It’s summer here in the Midwest and the recent unseasonably hot temps has me reminiscing about our first vacation destination with our kiddo, a beach town in Mexico. My husband and I hate the cold, so each (childless) winter, we took a trip south of the U.S. We skipped traveling the winter I was pregnant – and suffered through one of the coldest Illinois winters – so we had to ditch the Midwest the winter after our son was born.
We decided not to go farther than Mexico and settled on Guayabitos, a small town a couple hours north along the coast from Puerto Vallarta that we had previously visited on a day trip. Our hotel was less than a block from the beach and right on the main avenue near plenty of restaurants, grocery stores, a laundromat, taxi stand, and the town plaza where there are often shows on the weekends.
Guayabitos has become popular among Canadian retirees during winter. It’s smaller and more relaxed than Cancún and Puerto Vallarta, but it has touristy perks such as English menus and toilet paper in restaurant bathrooms. (Are you wondering what kind of places we usually travel to?) The town is very safe with increasing “American” style amenities. A rare downside to a hotel near the beach: the fish truck. Each morning it drove up and down the streets blaring a “PESCADOS Y MARISCOS…” recording through a giant speaker, on repeat, starting at 6 a.m. (This didn’t bother our 10 month old at all.) You also never know when there might be a previously unknown celebration that culminates in a 10 p.m. bike race.
Our “must have” for traveling: a baby carrier. This was a must for easy maneuvering through the airport and the town we stayed in. We didn’t bring a stroller and sure didn’t miss it, especially after watching multiple families try to navigate strollers around the narrow sidewalks. We also didn’t have to worry about checking a stroller at the airport. I’ve become a bit of a babywearing nerd and have multiple types of carriers, but you can usually find reasonably priced mei tai or buckle-style carriers at big box stores if you’re just starting out. Most carriers don’t have any metal on them and I was able to go through security (at O’Hare and in Mexico) without having to take baby out of the carrier.
A “must have” honorable mention goes to a kiddy pool. We bought this in Guayabitos for pennies, and it served as a tub for bathing (our hotel only had a shower) as well as fun kid containment while we lounged poolside.
Something I wish I’d brought, but didn’t: a travel coffee mug! We had mugs in our room, but nothing with a lid! My husband scoffed at my dilemma, but coffee-loving parents will relate. I ended up getting coffee at the local OXXO (convenience store) then washed and re-used the same two plastic to-go cups the whole trip.
For the Beach
Besides the obvious bathing suit, swim diaper, sunblock, and hat, I’d also recommend one of those quick dry/rashguard shirts. We just put our son in old t-shirts, but it was a little messy since we couldn’t easily brush the sand off his shirt once it got wet. In town we also bought an umbrella, beach mat, and some plastic beach toys. They were all pretty cheap, and if we wanted to recoup some of that money, we could have sold them off before we left, but instead just gave them away.
Before we left I bought a couple new cheap dollar store toys and stuck them and some other toys in an empty puffs container. Taking things out (and dropping them on the floor) and putting them back in (and dropping them back on the floor) occupied the kiddo for a good chunk of the trip. That, a couple books, and a variety of snacks got us through the plane ride and subsequent bus trip.
Plane Take-off and Landing
On our initial flight our son happened to nurse to sleep before we left and stayed asleep through take-off. I gave him a sippy cup of water for the descent and he didn’t even seem to notice the pressure change. He did a combination of nursing/water drinking on the return trip.
Our (amazingly) only plane issue was on the return flight when he was too overstimulated to fall asleep, even after nursing. I should have stood up and bounced him to sleep in the carrier (this worked until about 18 months when we’d travel by train), but I was too afraid of blocking the aisle or being told to sit down. So instead, there was about 20 minutes of fussing and fitful nursing before he finally zonked out.
I’m not being paid by anyone to promote the hotel we stayed at, but I’ll post some links in case you want to check it out. It’s not an all-inclusive if that’s what you’re looking for, but a great, family-friendly hotel within easy walking distance of anything you’d need. You can check the place out yourself at the Bungalows Maria Teresa Facebook page and for booking: Bungalows Maria Teresa, Rincón de Guayabitos, Mexico.