If you’re traveling this year, you need to be ready to adjust and rearrange things while you’re on the go. For months, travel was mostly at a standstill—now many places have reopened, but with constantly tweaked (or overhauled) guidelines. Thankfully, a number of hotels, airports and tourist centers have organized quickly to help travelers abide by local regulations.
Travelers are getting a taste of a big change right now, with the CDC announcing new testing requirements to enter the United States either as a visitor or as a resident returning home. That’s yet one more obstacle to international travel, but not necessarily reason to cancel your plans. Some destinations have made testing easy. We’ve sought out some of the destinations who’ve done the hard work of arranging testing to be convenient for travelers.
Keep in mind this is just half of the equation. Numerous countries require testing before arrival, which means many people will need to be tested two or more times, once before leaving home and again before returning. Details matter: check the test type, timeline and how to provide proof of results. Additionally, in some destinations, testing doesn’t override the restriction to quarantine (even some U.S. states, such as Hawaii, require both testing and quarantine).
In some cases, even if the tests are easy, it might be enough to make you think twice. Costs vary by type of test and destination. While some are affordable or even free, others could tack $200 or more per person to your budget and deter you from booking that quick getaway. Also keep in mind that airport testing may mean an extra trip to the airport to get your test in time to have the results necessary for return to the U.S.
Staying at a destination not on our list? Check with your hotel or resort: competition is fierce and many are likely vying to make it convenient for guests.
Lastly, the old adage “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” holds true. If you intend to travel, you need to be prepared for the possibility of getting a positive test result and not flying home as scheduled. Are you able to stay in another country for two weeks while you’re recovering? What if you require hospital care in a foreign country? Can someone cover your work in your absence and look after your children, home or pets? Have a contingency plan to cover medical costs, quarantine costs and rebooked tickets, just in case. Travel insurance is definitely prudent these days.
Assuming you’re comfortable with the risks of travel, here are some of the destinations taking the stress out of testing. Most testing regimes last at least through March 31, but as situations change that date may be extended.
Mexico has been one of the most popular vacation destinations throughout the pandemic due to its proximity to the United States and lack of restrictions for incoming travelers. Travelers still don’t need a test to enter Mexico—one of the few destinations without that criteria—but you will need one to re-enter the U.S. afterward.
Private labs, like Chopo, are available in every major Mexican city.
Los Cabos is implementing a testing program starting at $60 and offers dedicated areas at properties where positive guests can stay at reduced rates.
Tourists can get their test at Guanajuato International Airport for approx. $22 for the Antigen and $72 for the PCR.
Tourists can get an Antigen test at Merida International Airport.
Riviera Nayarit’s (Pacific coast) tourism bureau is working extensively with hotels in the region and has identified no fewer than 36 hotels that either offer onsite testing or transportation to a testing site.
Countrywide, a large number of resorts are trying to make it even easier by offering free on-site antigen testing for guests. Participating brands include
The AMResorts family (such as Secrets, Dreams, Sunscape, Now, Breathless and Zoëtry resorts)
Fairmont Mayacoba (stays of 3 nights or longer)
Grupo Xcaret Resorts
Karisma Hotels & Resorts
La Colección Resorts (which includes Live Aqua, Grand Fiesta, Fiesta Americana and The Explorean)
Playa Hotels & Resorts (including brands like Panama Jacks, Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara)
Like Mexico, many destinations in the Caribbean have partnered with local medical offices to provide convenient testing for visitors.
At the Royalton Antigua resort, guests won’t have to leave the property to be tested prior to departure. Viral antigen testing is available (charges apply). Curtain Bluff also offers on-site testing administered by the house doctor, with your choice of rapid antigen or PCR tests.
Aruba makes things easy for travelers, with three certified testing centers convenient to travelers near Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. The three centers have PCR testing available for $75 to $125 with most results available within 24 hours.