Insights from our International Trip During the Pandemic
Dec 14, 2020
We did it! We went on our first international trip during COVID to Costa Rica. To summarize it in one word-- "exhilarating."
While countries have various restrictions (many are closed to travelers from the US)- I have to say that I felt extremely safe and a lot of precautions were taken, even more than I experience in my home city.
My perspective- As I have shared before, I think that everyone has to do what they feel is right for them based on personal values and lifestyle choices. Even though we went on this trip with concerns (which can be uncomfortable), it did not stop us from living our best lives and reconnecting us with something we love.
Lakshmi's Learnings: Here was our experience in Costa Rica-
- Air Travel to and from destination- since this is a "grey area" for many, I am providing details . The plane has constant air filtration and is cleaner than ever.
- The flight to MIA to LIR was just a regular COVID flight. We wore masks, had lots of sanitizer, and cleaned the seats.
- Plane was not full, but there is no formal social distancing on American Airlines (a few of the US airlines are still keeping middle seats open, but most are not).
- Boarding varies by airline- this specific experience was by group number/ status NOT by back to front based on rows. (varies based on airline)
- Outside of the plastic bag of bottled water and cookies/ships, there is no food is served on the plane, especially the shorter flights (in economy). Hence, we made sure to bring our lunch. As reflected in this video, I reinforce the mask policy even while chewing - it's doable!
- For Costa Rica specifically- we had buy travel insurance to cover $50K of medical expense coverage. For a family of 4- this was a few hundred dollars total. The airline checks this BEFORE you leave the US and then again at customs when you arrive to the country.
- Regarding COVID testing- a PCR test was initially required but was not anymore for Costa Rica. All of this changes frequently- so you must check the latest information on the government travel websites.
- Regarding return to the US- same as it normally is from an international destination and no temperature checks. NOTE- some US airports/ employers for "return to work" require a negative COVID tests results for return entry. You must check local state/airport travel rules.
- What to expect related to COVID Costa Rica- extra safety measures were impressive and family experience was overall amazing!
- We went to Guanacaste (beach area) and Arenal (volcano and rainforest) and stayed in two well known hotels. We did not stay in an Air BnB this time since we were meeting a group of friends. The hotels has just opened in November so many of the locals dependent on tourism where thrilled to have travelers again.
- In majority of the restaurants, activity centers, your buses- the staff 1) check your temperature 2) asked you to wash your hands with soap (there were sinks, soap, and paper towels everywhere) and 3) sanitized your shoes IF you are stepping indoors.
- We traveled from your hotel to Arenal via a private bus with the group- it's a 3.5+ hour drive and with kids and hunger, you make stops along the way to use the bathroom and eat. We stopped once for a bathroom break and we paid for entry (about 50 cents per person) and it was very clean!
- Anytime we were with others outside our group, we wore masks indoors and even outdoors. This included our bus rides, catamaran, zip lining, hiking, and horseback riding.
For additional air travel information (if you have not yet downloaded it)- please go to this link which provides guidelines on "How To Travel During COVID with Children" which I first developed in July. Not much has changed since I initially developed the guidelines based on my domestic travel experience. You should just expect more flights to destinations and more people traveling.
Stay tuned for additional details related to international travel. There is a very bright light at the end of this tunnel. Please continue to find a way to do what you love... safely.