Let me start this post by saying I was beyond nervous about taking our little family of three to Mexico. Leo was a few weeks shy of six months and the thought of something happening in another country was top of mind. I researched until the sun would shine, talked to our Pediatrician to make sure we had the green light to go, and prayed. I prayed a lot.
We feel very comfortable in Mexico. I love the people, enjoy the warm sunshine, and I love Mexican food more than anyone you know. If it is spicy, has salsa, and there are plenty of chips, I am one satisfied girl. Mexico is my happy place. John and I have had the privilege to see a lot of it from Cabo, Isla Mujeres, Playa, Cancun, Tulum, Akumal, to Manzanillo.
There were so many questions coming in about our trip from where we were renting to what we packed and how to fly with a baby that I wanted to make this one great concise read that would hopefully answer all of your questions. I will make one claim, I am not an expert and still learning but feeling much better about travel with our little guy. We have now completed four total flights (2 round trips) with two more coming up.
Akumal has always been a special place for my husband. We have been missing our trips to Mexico since becoming pregnant and Zika being high on the list of not to travel places we stuck this location on the back burner. Once we felt we were able to take Leo on a trip like this, we knew we wanted to go back, and it had to be to Akumal!
The flight is a little over four hours from Minneapolis, and you land at Cancun Airport and then drive an hour and a half to Akumal it is just twenty minutes away from Tulum. The area is still very untouched and has a tourist feel but not overrun or overcrowded, yet. I know there will be a day when I pull up and see a Starbucks and McDonalds, but for now, I hope it stays its unique little hideaway.
The house we rented was called Casa Gaugin, through Loco Gringo. We love the service they provide and have been more than happy with our stays in the area. They were so kind as to help us out with renting our stroller as well as assuring we had a crib at the house.
There are shops within walking distance, plenty of local restaurants. We love Que Onda which is across the street from the house rental, as well as La Buena Vida, Taverna (brand new and part of the Dallas Lombardi group), Turtle Bay Bakery & Cafe, Lol-Ha. Many more have popped up since we stayed four years ago but those are a few of our favorites and I am sure would be yours as well!
The thing is you have two categories of travel, Before Children (BC) and After Children (AC) we are excellent at the first one. Learning how to pack and fly let alone get around with a five-month-old were all brand new to us, and I felt inexperienced, anxious, and yet excited to cross this first off our long list of new experiences.
We packed the whole house. With Leo on board, I had no idea what we would and wouldn’t need. Trust me I was up until about midnight researching how to make homemade Pedialyte (which is a whole other topic). John and I kept saying we would pack light and let him re-wear items but there was not a washing machine, and you know how it goes with babies. Just go ahead and overpack!
I was delighted with not needing to bring a stroller, pack-n-play, or car seat. Traveling is stressful enough, and we wanted to try and be as light as possible since we knew we would bring his whole nursery outside of those items. But the most important thing was to have protection from the sun, a few sweaters should it get cold at night, diapers, and make him comfy as possible.
I struggled with knowing what to dress him in at night. It is cold in Minnesota! I don’t think twice about zipping him into his little one-piece suits and layering a sleep sack on top. I ended up settling on a long sleeved onesie only because we had the air on pretty cool and it would drop down in temperature at night, and the sleep sack added the right amount of comfort.
Overall we brought way too much stuff for Leo. I had plenty of swimsuits, and swim diapers, sunglasses, hats, rash guards and the one thing I am so glad we brought were light pants at night and these adorable shoes. They were better than socks, stayed on his feet and kept him comfortable and shielded from the sun when walking to breakfast.
I am so glad we brought swaddles. Lightweight swaddles that worked to cover the stroller and kept Leo cool in the stroller. Looking back I wish I had brought a few more of the same material. These are the ones I like the most. Also, these were key for the plane, especially since I’m breastfeeding more on that below!
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE PLANE
Pack three extra outfits for the baby, and one for each adult traveling. Wear layers because you will sweat. I wore a Kimono over a light tee that was easy to breastfeed on the plane. And it was still warm!
We brought two carry-on bags each filled with emergency and backed up items. I kept thinking about what would I do if they lost our luggage, my pump! I was a little stressed but Delta does have an app that tells you the minute your bags are loaded on the plane but had they not made it I had a swimsuit, underwear bra, sandals, makeup, breast pads, my handheld pump, a cover-up, extra dress, tights, and a tank just in case.
I also paid close attention to Leo over the last two weeks before we flew and only packed a handful of toys for him to bring on the plane and in our checked luggage. His favorites right now are his remote control, dimple, teether, and we brought a few books in our luggage. These toys were also great to have in the stroller.
Since I am exclusively breastfeeding him we did not bring any milk on the plane, and I hate feeding him in public, but a mom has to do what a mom has to do! The swaddles were great to cover up as well as loads of hand sanitizer (this is my favorite scent) and snacks for me. I also purchase large water before boarding and make sure to drink the entire bottle before getting off the flight. Bring your headphones, phone charger, and leave your laptop at home. I never even opened it the whole trip. It was so not necessary and cumbersome on top of everything else we were lugging around!
1. Mamas try to stay calm. So many have mentioned that because it keeps baby calm, they feel you and react to you so go with the flow if things get off schedule or out of whack. Our very first flight was a nail biter with Leo being only three months old, but he was a champion!
2. Give your self-time! And if you think you need extra double it because there are so many more things required when taking a baby through the airport. We decided to leave the milk at home when traveling to Mexico but we did bring it with us to Texas with ease.
3. Feed on both the takeoff and landing once on the plane. This information was great for us! He went to sleep right away, and the sucking sensation helps with the pressure in their ears. A bottle will also do the trick!
4. Changing the diaper is a two-person task. John went into the bathroom, and I stood outside with the bag and gear, the minute we sat down he had a blowout! And it was right after we had changed him, so we were running back into the bathroom with the diaper bag in hand and left the onesie in the trash! A funny situation because I was carrying Leo back to our seats wearing only a diaper! Just come prepared for all of it!
5. Should your baby should start fussing and need to move around, let your husband walk with them. I know that sounds so cliche and terrible, but multiple sources have told me there is a very little judgment when a dad is calming a baby versus a mom. I hate even saying it but whatever works when dealing with a tiny human that is upset and there are all eyes on you do it. Most people have their headphones on, and planes are loud so remember that if it sounds loud to you, it probably is just sounding loud to you!
6. Pack one of your carry on bags with all the things you will need for your baby and keep that bag under the seat. After packing our items in both our bags we did much better on the way home of being organized. I did a poor job of keeping everything in one easy to reach location, so we were up and down a lot of the first flight.
7. You know what is best. On our return flight from Mexico to Minneapolis, Leo started to fall asleep at the airport while we were waiting to board the plane. I tried keeping him awake, and it ended up backfiring on me, and he was overly tired! Looking back on it I wish I would have let him fall asleep because we had a very sweaty and anxious first hour! In the end, I knew if I stood and rocked him he would fall asleep and finally after much debating I stood with him in the galley, and every single mom on the airplane was watching me then once he fell asleep giving me the silent congratulations and thumbs up! I ordered a glass of wine right away and reapplied my deodorant.
8. Bring your crib sheet. The rental company arranged for us to use their crib. We brought a sheet of our own, and I am so glad we did because the mattress and crib were old and the sheet provided was small and wrapped loosely around the mattress! Yikes! Also, bring the sound machine and the baby monitor depending on where the baby is sleeping!
9. I loved having our carrier to tote him around when we did not want to bring the stroller and load it in the car. We have gone through quite a few carriers, and this one is finally our go to no matter where we are home or traveling! I strap Leo into this almost every single day, and we dance and sing in front of the mirror. John loved wearing it too and brought it to the markets and dinner in the evenings!
10. I searched high and low for a pool float and landed on this one. The reviews were amazing, and I read through all of them to see the good and the bad. I just knew this float was the ticket to happiness in the water! But of course, mister big man himself liked being free and preferred to kick around in our hands. I am not giving up on it and brought it back with us so we can use it at the cabin this summer!
PACKING LIST TO PRINT
Overall it was one of the best trips we have ever taken because we were finally complete. Taking Leo was without a doubt the most beautiful thing, and yes it was different, but I can’t wait to keep traveling with the three of us. Luckily my parents were able to join us on this trip, and it made everything even better! We keep talking about our next trip back together.
I hope this was helpful and I hope this helps you feel confident about traveling with your baby! Just go into your trip that it is going to be a little different. I spent way less time in the sun and more inside with Leo. Naps, feedings, and playtime were all part of our trip, and so was an early bedtime and early wake-up, but I wouldn’t change it.
Consider taking your parents or someone to help because it is beyond helpful to have the extra set of hands! I love that my parents will always remember being with Leo on his very first vacation! Scroll to the end to see my husbands video of the trip. Makes me want to start packing as we anticipate more snow in the forecast tomorrow!
Thank you for all of your emails and messages. So many of you sweet moms were waiting for this post, so I appreciate the patience!
With Love – Tamara