An American passport opens doors the world over -- known generally for being friendly dolts who tip when not required and pay the asking price when bargaining is the norm, most countries make it easy for U.S. travelers, and the vast majority of destinations don't even require visas. Even Canada still lets us in with little hassle! But we don't want to go there. So, we've done some digging and found five places where it's really effing difficult to explore if your papers are issued by the Fifty Nifty. Prepare to be grounded...
So close, but yet so tricky! Believe it or not, Cuba's totally cool with Americans coming to smoke their stogies and eat their sandwiches; it's the American government preventing you from being influenced by their free universal health care and nearly-free rum 'n cokes. Yup, the reason you're not sitting on Varadero Beach right now (aside from the fact that you "only take Sandals vacations") is because the State Department doesn't allow American citizens to travel to Cuba for the purpose of tourism.
Rejoice! The Libyan government's been issuing visas to U.S. tourists since June 2010, but that doesn't mean the process is as easy as getting approval from the embassy. There are giant rings of fire to jump through, son. And if you're a dual citizen and use your non-U.S. passport to gain easier, unsinged access? Not quite; should you be discovered as an American, you'll face imprisonment.
We hear Iraq's beautiful this time of year. The good news is you can totally go there, so long as your passport's been valid for six months, you've obtained a visa from the Iraqi Embassy in Washington or an Entry Visa Approval Memorandum from the Interior Residency Office, are staying for less than ten days, and are willing to submit to a mandatory blood test upon entering the country. Time to search Groupon for Baghdad all-inclusives!
2. North Korea
Alright, so technically an American can visit North Korea these days (here's one way
), but the visa application process in lengthy and, once on the ground, you'll be accompanied by a sanctioned
guide at all times. Trying to sneak off the beaten path for a less choreographed taste of the country? That guide of yours will pay the price. So please, only book a group tour if you're totally willing to follow the flag... at all times.
1. Saudi Arabia
Keen on hitting Saudi for Spring Break? Technically you can, but you'll need to acquire a visa, which requires a local sponsor, several months in advance. So start reaching out now! Oh, and if you show up with an Israeli stamp in your passport? No Saudi Arabia for you (similar situation to be expected in the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon -- haters gonna hate).