Happy New Year! With all new new year resolutions it is hard not to look toward the future and start scheduling the next vacation. I long for warm weather and the sound of waves crashing against the shore.
However, if you are like most people with kids, you may be hesitant to travel as a family. Whether it is the hassle at the airport, struggle on the plane, or lugging around extra bags and car seats, yes, traveling with a family can seem like a chore. With this post I am hoping to alleviate some of your fears and provide you with some insight on how you can travel easier and smarter.
We have been traveling to Mexico (Cabo to be exact), since Baby K was just over a year old. This post captures details from our most recent trip. We have stayed at two resorts over the past couple of years, both of which I included insight from.
Tip #1: Pack in advance.
“You’ll have laundry to do and maybe even snacks to purchase.”
MAKE A LIST! (Yes, it’s that important!)
A list of snacks for the plane.
A list of clothes, and water toys/accessories that will be needed.
Tip #2: Consider whether you’ll go grocery shopping in Cabo. Most shuttles will stop at Walmart, Costco or a local grocery store.
*Water: You will need to buy bottled water. I recommend gallon jugs, and packing your reusable stainless steel bottles to avoid using plastic.
Ideas for the plane:
When I was a kid my grandparents would buy me “coloring books” that only came with one marker, and the marker was clear. Explain that one to me. Now that I’m a parent I totally understand. I call these busy books. They include magic markers that only work on the special paper provided – great for airplanes and car rides!
Some planes have screens built into the back of the head rests, however you know how airlines are, and you are never guaranteed the newer, updated plane, so you may want to pack an iPad or movie player. Don’t forget kids’ head phones, and possibly an extra set for yourself!
Puffy stickers. I know what you are thinking. Who brings stickers on a plane? Puffy stickers are different though. They easily peel off, so if your child decides to stick them on back of seats and windows it’s no harm done. Mine had fun sticking them on our stainless steal water bottles.
Boogie Board It’s not what you think. My daughter was gifted one of these by a good friend of mine and it is one of the most unique gifts that we now give to others as well. A drawing board with attached “pens” to write with, no ink, and the eraser is built it. (I also love this for at home when practicing letter identification.)
When I pack I lie out one outfit for each day that we are going to be on vacation. Then I bring an additional 2 or 3 outfits, just in case. (This can depend on activities you have planned and destination.) Swimsuits, of course you can’t forget these! No matter where I go I always bring a swimsuit. You never know when you may need one. Remember, if you are traveling with little ones it is likely you’ll be getting in and out, up and down, so make sure they are comfortable and provide coverage in all the necessary places.
Don’t forget the seemingly unimportant, yet necessary clothing items; panties, underwear, bras and pajamas. Sandals/flip flops for heading to the pool. Include some that are comfortable enough to be worn for walking around town. I am not one of those people that you see walking through the airport in stylish clothes and cute shoes. Nope, I am the one in yoga pants, a tank top and athletic shoes, which leads me to remind you to bring your workout gear.
While on vacation my goal is to work out every other day. Ok…fine. Realistically, this does not happen. It is much closer to every two days. Bring enough outfits to accommodate your regimen.
Tip #3: Wear your work out shoes through the airport,
so that they don’t take up space in your suitcase.
For the kids, I love rash guards to keep their precious skin protected; hats if they’ll keep them on and sunscreen. Soon you’ll be reading about my favorites! Puddle jumpers and goggles. I understand that puddle jumpers are not favored by all parents, and maybe overly favored by others. Try to find a happy medium. My older daughter knows how to swim, however if only her dad or I can be at the pool with both her and her sister, a puddle jumper can be an additional measure of safety.
The sun in Cabo is much different than the sun in California or Nevada. Yes, I know it is the same sun, however the angle and reflection tends to make it much stronger. I mentioned sunscreen above, but I don’t want you to pass by it. With our skin being the largest organ of our body, it’s not something you want to skimp on.
Some musts to include when traveling with the children are homeopathic remedies, essential oils (EOs), diapers, wipes, and then my own regimen to enhance and protect my immune system. Traveling takes a toll on the body, so it’s best to be prepared.
Most days my girls wore one outfit to the pool and then we’d shower before dinner and change into a fresh outfit. Try hard to keep the same outfit clean that was worn to the pool so that it can be worn to dinner. My 3.5 year old went through innumerable outfits in just the first 4 days of our recent trip.
Tip #4: Toddlers can wear their swim outfits to the pool, then change into a cover up or shirt and shorts, so that they aren’t cold when you head back to your room.
Places to Stay.
This recent trip (November) was our first time staying at Pueblo Bonita (PB) Sunset. Typically, we stay at Hacienda Encantada, just up the corridor from downtown Cabo. Both of which are family friendly. Keep in mind however, you are in Cabo and there will be drinking taking place by those traveling sans kids (and even by those traveling with kids!).
A stroller is a must, especially for when the kids get tired. Some would say we are lucky because our kids will fall asleep in the stroller more often than they nap in their own bed. I did bring my LilleBaby carrier, but to be honest I hardly used it during this trip (I’m not sure why), but I did use it the trip prior as you can see below.
Eat & Drink.
Most likely there will be a time difference when you travel to Cabo, for us Cabo is an hour ahead.
With that being said, we were up by 6:30 am each day. We visited the restaurant of the resort that offered a breakfast buffet. With our lifestyle, it wasn’t worth the cost. We didn’t eat a lot of the food that was offered and unfortunately the restaurant did not offer an à la carte menu.
We visited the California Market, where we purchased bread, almond butter, oatmeal, granola and almond milk for our breakfasts. The Deli at PB had a small selection of fruits, so we kept some apples and bananas in our room as well.
When it comes to water, we would purchase gallons through the Deli to keep in our room. When dining at restaurants we would order bottled water, seems to be the norm here.
If your room has a kitchenette, you’ll find it far more convenient and cost-effective to grocery shop. Even the smaller suites have a two burner stove, medium size refrigerator, toaster and coffee maker. I was a little disappointed that blenders weren’t included in the rooms at PB. When staying at Hacienda Encantada all the rooms provide blenders.
I recommend stopping at the grocery store after being picked up from the airport. Note: Some resorts offer grocery shopping complimentary as part of your stay or for a small fee, in case you don’t want to go on your own.
La Comer was a great supermarket that we shopped at when we visited over the summer (July). They had a huge variety of foods, snacks and even a deli selection with pre made/made to order foods. It also has a vast produce selection.
Some other places people like to shop include Super Walmart and Costco. We found an awesome market in town where a lot of organic and even vegan varieties were offered – California Market. It seems to be comparably priced, or only just slightly more expensive than stores at home. Yet it was a good place to stop for specialty snacks.
You’ll also want to evaluate what you think your family will eat or drink at the resort. There are all inclusive options. This includes restaurants at the resort and sometimes restaurants located in town at the marina or nearby. As I mentioned, we ate breakfast foods in the room most days and I brought many of our go-to snack foods. We typically had some beans, rice and guacamole for the girls during the day when they would take breaks from swimming.
Smoothies! Baby K loves strawberry and banana smoothies. Ordering smoothies through the resort will add up, so as a family you may be better off choosing the all-inclusive option.
“I know what you’re thinking, who wants to sit
through that, especially with kids?!”
BUT, it can pay off if you negotiate a resort credit into their “gift”, which can then be applied to food and drink or even spa time! We talked to some guests who received fishing trips or a round of golf. So be open to negotiating!
Kapris has a puddle jumper and goggles that we brought with us. She does know how to swim, however, there are times when one parent isn’t present, so the secondary precaution and peace of mind is nice to have. Sand toys are usually available at resort stores. They are over priced, of course, so you’ll have to weigh whether it’s worth it for you to bring your own and take up the space in a suitcase.
What we like to do is purchase the sand toys and then before we leave, we gift the toys to another family who then pays it forward. This time we also purchased a floatie for Llama, which turned out to be a lot of fun. It was easy to deflate and take home with us.
Our Daily Schedule.
Because the girls would wake up so early, our daily schedule typically looked like this – eat breakfast, reserve chairs at the pool (placing towels on them), then go for a walk around the resort.
(About Pueblo Bonita: They have what is called The Market, which was like a food court with a variety of restaurants. The Market is enclosed with indoor seating, with the option to sit outside in the courtyard as well. There were also a variety of birds on the premises, including pink flamingoes. These were fun for the kids to see during our walks.)
After our walk the girls would play in the pool for a couple hours. Llama would then take a nap and baby K was in and out of the pool, mostly because the water was cold. Around lunch time we would order, as mentioned above (beans, rice, guacamole, tortillas) and depending on how the girls were feeling, we would head up to our room between 1-3:00 to rest and/or shower. Our dinners would take place between 5-6:00 pm., usually at a restaurant in Cabo. After dinner, again depending on how the girls were doing, we would either take a taxi back to the resort or walk around near the marina and visit some of the shops.
Resorts usually have shuttles that leave every hour or every two hours, with the drop off being at a sister resort near the marina. This is usually included as an accommodation of your stay (HE charged non members a fee). There are a surplus of taxis available.
We found that if you pay in pesos the fare ended up cheaper than if you pay in USD. The taxi fares can range depending on where you stay.
(PB was $14 one way to town and HE was $25 one way.) If you have the ability to schedule around the shuttle times, you will obviously save. We also spoke with a family who informed us that Uber is now in Cabo, though we didn’t have a chance to use the service, they were satisfied with it.
First Class Cabo is the shuttle service that we use to get to and from the airport. You can book online and there are options for car seats (included in fee), and for an additional fee they will stop for 30-45 mins at a grocery store before taking you to your resort. I recommend booking a service ahead of time or through your resort, as you will likely be hassled and overwhelmed by a large number of transportation services, as you exit the airport.
Pueblo Bonito also has access to the beach (sand only, the water is too rough to enter). It was nice having the option to go down and build sand castles when the girls were tired of swimming in the pool. Because of the hazards of the water, the resort does not allow guests to enter the water. Hacienda Encantada does not have beach access. There is a small area where people can walk in the sand, but even the sand is rocky and rough.
Médano Beach is where a lot of people go for access to the water, sand and many restaurants. Be advised, there are countless vendors that walk up and down the beach selling unique souvenirs, including hats, henna, braids, food, cigars, cover ups and so on. Also, this is Cabo, so there is a lot of, well, inappropriate behavior that takes place. When I say inappropriate, I am referring to the type of stuff that requires parental guidance when seen/heard on television. Most of which is only seen in passing, but you may have some questions to answer for your children later. With that said, most of the places we go are actually very family friendly.
I realize that Cabo is considered fairly “Americanized”. Though I will admit one of my favorite parts of visiting Cabo is experiencing the culture and seeing how the locals live. When we eat at restaurants we try to find the ones that are tucked away, separate from downtown and the areas that attract the most tourists. We can usually be found walking along side streets to get to our favorite places. I love that our children are able to catch a glimpse of how others live. You’ll notice that the resorts we stay at keep the decor close to its origins. We once stayed at the Hilton Los Cabos, which was a lovely place, yet the decor did not resemble the more traditional Spanish style that I have an appreciation for. Pictured below are a couple “toys” that were given to our girls when we gifted our leftovers to a family in need. The photo on the right is from one of the rooms we stayed in at Hacienda Encantada. The artwork is called a papel. I came home with a similar piece this past year.
Now that I have provided some insight into what our travels to Cabo are like as a family with two small children I hope that you move forward with confidence in planning your next vacation, as a family! As always, questions and comments are welcome. Want a free packing list? Stay tuned, as I will be uploading one soon!
Click here for a printable PDF.***coming soon!