I used to travel. Not like wanderlust world traveler kind of travel, but a reasonable amount. I’ve seen my fair share of places, though I have many on my list left to visit. But you know, you have kids, and you work full time. And it takes planning. And it costs money. And, let’s be honest, is it really even fun to travel with kids? We did do a bit of traveling–both domestic and international–with our first. But we added another kid to the mix and all travel came to a halt. We finally–FINALLY–planned and booked a vacation to Mexico, which we took last month. And it was so wonderful. I mean, it wasn’t leave-your-kids-and-spend-a-week-sipping-cocktails-on-the-beach wonderful, but it was better than I expected.
Full disclosure: the best part of this trip was that my parents and my brother, sister-in-law and niece were on this trip. Yeah, yeah. It was nice to spend time with them. But the absolutely BEST part was a ratio of six adults to three kids. Glorious.
Now, let me start by saying that although we went to Mexico, we might as well have been at Disneyland. I’ve been to several places in Mexico, and this killer resort is amazing on so many levels. But unless you venture out via 20-minute taxi ride to Puerto Vallarta’s downtown, which is still a total tourist town, you wouldn’t know you’re in Mexico. So this wasn’t an adventurous, cultural immersion trip. This was just an easy, relaxing vacation with family.
Thanks to a trade on my parents’ timeshare in Cabo, we scored some seriously incredible lodging. This 4 bedroom flat is supposedly pretty hard to get via timeshare trade, so we’ll consider ourselves lucky. The elevator opens up directly into the flat like it’s your New York City Penthouse. There are four huge bedrooms, and four and a half bathrooms (although only two had bathtubs so my kids spent their evenings in my parents’ room). The covered balcony had to be close to 1,000 square feet and it had a plunge pool, though it was freezing. I didn’t see the rooms in the “regular” hotel portion of the resort, but I’d venture to guess they’re pretty damn awesome, too.
We visited from the end of April through early May, so we just missed the spring break crowds, which made it all the more enjoyable. The resort definitely wasn’t empty, but even as a large group, we could find a few chairs by the pool every day and a dinner table for nine every night.
There are quite a few pools here, but the winners by far were the water parks. They’re definitely better suited for younger kids, but with three kids ages 13 months to almost four, it was where we spent almost all of our pool time. They have 2-for-1 happy hour on drinks right there so you almost forget that you’ve slid down the three foot slide 547 times with your baby. It’s at least a tad more enjoyable while double fisting piña coladas.
The food all around was amazing. The only mildly disappointing meal was dinner at their burger joint that fellow vacationers hyped up. I skipped the burger that night and had an ahi salad instead, and it was delicious, but the consensus was that the burgers were fine but nothing spectacular. The most incredible part of this was that the food was affordable. Like, seriously. We spent seven days there with six adults and three kids. Two of those kids (not my picky toddler) eat as much as the adults do. Food for the entire week cost $2,500. Nine people. Seven days. All meals. Many of them at restaurants, but even the ones we made at our suite were purchased at the resort’s market. That’s an average of $39.00 per day per person including all meals and snacks. At a resort. Let that sink in.
My selfless parents gave the younger parents an afternoon off and we opted for a zip lining and tequila tasting tour. It was about an hour drive through downtown Puerto Vallarta and then up a gorgeous cliff road with some awe-inspiring views. We drove into the mountain about 20 more minutes and were welcomed to a beautiful little area for zip lining. Our timing must have been perfect because we literally had the place to ourselves. It was only the four of us, our guides, and the restaurant employees. We had a really fun time joking around with our guides during the tour, which included 10 total zip lines and some moderate hiking. After, we had a tasting of some locally made tequila. I am generally not a tequila fan, but I was able to taste most of them without cringing too much. We had an awesome meal at the local restaurant consisting of carne asada tacos, a whole, blackened fish, and some seriously good margaritas. It was the perfect combination of adventurous fun and laid-back adult time.
This trip was so overdue. The last real vacation I’ve been on where I took more than two days off of work and didn’t visit family was my honeymoon nearly seven years ago. We flew back on a Friday evening, which made for a less stressful transition back to reality, although that first Monday back at work sucked hard. I briefly contemplated quitting my job, selling the house, and moving my family to an island somewhere where we could live off the land (ha!) and get off the grid (double ha!!)
But alas, I’ll have to settle for the wonderful memories we made, remember the chill, calm mom I apparently can be (who knew?) and plan the next vacation for maybe a little sooner than seven years from now.