Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to travel for my first actual vacation of 2020. My boyfriend and I went to Aruba for a week and I could not recommend it enough-but I’ll save that for another post. I wanted to sit down and write about our experiences of traveling during this crazy time. If you are traveling to Aruba, make sure you head to Aruba.com and read up on all the important information you need to know before heading there.
Aruba is one of the countries that Americans are allowed to travel to, but a negative COVID test is needed (which made me feel safer than traveling places where you don’t need one). You can take the test before heading to Aruba & upload your test online, or you can be tested when you arrive in Aruba which costs $75. I chose to take the test at home so I could get to the beach as soon as possible. If you take the test at home, it needs to be taken within 72 hours of the last leg of your flight to Aruba and should be uploaded no later than 12 hours before. Also, it needs to be a PCR test and not just a rapid test – meaning the test needs to actually be sent away to a lab and not one of those 15-minute ones. I went to a walk-in clinic in my town on the Wednesday before we left, had the results 24 hours later, uploaded to the site and had my green check ready to go.
If you haven’t gotten a COVID test yet, I am here to tell you that it isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s pretty quick and honestly just feels like when you get water in your nose jumping in the pool. I don’t believe Aruba accepts a mouth swab, so be prepared for a q-tip in the nose!
Even if you have insurance through work or somewhere else, you are still required to purchase Aruba’s insurance. This is to cover any COVID related issues that could arise while you are out there. It was $77 per person for the week and it is paid for before you go to Aruba. If you are waiting until you get to Aruba to take the COVID test, you will pay for both at the same time.
Flight to Aruba
We flew JetBlue out of JFK to Aruba (mostly because was cheaper than Newark). I felt completely safe on the flight. They had the middle seats blocked, plus there weren’t a lot of people on the plane to begin with. They did announce for people to wait by their seats to use the bathrooms so there was no crowding in the aisles. Boarded back to front – which I always thought made more sense – and I will say I didn’t see anyone disobeying any of the rules. JetBlue did give everyone a resealable bag with some snacks & water. Just make sure to bring a comfy mask and download some movies, and you’re good to go.
Arriving in Aruba
Once we finally made it to the beautiful country of Aruba, I was ready to rock and roll! There was a bit of a delay getting off the plane that wasn’t communicated the best; we got off the plane and had to wait in some hallway for a while. We were never told why, but I think it may have been because more than one flight landed at the same time and they didn’t want too much crowding at luggage. It was a bit of a mission getting our luggage and getting through customs, I would say it probably took about 2 hours to get through everything in the airport. Since we were tested before heading to Aruba, I can’t speak to how it would be if you weren’t, but once we got to that part, they all look at our test results again so make sure you have a hard copy of the results!!
We did rent a car in Aruba and while my boyfriend was the one who went inside, it did seem that everyone inside was wearing a mask. Let me tell you, it was a literal breath of fresh air once we got out of the airport, took off our masks and got into the Aruba sun.
We rented an Airbnb on our trip and didn’t have too much contact with the owner. We met with one of them when we got there, but that was the extent of contact and we our had masks on the whole time. The house was very clean when arrived and I felt safe the whole time, both on terms of the coronavirus and being in Aruba.
I will honestly say I felt safer in Aruba than I do at home! Every place we went to was up on their protocols. The grocery stores that we went to took our temperature, made us sanitize and cleaned the handles of our carts. Every single restaurant we went to took our temperature as well. Every. Single. One. They also asked where you were staying, to sanitize before entering the establishment and contact information just in case. All the staff wore mask and some places even had them wearing gloves. I will say that not all tourists adhered to the mask rules when getting to the restaurant and heading to their table, but the majority did. Since it is so much more empty than usual, there were no crowds and barely any lines, so we did not need to worry too much about staying six feet apart from anyone else. We did do some excursions while we were out there – can’t go on vacation and not explore the island! The staff on all the excursions wore masks & all of us enjoying the excursions stayed 6 feet apart from one another. I’ll reiterate again – I felt safer in Aruba than I do back in New Jersey!
Leaving Aruba and Flight Home
Once again, getting through the airport wasn’t too terrible. There were some lines and while not everyone was 6 feet apart, everyone had a mask on, and you were required to sanitize before entering the airport. The flight home basically mirrored the flight there: middle seats blocked, boarded back to front, snacks and water given in a resealable bag, etc. I will say our flight home was far less crowded … We were near the back and to say there were only like 25 people in the last 15 rows. JFK was a piece of cake getting through, and just like they we were back home (boo!).
All in all, I cannot recommend Aruba enough to anyone who wants to travel right now but may be a bit worried. I feel as it is safer than other places since they do require a negative test before heading there. There are plenty of Facebook pages, along with Aruba.com, where you can get day-to-day information on all things regarding COVID. I will say, while it is a little more expensive in Aruba than other Caribbean countries, it is worth it. They are struggling a bit down there with all the COVID issues – I was told they used to see 25,000 tourists a month and now they are just getting 3,000. Because of this, I did not not mind at all spending a little extra money than usual. If you’re thinking about traveling to Aruba my advice is DO IT 🙂