Of course it is going to be a different type of traveling When you bring the kids. And if the last time you travelled outside the country was the summer after high school when you took that backpacking trip through Europe, then you're going to have a little less freedom to do only what you want. Or if your last tropical vacation was "Spring Break in Cancun" then a vacation to Mexico with your kids will be a somewhat sobering experience for you. But if you have kids, I imagine you're like me and enjoy playing and spending time with them.
When I backpacked through Europe by myself, many years ago, I had no plans, no money, no real precautions. And when my husband and I started traveling together, all our trips were booked extremely last minute. This is usually the thing to do in order to get the best prices. But when you're traveling with three young children you need to plan ahead, make reservations, and definitely take precautions.
Be prepared for anything. Pack every single medicine you may need. I don't think I have ever been on a vacation where I haven't administered either ibuprofen, Benadryl or a band-aid to at least one out of three of my kids. It's always better to be safe then pay $6.00 for band-aids.
Having pre-set reservations for your accommodations and transportation will save a lot of time and money. We spent a good month researching resorts in Mexico, reading reviews on Trip Advisor and researching prices on different travel sites such as Expedia and Kayak. We found it was cheaper booking directly through the resort, rather then going through a third party. Makes sense. Then we booked our flights separately as well, also spending many hours online, to determine the lowest airfare prices. I spoke with other resort guests and they booked flights and resort in a package seal and paid hundreds more then us. Booking flights in the middle of the week always gives you cheaper fares then on the weekends. We pre-booked airport parking and saved nearly 50 percent! We booked transportation to our resort separately and saved again. The more we save, the more vacations we can go on is how I look at it.
A trip to an All-inclusive in Mexico is probably one of the easiest trips to do with your kids. While it may not satisfy the single globetrotters appetite for travel, it offers connivence, family time, and fun for kids. And if the kids aren't having fun then you're not either! We picked our resort based on its kid-friendly reviews. And a resort that offers a type of daycare/entertainment for kids, allows a little more relaxation time for mom and dad.
One of the most important mind sets to have when traveling with kids is flexibility. You should make plans, but know that they can, and probably will, change. You and your spouse need to be on the same page when it comes to going with the flow. I would love to tell you that we got to our resort and spent 10 perfect beach, pool and excursion filled days in paradise. But the truth is, by day four my baby, Grayson, developed a fever. So I took Jaidyn and Addy to dinner and a kids show and my husband stayed with G and had room service. We did the same thing the next day, except this time Addy joined the party in the room with a fever as well. I took Jaidyn to dinner and a show and he had room service again. I was more then willing to stay behind this time but he wanted to watch the Red Sox game anyway! With two out of three kids sick during the day, we took turns staying in the room. I went snorkeling and did water aerobics at the beach then he had pool bar time. Of course we would rather be doing it all together, but when vacation plans change for the worst, you really are better off making the best of it. Being angry, bitter and feeling sorry for your somewhat ruined vacation will get you no where. There's always next time!
Our trip facts & costs:
Where we stayed: Grand Bahia Principe Coba, in Riviera Maya.
We loved: the kids water park and easy access to everything from our room. The kids club was so good that our girls didn't want to spend any time with us! The beach was farther then I liked, but was was beautiful and a section was cleared of rocks for ouch-less swimming.
Resort Cost: 10 days in Paradise for all five cost us approximately $1425
Airfare: $1400 for four tickets (babies fly free, so take 'em while they're young!)
Bag fees: $100, but you can try to book a flight with a carrier who doesn't charge a fee. We usually fly Spirit or Southwest or Jet Blue but they didn't have any flights left with decent times.
Transportation: $170 for our own personal driver and SUV. So worth it. This last leg of the trip can be the worst part. Having to stop at other resorts to drop off other travelers is a pain, when you just want to get to your own resort. Spend the little bit of extra money here.
So where are we at? $3095. That's a grand less then D-World would have cost us for the same things. I don't think it's too bad. Put $300 a month into a vacation savings account and you'll have it in a year, and plenty of spending money too.