From Here to Cancun: One Traveler's Experience
One of the best reasons to use a travel consultant when booking your trip is the firsthand expertise that comes with using a professional. We are committed to providing trusted guidance and superior service, and part of that comes from our own experiences. We love working at Liberty Travel because… well we simply love to travel. Which is why when our very own Senior Vice President Christina Pedroni took her family on their first vacation in nine months, we knew we needed to hear all about it. This is what it’s really like to take an international trip right now.
We know traveling is your job, but what were your expectations and thoughts before leaving?
My family and I took the plunge and headed out on our first international trip since this pandemic began nine months ago. We are by no means the biggest risk takers in life....if you know me, I’m pretty much a rule follower. In fact, I’ve watched cautiously as many friends and colleagues went back out into the world, traveling, and supporting our travel industry partners and the international destinations that are open for Americans to visit.
The UN world tourism organization has stated that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost over 100 million jobs and one trillion dollars in global tourism spending 2020. These are sobering facts that cement the reality that we, as an industry and as humans in general, have never faced an enemy like COVID-19 in our lifetimes. For this reason, I felt compelled to continue with our planned vacation and do my part to help rebuild our industry by getting back out there and into the world.
Were you excited, nervous, etc. and how did the reality meet those expectations?
I was nervous, not so much about the actual travel, but the fear of getting sick in destination and of the unknown in general. Yet I was also excited to get away and am very thankful that we took the plunge because it was a great escape from reality.
What were some of the major things you did to plan for international travel?
Americans can currently travel to Mexico (my destination) without getting tested for COVID-19. My family and I decided to be extra cautious and we did get tested about four days prior to our departure for added peace of mind and security. We also laid low between the time we were tested and our departure date. This was a personal decision, but one that made me feel more comfortable traveling. Beside our decision to get tested, the only additional protocol we experienced was the mandatory mask requirements at the airports and while flying, and a quick health screening with temperature checks when we arrived at the Cancun airport.
Was there anything extra you needed to pack or bring with you?
The only things that we brought with us that wouldn’t usually have been in tow on a trip to Cancun was lots of extra facemasks and extra hand sanitizer. I am sure, like most everyone else, I have become a habitual user of sanitizer when soap and water is not readily available—and we made sure to have plenty with us.
What was your experience like at the airport?
We traveled on a Saturday and I thought the airport was surprisingly busy. The TSA line took about 15 to 20 mins to get through, so no longer than normal. We departed from Newark Liberty International Airport and there were plenty of options available for a breakfast prior to departure. Sitting down for breakfast was the only time we were without masks. But the restaurant provided proper social distancing and we felt comfortable. There were also plenty of quick-service restaurants open for grab-and-go items.
What was the general mood?
The United Airlines employees seemed to be in positive spirits. You could tell they were doing their best to enforce the new policies and procedures, and reiterated these several times—especially during the new boarding process. All in all I felt like we were flying the friendly skies once again. As for the other travelers, we were boarding a flight to Cancun, so most were super excited to be heading out on a vacation.
How was it like boarding and flying on an airplane right now?
This was my second flight since COVID-19, so I didn’t have much apprehension regarding the travel experience. United Airlines has changed the boarding procedure and they are now boarding starting from the back of the plane to the front. As I mentioned before, the airline employees reiterated that many times and were calling passengers into the boarding lanes by row. Once on board, we were given a care package that included a bottle of water and disinfectant wipes for our hands and to wipe down the tray tables and arm rests. There was still limited beverage and snack service, but no meals.
Did everyone wear masks on the plane and what was different than past flights?
Everyone we encountered was masked and we didn't encounter any problems at all. There were many announcements on board about masks and I did see the flight attendants remind people individually to put their masks back on after they finished with their snack/beverage. Generally, the experience felt just about normal except with masks.
Where did you stay and what was your experience like upon arrival?
We stayed at Dreams Playa Mujeres for a week. The first step was meeting our transfer operator, Discova at the airport. They quickly brought us over to our vehicle and provided us with hand sanitizer before entering. Our luggage was also wiped down before being loaded. Once we arrived at the hotel our temperatures were taken, hand sanitizer was provided, and our shoes were cleaned. The check-in process was quite easy and we were advised that masks are required for all employees on the property, however it was not a requirement for guests.
Did you feel they accomplished extra health policies?
The Dreams resort and staff did a great job thanks in part to their CleanComplete program. The resort is doing a fabulous job of implementing stringent health and safety protocol. From hand sanitizer at the entrance of every restaurant and social distancing at the pool and all public spaces to the impeccable cleaning services in the rooms, they are making a valiant effort and truly succeeding.
What are some of the things Dreams Playa Mujeres did to ensure extra health measures were taken?
There were hand sanitizer stations all over the resort and in front of every restaurant. Temperature checks were also conducted at breakfast as you enter the restaurants. The lounge chairs at the pool were spaced out appropriately, as were the tables in all the restaurants. The spa also took extra precautions with sanitizer and individually wrapped items in the changing rooms.
What was your experience with your rooms at the resort?
The rooms were all thoroughly cleaned and sealed prior to a guest check-in. There is hand sanitizer available in each room and many high-touch items were cleaned and sealed for you, like the TV remote.
What was dining like at the resort?
To prevent unnecessary handling of real menus, all of their menus were digital, via a QR code. They are also posted on large boards for those who didn’t bring a phone to the restaurant. The staff was always masked and in the buffet restaurant all food was served to you instead of self service.
What are some of the things you recommend to future travelers to prepare for their next journey?
First and foremost, talk to a travel expert. You can learn everything from what each destination’s travel rules are like to the various risks involved. It’s certainly a different time to travel, but it can be done safely and enjoyably. I also urge travelers to please be responsible and follow the instructions and mandates put in place to keep us safe. Our country and our global economy are depending on us to be good responsible humans. It’s a beautiful world out there, let’s do our best to get beyond this and back to traveling the world. It’s so worth it.
Please note: Travel requirements and health standards are continually changing. Visit our Traveler Resources Hub for up-to-date information and learn more about the entry rules of your specific destination and to plan your next vacation.