This family traveled to Aruba on reopening day — Here’s what happened
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We’ll be here to help you prepare, whether you’re traveling this month or next year.
With Americans banned from traveling to most countries around the world right now, potential vacation destinations are few and far between. Even travel within the U.S. is severely limited, as many states have imposed strict 14-day quarantines and testing requirements.
One place U.S. passport holders can travel right now? Aruba, a dazzling island off the coast of Venezuela that lifted its border restrictions on July 10 — though with some parameters.
TPG spoke with Chuck and Lindsay Kaplan, who traveled with their family to their timeshare in Aruba the day the country reopened. Here’s what it was like to travel to the Caribbean on the day this popular vacation destination welcomed back visitors.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Aruba’s entry requirements
As part of its entry requirements, travelers bound for Aruba must present a negative COVID-19 test completed 72 hours before departure. But, because the test results must be uploaded at least 12 hours before the flight, travelers really only have 60 hours to schedule, take and receive the results of a coronavirus test.
That can be next to impossible, as coronavirus cases are surging around the country and many states are facing a testing shortage and backlog.
The Kaplans got tested almost exactly 72 hours before their flight on Friday, July 10 — but Lindsay’s results didn’t arrive in time for their departure.
Related reading: 6 fun things to do with kids in Aruba
Luckily, Aruba allows travelers to get tested upon arrival at the airport at their own expense ($75) if their results are delayed and they aren’t from a hot spot state. Because the Kaplans are Indiana residents (which doesn’t appear on Aruba’s list of 24 hot spot states), they were allowed to travel to Aruba, despite Lindsay not having her results in time. Lindsay quarantined at their timeshare until she received negative test results around 7 a.m. the following day.
Fortunately, the three Kaplan children are all under 14, so they weren’t required to submit test results.
“The biggest issue for us was getting the testing done [and] finding a place that would hopefully get results back in time,” Lindsay Kaplan told TPG. If they were traveling from a higher-risk area, such as Texas, she explained, she wouldn’t have been able to board the plane without the results.
Aruba also requires travelers to complete a questionnaire and pay a mandatory insurance fee ($15 per day for adults; a $10 one-time fee for children) in the event travelers test positive while in the country. If travelers are staying for an extended period, the insurance fee decreases.
Related reading: These are the best times to visit Aruba
Approximately six months ago, the Kaplans booked flights to Aruba with Southwest. But when the flights were canceled, they were able to secure round-trip flights on American Airlines for 30,000 AAdvantage miles per person by traveling in economy on the way there and first class on the return leg.
The flight, the Kaplans observed, was very full.
“It was the first American Airlines flight to land in Aruba, so it was kind of funny — [people were] standing out there on the runway taking pictures of our plane … It was pretty cool,” Chuck Kaplan said.
Lindsay Kaplan said she was “really impressed” by how officials processed the large number of travelers on the first day. After getting off the plane, she said, the health screening process only took about an hour.
Vacationing in Aruba
During their trip to Costa Linda Beach Resort, the Kaplans mostly relaxed on Eagle Beach and enjoyed the local pool. Some restaurants were closed, but there was still no shortage of places to eat.
“Everyone there was super friendly, very welcoming,” Chuck Kaplan said of the reception from locals.
Aruba is, after all, highly dependent on tourism. An April report by Fitch Ratings said Aruba was one of the most tourism-dependent destinations and estimates a 10% contraction in GDP year over year — calling it a “severe tourism shock.”
“Aruban authorities have budgeted for an 80% fall in tourism receipts following global lockdown measures,” the report summarizes.
The Kaplans plan to return to Aruba in October, as they expect their Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas will be canceled.
Want to learn more about cruise lines, itineraries and deals? Sign up for the biweekly TPG Cruise newsletter.
“We love it,” Lindsay Kaplan told TPG. “Our kids love it … It’s one of the safest places I feel like we could go with our family right now,” she said, calling it, “the most relaxing vacation I think I can ever remember happening.”
Featured photo by Image Source / Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees