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Pro Tips for Traveling to Mexico

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

February 18, 2021

According to The Seattle Times and Seattle psychiatrist David Avery, as many as 10 percent of us suffer severely from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to the lack of sunlight in our fall and winter months.

Has our winter weather inspired you to look to beyond our shores to warmer destinations? We get it.

Your health and well-being are our priority, so at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), we have taken steps to keep you safe like intensified cleaning and disinfecting, guidance for physical distancing, and installation of hand sanitizer stations and touchless technologies.

When you feel good about traveling, we’ll be here and ready for you. We’ll wave you on your way then put our rain boots back on. Sob.

We talked to three fellow Pacific Northwesterners who recently traveled south to learn about their experiences and advice. Here are their tips and tricks to satiate your wanderlust while traveling safely in our new normal.

Tip 1: Pack your masks and your patience

Wearing a mask is mandatory at SEA and while you are on the airplane. Expect to wear a mask for the entire duration of your journey. Keep it on in your destination to protect yourself, your fellow travelers, and the essential workers that are making your experience possible.

James, a Seattleite who traveled to Cabo in October 2020 and Puerto Vallarta in January 2021, noticed that masking compliance was very high at SEA, while onboard his flights with Alaska Airlines, and throughout his trip in Mexico. “I noticed a lot of double masking amongst fellow travelers."

James also noticed that while fewer people are traveling, there is a higher level of patience if things go amiss. Travelers are more understanding of challenges because we’re all just doing our best.

SuLee of Tacoma echoed a similar sentiment after she and her husband traveled to Cabo in January 2021. “Pack a very comfortable mask. Disposable masks are my favorite for ventilation. It is always fresh and I don’t have to adjust the fit.”

Tip 2: Understand that a negative COVID-19 test is required to re-enter the U.S.

In January 2021, the CDC issued an order requiring all air passengers over the age of two that are arriving to the United States from a foreign country to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The test must be taken within three days of departure back to the U.S.. Airlines are responsible for enforcing this and will not board passengers without appropriate documentation.

Destinations in Mexico like Los Cabos have already adapted to ensure that U.S. travelers can obtain COVID-19 tests. For example, many resorts offer COVID-19 testing onsite for guests.

SuLee stayed at a private vacation rental. She worked with a concierge service to arrange a COVID-19 test for $50 at her accommodations. “It was convenient and we got our digital results via email. These are destinations built for tourism and each is making accommodations for these protocols.”

Tip 3: Spend like it matters

Know that your dollars are supporting people’s livelihoods. Tourism is one of the world’s major economic sectors, and the pandemic is impacting economies and livelihoods globally. The United Nations World Tourism Organization forecasted that 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs were at risk in 2020 as global travelers stayed home . This trend continues in 2021. Airports, airlines, and many tourism businesses have evolved to protect the health of travelers.

Garrett, a Tacoma resident, recently ventured to Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Todos Santos. “I am happy with everything being done to ensure the safety of those flying,” he said. Every restaurant, retailer, and grocery store he visited had required COVID-19 protocols for entry such as temperature screening and hand sanitizer. His hotel even had a sanitizing mist machine for guests coming back into the resort.

An al fresco dining experience Los Tres Gallos in  Cabo San Lucas
An al fresco dining experience in Cabo San Lucas

Many of the restaurants in Mexico are outdoors with excellent natural ventilation. James enjoyed many al fresco dining experiences with restaurant staff wearing masks. Where to go? His advice is that Trip Advisor reviews for restaurants are very dialed in for Puerto Vallarta. James ranked dinner at Tintoque as the best meal of the year with its select menu, beautiful presentation, masterful desserts and moody ambiance. Get the ribs.

SuLee observed there are no big crowds of tourists and the hospitality of Cabo was exceptional. Some of her favorite restaurants are Nicksan, Mi Casa, Maro’s Shrimp House, and Casa Martin. “What is crazy, you get great Italian food in Cabo!” She recommends Salvatore G’s and Invita Bistro. Get mango on a stick! 

Mango on a stick
Get mango on a stick! Squeeze lime onto it, and add a little chili powder if you're feeling adventurous. 

Tip 4: Capitalize on bleisure travel

COVID-19 accelerated the trend toward teleworking and the opportunity to travel and work anywhere. Bleisure describes travel that combines business and leisure.

James teleworked during the business day for part of his trip and spent the evenings and weekend exploring Puerto Vallarta. Travel during a pandemic of course has pros and cons, but he had positive experiences. Puerto Vallarta is a clean and inexpensive city with incredible food. “In the town center with more population density, both travelers and residents were wearing masks.”

Tip 5: Rediscover your sense of adventure

We have all made behavior changes to live in our new normal, and the same goes for travel. It is possible to travel safely with the right precautions and planning.

Garrett recommends that you determine your personal comfort level with travel during a pandemic, and then be ready to explore and see things, mask up, and pack hand sanitizer. “No one wants to get sick so everyone is taking the proper steps while traveling.”

A boating adventure
A boating adventure to swim with whale sharks in La Paz 

For SuLee, Cabo is one of her most favorite places and she has been going for 28 years. “Just follow the rules if you want to do things. I am happy to do that because the airport, airlines and tourism destinations are working hard to make it smooth for us.” She and her family are planning another trip to Cabo in April. “We feel very comfortable; we have been taking our girls since they were children, and I’m looking forward to continuing our tradition. Everything can still be fun, even with masks.”

A sunset over Cabo
A sunset over Cabo. No filter! 

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