What it’s Like to Fly and Vacation in Mexico During the Pandemic
Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, things are slowly starting to reopen. Many people have postponed travel plans and are thinking about resuming vacations. That was the case with my daughter and me. We had rescheduled our trip to Mexico twice already, and my prepaid all-inclusive timeshare vacation package was about to expire. So, we cautiously decided to proceed, and I’m glad we did!
First of all, if you’re going to fly during the pandemic, leave all of your expectations behind. Just as the 9/11 attacks changed travel forever, I suspect COVID will have the same sort of impact long-term. It’s an entirely different experience. But what are our options? You could either never travel again or try to adjust to the new circumstances.
Our Uber driver arrived in the early morning hours wearing a mask and excited for business. The first thing I noticed was that our driver said that according to new policies, he couldn’t touch our luggage. My back and had been hurting me, so that meant my daughter had to do the heavy lifting. Things at the airport were pretty standard. Everyone had their masks on and did their best to stand six feet apart. The most significant change at the airport was that nearly every shop and restaurant was closed. Don’t expect easy access to food and beverage at the airport, or even on the flight. There are also no more blankets and pillows, so bring your own!
We flew on Alaska Airlines and were seated every other seat. It wasn’t quite six feet apart, more like four, but masks were mandatory, and we didn’t feel unsafe. The exception to the mask rule is that you could pull it down while you eat and drink. Beverage service was minimal, and alcohol is no longer served, except in Business Class. Food consisted of a tiny pack of pretzels. I noticed that some people were eating and drinking in slow motion, presumably, so they didn’t have to wear their mask as long. In general, people seemed to be exercising a good deal of patience, and the flight attendants were reasonable.
We arrived in Loreto, Mexico, without incident and excited to see blue skies and sunshine! Our shuttle driver was wearing a mask, but some of the riders were not. He didn’t seem to notice. At the resort, although signs said to wear a mask, it was mostly the staff that wore masks. Only a few guests wore masks. However, social distancing was easy as the resort was probably only at 30 percent capacity. All three restaurants at our timeshare had outdoor seating, and there was a gentle breeze blowing most of the time. At the buffet, we had to ask the staff to dish up the food onto our plates, and they were wearing masks and gloves.
The most significant change from previous visits to Mexico was that activities options were minimal. The disco at the resort was understandable closed. Only the poolside and beach bars were open. We did enjoy a snorkeling excursion out to Coronado Island, and golf was available at the resort. In town, at least half of the restaurants and shops were closed. Those that were open seemed to be following CDC guidelines.
One day, we rented a car and drove up to a historical mission surrounded by fruit and olive tree orchards. There were a couple of street vendors selling their goods there, but those were the only street vendors we saw during our entire trip to Loreto. Since that was my first time to Loreto, it is difficult to know if it’s standard or has changed due to the pandemic.
The Mexican people are thrilled to have tourists right now. It’s easy to negotiate fair prices and cheap rates on accommodations. They were hospitable, kind, and eager to please. Although I was told that crossing the border by car isn’t currently allowed, I spoke with several Americans that drove down highway 1 from San Diego without any problems. On our return trip, immigration and customs took less than ten minutes. It was the most comfortable and fast customs experience I’ve ever had, aside from Dubai.