What's it like to travel right now?
"Can I see your boarding pass?"
Ahh..words that I'd been waiting so long to hear again.
It feels like it's been quite a while since I've had the opportunity to travel, and as we all know, life for everyone has changed completely in 2020.
Like so many of us, with all of the time spent at home this year, I'd been antsy for a much needed vacation. After all of the changes, reschedules, and cancellations in travel plans this year for both myself and my clients, I'm ready for some new adventures -- in a new, safe way, of course.
Last week, I took the plunge and traveled again for the first time since the pandemic began. I visited sunny Puerto Vallarta on the west coast of Mexico, one of a handful of countries that we as Americans can visit right now. (More on some of the other choices here, although things are always changing.) And my experience overall was wonderful.
What's flying like?
My experience at the airport was pleasantly easy and familiar. You will be expected to wear a mask at the airport and on your flight, just as you do when you go out anywhere. Extra distancing was encouraged in lines, and frequent sanitizing could be seen throughout the airport.
As I boarded my flights, I received a goodie bag with a sanitizing wipe, a snack, and water. Food services are limited on most flights right now, but you can bring your own food on the plane without any trouble. Many airlines are blocking middle seats for the time being, which gives you more room on board. Passengers are boarded from the back to the front (man, why hasn't it always been this way?!), and deplaning was very smooth with spacing continued.
Side Note: United, Delta, and American Airlines have all recently permanently eliminated change fees on flights within the US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands (and in some cases, Canada and Mexico). Which means you can book a flight confidently knowing that you'll be able to change it later without a penalty if your plans change.
For air travel within the US, that’s really all that you need to know! If you’re traveling internationally, you'll need to check the entry requirements for your destination of choice. Many countries still remain closed for Americans or require a quarantine period upon arrival, and many that are open require you to take a COVID test before you travel. Mexico does not currently require a COVID test. The process for entry was very easy, and I simply had to fill out a health questionnaire and undergo a temperature check upon arrival.
What about hotels?
From the airport, I took an official taxi to my hotel. The taxi had a seal showing that health protocols are being met, and the driver wore a mask throughout the journey.
When we arrived at our hotel, all temperatures were taken before entering (including my taxi driver). Our shoes and suitcases were sanitized -- and I was then immediately greeted with champagne, a lovely warm and normal welcome to my vacation.
Throughout my trip, I witnessed the incredible job that all of the resorts are doing to exceed the new global standards for health and safety. Everything was simply spotless. Quick temperature checks were done on guests before entering enclosed spaces, and all facilities around the resort were continually being sanitized.
However, even with all of the new protocols, I never felt like my vacation experience was detracted from. Pools and outdoor activities were open like usual, drinks were served poolside, and the hospitality was wonderful. The staff always had a smile peeking out from their mask, as they all seemed genuinely happy to be welcoming travelers again. I found myself quickly more relaxed than I've felt in months at home.
What can I safely do on my trip?
In Puerto Vallarta (which is the same as many beach destinations right now), public beaches remain closed, but beaches associated with resorts are open. Restaurants and attractions are mostly open as usual with limited capacity and masks expected.
During my visit, I took a food tour in the old town with Vallarta Food Tours. Puerto Vallarta’s food scene is known for being one of the best in Mexico, and I sampled a variety of local fare, including tacos dorados, ceviche, a seafood stuffed pepper taco (amazing), and chocolates. Food is one of my favorite parts of traveling, and this tour was great for both me and my two toddlers.
In Puerto Vallarta, there are also great water sports to try, including snorkeling and diving. Las Islas Marietas are arguably the best spot in the area, a group of uninhabited islands known for their crater formations, crystalline waters, and colorful fish. Seasonally, whale watching is a must do. Puerto Vallarta is also right by the Sierra Madre mountains, so you can head inland and go hiking and zip lining.
Travel undeniably looks a lot different than it used to, and everyone is different. If and when you are ready to hit the road again, Mexico might be a great option for you as well. Puerto Vallarta is easy and quick to get to from the US. Cancun is also open and ready to welcome you back, from which you have the white sand beaches, azul water, and Mayan ruins.
If you have any questions or are thinking about your options for a safe vacation, please send me a message any time.
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