I am packing and ready to head out on my summer vacation! While organizing the preparation, some family members (who have never been to a Caribbean vacation or all-inclusive resort) asked what they need to know before takeoff.
Here are the 12 expert tips I shared…
1. Get to the airport early.
For International flights, you should be at check-in at least two hours prior to departure. This doesn’t mean getting off the exit or parking — it means actually at check-in. When travelling with children especially, leave time for the unexpected. I am always one of the first people to check in. You are never sorry you arrived early, but you could be sorry if you arrive late and miss the flight. You hear it all the time but I can’t say it enough.
2. Don’t forget your VALID passport.
And it must be valid for SIX months from the date of travel. You will be denied boarding if you do not present this at check-in. Children’s passports are not valid as long as an adult passport, so check the dates on each passport.
3. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
Bring an extra bottle – it won’t go to waste! And it’s usually more affordable at home. The sun is STRONG, especially in the summer. Apply frequently – especially to the children. Missing a day of vacation because you are stuck in the room nursing sunburn is just not fun!
4. Pack wisely.
Don’t pack too much and make sure you pack a carry on or easily accessible bag so you can hit the ground running on your vacation! Most hotels have a check – in time of 3:00 PM. However, flights usually arrive in the morning. Expect that your room will not be ready when you arrive. Have a bag ready with a swimsuit or something to change in to so you can start your vacation right away. Changing rooms are usually available and the bell man will hold your bags. Also, don’t pack more than you can manage. You need a hand free to hold on to the kiddies, so pack in a rolling suitcase or rolling duffle so that you ideally have a hand free. Also, if the kids are bringing bags make sure they are on wheels too so they can pull their own.
5. Bring valuables in your carry-on.
If you must bring valuables, such as jewelry, electronics or important medications, load them in your carry-on. And then leave them in the in-room safe when you arrive in resort. But if you can survive without it, leave it at home. Less is more.
6. US currency is widely accepted in Mexico.
I always bring small bills in the form of $1’s and $5’s. This is beneficial when you make a purchase, so you’re not receiving a lot of change in pesos. Also, when you want to tip, you have small bills available to do so. Tipping is included in the package price, but if I receive exceptional service I tend to tip the Kid’s Club staff, waiters or drivers, when appropriate.
7. Always suggest sampling the local cuisine.
However, don’t eat anything on vacation that would make you sick at home. Whenever and wherever you travel, your system may react to new foods or drinks introduced. A family vacation is not the time to be too adventurous. To prevent any problems, I tend to be proactive rather than reactive. I have my family eat yogurt (Activia) the week before travel. I also never forget “the bag” of essential over-the counter medications that may be needed when we are away.
8. Stay hydrated.
Bottled water is readily available at most resorts. Make sure the family drinks plenty, especially when heading for the beach or pool. If the kids are starting to get red, take a break, head for the shade, and drink some water.
9. Make sure the entire family wears appropriate footwear.
Hotels in Mexico & the Caribbean do not have carpet. Because of the climate they are marble and tiled. Be careful near the pool or in the lobby or even your room – especially if there has been rain! I always suggest a new pair of flip flop’s, preferably with some tread on the bottom, for each trip. Also make sure your kids are aware of this ahead of time.
10. Bring strategic things to keep the children occupied and comfortable.
Bring lollipops for them to enjoy during landing to help cabin pressure from bothering their ears. Bring coloring books or an electronic device for the plane, small toys to use in the pool or beach. Bring the summer reading or summer workbook from school. A little planning to keep the kids occupied will go a long way! We always bring a few inflatables or a small football or soccer ball with us, or toys to “dive” for in the pool. Then we typically donate it to the Kid’s Club when we leave.
11. Turn your Smart phone data off (to airplane mode)
Make sure you check with your carrier about any charges you could incur if you use your phone in Mexico. Texting is usually very expensive. My carrier has a minimal charge to use my iPhone in resort but I have to sign up for a special service before I leave (and turn it off when I get back). When I’m in resort, I tend to use my iPad/Surface and communicate with family via the computer for FREE. Make sure the kids know this as well, you don’t want them turning anything on and accidentally incurring any excess charges because they are playing Flappy Birds
12. Bring your patience!
Remember, it’s a family vacation for everyone, so go with the flow! Relax and enjoy time with your family! That’s the most important tip.