4 Jul 2020
Easing Back Into a Travel State of Mind
"Current events were a million miles away, and tbh that alone was worth the price of the plane ticket."
When I was younger (much), I loved travel days. I loved moving through airports, looking out over unknown landscapes, airplane food (just cute packaging I guess). I loved and relished in every part of it.
Even when my kids were growing up, carefully planning and packing to be ready for whatever might come our way. I was proud of my travel/parent skill set and loved experiencing them, experience the world. Long flights, exotic locations, let's go.
Time passes :) My kids are grown, and I have arrived at a time when I pay the extra money for the “Comfort Seats”. I love to travel and do so frequently, but I’m older now and not down for sleeping on the airport floor between flights.
I feel like it’s important for me to disclose my inner thinking up front. Just so you know who you’re talking to. I am mildly concerned about risk to my health, more concerned about bringing something to or from an airport. Full disclosure, I ‘ve been a bit anxious about wearing a face mask for an entire day thinking it might feel too claustrophobic. I read the CBC site, read about the low risk being on a plane, how to protect myself and others in an airport. Even after so many years of travel, I felt like it was important for me to not take anything for granted this time. Plan and prepare. That was my motto.
Let me give a shout out to all of the people traveling the same day that I did, who put in the extra effort to just be kind. I see and appreciate you! So many people, maybe working to overcome the distance and the face masks to make real human connection, or maybe just because they realize that we are all in this together. Thank you! And to ladies with the bad attitude and rude manners to the people just trying to do their job, suck it lady. Stay home next time.
Tickets at a great price. It is true, the tickets were cheap and good seats were easily available. Even though I purchased my tickets less than seven days prior to departure, tickets were still only about 60% of their normal cost.
But – Connections are few. There are fewer routes, and fewer flights available, so flying out of the smaller airport closer to my home in US meant that connecting flights were limited and layovers were long. However, flying out of major airports (for me Seattle) meant more regular flights and better connections.
We anticipated the airport wouldn’t be busy and traffic light, this was a little off. The number of people, while still very low, has picked up. Still, airports may not be using all terminals, and airlines have limited service counters which in some cases can mean lines longer than you might expect. TSA lines were relatively light. The lines were spread out as we all did our best to keep distance but moving along reasonably.
For future reference, I would pack more snacks. Most restaurants and other food services establishments located in airports remain closed and snacks on the plane were very limited. I would recommend to anyone traveling in the near future to pack food (remember it has to pass TSA) for the travel day and anticipate a small delay while you orient yourself to restaurants open and level of service on arrival day.
The flights were probably more comfortable than usual because we were all spread out. I think the service crew was working extra hard to make people comfortable and keep the mood relaxed.
Regarding my above referenced concerns about face masks. While it wouldn’t have been my first choice, it wasn’t the problem I imagined. In fact, the upside is this; you know that little worry about falling asleep on the plane with your mouth open? Drool dripping from the sides of your mouth? The face mask resolves that, no problem. Go ahead, let your mouth gape while you sleep. No one will be the wiser.
Arriving Cancun International Airport
Again, the effort flight and ground crews are making to decrease the risk to anyone’s health and keep the mood upbeat and relaxed is to be commended. As of today, Cancun Airport only has one functioning terminal, even so it did not feel crowded or bunched up. Coming through immigration is still, just like you might remember, a line of people anxious to get on the other side. Everyone was masked and working to keep their distance. Really, I was grateful for my mask as I worked my way through immigration. This is a group of people in an enclosed space, so we were all trying to keep our distance, keep our mask on. Hand sanitizer everywhere. You will see professional health care workers gazing over the crowd for anyone with any obvious symptoms. Just after immigration there is a thermal scanner checking the temperature of each individual as the pass by. It’s not at all obtrusive and you might miss it if you’re not paying attention. Everyone in the airport was masked. The professionalism was evident.
Arriving in Mexico
We chose a vacation rental house, so it was just our group, our own patios and terraces, our own swimming pool. The rental house is closed for three days prior to arrival, deep cleaned and disinfected so we were not at all concerned about any residual risk if that’s even a thing. We of course spent most of our time outside, in the ocean, snorkeling, kayaking and watching the clouds roll by from the hammock. Current events were a million miles away, and tbh that alone was worth the price of the plane ticket.
As of July 1, not all bars and restaurants were open, but just enough were. This is changing daily now with many of our favorites coming back on line as the week progressed. Going out to dinner now is a throwback to the good old days when Mexican time was a real thing which left lots of space for cold beers and good company. Boutiques and galleries are just beginning to trickle back little by little. The upside to all of this is that concierge and delivery services in Akumal and Tulum are now more easily available than ever.
It Didn’t Feel Riskier than Home
Mexico is, as it has always been for me, friendly and welcoming. The sea is still bright blue and the jungle emerald green. The colors are rich and the sun feels good. Don’t let that all mislead you thought. Quintana Roo and its people have taken a very serious and aggressive approach to COVID-19. Masks are required indoors in all public spaces like grocery stores and pharmacies. You may even need one to enter a beachfront bar or restaurant. You will be able to remove once you have arrived at your table and are spaced apart but be sure and always have one with you just in case. You will have your temperature taken again and again. Hand sanitizer is everywhere. Vacation rental properties are taking their responsibility of disinfecting and deep cleaning very seriously and even blocking properties days prior to your arrival and again after your departure.
My best decision was to pack my own disinfecting kit; Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer and spare face masks. On the plane I wiped down surfaces, tv screens, table top, arm rests, buttons . . . I did this meticulously. I think we are all more aware that no one is coming to save us, that it is our own small contributions, however slight, that will be our bridge to whatever our normal will be in the future. I also think my row mate (one empty seat away) was relieved to see that I, like her, was paying attention and trying to be a good neighbor.
For my fellow journeyers, until we might cross paths again, my warmest wishes for health and happiness! For me, arriving in Mexico again made me pause for a moment, grateful for all of the adventures I’ve had here, but I’m not done. There is always so much more. Cheers to day dreams and unknown adventures to come.