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Tips and Info
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR MINORS
A passport is recommended for minors traveling into Mexico, but not mandatory. Minors traveling without a passport must provide the same identification as an adult.
Minors can enter Mexico with just one of their parents, without the written permission of the other.
Minors can travel alone but if they are under 16, they must carry written permission from their parents [or guardian] in Spanish or English, signed before a representative in a Mexican Embassy or a public notary or the police office of your locality. This applies also for minors traveling with an adult different to their parents.
Information on entry requirments see: Cancun Airport Immigration
Minors [16 years old and under] entering Mexico alone or with adults who are not their parents require notarized travel documents.
Minors [17- 18 years old NOTE: Check U.S. State laws] who when traveling with adults not their parents should have, but are not required to have, notarized travel documents. These may be required for use:
in the advent you must exercise legal consent over a minor traveling with you.
Travel forms can be found here:
AT THE AIRPORT
Things get exciting now. Airports are hectic places. Standard advice here is to arrive early. Make sure the kids have something to play with. Walking around the airport gets boring quickly. It is best to pass through customs right after you have checked your bags instead of hanging around the front of the airport.
Regarding baggage, the adult baggage allowance applies to children paying half or more of the adult fare. When booking, ask about carry-on allowances for those traveling with infants. In general, for babies charged 10% of the adult fare you are allowed one carry-on bag and a collapsible stroller, which may have to be checked; you may be limited to less if the flight is full.
Find your boarding gate and set up camp.
Board the plane last with your kids. They will try to get you to board first but it is better to board last with children. Just hang out at the back of the boarding gate and wait until almost everyone else has boarded. The reason for this is to avoid having to sit for that extra half-hour. Better to have the children running around the airport terminal than fidgeting in a plane seat.
ON THE PLANE
Seating arrangements vary from plane to plane. It is best to place an adult in the isle seat because small children can let their feet and arms dangle in the isle. They can get hit by the food trolleys and other people.
It is best to sit two and two with young children if the plane has three seat configurations. This allows you to swap seats and makes the flight more fun.
It is better to be closer to the bathrooms. Mention this when booking your seat.
Try to keep your child from kicking the back of the seat in front of them.
Soon as you get on the plane ask for a blanket and pillow.
When the beverage cart comes you can ask for a whole can of what ever you want. [They usually just give you a little cup.]
Some airlines have children's food plates, not all. You have to book this in advance when you order your flight tickets.
If the plane has empty seats you can move to different seats if you are not satisfied. The way a plane is set up is they try to have the same number of people on one side of the plane as the other to balance the plane. But you can move around. Ask the stewardess.
In first class you get waited on hand and foot. In coach you get your complimentary cup of soda, food tray and that's it. So bring your own food for the flight.
CHILD SAFETY SEATS
The FAA does not require children to use child safety seats on an airplane.
When purchasing a child safety seat for an airplane consideration must be given to the size of the seat. Not all "car seats" will fit an airplane seat.
Check the manufacturer's information to verify the child safety seat can be used on an airplane.
Airlines generally require you to "check" the safety seat in when checking in and getting your tickets. You will receive a tag or sticker for the seat. A baby can remain in the seat right up to boarding.
You can carry the seat onto the airplane as part of your "carry-on" luggage. There is pre-boarding for passengers with children so you have a little time to secure the seat before other passengers get on.
You can ask to board the airplane before anybody else if you feel you require more time.
An airline stewardess will assist you should you require help.
Good source for info on buying a child safety seat: www.CarSeatSite.com
Every airline has its own policy regarding strollers but the general way it works is you get either a regular baggage check tag for your stroller, which you attach or you must take the stroller to a special check-in post and get a baggage check tag/sticker there.
There is always pre-boarding for passengers with children. You can use the stroller right up until you board the airplane. You leave the stroller at the boarding gate and it will be waiting for you when you deplane at your destination.
WHERE TO GO
Cancun - more family oriented - okay for teens - great for young children
Resorts on the Mayan Riviera are remote self contained Meccas with high security and watchful staff everywhere. The swimming pools are fantastic and every resort has a children's pool with lifeguards on duty. Lifeguards are also on duty on the beaches. There are numerous activities for kids and baby-sitting available at every resort.
Playa del Carmen is a little different because you have 5th Avenue which teen's just love. It is an excellent strip and teenage girls can show off their new clothing that they just made you buy because there are some really great deals for Italian clothing and really trendy stuff, which they just gotta have.
You can get your hair braided and there are quite a few fake tattoo joints for the young rebels.
5th Avenue is also very entertaining and international which gives teens an idea of what a lot of foreign people are like. There are also a lot of real cool things you can buy on 5th Ave.
Cancun resorts tend to be self contained little cities with many families visiting so young children are in abundance. There are lots of things to do for young children at the resorts.
Cozumel is a cross between Playa del Carmen and Cancun…there is a lively "downtown", nice beaches and the resorts have all the same amenities as any of the mainland resorts. If you stay at a small hotel/resort located away from the main little city then teens could get bored unless they're into diving/snorkeling a lot.
AT THE RESORT
Most resorts have an "Animation" staff whose job it is to take care of the guests. There is always a special division that handles the children. Most if not all resorts have a special section for children. They also utilize a wristband system. When you drop off your child at the "kids-zone" the parent receives a wristband. The child also receives a corresponding band. Only the parent with the right wristband can retrieve the child when it is time to go.
Some resorts have kids zones with child-friendly swimming pools. There are lifeguards on duty at all times.
The staff at kids-zones has all kinds of activities to keep the kids occupied. From games to dancing, the kids get a thorough workout.
There are also activities that children can participate in such as ceramic painting. Most resorts have a set up of ceramic items that you can custom paint. Some resorts have this with t-shirts.
A creative staff will have the kids going out on scavenger hunts by the pool and general fun pool activities as well. At most resort you are allowed to take things in the pools like air-mattresses etc. and you can even get them from the hotel, where you get your towel usually. Every day the Animations will have some thing new in store for your kids and it is quite safe to just drop your kids off and do your own thing as many parents do. First check with other parents and see how their experiences have been. Word travels fast at a resort and if there are any problems the info will get passed from one guest to another.
Many people feel their greatest concern is drinking water and insects. All resorts, hotels, restaurants use purified water and bottled water is everywhere. As far as insects go if you stay on the coast in any hotel zone then it is not that great a worry. The ocean breeze keeps bugs at bay and they do spray for mosquitoes.
FOOD AT THE RESORT
Most of the resorts learned a long time ago that if you want to make mommy and daddy happy you have to have a kid's menu. This does not mean per-say that one actually exists but it is worked in the general overall menu system. You can get french-fries, pasta, hamburgers, pizza, hotdogs, chicken wings etc. etc. at both lunch and supper. However this is not the case in most specialty restaurants.
Each buffet will have numerous foods and there is always something to feed the kids. Some high-end resorts are gourmet oriented and this may not suit children unless they are used to eating that kind of food. They will usually only have "junk food" at the outside lunch buffet.
FOOD AT ...
FOOD IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
MAYAN RIVIERA FOOD
Akumal has a couple restaurants beside the hotel restaurants and Tulum has a lot of restaurants in town. There are a couple of BQ palapas on the beach.
BEFOR YOU LEAVE
Get beach shoes for all children.
Hit dollar store for cheap travel toys. Try not to bring your child's favorite toys because it is so easy to loose stuff while on vacation.
Pack favorite snacks. On this note you will be surprised by Mexican's penchant for candy. Candy is sold everywhere.
Make photocopies of all your child's documentation - birth certificate, passport etc. Bring one copy with you and leave one copy with a friend or relative.
Purchase medical insurance for all children.
No special vaccinations are needed if you are staying Cancun - Maya Riviera however if you are planning on traveling to Chiapas, Belize etc. then you should check with your doctor.
On the day of the trip or just before you leave, use a Polaroid camera and take photos of each child in your party. Keep the pictures with you at all times. If you become separated from your child, you will have a photo of what your child looks like right then, that day.
If you do not have a Polaroid [who does these days] use your new digital camera and if you do not have one of those go to a shopping mall and use one of those photo-booths. You can also use a regular camera and go to a 1-hr photo place just before you leave.
To keep wiggly toddlers in their seats happily, film their favorite video on your handheld video camera. Replay in flight, letting them watch it on the small screen.
Likewise a compact music system is also worthy to bring if your children enjoy listening to music.
If you'd like a bassinet -- not available on all airlines -- be sure to request one when you make a reservation. You'll need a bulkhead seat for a bassinet, but be warned -- the seat trays in the bulkhead usually fold out of your chair arm and are impossible to use with a child on your lap. Bulkhead seats may not have their own overhead bins, and there's no storage space in front of you -- a major inconvenience.
If your children get too excited about the trip and are driving you nuts then here is a trick you can use:
Tell your kids you are leaving one or two days before you are actually going. Pack your bags and get ready to go. Worn them that if they misbehave you will cancel the trip. On the day you are fake leaving and they are going crazy, unpack your bags and cancel the trip. Later have a family meeting and discuss how you can get around the situation. Let your children come up with the solution. Reschedule the trip under the condition they follow the guidelines they thought up during your meeting.
After you have landed and think you are there you are not. If you are staying on the Maya Riviera the bus ride to your resort could take up to an hour and a half. Playa del Carmen is an hour away. Even Cancun is half an hour away by transfer. If your shuttle bus makes a number of stops it could take an hour to get to your hotel, even going to Cancun.
You can get food and drinks at all Cancun airports but most people just want to get to their transfer bus/shuttle and get to their resort so bring additional provisions for this trip as well.
Getting clothing washed at a resort/hotel can be expensive. Laundromats are also expensive in Mexico. This is one of the few things that are expensive in Mexico. We have no clue why.
We use the sink to wash our clothing. We bring a small bottle of biodegradable laundry detergent. Wash, scrub and rinse in the sink. Place wet clothing on a towel then roll the towel up and squeeze. Hang the laundry up in the bathroom and leave the light on or leave on balcony.
At certain times of the year you can get severe sunburn in 15 minutes if you are not protected. The rule of thumb is to protect yourself to the max, all the time. Here is the best way to do it:
Apply suntan lotion at least half an hour before you go outside. Coat the stuff on all over you then let it dry. Do not rub it in for at least 15 minutes. Let it dry first then rub it all over you. Then apply a second coat and rub this all over you, let dry. Once the second coat is done you are ready. Keep in mind that the water will wash the suntan lotion off so you have to reapply it after going into the water. You must do this everyday.
Even with loads of suntan lotion on you will still get a suntan.
If you get a sunburn the best thing to use is pure aloa-vera or aloa-vera with a cooling agent.
It is recommended to use a natural suntan lotion to help protect the marine life.