After a long Montana winter, you know, as well as I do you’re ready for the beach. We started this family trip two years ago, traveling from Bozeman, Montana to Isla Mujeras. Our kids had the time of their life and we absolutely had more fun that you can imagine. I spent months researching before our first trips, looking for reviews and information and often, didn’t have a whole lot of luck. So here you go, in no particular order. My best tips for traveling to Mexico.
Rent A Vacation Rental-
Each of our trips to Mexico we have traveled with family and friends, like a whole lot of people which sound like fun until you have to reroute 14 tickets in 30 minutes. Chalk that one up to good memories in Dallas. Everyone in our massive tribe agrees, our best memories are those hanging out at our Vacation Rental cooking dinner, sitting by the pool, beachside watching the waves, or just enjoying music up on the balcony. There are so many benefits to sharing a house and a meal with your favorite people.
We searched all the vacation rental platforms, VRBO, AirBNB, Tripping… each time it seemed VRBO was the best for Mexico homes. We picked a gaited house our first trip on Isla Mujeres and our second trip we picked a beachfront home on Cozumel. I know, I know, that makes us sounds like snobby elitists but I am writing this post to tell you, it was cheaper than all the rooms we would need at a hotel for ‘our people!’ Both homes were absolutely gorgeous and felt like such a treat. Both had a private pool which I would say we got every penny out of and each home had their own added perks. One had a private beach, the other had it’s own dock and golf carts to cruise around town on.
Take a Polaroid, and a Lot of Film-
I mean come on, I’m “Mom” in charge of towels, sunscreen, making sure everyone is on the same page, has directions, and nothing gets missed. Then, I get the added bonus of carrying around my big fat camera taking pictures. All the while, trying to enjoy my own vacation. What saved me, bring a Polaroid. Having kids who are perfectly capable of snapping pictures of sweet moments and replacing the film has freed me from some of my photojournalistic duties and let the kids have a whole lot of fun. We have hundreds of Polaroids from vacation now scattered around our kid’s rooms in frames, taped to trapper keepers, and inside polaroid albums. The added bonus = I didn’t have to do any of it. Mom win.
Let’s face it, for me growing up in the mountains and having what I may call an adventurous life, I sure wasn’t two sold on the idea of deep sea fishing. Don’t get me wrong I really wanted to do it, but I was a little scared I would be puking up my toes four hours. Our first trip we combined it with a visit to an Island and a little snorkeling for the kids. It was so much fun and a nurse shark decided to swim right under me. I peed a little. Our Second trip turned into eight hours of watching the boys pull monstrous fish out of the ocean. It wasn’t exactly what we booked nor what we wanted but in the end everyone was happy, a tad boat sick, and had lots of stories about big fish. The girls got to see multiple dolphins and hold the biggest fish they’ve ever seen in their life which takes me to my next point number four.
Ask a Whole lot of Questions-
When you’re traveling to a different country trying to understand a different language (side note: I speak absolutely zero Spanish, something I would love to work on but I just don’t know I have it in me) it can be super stressful when situations arise that you had not planned for. Whether it’s missing fairies or getting signed up for a fishing trip that is a little bit more competitive than you were hoping with your two little daughters on board, it can end up wrecking a few moments of your trip. The fishing trip fiasco fell right on my shoulders, I assumed, without asking, it would be just like our last fishing trip. Wrong. Should have clarified. My best advice, befriend a local. Each time we’ve been able to find a “local” to help us in our travels, bounce ideas off of and tell us all the secrets of the island. We have absolutely loved them and used them for a concierge for the entire trip. Our first trip was our fishing boat captain we spent evenings sitting under the grass canopies talking about his days in the strawberry fields of California and his love for Isla Mujeres. Let me tell you, this guy was hilarious. Everyone had their own impersonation they could do of Edwardo by the time we left. He was quite the storyteller. Our second trip, the caretakers of the home were the perfect resource. They even hauled in our groceries and clean the house every day. We really felt like we were getting the five-star treatment.
Plan one day, the entire day, to just sit at the beach-
I’m really good at planning? I say that laughing because I don’t know that I’m good at it or just do a lot of so we don’t end up going to bad restaurants or wasting our precious beach time on a flop. But here I am, always the one researching, looking, finding reviews for our trips. I mean, I would rather just show up and have everything be perfect but that’s not my personality and when you are Celiac- it gets complicated. One thing you MUST add to every vacation plan is a day filled with nothing.
Whenever we go on vacation I leave one day with absolutely zero activities. On our trips to Mexico, those days have been blissful. Ono those days, the complete scope of travel and activities included a golf cart ride to the beach and a golf cart ride back home. Thats it. Thats all we did. Those days had zero complaints but lots of sandcastles, shells and snorkeling. There is nothing more fun for our kids than hanging out at the beach. The mood is always chill and the kids are always happy. You can’t lose by taking one day to just soak up the sunshine and enjoy from frosty drinks.
So there you have it, with fall approaching I find myself already ready for the sunshine of Mexico. But with any luck, we will find ourselves under the sun on a beach this spring.