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Eat, Play, Sleep, Love

Why a Vacation {Without Kids or Husband} is the Best Gift for Moms

I just got back from a week vacation in Mexico where I stayed at the Bahia Principe Mexico – an all-inclusive resort in Tulum. We left on a Saturday morning and came back on a Saturday evening on a nonstop 4.5 hour flight. If you want to learn how I got such a good deal – $1200 – check out this post.

The flight down was about 4.5 hours direct from Salt Lake City, Utah to Cancun. The vacation company I used had someone to pick us up and drive us another hour to the resort. A daytime direct flight is very important. It means you don’t need to spend 2 days in travel and recovery each way. Mexico is just 2 hours time difference from Utah so it was easy.

I Finally Went!

I’ve been trying to go on this vacation for 2 years. I didn’t say yes the first time because of finances (wanted to be debt free and now I am. Or because I couldn’t justify taking the kids out of school for a week (Bjorn gets so far behind). Plus, this is my husband’s busiest time at work and he can’t take off.

At first Stephen said you have to take the kids. But he changed his mind and fully supported me going – I’m so grateful. He doesn’t really like Mexico or even most countries. Bringing him and listening to the complaints ruins the experience for me so I didn’t want him to come along.

No Kids

My parents and some of my extended family go to Mexico almost every year. They invite me to go but I turn them down. For the past 2 years they didn’t go because they couldn’t find the price and flight deal they wanted. Since they’re in their 80s now I wondered what year will be their last. They’re in good health for their age but things can change quickly.

Mexico beach
My parents on the beach in Mexico

We had 10 of us including aunts, uncles and cousins from both my mom and dad’s side of the family. It was a perfect balance of alone time and family time. I got to know my extended family better. We ate most meals together at the same long table at the buffet, got group discounts and had someone to pal around with on smaller trips.

No Remembering or Schedule

For me, the best part of taking a week or longer vacation is that there’s very little remembering that you need to do. You have to keep track of your passport and spend some time planning but otherwise you control your time. You can go to sleep when you want and get up when you want.

Your most pressing decisions might be: what should I do today: go to the beach or the buffet?

It takes a day to travel, a day to get comfortable with your new home, and after that you start to relax into your preferred schedule. I like to stay up until about midnight and wake up around 8am. I don’t eat breakfast so I just read and looked at things I wanted to do (like TripAdvisor reviews) before heading off.

Rejuvenation

Taking a vacation was like taking years off me. I look and feel younger. The lines on my face weren’t as deep. When I got home this weekend I had energy to play with Alexis, do projects with her, shovel snow (tough transition to get home to so much snow after many days of 80+ degree weather) and put Alexis to bed. When I’m perpetually exhausted these things can feel like huge tasks!

Without straining to remember I found that more Spanish words and phrases came back to me. I took Spanish for 2 years in junior high to give you an idea of how long it’s been. I loved talking to the shop owners, passing the staff with an hola and otherwise blending with the natives. My #1 shopping item was to buy a loose fitting Mexican style dress and shirts. And I wore them immediately. I like to fit into whatever community I’m part of and speaking and dressing like a Mexican woman was just the trick for me.

Some days I lived in my rash guard, swim suit bottoms, skit and sunglasses!

Benefits of a Resort Vacation

A resort has the benefit of having built in activities including for us, kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel gear. There were always live bands and entertainment (of varying quality) and we never had to worry about eating because the buffet was giant. There’s something for every taste. Me? I ate white fish of all kinds, guacamole (it’s divine), Mexican food and all the fruit juices I could drink (watermelon, pineapple and lemon water/lemonade are favorites). I don’t drink alcohol so I got virgin pina coladas and other drinks. If you drink it’s all included.

Eating healthy is so easy on resort and you don’t have to decide where to eat, get yourself there and then wait to order. You just grab a plate. They have sit down restaurants where they serve you which is better quality overall if you get the right things, but takes about 2 hours. These reservations go fast even though most of the places where only half full.

Drawbacks of a Resort

Even though it might say 5 star hotel and even though you get extras like pop, water and (if you drink, beer) in your fridge along with some extra treats left in your room, I couldn’t call this 5 star. Not for our standards. Some of the food is mediocre but I got good at picking the things I loved (warning: the hamburger won’t taste like home so skip it, but the fries were amazing).

Things don’t happen as fast as you might be used to and the front desk doesn’t always give you all of the details, you sort of have to figure it out (like the fact that you need a reservation in advance to play tennis or join the daily bike ride around the resort). It’s very clean.

I’m laid back and didn’t have my expectations super high since I already got an incredible deal. Paying so little to get there and stay freed up money to spend on clothes and other things I wanted.

You also don’t have the sense of adventure that you have if you plan your own trip but it’s my first time going as an adult so I wanted a lot of details taken care of for me so I could enjoy my time. If I went several times I might try something new but for now, an all-inclusive resort was the best choice.

Overall, I don’t have the confidence to travel alone. I’m too bad with directions. I like the protection of going to a place with a lot of travellers. Plus, you can get such an incredible package price that it’s tough to beat.

Day Trips

Apple Vacations, who we went through, had tours you could sign up for. Most cost around $130 for a day and usually include lunch along with transportation. We went to ruins and part went to an ecological park called Xcaret (esh car ette) and the other part of our group went to the adventure park called XPlore. I hope to go back again and do both.

We took a $2 van ride to Tulum to visit ruins there and do some shopping on our own. Generally speaking we did something off resort every other day. On resort we swam in the pool or ocean. I got a massage another day, which was good but not amazing.

If I went back I’d rent a moped, e-bike or bicycle for a few days so I could move around on my own. They have golf carts you can ride around the resort but I even managed to get lost taking them. You can always venture off for a day or overnight at an Airbnb in another town and eat at restaurants you want to try.

The trip I took is worth about double or more what I paid – which is $1200 for 7 days and that included my flight round trip, transportation to/from the airport, food and hotel. Today I ran the numbers and that would be over $3k.

How did I get such a good deal? That’s a future post.

It all starts at what time of the year you go…and if you don’t want to or can’t go alone see if you can go without kids. We do a lot of family travel but that means taking care of other people and doing all the work involved. Someone has to worry about food, activities and making sure you have all of the stuff you need every time you leave the hotel room.

I traveled light with a small travel purse, lightweight clothes and my phone. On some days I brought a larger bag with a change or clothes, snacks or gear. For one person. No business, driving, running someone to lessons, making sure they did homework or even cleaning. It was so freeing!

Total Recharge

I don’t want to wait until retirement to get a break I can appreciate more now. Travel is the best gift because you never forget it. The last time I was in Mexico I was 16. I’ve forgotten a lot of things but I remember that trip. Also, when you’re in another culture and place you get a true break because you let go of expectations of it being like home. It’s freeing just not knowing people and getting out of your everyday routine.

Vegas is fun with the whole family. But I think there’s something parents need – a complete recharge. It makes me a better, more relaxed parent. We all need to get out of our routines, schedules and demands to take time to enjoy the earth, other cultures and to have very few cares.

With work trips I come back with a longer to do list than when I started. This trip I came home and feel like I pressed the hard reset button. My mind is less cluttered. The transition back to family life was really smooth because I was fully recharged.

Have you ever taken a vacation without your kids or husband? Tell me about it in the comments!



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