How to Vacation in Mexico With Kids
Mexico celebrates family life, especially on Sundays when multigenerational families gather in restaurants and city parks, on the beach or at popular landmarks to picnic and play. Mexicans also love to indulge their children and no one will frown on you bringing small children into a restaurant or a museum. Celebrate that spirit by including children in vacation planning and preparing them for a new cultural experience.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Plan Before You Go
Things You’ll Need:
- Internet access
Children's books about Mexico
Family first-aid kit
Summary of family medical history
Current photographs of each child
Identification bracelet or tag
Copy of itinerary
Card with name, address and telephone of emergency contact person
Basic, child-friendly Spanish-English dictionary
- Internet access
- Children's books about Mexico
- Family first-aid kit
- Summary of family medical history
- Current photographs of each child
- Identification bracelet or tag
- Laundry pen
- Copy of itinerary
- Card with name, address and telephone of emergency contact person
- Basic, child-friendly Spanish-English dictionary
Gather the family around to plan the trip, visiting websites that highlight Mexican culture, studying maps and making a list of family favorites. Mix and match activities to suit age groups and interests. Make plans to combine a trip to a museum with a visit to a Mexican ice cream parlor, a beach hike with an exploration of a Spanish fort, or a tour of an ancient ruin with an afternoon at a water park.
Make sure every family member has a passport. Residents of the United States retnow must have a valid passport, even the youngest members of the family, to re-enter the country. The new rules and procedures for children can be found on the U.S. State Department's passport website at http://travel.state.gov/passport/.
Be prepared for emergencies by packing a small first-aid kit with both adult and children's remedies for stomach upset, diarrhea, cuts, bruises and pain. Carry a copy of any prescriptions and a short summary of each family member's medical history. Mexican drug stores and clinics are modern, but facilities may not be adequate in rural areas.
Buy an identification bracelet or tag for each child that clearly states their name, a contact telephone number and any allergies they might have. It is also a good idea to mark the child's name in their clothing with a laundry pen. Make sure they know their full name and your names, not just "Mommy" and "Daddy." Keep an up-to-date photograph of your child with you. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or relative and note the person's name as an emergency contact in your passport and wallet.
Enjoying the Experience
After you arrive, shop for snacks and kid-friendly treats at Mexican grocery stores where you also can pick up a cheap cooler to keep drinks and milk cold in your room, if it lacks a refrigerator. Mexican fast food includes hamburgers, fried chicken and pizza, and those familiar favorites also appear on room service menus. Fresh fruit abounds, but choose fruits that must be peeled.
Buy a basic, kid-friendly Spanish-English dictionary and encourage children to use it as they spot road and store signs. Use the dictionary on a shopping trip to the toy and candy stalls at the local market. Ice cream shops are another good place to learn about Spanish words and Mexican flavors. Many Mexican children are bilingual, so encourage children to chat with their peers.
Check the calendar. Sundays are a special day in Mexico, when the country's municipal parks and plazas come alive with magicians, street performers, food stalls and music. Ask about local fiestas and national holiday celebrations. A Mexican fiesta with fireworks, parades and music will be an event the whole family will never forget.
There are few places children are not welcome in Mexico; bars and discos, of course, are not appropriate. Never leave children alone without supervision. Some resorts offer day camps for kids and babysitting services that are a good way to afford parents a chance to relax or enjoy a special dinner.
Tips & Warnings
Take a page out of Mexican culture and learn to relax. While Mexicans work very hard, they also enjoy leisurely meals and lazy days off with their families. Mexico's vivid colors, flavors, new sounds and sights can overstimulate even adults. Don't pack too much into your schedule. Avoid cranky moods and temper tantrums by setting aside part of the day for a period of peace and quiet.
Prepare your children for the possibility that they may see beggars, including small children begging, and malnourished animals. Sensitive children (and adults) may be alarmed by the aromas and sights in the meat market stalls.
Article Written By Robin Thornley
Robin Thornley has been a successful writer for more than 25 years, penning articles for national magazines, newspapers and websites. She specializes in a variety of topics, including business, politics, lifestyle trends, travel and cuisine. She also is the author of two guidebooks.
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