Client Interview: What It's Like Traveling To Jamaica Right Now

Picture this: It's a week before you're set to take your yearly trip to Beaches Resorts. You're counting down the hours before you'll roll your suitcases out to the car and say goodbye to the home you've been locked down in for the past five months. You've never been more ready for a vacation in your life. This time it's going to be to Jamaica, since the islands opened up for business a little over a month ago.

Then, unexpectedly, your travel agent reaches out to tell you that Jamaica very suddenly has changed their entry protocols. Now all travelers ages 12 and older need a PCR COVID-19 negative test to taken no more than 10 days prior to arrival and presented to the Jamaican Ministry of Health along with your Travel Authorization form no more than 5 days prior to arrival, to be approved for entry. Without that approval letter, you won't even be allowed to board your plane here in the USA.

You're 7 days out. Time is limited.

Thankfully, you are able to find an approved testing site and get the PCR test results within 24 hours. Monday morning you upload everything, submit the forms, and receive immediate approval for your daughter who is under 12 years of age. But both adults wait 48 hours and still no approval. With only 48 hours left before you're boarding your flight you're officially in panic mode and reach out to your agent for advice on what to do next.

Your agent works tirelessly for 36 hours calling on every contact they have and finally, at 9:00PM, less than 12 hours before your flight the next morning, your approvals come in. Everyone can rest easy because your vacation is a GO!

This is a very real situation that happened to myself and my client just this past August. While our story was a positive one, I've ready countless stories of others not so lucky. In the chaos of the last minute changes the Jamaican government made, the backlog it created meant some travelers never received approvals in time for their flights. Some received it minutes before boarding. Others gave up at the change of requirements and rebooked elsewhere. 

It was single-handedly the most stressful week for our agency since the first week of lockdowns. We finally had clients traveling since everyone had to move their travel from mid-March onward, and a mere week before they were set to go, it almost didn't happen.

Since that crazy week, Jamaica has stuck to their new requirements but have also made the slight change of no longer allowing the at-home test kits. Now they must all be done at an approved PCR testing site.

When all was said and done, I followed up with my clients to see how their trip went. I wanted to make sure the hiccup they experienced right before travel hadn't ruined the entire experience for them. I was incredibly appreciative when my client agreed to answer some questions for me that I could take back and share with you all.

If you've been considering traveling in 2020, and are still unsure of what to expect, take a look at my interview with my client and you'll get a good idea of their experience.

One take away she made sure to share with me, the islands are depending on us. Tourism is their main source of revenue and because of that they're going above and beyond to follow procedures and protocols to make both the locals and the guests safe at all times.

While my own travels are put on hold currently-- due to needing a passport renewal and there being long wait times-- I am very glad my client was able to provide me with insight on what others can experience. I hope her experience helps my future clients traveling to Jamaica feel more at ease knowing they are in safe hands.

For the most updated information about COVID-19 entry requirements and procedures for the island of Jamaica, visit

Client Interview: What It's Like Traveling To Jamaica Right Now

Q: What made you decide not to cancel or push out your trip? ​

A: We really needed a vacation. After COVID hit, I had to work from home and homeschool my daughter. 

Q: Were you nervous about traveling? Did you have any doubts as your travel date approached? ​

A: No, I was not nervous. I had been reading message boards and TripAdvisor and everything I was reading was very positive. The only thing that made me nervous was getting my travel authorization form from Jamaica. We were supposed to apply 5 days before travel, and it took all of 4 days to receive the approval. You cannot travel without the approval, so it was stressful.

Q: How was it traveling with a child under 12? Based on your experience, would you recommend traveling with children of all ages right now? ​

A: It was fine, but I think it all depends on the child. My daughter did not have a problem wearing a mask.

Q: What was it like flying with the mask mandate? Were the airports and airlines strict about it? Which airline did you fly? 

A: ​It was definitely different flying with a mask. I am happy that our flight was not too long, only 3.5 hours. We were able to take our mask off when we were eating and drinking, so that was a nice little break. Some advice bring your own snacks. They are serving beverages, but there is no food service on planes right now. We flew United. When the flight attendants were walking around, they would remind passengers to keep their masks on. 

Q: Other than masks, how was your travel experience in the airport and on the plane different from past experiences?​ 

A: Actually it is a great time to fly. The airports are so quiet. We were able to check in right away and there were no TSA lines. When you board the plane, they give you alcohol wipes to clean your seat and tray table.

Q: When you arrived in Jamaica, what was your experience? ​

A: Jamaica is doing a fantastic job. Once you get off the plane you must sanitize your hands and they take your temperature (You need to hold on to that piece of paper). The next stop is with the Ministry of Health. You must sanitize your hands again. They ask for your temperature reading and travel authorization forms. It took about 15 minutes as they have to enter info into their iPad. Once you are finished you move on to customs and then pick up your luggage. Since we were staying at Beaches, we went into the Beaches lounge, but not before we sanitized our hands again. We had enough time to grab a drink and use the bathroom and our transportation was ready (you do not need to pay for private transportation as they are only transporting one family at a time).

Q: When you arrived at the resort, what was your experience? ​

A: When we arrived at the resort, they took our temperature and made us sanitize our hands.

Q: Overall, how was vacation different from normal Beaches vacations in the past? ​

A: The resort was super quiet. There weren't many activities going on. No daily newsletter in our room. We had to make dinner reservations every day to insure social distancing. Never saw the sesame street characters.

Q: What did you like best about your travel experience? ​​

A: Nothing in particular, but it was just nice to be on vacation. It was also nice not having to wear a mask at the resort. It made things feel kind of normal with all the craziness that is going on in the world.

Q: What did you like least about your travel experience? 

A: Few activities going on. We like to play volleyball, but there were never enough people. Nothing to do at night. After dinner we would go to bed. No nightly shows.

Q: Is there anything you think the airlines, island or resort could have done differently that would have made for a better vacation experience? ​​

A: Not really. Our flight was half full, the resort was half empty and the island was following all the necessary protocols.

Q: If traveling remained like this in the future, would you feel comfortable continuing to vacation as normal or would you find yourself traveling less frequently? 

A: ​I will continue to travel. I felt very safe. Actually, I felt safer in the islands. They were always reminding us to sanitize our hands before going into the gift shop, restaurants, and water sports. When we flew back to the US, nobody took our temperature or told us to sanitize.

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