Friday, May 7, 2021

Is it Time to Travel Outside the US?


The EU recently decided to welcome back US travelers this summer, if they are vaccinated.   The invitation is enticing, but digging deeper there is a lot of complexity as the following article spells out.

                                                          Oceanfront, Quintana Roo, MX

Having recently traveled to Mexico, I can share my own experiences.  First off I was not traveling there for pleasure; I had property that needed looking after. Plus the area to which I traveled is familiar to me.  Despite this I normally would manage to have a wonderful time there and explore to my heart's content.

This trip felt different. It was still my tropical paradise, the same in many ways, yet different.

Akumal Bay, Akumal MX

                                                        Store entrance, Playa del Carmen, MX

Everywhere there were reminders of the pandemic, like the entrance to the local Sam's Club in near-by Playa de Carmen in the photo above.  Most stores took customers' temperatures as they entered and dispensed hand sanitizer.  Masks were required and many people wore them in the street, as well.  

Businesses were very serious about sticking to guidelines, This included the entrance to the road where the local dive shop is located.  As I drove past the guard, he took my temperature with me sitting in my car and, sprayed my hands with sanitizer and only then let me drive on. The whole transaction was kind of  comical, because the hand sanitizer made no sense given the situation.

I appreciated all of the precautions, but they were all reminders that these were not "normal" times, unless you are talking about the "new normal", which may not be what you are looking for in your travel.

Restaurant, Akumal MX

                                       Unemployed Workers, Playa del Carmen, MX

Apparel offerings included masks.

                                                          Upscale store in Cancun Airport

Then, there was the Covid test required of all travelers re-entering the US.   At least at the time (about a month ago)  being fully-vaccinated  as I had been since January, did not get you off the hook.  Not that the test is any big deal, but a positive test result would have meant being forced to stay in Mexico another ten days.  Visions of being locked in a  quarantine hotel in Cancun for a false positive test flashed in front of my eyes.

Just to be careful,  I did not eat out in the area's wonderful restaurants, but did what I had been doing in the US, take-out.  I was more cautious than many visitors, but I really wanted to get back home and knew that, on occasion,  vaccinated people can test positive. I probably overdid the caution, because plenty of people were out there having fun and they all got back home.

                                                              Take-out, Mexican style

Rulings on testing vaccinated travelers may change as countries open up and promote tourism.  All of this is in media lingo, a fluid situation, and there is much to be sorted out by the powers that be.

Before I would travel abroad, I would find out rules and restrictions in my particular destination.  No one wants to board a long flight and discover everything is closed  when they get there.  There are online resources for this.  For instance, I googled "what is open in Paris now?" and found this website offering complete information the city.
According to this site, many of the iconic destinations in the city are off-limits for right now and I'm sure it is that way in many other place. Doing your homework before booking a trip is essential. After all, who wants to get to the Louvre and find a closed sign?