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Traveling in the midst of COVID-19

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

So I decided to travel with my 11-year-old daughter to the Riviera Maya in Mexico almost two weeks ago. Today, I'm here to give you all the tips that I can give in the case you are considering catching a flight and enjoying an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico anytime soon. We know that the situation with the pandemic is serious. The best decision is probably to stay put at home if you can resist it. Still, whether you travel or not, precautions are to be taken at all times. If you decide to go, I totally understand because let's face it! It has been a long time without our vacation! If you are on the fence of traveling but are afraid of the unknown, I'm bringing you all of the details of my very much enjoyed mommy & daughter trip to the Riviera Maya 2020

First thing... the airport.

We departed on July 6th from the Fort Lauderdale airport on a non-stop flight to the Cancun international airport. Foodies like me that are used to eating at the restaurants before getting into your flight. Consider being ok with lower expectations of food when it comes to the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. All the sit-down restaurants are closed. Please don't get discouraged, this is a good thing. We are trying to get to the destination without getting sick. Instead, wear your mask all the time and buy a light meal to go from the deli or some snacks and drinks to take on your flight from the stores, since most of them are open. If you forgot to buy any food before your flight, don't worry as there are light snacks and drinks available for sale on most trips. Your flight attendant will ask if you need to purchase food at some point in your flight.

Things that I brought that helped me feel more at ease.

Lysol Wipes. To wipe off the handles of the airplane seats, table, and our hands as we touch things during our trip. Before eating, we used the wipes to clean the surface of where the food is going to stand. We also disinfected our hands with a separate wipe. Since I could not find anything smaller than an 8oz bottle of sanitizer wipes right before my trip. When packing, I took about half of the wipes and repackaged it onto a quarter size ziplock bag because this could go through security without a chance of them throwing them away. The rest of the bottle and another bottle were put into a bag that I checked in.

Sanitizer. I used a large sanitizer bottle to fill tiny ones that could be hung outside of our purses for easy access. The rest of the sanitizer went with us on the trip inside my checked bag. If you manage to find wipe baggies that are 3.40oz or less, that is even better. But don't forget to bring plenty of those because once you get to the hotel, you are most likely not going to trust it and want to wipe off any surface with a wipe. That's what I did, and I did it very often throughout the week. The hotel was impeccably clean, but I was not taking any chances. Just by doing this, it helped me with that peace of mind that I needed to feel protected.

Disposable masks. Bring as many masks as you have, even if they are not disposable. The more masks you bring, the better protected you'll be—The disposable mask for the airport, the plane, and the transfers.

We wore a new disposable mask at the airport, replace it with one new disposable mask when entering your flight. A third new disposable mask to be thrown away and replace it once you enter the transfers towards the hotel you are going to. This will prevent carrying any bacteria from one place to the other.

Disposable gloves: Brought about a dozen but never used. Feel free to skip these ones.

Large Plastic Trash Bags: I always pack a large plastic bag in each of our bags, we use them to storage our used clothes while vacationing, this prevents our clean garments to get mix with what's been used. It also works like a charm when unpacking at home at the end of our trip. I will blog with tips on packing and unpacking soon.

The disposable mask just right before we boarded our private transfers to the hotel.

Our stylish, clean masks for our day out in Playa del Carmen ;)

Arriving at the Airport of Cancun, Mexico

Everything seems pretty normal here except for the fact that there were a lot fewer people than I'm used to seeing in the Cancun Airport. I was in such a rush to get to my hotel that I did not take the time to take pictures around the Cancun airport. Still, I can tell you that there where thermal cameras were capturing temperature on all arrival passengers. I was also surprised to not see anyone without their mask. Social distance was a hit or miss since people are on vacation mode and tend to forget. When someone got close to me, I moved away as much as I could. Think about driving, you have to be on the lookout for people who are not following the rules so apply this method when going through the airport

Once we picked our bags, we headed to find our transfer person. I always pre-reserved my transfers, this time, we had private transfers, so it was just my family on the ride. I don't always reserve private transfers. This time I would not have it any other way. For $85 one hour drive, each way of roundtrip transfers was covered. The peace of mind around the present situation, in my opinion, is the best, I would not have it any other way. Most transportation companies use seat covers and have a glass looking material that divides the driver from the rest of the passengers. By the way, they will ask you to put your mask if you are not already wearing one. They also put hand sanitizer in your hands without asking, it is not an option.

At last! We are checking into our hotel, where we are going to have endless gourmet meals, unlimited drinks, clearwater beach, huge pools, and fantastic service.

This is my favorite part!

"smiley face with sunglasses emoji."

So we are finally at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya Hotel, first! The bell boy grabs my bags, and he sprays my bags with a disinfectant solution. They also have an infrared camera in the lobby's entrance, capturing people's temperature as we go into the lobby. There is sanitizer everywhere. They are making it very clear that your hands need to be sanitized before entering their building. I feel great, my worries are just vanishing like magic. Everyone gets screened for temperature before they even get to the checking counter.

Part of the hotels' requirements to be open during COVID-19 is that they can not admit more than 30% of their capacity. When we arrived, my bell boy told me that they had two weddings happening that weekend. The occupancy rate was 27%, but two days later, those guests attending the weddings left, and we were only at 18% in such a vast property. The resort looked empty. This girl is not complaining as all of the activities, restaurants on the family-friendly side were open. I paid $1,419 for a voucher that included five nights for up to a family of four sharing one room with all-inclusive amenities. Don't take notes, in the end, I will add up all my costs for you ;)

After our checking was complete, I asked to get one of their professional guitars to take to our room and have fun with. The rental of the is included in this voucher that I paid. We were allowed to have it for as long as we liked during our stay. I had to leave a credit card on file with a minimum available credit of a thousand dollars. Your card will not be charged unless you take the guitar home or end up damaging it.

What to expect in your room during COVID-19 in any of the Hard Rock all-inclusive properties?

  • Very clean and smelling better than ever! As we walk in, we could tell by the smell that they are taking the rooms' sanitizing to the highest I have ever seen. This is not to say that they were not clean before because they were, my last stay at this resort back in December 2019 was great! Anyways, I still used my unlimited amount of wipes brought from the U.S.A to clean around.

  • Items that would typically be in the room like a hairdryer, ironer, extra shampoo, conditioner, or robes will have to call the front desk. They will bring it to you quickly, and you will notice that these items are going to be sealed with plastic. They are supposed to be sanitized and sealed before you touch them. The mini cooler is empty on purpose for the same reason. I asked for what I needed; they brought it to me in around 10 minutes. My tip for you is once you go into your room, go around and make a list of the things you need and call it all at once so you can save time. I was calling as I needed something, and this was a tiny bother for me to wait the extra 10 minutes for each item.

  • The all-in hard rock brand offers as part of its included amenities 24-hour room service. The room service menu was incredibly better than pre-COVID. We had gourmet meals in our room service this time. I'm a happy camper about this since I'm a big room service person. The restaurants were all open as well. One more tiny detail that's different but good is that none of the staff is allowed to come inside your room to prevent contamination, except for the housekeepers. Room service will hand you your order at the door and bring it inside the room)

My pretty and delicious flan

Amenities that we had included with no extra cost.

  • Zip Lining on the property beach.

  • Snorkeling.

  • Kayaking.

  • Pedal boating.

  • The water park, which is suitable for all ages, great slides to have fun with the family with unlimited entrance throughout your stay.

  • Plenty of beach chairs with a server that brings your drinks and food.

  • 24-hour room service.

Seriously there is so much to do inside this complex that really! If you don't feel like leaving the property, you don't have to!

Amenities that we used that were subject to more out of pocket money.

  • Half a day excursion at Emotions Nature Park in Playa del Carmen. This was so much fun, and I highly recommend it if you are adventurous and want to go out of the resort complex. It included a half an hour at a refreshing cenote, a long fast and rough ATV ride, three courses of the zip line and a yummy Mexican lunch. There was a paparazzi that took our images as we had all the fun. If we stayed at another resort brand, these experiences would probably cost us en extra $200. But with our voucher deal, it was included. I only paid the tax portion of it, so I spent a grand total of $39.50 for both of us to have this much fun.

  • Woodward: Woodward is an indoor activity playground for all ages if you seek more active activities while on vacation. This is a good one for you. There is an extra entrance fee of $21pp. Kids and adults can use the bicycles, scooters, skateboards, eat, drink, and keep jumping on the trampoline. It is like a Skyzone or a Defy, but it also has a skate park.

  • Escapology: This is the same as an escape room here in the USA. It is located on the second floor of the lobby. Still, it is not included in the free amenities, so if you want this experience, it will cost you $25pp each time.

  • Beauty Salon and Spa Treatments: These services are included in the all-in amenities that came with my voucher, but I was responsible for paying the tax portion. My eleven-year-old had: A manicure, pedicure, shampoo, a haircut, and blowdry the day of our photoshoot, so I ended up $34.50. The total bill for my services in the salon was $34.75. I walked out with a much needed fresh manicure, pedicure, shampoo, and my hair blowdried. If you've ever gone to a salon anywhere else, you know these prices are unfound anywhere else.

  • Professional Photography Session: There are a few packages to pick from. Whichever you choose, you will pay only 50% of the price of the box because the other 50% is spent with your resort credits included in your voucher. I decide not to go with any of the packages because I did not need that many images. Instead, I had the complementary photo session and paid for the photos that I picked. I ended up purchasing 12 digital photos for a total of $180. I also got my two most favorite images 8x6 printed (complementary)

More detail that I want you to know.

  • Make sure you bring a phone charger and keep your phone charged and at hand everywhere you go. There are no paper menus, so we had to use our cameras to scan the restaurants' menus for each meal.

  • Depending on the airline your flight with. They will send you a digital form before your flight to Mexico. This form is called Questionario de identificación de factores de riesgo de viajeros. It comes from the Mexico Health Department (Secretaria de Salud, Mexicana). It is required in the airport on the way to Mexico and back. One form has to be submitted per passenger per flight. If you don't receive it from your airline, don't worry at the airport; they will ask you to scan a code and be ready to fill and submit. Once you submit the form, take a screenshot of each form showing the passenger name. To enter the security line, they will ask to see your proof of submission. (screenshot)

I like to say that I consider all trips to be unique, this one surely was for many reasons. I'm so glad I took the leap even with the risk involved because both of us came back happier and refreshed after our vacation. I also feel more confident when advising those clients of mine that are also not wanting to wait to travel. If you decide to travel, feel free to contact me. The office of Escape 2 Leisure Travel is open for business, and we are here to help you make the best of your vacation while getting more for your money.

Total price for this totally all-inclusive trip $2,365

Five-night all-inclusive Hotel Stay for up to two adults two kids= $1,419.00 USD

Two roundtrip nonstop flight tickets and two checked bags= $ 414.00 USD

Private roundtrip Transfers for up to four passengers= $ 85.00 USD

Travel Insurance (Pack and go Policy)= $ 39.00 USD

Emotions Park for two (half-day excursion Playa Del Carmen)= $ 39.50 USD

Digital photo package with unlimited images at Emotions Park= $ 69.00 USD

In Property Beauty Salon Expenses for two= $ 69.25 USD

In-room guitar practice= $ FREE

Escapology Riviera Maya = $ 50.00 USD

Professional Photoshoot and digital images on property = $ 180.00 USD

$ 2,364.75 USD

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