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Safest Places to Travel 2022

By Kit KieferDecember 9, 2021

 

Each year without fail, regardless of what’s going on in the world, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection produces its list of the safest places to travel. And over the years, we’ve seen travel threats from terrorism to Zika to a pandemic reflected in our rankings.

Last year was the pandemic, obviously. This year it’s everything from the pandemic to weather to equipment and staffing to global warming. On the bright side, travel is ramping up, and soon all we’ll have to worry about is which travel insurance plan we want to protect our flights and cruises.

With that thought in mind, let’s dive into the 2021-22 version of the Safest Places To Travel.

We believe these 15 countries around the world will be safest for travelers in 2022.

The Safest Places To Travel

1. Iceland
2. New Zealand
3. Canada
4. Sweden
5. Japan
6. Australia
7. Switzerland
8. Ireland
9. Germany
10. United Kingdom                                                                             11. Spain
12. France
13. Italy
14. South Korea
15. Costa Rica

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

What You Need To Know About The World’s Safest Countries

History and methodology

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has a long history of asking travelers where they’re going, why they’re traveling, and what constitutes a safe destination to them. We conducted our first traveler research in 2016 and have been doing studies ever since.

This year when we surveyed travelers, we asked people where they’ve traveled in the last five years, and then only had people who had visited specific countries rate them on safety.

We then augmented those ratings with other indices and information, including the Global Peace Index and the State Department’s own travel safety ratings. 

We also added in an index on COVID performance based on data from Our World in Data, and averaged the GeoSure Global scores of the major cities in each country.

From there, we calculated a weighted score that reflects each country’s overall safety.

The beauty of this approach is its balance. No one score tips in balance in favor of one country over another, and each score contributes to the overall score.

Photo by Tsunami Green on Unsplash

Changes

After years of doing this, it’s clear that travelers think that Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, Ireland, and Japan are pretty safe countries, and their perceptions are reinforced by other measurements. Canada is a safe add to the inner circle as well.

Still, a couple of countries made big moves in 2021.

  • China jumped seven spots, to 16th overall, thanks to a subsiding of some of the rhetoric blaming the country for the pandemic.
  • The Bahamas dropped five spots, to 19th, largely over safety concerns in Freeport, the country’s capital.
  • The United States entered the list this year, mainly because of the volume of road trips and other domestic travel over the last several years. However, it only checked in at 18, behind China but ahead of the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. 

Caveat

These ratings aren’t predictive – that is, just because we say Canada is safe that doesn’t mean it will be safe in the future. Things like pandemics can really mess up things – and quickly, too.

As with any other measurement, you need to balance this ranking with what’s going on in the world at the very time you’re booking your travel.

Invitation

Because COVID-related travel restrictions change all the time, bookmark this post and visit it frequently for updates.

If you need the most up-to-the-minute information, visit the State Department’s site for COVID-related travel updates. The continually updated New York Times article, “I'm a U.S. Citizen. Where in the World Can I Go?” is a user-friendly source of information as well.

Let’s learn a little more about the safest countries for travelers.

Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

The Top 15 Safest Countries in the World

1. Iceland

Rank Last Year: No. 5 overall

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Iceland rocked the Global Peace Index and was a tick behind Canada as the safest country in our survey. Reality backs up the numbers – and now that tourist volume is down, it’s returning to its laid-back roots.

Can Americans Travel There? 

Yes, if they are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID and complete a pre-registration form.

Top Attractions

Reykjavik is one of the hippest cities on the planet, but rent a car and circumnavigate the island for some of the most otherworldly vistas you’ll ever see.

Photo by Michael on Unsplash

2. New Zealand

Rank Last Year: 2

Why It’s Ranked Highly

GeoSure rates it very highly, and it produces respectable scores in every other measure.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, provided they complete a New Zealand travel declaration and submit to a COVID test upon arrival.

Top Attractions

Wonderful people and breathtaking scenery – it’s a pretty solid combination.

Photo by Eugene Aikimov on Unsplash

3. Canada

Rank Last Year: 1

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It was our travelers’ top safety pick in our annual survey, and its GeoSure scores trail only New Zealand.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, but you need proof of vaccination. Travelers are also admitted, according to the Times article, “if they have recovered from COVID-19 and continue to test positive, as long as they can present a positive coronavirus molecular test result on a specimen taken 14 to 180 days before arrival in Canada.”

Top Attractions

The Canadian Rockies might have their American counterparts beat in the beauty department, and there is an incredible amount of love for cities like Montreal and Vancouver.

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

4. Sweden

Rank Last Year: 7

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Despite only average marks for COVID mitigation, it receives high GeoSure scores, and travelers in our survey like it, too.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of a recent negative COVID test. Pay close attention to the U.S. Embassy’s COVID page if you plan on traveling to Sweden.

Top Attractions

Stockholm is the main draw, but don’t sleep on the country’s alternately lush and rugged rural north.

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

5. Japan

Rank Last Year: 10

Why It’s Ranked Highly

High traveler scores and an effective pandemic response helped it jump five spots from last year.

Can Americans Travel There?

No. According to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, “Travel for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change.”

Top Attractions

Dazzling cities, spotless trains, and the misty mystery of the mountainous north, plus adventuresome cuisine and an aesthetic all its own.

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Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

6. Australia

Rank Last Year: 3

Why It’s Ranked Highly

While Australia slipped from past heights in our traveler poll, it maintained high GeoSure scores and also got high marks for COVID mitigation.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, at long last.

Top Attractions

Many American travelers’ dream destination, Australia is just exotic enough and just familiar enough to land on everyone’s list. Its cities are civilized and its bush country isn’t, and there’s a whole lot of open space between there and here.

Photo by Andreas M on Unsplash

7. Switzerland

Rank Last Year: 5

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Travelers didn’t rate it as highly as other perennial top-five finishers, and its moderate level of militarization cost it points in the Global Peace Index.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, if they’re fully vaccinated and have proof of vaccination. With that proof in hand, the Swiss government will issue a vaccination certificate that allows you to travel the country.

Top Attractions

The amazingly clean cities of Geneva, Basel, and Bern, the mirror lakes, the spectacular mountains, and the friendly people. And chocolate.

What They're Saying

"Switzerland is a wonderful place to visit. As a young adult traveller, I found it very safe, clean and so beautiful! People could be reserved but generally were very welcoming, helpful and respectful."

- Ali Malcolm, Editor at Bookmundi

Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

8. Ireland

Rank Last Year: 9

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Ireland is always a top vote-getter in our traveler poll, and its cities also get high marks from GeoSure.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of vaccination, recent recovery from COVID, or a recent negative PCR test.

Top Attractions

The lush scenery, the rolling golf courses, and rugged coast, and the warm pubs – but not in that order.

Photo by Rachel Davis on Unsplash

9. Germany

Rank Last Year: 7

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Germany gets good numbers across the board, from COVID mitigation to GeoSure scores to the travelers’ poll.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, if they’re fully vaccinated or have been infected with COVID in the last four weeks to six months. Americans also need to complete a digital registration upon entry.

Top Attractions

Castles, the Rhine, Berlin, Oktoberfest, wine and beer, and so much more. 

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

10. United Kingdom

Rank Last Year: 8

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It’s popular with American travelers and it did a reasonable job managing COVID.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, if you’re not entering the country from a “red-list” country. Also, proof of vaccination is required. Unvaccinated travelers must buy a “travel package” of tests covering an eight-day period.

Top Attractions

Start with London, one of the world’s great cities, but don’t overlook the Lake District, the pastoral beauty of Wales, and Scotland and the rugged north.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

11. Spain

Rank Last Year: 12

Why It’s Ranked Highly

All measures agree that this is where Spain should be ranked.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of a recent negative COVID test.

Top Attractions

Seville, Barcelona, and Madrid are some of Europe's greatest and most popular cities, full of fun, history, and amazing architecture. Ibiza is one of the most popular getaway destinations on the continent.

Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

12. France

Rank Last Year: 13

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Survey respondents like it – which is another way of saying it’s popular with American travelers.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of a recent negative COVID test.

Top Attractions

Paris is Paris, and the rest of the country is pretty special, too.

Photo by Dan Novac on Unsplash

13. Italy

Rank Last Year: 11

Why It’s Ranked Highly

High scores from the Global Peace Index offset relatively low scores from GeoSure.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID test.

Top Attractions

Americans have had a love affair with Italy for years, and the country has something to delight every type of traveler, from Rome to Tuscany to Florence to its southern coast and islands.

Photo by Daniel Bernard on Unsplash

14. South Korea

Rank Last Year: 18

Why It’s Ranked Highly

South Korea handled the pandemic well, and scored highly with travelers in our survey.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of a recent negative COVID test. Note that unvaccinated travelers are required to quarantine.

Top Attractions

People visit South Korea for Seoul's amazing food scene, its scenic coastline, and the friendliness of the country's people.

Photo by Etienne Delorieux on Unsplash

15. Costa Rica

Rank Last Year: 17

Why It’s Ranked Highly

There's a fairly steep drop-off in scores between South Korea and Costa Rica; still, travelers gave Costa Rica good marks in the survey, and the country scored well in the Global Peace Index.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, with proof of a recent negative COVID test.

Top Attractions

The rainforests, jungles, mountains, and beaches make Costa Rica popular with Spring Breakers and anyone else looking for a beautiful, eco-friendly destination. (Want to know more? Check out "Is It Safe To Travel to Costa Rica in 2021?" in the BHTP blog.)

Photo by Jordan Opel on Unsplash

Travel Safety Has Multiple Dimensions

Because we had people who had actually visited specific countries doing the rating this year, we felt comfortable asking them about multiple aspects of travel safety, including safety from crime, terrorism, and disease, and safety for vulnerable groups such as travelers of color and LGBTQ+ travelers.

We used an average of the eight sub-category scores for the Safest Places calculation employed above. Here are the top-10 lists for the sub-categories.

Safest Places To Travel – Safety From Violent Crime

1. Japan
2. United Kingdom
3. New Zealand
4. Iceland
5. Sweden
6. Australia
7. South Korea
8. Canada
9. Germany
10. Ireland

No surprises here. Japan is recognized as a country where violent crime is practically nonexistent, and the rest of the top 10 have the same sort of reputation.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Safest Places To Travel – Safety From Terrorism

1. Costa Rica
2. Japan
3. Iceland
4. Ireland
5. Sweden
6. New Zealand
7. Dominican Republic
8. Australia
9. Canada
10. South Korea

It makes sense. When was the last time you heard of a terrorist incident in Costa Rica?

Safest Places To Travel – Transportation Safety

1. Canada
2. Sweden
3. Iceland
4. Japan
5. Germany
6. United Kingdom
7. Ireland
8. Switzerland
9. France
10. Thailand

Many of these countries have highly developed rail systems; the rest (except for Thailand) are just plain easy to get around.

Photo by Atoms on Unsplash

Safest Places To Travel – Health Measures

1. Sweden
2. Spain
3. Switzerland
4. Canada
5. Iceland
6. Japan
7. Germany
8. Ireland
9. Thailand
10. Israel

Sweden’s unorthodox approach to dealing with the pandemic did not cost it points here.

Safest Places To Travel – Women's Safety

1. Ireland
2. Iceland
3. Sweden
4. Canada
5. Switzerland
6. South Korea
7. New Zealand
8. Australia
9. Israel
10. Germany

For what it’s worth, the GeoSure scores for the major cities in these countries largely align with the survey results.

Photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash

Safest Places To Travel – People of Color Safety

1. Israel
2. Iceland
3. Thailand
4. Canada
5. Ireland
6. Bahamas
7. Japan
8. Switzerland
9. Sweden
10. France

Israel is an interesting No. 1, but we’re unaware of any acts against people of color in that country.

Safest Places To Travel – LGBTQ+ Safety

1. Iceland
2. Sweden
3. Greece
4. Thailand
5. Ireland
6. Switzerland
7. Canada
8. France
9. Japan
10. South Korea

Again, especially with the top three destinations there’s plenty of supporting research corroborating these findings.

Photo by Jordan Opel on Unsplash

Rankings By Age, Gender, And Income

Unlike past years, survey respondents had wildly different perceptions of the world’s safest countries depending on their age, gender, and income. After we broke apart the responses, here are some of the categories with the biggest deviation from the overall scores:

Millennial Survey Respondents (ages 25-44)

1. South Korea
2. Thailand
3. Ireland
4. Canada
5. Vietnam
6. Greece
7. Japan
8. Sweden
9. Dominican Republic
10. India

Millennials have shown themselves to be the most adventuresome age group, defining countries as safe that other travelers don’t consider safe at all. It makes total sense for them to have a list that includes India and Vietnam.

Respondents With A Household Income Of More Than $100,000

1. Israel
2. Canada
3. Japan
4. Thailand
5. Iceland
6. Switzerland
7. Italy
8. Jamaica
9. Australia
10. Greece

Israel has never been included in our rankings prior to this year though it should have been, based on its popularity. So it’s possible that Israel has always been considered a safe destination. We just never asked.

Photo by John T on Unsplash

Female Survey Respondents

1. China
2. South Korea
3. Iceland
4. Japan
5. Ireland
6. Canada
7. Sweden
8. Thailand
9. Germany
10. Vietnam

There’s quite a bit of correlation between the rankings of countries on their handling of COVID and female travelers’ perception of the safest countries. This is just more evidence that women define travel safety largely as COVID safety, and men don’t.

Male Survey Respondents

1. Switzerland
2. Sweden
3. Canada
4. Japan
5. Jamaica
6. Iceland
7. Israel
8. Ireland
9. Costa Rica
10. Italy

Over the last several years, male travelers have been all about Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, and (when it’s been part of our rankings) Canada. 

Final Notes

Remember that the top-10 lists above only show survey results. They don’t include the additional data from GeoSure, the Global Peace Index, and the State Department that are factored into the overall top 10. And survey results can be variable.

Regardless of when you feel able to visit the World’s Safest Countries, be sure to choose travel insurance from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection to cover all your travels. Discover what makes our coverage special here.



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Kit Kiefer
Kit Kiefer

Kit Kiefer is a former travel writer for The New York Times and has more than 30 years of freelance experience writing about domestic and international travel. He blogs and produces content for Winbound, a content marketing firm.

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Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP) is a registered trademark and a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (BHSI), a leader in specialized casualty and liability insurance.  The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable.  BHTP disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information.  The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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