Search

From Strong Roots…..

Grow Mighty Girls

Category

Mexico

Travel with Friends

We are really, really fortunate to have great friends that we love to vacation with.  We most often travel with my former college roommate (and med school classmate), her husband, and two girls who happen to be almost the same age as our two girls.  Our first big trip together was to a medical conference in Cancun when our girls were just little (ages 3-6).  The trip was such a success that we have repeated it multiple times.  In fact, my girls really only consider it a true vacation if this family gets to go with us.  We have been to Mexico three times (Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo) and Hawaii once (Maui).  We have been camping with them every summer for 7 or 8 years now and also do a girls’ weekend every holiday season.

When we all get together, one of our favorite topics is rehashing past trips and planning for future ones.  Half the fun of traveling is in the planning and that fun is even greater when you share it with someone else.  In the many months that often pass between seeing each other, we share multiple messages about this VRBO or that AirBnB.  We debate the various merits and downfalls of resorts and camping sites.  We share our research about zip lining and food tours.  We compile shopping lists and lists of activities that we must do.  We meal plan and share the packing list.  You know, I’ll bring the salt, you bring the Ziplocks.  I’ll buy the wine, you bring the beer.

We have tried pretty much every style of vacation with our friends.  We have camped in trailers, stayed in all inclusive resorts, stayed in separate VRBO condos in the same resort and on our last trip even shared one large penthouse suite (yes, it was a blast!).  Somehow, with these friends, it all works.  I don’t think that would be true of everyone but this family is the one family I can honestly say that we can vacation with under just about any circumstances.  This has a lot to do with the kind of people they are.  It also has something to do with the fact that we have vacationed together a lot and know how to anticipate and prevent problems by now.  But mostly, they are just great people and that makes it work.

So, what do you look for in a vacation partner family?  First, I think that having kids of similar ages is a must.  That way, the interests and abilities are likely to be similar.  When our kids were younger they loved to swim (with us in the pool), build sand castles, collect shells, do crafts and play simple games.  Now that they are older we go zip lining, take long beach walks, body surf in the ocean, ride bikes down treacherous trails and let them explore on their own with in a safe distance.  Another plus is that they can all tolerate a similar amount of waiting and walking and time between meals.  It’s tough to have a two-year-old who needs to eat every hour and take a daily nap combined with a 12-year-old who needs privacy and freedom and adventure.

The other plus with similar aged kids is that we can mix it up. Nothing kills a vacation faster than sibling squabbling.   The best antidote for sibling squabbling is friends.  I can take the two younger girls shopping and my friend can take the two older girls to the beach.  The older girls can have a little freedom and walk down the street one block for ice cream while the younger girls do a puzzle on the dining room table.  When they all reunite, bliss reigns supreme (or something like that).  Seriously, though, it helps to shake things up a bit.  Having friends with you increases the odds that everyone will get what they need, when they need it, and even have someone like to do it with them.

Another attribute that I think is key in happy friend vacations is at least a modicum of economic parity.  I know, I know, I hate to bring this up.  Money is a touchy subject but one that has to be negotiated and agreed upon in order to pull off a successful friend vacation.  I love that our vacation partners are reasonable about money.  I know they won’t agree to take a vacation with us unless they can afford it.  We have reasonably similar incomes and reasonably similar ideas about how to spend our vacation dollars.  As I mentioned above, we ended up sharing a penthouse suite on this last vacation.  It was a huge unit with plenty of privacy for everyone.  The shared cost factor made it possible for us to afford some luxuries we wouldn’t have been able to afford on our own. Most importantly, we all agreed at the outset that it was worth it.  My friend and I are both very happy to pay for an ocean front condo when we are on a beach vacation.  We are also pretty likely to eat breakfast and lunch in said condo in order to save some money.  We will splurge on nice dinners with drinks but if we want a drink at happy hour we will make it ourselves in the condo instead of ordering from the resort bar.  We talk ahead of time about adventures and excursions and agree on one or two that everyone will like and that we can afford.  When we get there, we won’t be spending wildly nor feel that we have to keep up with each other.  We know that no one will be stressing about money and that is essential to a relaxing vacation.

Finally, you want vacation partners who are flexible.  We all know that the unexpected happens when we travel.  The last thing you want is a tantrum throwing, inflexible, stressed out travel partner.  If you travel enough, some gnarly stuff is going to go down and when that happens you want someone with you who remembered to pack a good attitude.  I’m pretty sure I can’t even remember all the things we have been through with our vacation partners but there have been hotel rooms that didn’t get booked (anyone need a roommate?), reservations that got lost (how will we keep these kids happy while we wait???), menus entirely in Spanish (we took college Spanish, right?), beach walks interrupted by lightening storms, ocean sick kids on boats, dropped ice cream cones, transit on local Mexican buses, poop in hot tubs (that was your kid, right?), sand in shoes, vomit in beds, head injuries, lacerations, and one really epic screaming fit in the middle of a lake on a paddle board.  And you know what? These people that we travel with took it all in stride.  No big deal.  We shared a hotel room, we kept the kids entertained, we found food for everyone to eat, we danced on the beach, we held hair while kids vomited and cleaned up afterwards, we closed lacerations and evaluated for concussions, we scooped up the ice cream and put it back on the cone (ten second rule!), we emptied shoes of sand and we helped our oldest daughters mend their friendship after that really epic screaming fit in the middle of the lake on a paddle board.

After all of that, I can honestly say, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  The right travel partners exponentially increase the fun, lighten the load, enrich the memories and enlighten the journey.

Packing List Take 2—Mexico

Now for a brief run down of the non-clothing items I packed for Mexico.

We stayed this time in a VRBO which means that I packed a bit differently than I would for a resort based vacation.  The main advantage of a VRBO is that you have a kitchen.  We generally like to eat breakfast and most lunches as well as snacks in the condo in order to save money.  Condo kitchens are variably stocked, however, so I like to travel with a few of the essentials.  I always bring good salt as well as basic spices. Nl1s7VtIR5ynKteANbEPnwMXd4wKWyR%+ivYKrJ2EyAw

This mobile spice kit has ten common spices that I replenish and refresh as needed.  It goes everywhere with me.  Camping, Paris, Philadelphia, Mexico, you name it, it’s been there!

I will often bring along one sharp knife as well.  I didn’t this time and found this condo pleasantly well stocked with excellent knives and utensils.

Another must bring is my stainless steel Yeti wine glass.  I hate drinking wine out of plastic cups but glass isn’t allowed by the pools.  Enter the Yeti.  It keeps the rosé cold and doesn’t shatter on impact or impart a weird taste to your drink.

lYiOcHqvSjCF2iGvJUnscA

I always travel with a basic first aid kit, too.  You never know what supplies will be available in other countries and you certainly don’t want to have to find out at 1:00 AM when someone has cut their foot or lacerated their face.  Trust me.

v1veMaZkRcKAqd59LQlj2g

I used a jewelry bag to stash some bandages, gauze, wrap, and Dermabond for wound closure.  We didn’t use it once and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I also brought my Bluetooth speaker which I often take on travels as I love to listen to music.  Maybe it’s because we were sharing space with friends this time but I didn’t use this once.  Given the size and weight, it might stay home next time.  It seems that more and more places have options for streaming music without having to bring your own device.

What are your travel essentials that make life on the road better?  Drop me a line and let me know!

Packing List—-Mexico

In my eternal quest to pack lighter and smarter, I’ve decided to undertake a post game analysis of my packing.  My hope is that by thoughtful consideration of what I packed and what I used, I will inch ever closer to packing that which I only really, truly need and will use.

Big picture, I did pretty well with my Mexico packing.  There is some definite room for improvement but I’ve certainly seen worse!  So, here’s what worked (and a little bit about what didn’t).

Any good beach vacation requires swimming suits.  I brought four.  I know, I know, overkill!  In all fairness, I rotated through three of them on a regular basis.  There were 2-3 trips to the pool or beach on a daily basis and I hate putting on a damp suit so I generally got a new one for each trip.  There were also plenty of times when I wore my swimming suit to the store or the restaurant with just a quick cover up over the top.   All in all, these suits saw a lot of wearing time.  Perhaps I’ll pare it down to three next time, though.

I brought two versatile cover ups that I adored and wore a lot.  The first is this romper from Trina Turk.  It’s a little shorter than I would normally wear at home but felt perfect for vacation.

17091594

 

The second is this cover up, also from Trina Turk. IMG_1156

The picture doesn’t quite do it justice (photo credit to my daughter) but it’s loose and comfortable and just long enough to wear without anything underneath if you so choose.   The neckline gives a great peek-a-boo view of the swimsuit underneath.  It’s also pretty fabulous loosely tucked into a pair of denim shorts.  I seriously wore this every day.  And I love a piece I can wear every day.

Speaking of shorts, I brought two pairs.  I only wore one.  I wore my distressed AG Hailey shorts every single day.  I swapped out tops depending on the situation but these were well used!

LED1714RH11YFRT_5.JPEG

 

I also spent a lot of time in this great navy terry skirt which was scored last season at Anthropologie.  It was casual enough for beach walks and dressy enough for dinner.  Styled here a few different ways….

 

I brought three dresses but really lived in this fabulous piece from Amour Vert.

jHRn7+f4T4KoNeOIjY4eyw

It was perfect for art walks, shopping and dinners out.  A quick sweater over the top makes it warm without sacrificing style.

I also brought a pair of cozy lounge pants.  These French terry tapered pants from Cuyana saw a lot of action!

phnfSU17S5ksUvCh9QoLkLUZe3AkeO_TR4iE2HN7ImRzIjoiaW1hZ2UiLCJmIjoiXC8yXC8wXC8yMDE4LTA3LTIzX2hvMThfcG93X2FwcGFyZWxfbG9va2Jvb2szODU3LXBvdy5qcGciLCJmYSI6MSwiZmYiOjEsImZxIjoxMDAsImZ0IjoxLCJmdyI6MjAwfQ~~

https://www.cuyana.com/french-terry-tapered-pant.html#black

Ditto for this fabulous top, also from Cuyana.

iEBtLgkhc--6PwblFvN2lPt3Q-EULvcmM4T7fPF7ImRzIjoiaW1hZ2UiLCJmIjoiXC8yXC8wXC8yMDE4LTEyLTIxX3NwMTlfcG93MTE4Ny1oZXJvLmpwZyIsImZhIjoxLCJmZiI6MSwiZnEiOjEwMCwiZnQiOjEsImZ3IjoyMDB9

This was the perfect early morning beach stroll and end of the night deck lounging top.https://www.cuyana.com/french-terry-hoodie.html?int_source=pairitwith#quartz

 

To round out the wardrobe I had a few basic tanks and tees from Amour Vert and one long sleeved shirt.  I wish that I had brought one more long sleeved option, perhaps something that buttoned or zipped up for more versatility.  I also brought one running outfit which I used four times for working out and once for zip lining.

Shoes were easy this time.  One pair of Birkenstocks in silver, one pair of flip flops (Tkees from Nordstrom) and a pair of running shoes.  I was barefoot most of the time!

Two hats got the nod and were both well used.  The sun is brutal down south!  The straw hat was a find from our Paris trip two years ago and the ball cap is a more casual option I picked up in Glacier Park last summer.

 

I love to play with accessories when I travel and undoubtedly brought more than I should have.  What I ended up wearing and loving this trip were big, dangly earrings and simple wrap bracelets.  This combo can elevate any outfit and feels fancy without trying too hard.

 

And, of course, my Ray Ban aviators.

oPXnU5ZBTEOeRR4FxUCq2A

Nothing better than some classic shades.

And that’s a wrap.  Next time I’ll pack even smarter.

San Jose del Cabo—-Friend Edition

One of our great pleasures in travel is traveling with friends.  More on this later but suffice it to say that we had a great time traveling in Mexico with our dear friends.  Our time in the Cabo area was fun filled and enjoyable and I hope the below tips will help make your trip better, too.

The first consideration is, in fact, where to stay.  I didn’t know this before we booked accommodations but San Jose del Cabo is NOT Cabo.  It is a smaller, more intimate town just to the east of Cabo.  It is also much closer to the airport which is an added bonus for me.  We stayed in San Jose on this trip and visited Cabo and I am so thankful that we stayed where we did.  Cabo (or Los Cabos) is busy, hectic, tourist filled and a bit pricey.  San Jose del Cabo is a 25-30 minute drive down the road but has a local, small town vibe that is refreshing.  Yes, there are tourists and yes, there are touristy things to do but it felt much more relaxing than being in Cabo itself.  We spent our first night at the Cabo Azul resort which is beautiful and everything you would expect in a high end resort.  I was happy to leave the next day, though, and check into our condo at Las Mananitas.  This is a relatively small, beachfront condo community which provided everything we needed for our week long stay.  I’ve included the link here and you will see my review of the property on the site as well.  https://www.vrbo.com/466060?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=earned:vrbo:sharecopylink:USA&utm_content=466060

XuSAXNxsSfOv%rJ9IugiIQ
Las Mananitas

 

Next up, transportation.  We flew into San Jose, arriving at 6:00 at night.  I had decided to get a rental car for this trip.  (See my previous post).  Regardless of your mode of transportation, once you leave baggage claim, get out of the airport as fast as possible without talking to anyone.  There are men all over trying to get your attention, scam you, sell you something.  Arrange your transportation ahead of time and know where you will meet your driver/shuttle/taxi.  Go directly to that meeting spot.  You will be tired, and hungry, and dirty and overwhelmed and everyone you are traveling with will be a hot mess, but DO NOT GET SUCKED IN!  As a side note, Uber works in San Jose and surrounding areas but cannot pick up at the airport.  They are also currently in a pissing match with the taxi companies and local government because, as far as I can ascertain, Uber just hasn’t greased the wheels in Mexico quite enough for smooth operations.  We were told at one point by a “security guard” that Uber was in fact illegal.  This turns out to be a scam perpetrated by the taxi companies and I suspect it will be a nonissue as some point. There is a good review here if you are interested.  https://www.gringogazette.com/?q=content/uber-finally-legal#sthash.kF4U1zih.dpbs 

That being said, we found Uber to be a great way to get around the area.  We took it to restaurants, into the center of town, into Los Cabos and even back to the airport.  The area is also very walkable and safe and we enjoyed many strolls to and from dinner.

WCeEUQqGGxb6OsmSgDg
Playa Palmilla
yZ0R4Ba%Qs+3D1WfHUAL+w
Playa Palmilla

 

Now that you are here, what is there to do?  There are, of course, all the usual vacation suspects.  Reading, lounging, swimming, walking.  We found a great public beach, Playa Pamilla, a short 5 minute Uber ride from our condo which was perfect for beach play and swimming.  Much of the beach in San Jose is NOT safe for swimming but Palmilla is much calmer and was very safe the few days that we were there.  We loved the Thursday night art walk in downtown San Jose.  It runs every week from November through June with galleries and shops staying open late and artists and dancers displaying their talents in the town square.  We spent one day ziplining with Cabo Adventures which was fun for the whole group.  Our other big activity was a cooking class at Flora Farm.  Flora Farm is a great farm to table operation in San Jose.  They offer a beautiful setting, delicious food and cooking classes a few days a week.  The class we took was informative and fun for our group (ages 9-51).  I have reviewed these all in detail on tripadvisor.com.  You can find them under my profile @JenniferH456.  Here is the link for Flora Farms to get you started https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g152516-d6424449-r653275229-Flora_Farm-San_Jose_del_Cabo_Los_Cabos_Baja_California.html?m=19905

 

r87zVCo6STmiOEoE7w1oKw
Flora Farm

 

fpCOrsqaRFu5BSuVSQmV4g
Flora Farm

We did take a day trip into Cabo to check it out.  We did a bit of shopping (Pandora charms for the girls’ bracelets) and had lunch.  It didn’t take us long to grow weary, however, of the noise and bustle and head back to our hacienda in San Juan.

Food and drink options are plentiful.  These are also reviewed on Trip Advisor but, some highlights were Cynthia Fresh, El Fish, Cantina Sardina and Las Cazuelas del Don.  Las Cazuelas is a must do if you get the chance.

eXURsQIQRTOjMGBJdXMyAQ
St. John’s platter at Sardina Cantina.

 

2Cmho2chRHiMpT12EBf3QA
Las Cazeulas!

 

g3HAMBElQ2SAtdLoc06v2w
Gorgonzola pasta at Cynthia Fresh!

Last stop, shopping.  El Wine Shop is a great place to get your morning coffee and buy your wine.  They offer a large selection of Mexican as well as European and American wines.  La Comer is the large grocery store in town and is well stocked with food, alcohol, clothes, games, boogie boards, etc, etc, etc.  The main plaza in San Jose offers a huge number of local shops and art galleries.  We didn’t buy much on this trip which is a bit rare for me but nothing really tugged at my heartstrings.  The girls each chose a dress at La Comer ($5).  My oldest and I split a pair of earrings ($20) and my youngest bought a bracelet with her name on it ($6).  We bought a bottle of tequila for my co-worker ($20) and eight bottles of vanilla (less than $1 each).

And that’s a wrap!  Leave me a note if you have questions or comments!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑