What It’s Like Returning to the US When a Negative COVID-19 Test is Required

As many of you know, on January 26, 2021, President Biden passed an executive order requiring all travelers coming into the United States, including citizens of the U.S., to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight headed for the United States.

The only way to avoid having to take a COVID-19 test is to show proof that you have recovered from already having COVID-19 plus a letter from a medical professional stating that you are clear to fly.

With the new rules in place, a lot of travelers have postponed their vacations because the thought of having to find a laboratory in a destination that is not familiar seems too complicated.  As well as find your own transportation to and from the medical laboratory.  That just seems like to much for any traveler to handle.

Prior to the travel restrictions going into place, many travelers, destinations, and resorts had advanced notice and were able to put into place a way to make traveling hassle free for American travelers—after all, losing American tourist could hurt any destination, therefore destinations and resort moved quickly to offer travelers on-site testing services.  Not only did on-site COVID-19 testing become a fixture on many resort properties, but the cost of the testing was also included in your stay.

With the new travel restrictions, the offering of on-site free testing, I had to head to Cancun, Mexico to test out the process and find out everything from A to Z on how the entire process and experience will work.  Therefore, I headed to the ultra-popular Cancun, Mexico and stayed at the new Planet Hollywood Cancun Beach Resort.

Scheduling my test

Because I was staying four days, I had to schedule my COVID-19 test on the day that I arrived at the resort.  After getting checked in, I hurried over to the Customer Service Desk, on the family side, not the adult-scene side, and scheduled my COVID-19 test.  A passport was required to schedule your test.  After your identity is verified, the resort provides a scheduled date and time.  I was advised that my passport would be needed when I arrived for my test to verify my identity again.  

I was also advised not to drink alcohol 12 hours prior to testing.  My test was scheduled for 4:30pm.  Let me just tell you that it is not fun being scheduled for an evening slot for your COVID-19 test because waiting all day to drink, while hanging at an all-inclusive resort was a bummer.  

That is your travel tip from me.  You’re welcome!

The day of my test

The day of my test, I grabbed my passport and walked to the medical clinic located on the family-side of Planet Hollywood Cancun Beach Resort.

I walked into the clinic, my ID was verified with my passport and appointment time.  Once my identity was verified, the medical professional reached for his supplies, asked me to relax and lean my head back in the chair.  I immediately tensed up, grabbed hold of the arms of the chair and squeezed hard and held my head back while the long swab went to the back of my nostril and swirled itself around.  In a matter of 5 seconds, it was all over, and I let go of the arms of the chair and then began to relax.

I was told my results could be picked up in the main lobby area, at the Customer Service Desk after 8pm the same day of the results.  

I thanked the kind medical professional and headed straight to the bar in the STAR Class to have my first drink of the day.  After getting a long swab up my nose, I felt that I deserved a drink.

The Results are In

Later that evening, on my way to dinner, I picked up my results from the Customer Service Desk and read the “negative” results and I was pleased with the outcome.

Some people in my group, also received their results via e-mail.  Although I provided my e-mail address for my results to be delivered, they never arrived.  Therefore, I only had the hard copy—which is fine with me because I am a paper-type of person.

Checking in for my return flight

American Airlines would not allow me to check-in for my flight prior to arriving at the Cancun International Airport.  I received a notification when trying to check-in that I was required to show a negative COVID-19 test before checking in for my flight.  Therefore, all check-ins were required at the airport.

Arriving to the airport

When I arrived at the airport and checked in for my flight at the counter, I was asked for my passport, my negative COVID-19 test results, and my customs form.  I pulled out my travel documents folder and provided the airline with all my documents showing that I was cleared to return home to the United States.

After verification of all my travel documents, I was provided with my boarding pass and I was approved to proceed with returning home from a fabulous vacation in Cancun.

What I learned

  • Only book a resort that offers COVID-19 testing on-site for convenience.
  • Ensure that you handle scheduling your testing as soon as you arrive on property and get business out of the way so that you can check it off your list and enjoy your vacation.
  • Do not schedule your test late in the evening if they tell you that you cannot drink 12 hours prior.
  • Always get the hard copy of your test and do not rely on it being e-mailed to you.
  • Have a Plan B should you test positive and cannot return home.

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