MEXICO FAMILY VACATION RECAP – where do I even begin?!?! (This post is kid specific)
My husband and I took a trip to an all-inclusive (right outside) Cancun Mexico vacation with our six-year-old daughter and our two-year-old son. We stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya.
*this is NOT a sponsored post. We paid 100% for this vacation.
You are probably wondering: “Why did you pick Mexico?” Well we went on our honeymoon over 7 years ago to an adult only all-inclusive, and we absolutely loved it. We have been ITCHING to get back since!! So that’s why 🤗
Spoiler alert – we were definitely a little ambitious to do this trip with 2 small kids… especially one being 2 years old. But you live and you learn, right?
Below are a bunch of things I’d do different with a ton of info… in no particular order.
Give yourself way more time at the airport than you think you need. And not even for JFK or whatever airport you fly out of – Once we arrived in Cancun on a SATURDAY AFTERNOON, we were not prepared for almost a 90 min wait to get through customs. My kids were really struggling with this after a 4 hr flight.
ALSO – The stroller for Luke….we thought we would just grab on our way off the plane. NOPE, they put it through baggage claim. So now we have a very cranky 33+lb toddler who doesn’t want to walk and we don’t even have access to his stroller.
EDITED TO ADD 8/19/2021:
I am the worst writer so excuse me for not making the stroller thing clear lol. So, we took his stroller to get checked AT THE GATE at JFK. They put a tag on it, and said it would be at the gate in Cancun… like right when we get off the plane the stroller would be there. Welll….it wasn’t. I am not sure why, but AT CANCUN, they did not give us the stroller at the gate. They put it through baggage and we could not get it until AFTER we cleared customs and went to baggage claim. So that was 90+ minutes dealing with a heavy, cranky, and hangry toddler!! lol.
SO THE TAKEAWAY HERE – bring a smaller stroller that can fit as a carry-on? I don’t even know if that’s a thing but we really needed him in a stroller at that point. HELP!
I dropped the ball. I didn’t bring nearly enough snacks for my kids.
Let’s get right into the food situation. A LOT to say about this one.
At an all-inclusive you have access to the buffets. They are usually great, however were not open for lunch & dinner at the times we needed/wanted (but at least breakfast was open early).
OK SO – being this was a family friendly resort, I didn’t bring a ton of snacks. MY FAULT!!!! Long story short: my kids didn’t love the food 100% of the time, and they also weren’t always hungry at the times my husband and I were. So this meant they weren’t eating as much or as filled up as we thought. The first few days they were CRANKY and we at first were like wtf? Turns out… they were just hungry.
In between each meals, my daughter Caroline would grab at least 2 bars (cereal bar or clif bar) we brought from home and chow down…. we were like why? Weren’t we just at breakfast? But in reality both kids just really weren’t eating enough at the meals. They weren’t used to the buffet’s variety nor were they willing to try the different options (don’t come at me! they just like what they like). So this meant I definitely was running out of snacks I brought from home rather quickly, yikes.
By day 3, we started hoarding the mini cereal boxes of fruit loops (lol) so they could snack by the pool and this was life-changing. After about an hour of pool time, Luke (who is 2), would start to get extremely irritable. OK no biggie because we just sat him down on a chair under an umbrella with a snack and it made a difference. SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS!
By 11 am, the ice cream parlor would open so we would get them an ice cream.
Lunch at most of the buffets did not open till 1p (WHAT??!!) and so we would keep Luke awake as much as we could for a later lunch. Since most 2 year olds nap by 1, you can imagine how tired Luke was, lol. Lunch was a crap shoot. We would eat quick and then get Luke down for a nap. We tried to skip his nap the first day and realized that was NOT going to work. The sun and chlorine just took too much out of him (more on that in NUMBER EIGHT).
THIS MEANT…. I really needed more snacks. Luckily some cafe’s were open so we would grab them cookies or a dessert again of some sort. Not the best option but it was what it was. Ice cream again in afternoon when he woke up before dinner!
Food continued to number 3.
Food is a long one so let’s break this up and talk about dinner now.
When we arrived at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya, we were immediately greeted & promised the world by a concierge (no really he was great the first day but then disappeared and we never saw him again the 5 days we were there lol). He told us we needed to book dinner reservations at the restaurants ASAP because they fill up quick… but he said he would do it for us.
He really did take care of the dinner reservations and got us into some restaurants at 6p which is good for kids, but with our kids, the restaurant meals were just OK. Of course Nick & I loved the hibachi Japanese restaurant, but Caroline hated it, refused to try anything and it was kind of stressful. By this point Luke’s exhaustion was real, so he zoned out watching a show on Nick’s phone, and ate a ton of fried rice, lol.
The next night, we canceled our dinner reservations for any other restaurants and just ate at the buffet for dinner our last two nights there. IT WAS SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE!!! The dinner buffets had a ton of kid stuff – cheeseburgers, fries, mac & cheese, and my kids were just so much happier….and guess what.. so were we.
Take away – if your kids are picky like mine… just eat dinner at the buffets. lol.
Let’s talk some pool stuff.
BRING YOUR OWN KID FLOTATION DEVICES!!
Did you also know they will blow them up for you?!
So at the resort we stayed at, you could only use their devices for 2 hours at a time. Sorry but that just doesn’t work for a 2 year old who cannot swim on his own yet!
We ended up buying our own at the resort gift shop, and it’s fine, but it definitely cost way more than needed. It just would have been easier if we had it ready to go when we arrived. Furthermore, the store had limited options. But honestly it did work out; the kids loved what we bought.
Book private transportation back to Cancun airport.
We did group transportation when we arrived and we had to drop others off, which really isn’t a big deal if it were just Nick and myself… but with two kids very tired from a long day of travel, it would have saved about an hour if we just were Geier party of one in a van to the resort.
SO with that said, we booked a private van back to airport & so glad we did. We were able to leave the resort about an hour later than if we shared a van, which gave us time to get breakfast and pack up, etc.
TIP TIP TIP!!!
TIP ($) the bartenders, servers, drivers, etc. A little goes a long way!! We learned quickly how far a tip goes..and you know what, they DESERVE IT!!! The workers at Iberostar work hard…and are serving us all day long.. a couple bucks goes a long way.
We didn’t tip the pool bartender till about half way through the tip, and we realized it should have been one of the first things we did. Easy enough to remember for next time!
Some other kid stuff…..
Star Camp starts at 4 years old.
Luke was obviously too young for it, and we didn’t want to send Caroline alone.
However, she complained of boredom at times, so a day or two of camp would have been great for her. We look back and think the camp would have given her so much more to do and make some “friends”. She really needed a friend on vacation! LOL. So next time we go, if Luke is 4, we are definitely utilizing Star Camp. The kids will LOVE it, make friends, we get some chill time, and it’s a win-win all around.
Speaking of Caroline and her age, we also incorrectly assumed she could do ALL THE WALKING. The resorts’ amenities and restaurants are very spread out, which means you need a good 10 minutes to get ANYWHERE other than your room. Nick & I don’t mind the added exercise, but Caroline really needed a stroller (!!!) because it was hot, and she fatigued quick. By our last 2 days, she was first in the stroller with Luke on her lap. Even though she is 6, she definitely needed a break.. more than we thought. LIVE AND LEARN!
DO NOT SKIP A TWO YEAR OLD’S NAP TIME!
Just don’t. We tried the first day and it was not fair to him honestly.
The sun, the heat, and pool…. it’s too much.
We made sure to bring his favorite hippo lovey & his blanket from home.
So – Nick & I took turns staying in the room with Luke for nap time. We each then had really nice quality time with Caroline in the afternoons. She is 4ft tall so we were able to do all the (scary) water slides!
SEE THE SHOWS!! The shows were some of the best parts of the trip! Iberostar had great entertainment.
It was worth keeping the kids up till after 9p to see the shows. Caroline even got on stage!
BRING MORE SNACKS
A double stroller wouldn’t be the answer but something better for Caroline?
Bring a babysitter? LOL
Don’t skip nap
Bring your own floaties
Make the best of the buffets
Enjoy the shows!!
WOULD WE GO HERE AGAIN?
I think so. Especially now having been through it. The next time we go, Luke would be at least 4, so he’d attend Star Camp with Caroline. I think breaking up the day with them at camp with FRIENDS, and some chill time for us, would be LIFE CHANGING.
Going to end it with these cute pictures:
What’s your favorite all-inclusive resort?
TELL ME PLEASE!!!