We will return to Jamaica for our annual vacation this week if all is well. This will mark our fifth year making a winter escape to the beautiful city of Montego Bay. Every year, there is uncertainty to deal with before we leave. For instance, bad weather or delayed flights could derail our plans. However, last year added a whole new level of anxiety and logistics, including:
- Presenting a negative COVID-19 test within ten days of travel
- Submitting a Travel Authorization document to board the airlines within five days of travel
- Producing a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of departure back to the United States
- And, of course, the wearing of masks at the airport and on the plane.
But Wait, There’s More to Worry About
As our trip approaches, things have become even more complicated. For starters, my husband and I got COVID the week before last - and I am still recovering from a post-COVID sinus infection. However, it’s vital we get tested and show a negative result within THREE days of our departure.
That may sound feasible enough, but the unavailability of tests combined with unclear guidelines of what constitutes “three days” has amped up our stress level.
We are scheduled to leave Wednesday, January 26th. According to the Visit Jamaica website, the earliest date to provide a test sample is Sunday, January 23rd.
According to the Sandals Jamaica website, we should take the COVID-19 test on Monday, January 24th, if we plan to arrive on Wednesday.
Because of this discrepancy, we scheduled a PCR test at a local CVS on Sunday, January 23rd, and a rapid test on Tuesday, January 25th. We will pay out-of-pocket for the rapid test because of the shortage, but at least we will fall within the resort’s Monday rule for testing should that prevail over the travel and tourism agency’s Sunday rule. With our Sunday test (PCR), we will have more accurate results — and hopefully, we’ll have those results before we’re due to leave for our vacation.
We must also complete the travel authorization form before departing the United States. And, of course, we’ll wear masks at the airport and on the plane. This year, the requirements to return from our trip are slightly stricter as we will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel back to the U.S. Fortunately, Sandals will provide this test, as a courtesy to its guests, at no additional charge.
Will We Be Safe?
Some people have raised an eyebrow at our decision to continue our travels during the pandemic. As I said last year, I am tired of living in fear. I haven’t left my house in three weeks, and somehow I tested positive for COVID-19 this month!? For those worried about the spread who question our sense of responsibility, I assure you we are as responsible as they come. We will continue to stay on top of our vaccinations and boosters, use hand sanitizer, and wear our masks. This year, we purchased N95 masks for added protection. There’s no 100% guarantee that any mask will keep the virus away, but we intend to play it as safe as possible while still enjoying our time away.
Will it all be worth it? We’ll find out. For now, I pray we arrive in Montego Bay on Wednesday and enjoy our much-needed time away.
If you’ve traveled during the pandemic, what challenges did you face? Was it worth it?