I Traveled to Mexico During COVID and This Is What It Was Like

Passenger on a plane sitting in beside the window wearing a face mask and reading a book

Surprisingly, I felt safe traveling amid the pandemic!

I was a little nervous because I knew that I was putting myself at risk of catching COVID by traveling. But remember, the United States of America has the highest number of COVID cases in the world, so other countries are handling COVID better than we are – that was a little comforting.

Why Mexico?

Mexico is one of few countries that will accept U.S. citizens at this time without the requirement of COVID test results. At the time of my trip, travelers are also not required to quarantine upon entering.

Boston Logan International Airport

There was a requirement that you wear your mask at all times at the airport, except for when you’re actively eating or drinking – we knew this.

Going through the security line at the airport was extremely easy. I have TSA Pre-Check, so an already easy process was even smoother. Since there are less people traveling, the airports are not as packed. The regular security line wasn’t as long as it would be during a regular travel season. People have waited longer in a Dunkin’ Donuts line than they would have in this security line.

Speaking of Dunkin’ Donuts, it was the only open restaurant in the terminal. The small shops with snacks were open too.

At the gate, some seats were blocked off to ensure social distancing. Since there less people at the airport, there’s still ample seating. For the most part, people were mindful of keeping distance from each other.

The Flight

JetBlue provided small packets that came with sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer before getting on the plane.

The plane wasn’t full, but each row had at least one passenger. The middle seats were open in each row unless you were traveling as a group. I had the window seat and there was a woman in the aisle seat of the row. Before the plane took off, she moved to sit with her husband in his row, so I ended up having the row to myself.

The usual refreshments and snacks were offered on the flight. According to studies at Harvard University, airplanes are equipped with ventilation systems that filter out 99% of airborne viruses, so I felt comfortable enough to take off my mask for a bit to eat my snacks and drink water.

Cancun International Airport

After landing and heading to customs, all passengers had to walk through a thermal scanner to check body temperatures. As I’d mentioned earlier, Mexico did not require proof of a negative COVID test when entering the country, but we were required to fill out the Health Declaration Form. This form (most likely sent by your airline) can be printed out and completed ahead of time or you can fill it out at the airport.

All restaurants and shops in the terminals are open. The food court and seating area was a bit too crowded for me. I guess it’s the normal airport crowd before COVID happened. Everyone was wearing a mask at all times, except when eating. Tables at restaurants are spaced apart to enforce social distancing.

Transportation to the resort

My cousin arranged for private transportation through Playacar Palace Resorts where we stayed, so we would not have to share a car with other people. We wore masks the whole time in the car and our driver wore his mask the whole time as well.

Hotels, restaurants, and stores

Playacar Palace had a shoe sanitizing mat that every guest has to step through before entering. We had our temperature checked and were offered hand sanitizer before entering the building. All the hotel workers and all the guests wore a mask. I witnessed an instance where a guest forgot to put her mask on and a hotel staff member went up to her and kindly reminded her about the mandatory mask rule. The only times I didn’t wear a mask was at the pool and at the spa. When I got up to grab pool towels or to use the restroom, I put on my mask. All the guests were mindful of social distancing. The hotel is at 60% capacity, so I never felt like it was crowded.

The buffet was open at the resort and offered Mexican and typical American food. The buffets were never packed with too many people. All the tables were socially distanced. We wore masks in the restaurant and we took off our masks when sitting down at our table. We did have to put our masks back on when getting up to get food from the buffet.

We walked off the resort to do some shopping and to find real authentic tacos. Every store and restaurant had shoe sanitizing mats and we had to have our temperature checked before entering.

Overall, I felt pretty safe. I was being cautious and I felt like everyone in general was being cautious, too. I always had hand sanitizer with me, and frequently washed my hands, and wore my mask in public spaces.

Back in Boston – Getting tested

I originally had plans to go to my local urgent care and spend $160 on a rapid COVID test, but I didn’t want to wait five hours again just to be seen for 30 seconds, or drop a few Jacksons. On the plane ride home, I looked up free rapid COVID testing sites around Boston (I love free WiFi!) and found Project Beacon located in Revere, MA. For those of you who are familiar with the area, it’s the parking lot at Suffolk Downs. Testing is by appointment only through the website and it is a drive-thru site. It’s completely free and you can get results in 1-3 business days. You do not need to be showing symptoms, need a doctor’s approval or show a form of identification.

It was such an easy experience. I was able to make an appointment for two days after I got home. I quarantined in the meantime and until I got my results back. The site does say that same day appointments are sometimes available. After I made an account online, I was given a QR code which I had to show to the police officer when I arrived at the site. At the first tent, a nurse came out to scan my QR code, and a label with my information is printed on a tube and stuck on my windshield. I drove up to the second tent and another nurse came out, gave me a swab and guided me on how to administer the test myself. I was glad I did not have to shove the swab all the way up my nose canal. I just had to swipe each nostril for ten seconds and stick the swab in the tube. From the time I drove up to the time I drove away, took about ten minutes. It was quick, easy, and I did not have to get out of my car. I got my results sent to my account 30 hours after being tested. Needless to say, it was negative!

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