Since I got back from the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago, a lot of people have been asking me about how difficult it was to travel during these times. I will tell you that I was a little worried.

Not of catching COVID, but of all the hoops that I would have to jump through in order to get there and get back. And, of course, the whole “Who’s gonna make me put on a mask?” or “Who’s going to make me show a vaccination card?” question. (The answer to the latter is the mall. The only place a vaccine was required.)

It turned out to be both less complicated than I thought but more complicated than a trip should be.

First of all, the rules do change so often that it’s hard to keep up and so the planning of my trip was a little tricky. It turned out to be a quagmire of conflicting information, forms to fill out, tests to be taken, and government rules to decipher.

In the end, I found out that the Dominican Republic does not require that you be vaccinated against COVID-19 to fly into the country (right now, at least) but I was warned that since I’m not, I could be randomly selected to take a "breath test" (whatever the hell that is) when I arrived at the airport.

No such request was made of me.

It turned out to be both less complicated than I thought but more complicated than a trip should be.


I opted to use my airline’s app to upload the ridiculous amount of information that’s now required to be considered travel-ready.

The usual information, including identification, all of the TSA pre-check info (and now the CLEAR quick entry info because everyone has TSA pre-check, so it’s fairly useless now), and of course the COVID-19 test results, which needed to be negative within 72 hours of the flight.

That 72 hours should not be confused with 24 hours, which was the window within which I needed to test negative to get back INTO this U.S.

Still following along?

And of course, there’s the flight with the silly mask. I don’t have to tell you what that’s about. It's the reason I chose a destination with a short flight. It’s enough to make you never wanna go anywhere — ever — but I think that I have made my point about that ad nauseam.

Happily, it seems that my hotel in Punta Cana was about as COVID-conscious as I am. Meaning, they took basic, common-sense sanitary measures so that people weren’t sneezing all over each other and the staff all wore masks. But thank God we were not required to. Or, at least if we were, no one enforced it. That made for a very “old normal” as opposed to a “new normal” vacation.

If I had to do it over again I would, absolutely.

The next step was to decide whether I wanted to book the aforementioned return home test at the hotel’s clinic or to do the self-test I had brought with me, along with a Telehealth appointment with a proctor to monitor my results.

I opted for the self-test. But it ended up that I first took the self-test and then, when I decided to extend my trip by a day, needed the hotel test, too. It was a little complicated. And having to do it all over again within the 24-hour window, the testing, the forms, the questions, along with the normal departure stuff you have to do, did sort of take away the pleasure of the last day, when you normally just relax and try to soak up every last precious vacation moment.

First World Problems, I know.

People ask me if it was worth it to travel out of the country during this whole thing. If I had to do it over again I would, absolutely. If for no other reason than to thumb my nose at the “new normal.” And just keep living the way I want to, COVID and all.

Judi's COVID vacation to Dominican Republic

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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