The new U.S. testing protocol for International travel has this frequent traveler wavering.
In November, my husband and I finally got to celebrate our 30th anniversary with a trip to Sandals in St. Lucia. No longer could we just book a resort and airfare. There were travel forms for approval to enter St. Lucia and a PCR Covid test was required 7 days prior to travel. The forms seemed pretty much like a formality as long as you were staying on a certified resort. I have to admit, having my first Covid test made me a little nervous.
We had our tests done in 2 places just to make sure we got them back in time. The CVS test required an appointment where you went through a drive through. It was a self administered type of test that you drop in a lab box for pick up. The City MD test required no appointment and was administered by a doctor.
Waiting for the results was kind of stressful. Even though we felt perfectly fine, we kept hearing about those who tested positive with no symptoms. Pretty much I couldn’t really get excited about our vacation until we received the results. It took less than 18 hours to get our results in our portals. We had our negative test results and could now get excited about our trip! Test results had to be emailed to St. Lucia, and a copy had to be printed to show upon arrival.
St. Lucia had a pretty seamless process for entering their country. We waited on a couple of short lines and then we were off to the resort. Throughout our stay at Sandals we followed all their health and safety protocols and had a great time. When it was time to leave, it turned out that St. Lucia had gone from a Level 1 country to Level 2 which would now require a 14 day quarantine at home. My husband was an essential worker and was not required to quarantine. As a retiree and dog sitter, I’m pretty much always home so this was no big deal for me. Still it was a little stressful how the rules changed while we were in a different country.
In January, my daughter and I were back to St. Lucia for a 9 night stay at Coconut Bay Resort and Spa. We only did one Covid test at CVS and once again received our results quickly. I was familiar with all the country’s requirements so this was a comfortable place for me to visit with my daughter alone.
Right before our trip, the CDC changed the rules. Starting January 26 all International travelers would need a Covid test to return. The funny thing was our departure date was the 25th so we weren’t effected. The resort offered tests and we saw a few people waiting to get tested for their return flight. They had a designated room and it seemed pretty orderly, but I was relieved we didn’t need it. We returned home and now only had to quarantine for 10 days. That was a piece of cake.
My daughter graduates college in May and my husband and I planned a trip for the 3 of us to Beaches Ochos Rios. We planned this trip before the International testing change. This trip has me worried. As my friend always says,”Everyone has their own level of comfort.” Getting tested in another country takes me out of my comfort zone. I half way think I would of felt okay at Coconut Bay because I did have a sense of comfort there. Jamaica is a whole different ball game.
My husband now says he’s not going because he can’t risk being detained an additional 14 days, so that leaves me and my daughter. Beaches and Sandals both have on site testing for free and would allow you to quarantine at the resort God forbid you test positive, but I can’t imagine relaxing and having a good time until my trip was almost over and we got our negative test results.
Now I’m the worry wart Mom who’s ruining her daughter’s college graduation vacation.
Then I got an idea! The Virgin Islands are a US territory and I learned that they do not require a return test. I’ve looked at quite a few places, and these islands are all beautiful, but finding an all inclusive resort has been the challenge. Finding something with all the bells and whistles has also been an issue.
I kind of settled on a place in St. Thomas where you can travel to other islands during your stay. It’s definitely not a Beaches, but I’m sure we would have a good time like we always do.
I’ve been mulling these ideas around, and then I started warming back up to the Jamaica idea again, until I read on Google News that a Jet Blue flight attendant tested positive while on a vacation in a 5 Star hotel in Jamaica. She got to stay in her 5 Star hotel, but in isolation.
Once you test positive, you’re not visiting the beach, buffet, or bar anymore. You are isolated in a room for a 14 day quarantine, if you’re lucky and don’t need hospital care.
This is way out of my comfort zone! This trip is going to have to be rescheduled to a time where International testing to return home is no longer a thing.
Now to convince my daughter that the Virgin Islands is a worthy college graduation trip.