What Happened When I Traveled International After Negative COVID Test Requirements for U.S. Re-entry
What Happened When I Traveled Internationally After the New Negative COVID Test Requirements for U.S. Re-entry
I am excited to say I am finally getting comfortable with moving around again. For those who don’t know me well, I am a travel junkie. I am used to traveling at least once every month for the last ten years of my life, most of which was international. Travel brings me so much joy and peace, and is a great escape from the hustle and bustle that is my life as a now growing tech startup founder.
As you can imagine, I’d been losing my mind. December 2020 marked an entire year since I'd gotten a passport stamp. Cringe. So, I decided to finally take a leap of faith and travel internationally with the highest safety precaution, of course. Just my luck that the week I had planned to travel, the U.S. implemented a rule requiring a negative COVID test for entry into the U.S. While this would turn most people off from traveling, I decided to be one of the first to try this new process out.
I am happy to say that I successfully left the country and came back without a hitch. Here’s how:
Researching and finding hotels that do free COVID tests on-site
I did research to figure out exactly what kind of test is required to get back into the U.S. There are different types, and some take longer than others. Once I learned that a rapid antigen COVID test would work for the U.S., I went online and found that many hotels began to offer this test onsite (and for FREE!) to encourage passengers to continue with travel. I chose JW Marriot in Cancun, and my experience was great! Two days before my scheduled flight departure, I booked the test at the hotel concierge. My test was at 10 am. On the day of the test, around 9:55 am, they called to let me know that a doctor was on the way to my hotel room to complete the test. The doctor came in escorted by hotel staff, put on full head to toe PPE wear, and the process began. I filled out quick paperwork, and they did the test. It was the swab test where they stick the thing so far up your nostril you'd swear they were trying to tickle your brain. Haha, but I took it like a G. Can’t say the same for my friend lol. They told me my results within 5 minutes. So, the entire process lasted about 25 minutes from the start of the test to end. I received an official email from them about 6 hours later, which I then printed in the business center for free to take with me to the airport.
The hotel pool is AMAZING btw. Highly recommend this place.
Getting cleared at the airport in Mexico
Back to business. So, I arrived at the airport 2.5 hours early to be safe and checked in for my flight like I normally would. The only difference is that now an airline rep had to scan their badge and verify my COVID test was negative. No more just checking in on my mobile app and walking straight to security. This time a human had to read my COVID test. I showed my rep the paper, and she checked me in right away. That simple!
I also noticed that there was a rapid testing office right in front of the check-in area where people were also getting tests on site. Of course, I believe it's better to do it before you get to the airport just in case you're running behind schedule, or the test ends up being positive or anything but know that that's an option.
Landing and getting back into the U.S
I landed in Chicago and was anxious to complete the final step of this process. I have Global Entry, so I scanned my passport and walked straight through everything and right out of the airport. Mind blown! I didn’t think it’d be this straightforward. It was so efficient and easy. For those who don’t have Global Entry, everyone else appeared to follow the standard customs process for getting back into the country. Nothing new there.
All in all, this was a great experience! Super easy! I definitely felt safe and will be traveling more now that this is in effect. Highly recommend the JW Marriot Cancun or Hyatt Ziva is my other usual go-to for stays in Mexico!
Have fun and be safe!