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Sep 12, 2016

How We Survived (Enjoyed) A Family Trip To Mexico

How We Survived (Enjoyed) A Family Trip To Mexico

Zika Virus
Mexico Travel Warning prediction of thunderstorms every day of the week

None of these things stopped us from going and enjoying our trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico

We stayed at Iberostar Maya hotel, an all-inclusive property. It is a large resort. The building that we were in turned out to me right in the middle of it. It was a 10-minute walk to the beach and to the main lobby area, which worked out well.

Beach & Ocean
The sand was very nice on the beach. The beach was clean and there were plenty of chairs set up. However, the ocean was quite the opposite. There were high waves when we arrived and quite a bit of seaweed. While the seaweed resided, the waves did not. Even after a storm passed with rain for 24 hours, the ocean didn't quite down. We did get a bit of swimming in as sea water is very beneficial and we wanted to have the kiddo to be in it for a bit. And she was in there for a bit. After a few waves hit us, she wanted out of there and back to the beach to play with her sand toys. Seems to be it is this stormy nowadays throughout Caribbean and Mexico.

The saving grace for us during the stay were the pools. This hotel had humongous pools. And there were quite a few of them. Two very large ones connected together. One smaller one. Wave pool, where each hour on the hour the waves would start up. Sports pool. Kids pool. And a Lazy River. We were in all but the sports pool. Most of the time we spent in the largest pools as there were fountains, steps. and platforms to sit on, swim up bar

Food & Restaurants
There was more variety of food that we have seen in other places. This was especially true for the Marino restaurant.

"Meals for kids" were at every dining room (hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets). Putting meals for kids in quotes since that is not what I think kids should be eating. Maybe one or two meals a week, not every day. Admittedly, my kid loves french fries, and we had to get at least a bit every day. Though that was a bad side effect of us going out to higher end restaurants and ordering there better-made version of fries. But she still got used to the idea of fried potatoes. With a serving of fries, she has cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocados, to balance things out.

The tipping at the resort was borderline ridiculous.
I get tipping for good service and such, but people were tipping large amounts just because as though they went out to the restaurant and we're settling the check. This is all-inclusive. And while tips are not included in the price, a lot of the service is built into the price. A couple bucks extra here and there, great. Over $10 tipping per meal, is not.

Free WiFi
Free WiFi that didn't work on our phones. I could not connect my phone at all the entire time. Only in one spot in the lobby was my wife able to connect for a bit with hers. It never worked in our room or any other areas. The concierge was confused by this since, as they said, people just connect to it. While it was not great, at the least we stayed away from our phones, social media, and email for most of the trip. My guess is it was due to the software update we did on both of our phones short time before we left that Apple said was essential.

Surge protector - even though there were more plugs in the room than most of the previous stays (we had a larger room) still used the Belkin surge protector to charge our phones, cameras, and other gadgets. It was more convenient and also better (piece of mind?) since the plugs are rated differently than in U.S.

European vs American Traveler
When we first arrived at the resort it was during the week. There were a lot fewer people of premises, and for the most part, they were from Europe or Canada. This changed once the weekend rolled around and the hotel filled up quickly from vacationers from U.S.
Europeans were not as loud. Had more diverse fashions with a classic modern look. And for the most part, had manners. Americans were wearing college teams, major league teams, or Nike apparel. While Europeans were wearing non-logo based clothing. Folks from the States looked and sounded like it was their first time outside of their state. Pointing and yelling about various traditional garbs and figurines in the windows of the stores. It was quite an interesting contrast.
The take away here is to be a better traveler. Less of a tourist and more of a traveler.
10+ Differences Between Tourists And Travellers

Full-face snorkeling masks
2 kids had these masks and were using them in the pool. Not sure there is anything to discover in the pool except maybe missing card keys and such. It is likely that they were snorkeling there due to the conditions in the ocean. After doing some snorkeling of my own, I saw nothing but sand in the ocean.
These masks are the latest in innovation for snorkeling. Instead of pinching  your nose and offering only frontwards views, the mask offers a 360-degree view and lets you breathe normally underwater just the same as you would on land. Take a look below

Large Rooms
The room we had was very big. It was a junior suite type of room. There was an area with a couch, coffee table, and a desk in addition to the main area with queen size bed. There was a step in between the main area and the extra space. This is where the kid slept on the rollaway bed that we combined with the couch that created a king size bed. Since she likes to roll around at night and spread out, we had both covered with a sheet so it looked like pretty much one large bed.

Very family-friendly type of resort. Besides the meals mentioned earlier, there were many amenities for the younger crowd. There is kids club, Kids pool, Kid safe areas in large pools. Many bathrooms. The most kids at a resort that we have ever seen. There were some that were in late teens or early twenties though they were there with their parents/families for a wedding

Tips From Our Trips
» Bring Bug Spray
» Wifi extender or repeater - great to have in a hotel. You can either create your own Wi-Fi spot for your gadgets or hop on the open hotel internet and provide a secure connection
» Travel Kid Entertainment Kit
» Digital scale - save lots of mula. Even JetBlue charges for the first checked bag. Since we were within allowed weight limit and no other bags, that is the only fee we had to pay.
» Free Packing List Printable

And there were a lot of weddings!
Just in the first two days, we saw 3 of them. And the rest of the week we lost count of how many wedding parties there were. We saw actual wedding ceremonies three times on the beach. And there were more that were done inside.

Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Gadgets, Gifts and Favors Ideas

Destination Weddings & Honeymoon Travel (Pinterest board)

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