour for a visa.

AFAIK you can get a tourist visa for Afghanistan if you really want to:
http://mfa.gov.af/en/page/3903

but not, it seems Iraq (at the moment).

coremelt, he did define “easily”. He wants to be able to get on a plane within a week of the decision, so “needing more than a week to obtain a Visa” is “not easy” by the definition in the OP.

It seems to me that they also allow only a limited number of tourists each year.

Well technically he could leave next week, but take a really long route so that the visa clears by the time he gets to the country. :wink:

Well if money is no object looks like North Korea might still be “easy”. Koryo Tours does independent travel (with a 24 hour “guide” supplied of course(, if you pay enough I reckon they could get you there in a week.
http://www.koryogroup.com/travel_independentTours.php

Every country I’ve ever had to get a visa for had the option to pay extra for express visas which are generally 1-2 business days.

Yes, this is usually an option (and in some cases you can also pay an unofficial fee, aka bribe, at the border to get a visa instantly). Of course, you will have to either send off your passport or apply in person to the embassy of the country in question, most of which (in the US) are in Washington, although some countries have embassies/consulates in other large cities.

Money is no object, there are travel agents in any major US city who will same day courier your passport to the nearest consulate for express visa service and book and sort out any connecting flights to you. From Nava’s list “Mauritania requires a sponsor in order to obtain a visa and Guinea-Bissau requires one that Americans can only obtain through embassies in Portugal or Senegal.”

Still probably possible in a week with enough money.

A good place to start might be the State Department travel warnings page. Quite a lot of the countries listed are still very much on the tourist trail of course, but are places where you need to be careful, at least in parts of the country. For example: Israel, Kenya, Mexico, but of course you’d have no trouble booking travel to any of those countries.

But I doubt if you’d be able to arrange a trip to these ones:

Iraq: “U.S. citizens who choose to travel in Iraq should be aware that Iraqi authorities have arrested or detained U.S. citizens whose purpose of travel is not readily apparent. The Government of Iraq is strictly enforcing requirements regarding visas and stamps for entry and exit; vehicle registration; authorizations for weapons and movements through checkpoints, as well as other matters”

Somalia: There’s no functioning government, although according to this page Somali embassies are still issuing visas. You might have more luck travelling to the breakaway regions of Somaliland or Puntland. Somaliland in particular is by most accounts a reasonably functional (for the region) and peaceful “nation”. You can fly to its capital, Hargeisa, from Dubai, for instance, although as you’d need a visa, probably best to fly via Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, where there is an embassy. (There’s also an unofficial embassy in London.) Looking at the Lonely Planet forums, a steady stream of western tourists do visit.

Yemen: in theory this is possible but it would be pretty unwise, and I doubt that the Yemeni embassy would grant you a visa unless you had a very good reason for visiting.

North Korea: as discussed upthread.

As a US citizen, it can very difficult to legally travel to Cuba as a tourist.

of note, you won’t be able to visit Saudi Arabia unless you are a muslim or working there. They stopped issuing tourist visas in 2010.

You wouldn’t want to go there anyway. It’s an awful place.

Couldn’t you go by boat?

Do tell. 133 degree at nine this morning. 51% humidity.

now Paul, Wunderground says it won’t even get above 118 today. :slight_smile:
lets not run away (not that you could in that weather) with one’s predictions…
but your point is well taken. Hot-WAY too hot.

I put that into a heat index calculator, and it reports that that temperature and humidity feels likes 271 degrees on your skin. Link.

Now, did you think I needed to hear that?

Is that true? The Saudi embassy in the UK still has an application form for tourist visas on its website (but it doesn’t look like the most carefully maintained site).

From the Saudi Embassywebpage:
Types of visas available
•Business Visit Visa
•Diplomatic And Official Visa
•Employment Visa
•Extension of Exit/Re-Entry Visa
•Family Visit Visa
•Government Visit Visa
•Residence Visa
•Student Visa
•Transit Visa
•Temporary Work visa
•Hajj Visa
•Umrah Visa

Tourist visas are no where on the list.