WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TRAVELING DURING THE PANDEMIC

Looking out of a plane window to see clouds and a tropical blue ocean

I never thought I would have to think of a travel experience, especially within the lens of a worldwide pandemic. The year of 2020 has easily been the most difficult year I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. (And I know I’m not the only one!) Dealing with the constantly changing emotions that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused has been really difficult. I went from being overjoyed for a coveted trip to being extremely sad it had to be cancelled three times. The ups and downs have been extreme. I know! First world problems. It also has been a chance to start new endeavors, enforce gratitude and infuse new found purpose into life.

After staying home fro nearly 10 months, only going out for essentials, traveling via car, social distancing, and wearing masks; I finally flew again in December of 2020! To say that I was anxious about the trip is an understatement. I felt anxious, guilty & contemplated cancelling every other day for a month leading up to our trip.

Our friends got married in Mexico and we traveled there December 3rd– December 9th. We flew into Cancun airport from Minneapolis. To err on the side of caution we also booked a private airport transfer. The whole week we were there we didn’t leave our resort north of Cancun in Costa Mujeres.

Here are my thoughts on the overall experience:

Flying

Delta did a phenomenal job in enforcing the standards. Definitely do your research on the airline you’re flying and what their standards and COVID precautions are.

To check in, you acknowledge your understanding and compliance with wearing a mask on your flight and social distancing standards.

Upon boarding we received a sanitizing wipe. I used the sanitizing wipe to clean my arm rests, tray table, entertainment screen and the wall by my seat.

Shortly after boarding we received a package in a plastic bag. The bag held a bottled water, snack, napkin & hand sanitizer. This is the extent of the drinks you will receive on board unless you’re in first class.

They were very clear in communicating the fact that Flight attendants were not able to help with luggage going into overhead bins.

First Class & those needing extra time boarded first. Other than that, it wasn’t the normal boarding groups according to status. The rest of people boarded the plane from the back to front which truly feels a lot more efficient.

During the flight, a man across the aisle was asked 5 times to put his mask back on. He kept pulling it below his chin and taking it off of his mouth and nose. The flight attendant kept talking to him. It got to the point that she stated he would be banned for life on Delta flights.

Understand the current regulations of your destination

At the time, Mexico didn’t have current requirements for Americans to travel there. (Other than wearing a mask & having a passport.) However, it changes daily so it’s important to double check as it gets closer to your travel dates. It’s important, (whether we’re in a pandemic or not) to do research on the destination to be aware of any travel advisories. For Americans you can do so here.

Cancun Airport

During our travel, this is where I felt the most uncomfortable. Especially once we retrieved our luggage and proceeded outside to find our transfer transportation. If you’ve ever been to Cancun airport before, you know there is a gaggle of people after the baggage claim. These people usually are trying to get you to talk to someone at the timeshare counter. During this leg of our travels, we were (as normal) bombarded by people and social distancing wasn’t as closely followed. About half of the people we encountered wore a mask. Some wore it incorrectly. Don’t people know we’re in a worldwide pandemic? This was definitely the most anxious portion of our travel experience during the pandemic.

My husband and I walked as far away as we could but ultimately I was annoyed until we located our transfer. It’s just really frustrating when you can’t control the risk others have subjected themselves to. The transfer company sprayed our luggage down with sanitizer. (I was so glad that we have hard sided luggage!) If you’re planning on traveling during the pandemic and do not have hard sided luggage, you might want to invest in some! Then made us use hand sanitizer before we could get in the vehicle. We were required to wear a mask for the entire ride.

During our stay at the resort

We arrived at our hotel after a 45 min drive from the airport transfer, the bellhop sanitized our bags and gave us the tags. Then we proceeded to the check in area where there was a thermal body scan set up at the entry. At check in, there were plexi glass barriers between us and the hotel staff and everyone was properly masked. This was the easiest part of our traveling experience during a pandemic.

During our stay there were several amenities that weren’t available. This included the following amenities: room service, liquor dispenser bottles in rooms (but there was still bottled water, soda & beer available in the mini fridges), and the amenities of the neighboring property.

Risk

After traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic I definitely realized that doing anything you take on some type of inherent risk. Each person’s tolerance to risk is different. You need to make your own personal decision if the risk is worth it to you. We wore masks, distanced as much as we could, and kept washing our hands or using sanitizer. We were as safe as we could be while still traveling.

Responsible travel

Traveling during a pandemic definitely is a different experience. We chose to take proper precautions by getting tested for COVID-19. I believe (whether required or not) right now it’s just the responsible thing to do. Even though my husband and I were both tested negative, we self-quarantined. We quarantined for a few weeks after returning just for good measure in case we ended up later developing symptoms.

Another thing to consider, is purchasing travel insurance. But be cognizant of what it covers and doesn’t cover! How to choose travel insurance is a great resource to refer to.

We did travel again in the following months and I outlined how it went here: Florida February 2021

Published by WanderLust in Real Life

I'm a 30 something living in the Midwest of the United States that loves every aspect of travel. Researching, planning, & of course actually going on adventures whether near or far.

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