I’ve officially been back in the good ol’ US of A for about 3 weeks now, and my days filled with beaches, margaritas, and sunscreen have been replaced with to-do lists, laundry, and cloudy spring days. Oh well…you’ve gotta have normal days to appreciate those few blissful, vacation days.
Before those white sandy beaches are too much of a distant memory, I wanted to recap our trip while also offering some tips about what we learned on our first vacation as a couple to Mexico. Since I’m a Mexico rookie, I asked my friend Lauren to share her expert knowledge on the topic as well. She and her hubby have vacationed down there about a dozen times, so some of her expertise is included too!
1. Pack the Essentials
As a chronic overpacker, I can sometimes get a little packing happy when I’m prepping for vacay. I usually overstuff my suitcase and end up wearing about 30% of what I bring. #fail
For this trip, I was determined to pack wisely and I’m happy to report that I did a pretty darn good job. Here’s what I brought along for our 10 day trip.
- 2 pairs of wedges (1 tan, 1 black), gym shoes, 3 pairs of sandals
- Sundresses (mostly worn for dinners at night)
- 4-6 bathing suits (love this one-piece suit!)
- Sunglasses & Hat
- Beach Bag
- 1 clutch & 1 crossbody purse
- 2 coverups <–I should have brought more! They got full of sweat, sand, and sunscreen and by the end of the trip they were ready for the laundry!
- Casual Shorts & Tanks
- Workout clothes & pajamas
- Jean jacket <– I thought I might get more use out of this at night, but it was simply too warm to really use. But it was great to have when traveling to & from Mexico on the chilly airplane!
- Even if you have a rockin’ bikini body (lucky girl), I suggest packing a one-piece bathing suit. I brought one and it was great when swimming in the ocean. No accidental peep shows for me.
- I wish I would have thrown in a shirt that covered my chest & arms a bit better. I got a little too much color in the beginning of the trip and needed something to cover my burn when out in the sun, but didn’t pack anything that worked! I ended up having to go to the gift shop to get a sweet surfer shirt to wear in the pool. I felt pretty badass and Finn kept asking me about my pro surfing career #BlueCrush <—such a good movie!
- Skip the curling iron. I used mine once over the course of the entire trip, and proceeded to walk outside in the humidity and have my hair fall flat. It was simply too hot for cute hair. Braids & buns all the way for this chica. I do wish I would have brought some cute headbands, but I did snag some flowers from the resort grounds and put those in my hair a few nights.
- Make sure you check the dress code at your particular resort. Long pants and closed-toe shoes were a must for guys at most of the restaurants at our hotel. Just be prepared for everything!
2. Make It Rain
Not actual rain (we had zero rainy days!), I’m talking about dolla’ dolla’ bills y’all! Even though we were at an all-inclusive resort, where everything was technically “free”, we still tipped all the time. It certainly wasn’t expected, but it made us feel good to give the resort staff a little extra something for their hard work.
Before leaving for vacay, be sure to stop by the bank to get plenty of dollar bills. We also got $100 worth of pesos from the bank too. Most everywhere took USD, but it was nice to have pesos when we went into Playa Del Carmen for the day. By the end of the trip, we went through all of our dollar bills & pesos..so I suggest taking out more than you think you need (instead of hitting up the ATM for ridiculous fees!)
Side note from Lauren the Pro: We have tipped the reception staff or bell hop $20 if we hated our room and they said there was nothing they could do about it…Remember everything can be bargained with in Mexico.
3. Avoid Montezuma’s Revenge
We’ve all heard horror stories about people coming down with tummy troubles when they leave the country, and Finn & I did not want to spend our honeymoon chugging pepto bismol. So before we left, we purchased these probiotics to help prepare our stomachs. But the pills didn’t make me feel very well (a bit nauseated), so I quit taking them a day or 2 before we left. Yikes, bad choice Casey. For the most part we felt a-okay, but towards the end of our trip we both came down with some intense stomach problems. Not a very sexy way to spend your honeymoon.
We only drank bottled water and were confident that the food served at our hotel was all cleaned in purified water and safe to eat. But…sh*t happens #punintended.
Honestly, I don’t know if we would have felt perfectly fine had we continued with the probiotics (anyone have any luck with them?). So I don’t exactly have any specific advice… except be careful and know your body!
4. Enjoy a Tropical Drink (or 3!)
I’m not really one to step outside of my drink comfort zone. I’m a champagne, wine, & vodka kinda gal. But when in paradise…fruity, tropical drinks hit the spot! I limited myself to one or two a day (too much sugar for my stomach, see tip #4) but I definitely loved trying out new ones. Our favorites are mudslides, Miami vices, and a new-to-us drink called the Iceberg. The iceberg is a beer with a floater of frozen margarita. So refreshing & better than just drinking a warm beer in the hot sun!
Expert Advice from Lauren: Bring big, plastic mugs for drinking. They give you small little glasses for your drinks. They will put any drink you want in your own container. It keeps them colder, too. But most importantly… less time you have to leave your float to waddle on over to the pool bar. If you are going to do this… bring a small bottle of dish detergent. You can get a small one in the travel section of Target. You will absolutely want to wash the mugs at night… a 4 hour old Pina Colada does NOT look pretty in the morning.
5. Document your Memories
I didn’t lug my big DSLR camera on the trip, and instead relied on my iPhone for a majority of our pics. I tried my best to snap pictures along the way, but honestly it was hard to remember and I didn’t want to be on my phone constantly. So looking back I wish I would have taken more photos, especially of the 2 of us (I should have stopped more people and asked them to snap some of us!)
But, we did bring our GoPro and its waterproof case and I’m sooooo happy we did! We took it on a trip snorkeling to get some video, and also took fun photos on the beach and in the pool. It was fun to get a little goofy and document all of the good times we were having while on our trip.
6. Protect Your Skin
Even though I can get a bit tan in the summer, I’m a pasty Irish girl at heart and the sun really does not like my fair skin. We bought tons of sunscreen to bring along with us to avoid running out (15spf, 30spf, 55spf, & a travel size 30spf for excursions). On our first day, I slathered up my body with 55spf, put my hat & sunglasses on and laid by the pool. Precisely 1.5 hours later…I was a lobster. Yep, not cute & very painful. I thought I was more than covered, but the sun is just so strong down there.
For the rest of the trip, I sat in the shade and wore my swim shirt when necessary. Just be safe and keep reapplying that good ol’ sunscreen.
7. Enjoy Every Moment & Unplug!
I’ve admitted that I’m not the best at stepping away from the iPhone & computer, so on this trip I did my best to really unplug. Our resort got wifi, so when connected to it we could receive text messages & check our email. It was tempting to just lay by the pool and be on our phones all day long…but we avoided that as much as possible. I did bring my phone along to snap photos, but for the most part Finn kept his in the safe in our room and I kept mine off and out of sight.
We both took time to take in every moment, smell the fresh air, and observe the beautiful place that surrounded us both. This is something I’m working on in my everyday life, as I often feel like I’m rushing through the day anxiously worried about the next day, or the day after that. This trip allowed us to both live in the moment and enjoy the here & now.
I only get one honeymoon in this life and it’s safe to say I enjoyed every moment of ours. No matter where you go or what you do on your special honeymoon trip, I hope you savor every second spent with your best friend.
We actually visited Mexico again 2 years later! Here’s a recap of that Mexico trip (this time with friends!)