Our neighbors to the south have a lot to offer, like amazing food, ancient ruins, and some of the most incredible beaches in the whole world. But it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. The US State Department has labeled Mexico as a Level Two on their Travel Alert scale. This means that Americans are encouraged to travel, but they should be alert and aware of their surroundings. Here are some tips to help you safely travel to Mexico, and enjoy everything this beautiful country has to offer!
Make Copies of All Your Important Travel Documents
You may feel that having your papers on you at all times is the safest. But having a copy is best to avoid pickpockets. Keep the originals locked in a safe in your room and carry the copy instead.
Do Your Research!
You don’t want to find yourself in one of several “Level 4: Do Not Travel” locations, so it is best to know where you’re going. Or, even better, get yourself a travel agent that can guide you on where is the safest and best location for your budget!
Watch What You Eat and Drink
I’m sure you’ve heard “don’t drink the water” before. And this is SO TRUE in Mexico! Take and drink bottled water everywhere you go. And you will see food vendors all over the streets, and it will smell amazing, but you should only buy food from vendors with long lines full of tourists AND locals. That short line may seem enticing, but there’s probably a reason it’s short.
Do NOT Get Super Drunk
Tequila is like water in Mexico, there is Mexican beer everywhere, and HEY! You’re on vacation! But safety first! Do not accept drinks from strangers, do not walk back to your hotel drunk in the dark, and be mindful of your surroundings.
Have Emergency Contacts At The Ready
Mexico now uses the same 911 system that we use in the United States, but you will also want to have the American Embassy and Consulate numbers handy. And, of course, copies of your important travel documents!
Consider an All-Inclusive
All-Inclusives are the BEST way to travel. Not only is everything prepaid before you get there, but you rarely need to leave your resort. Also, if an all-inclusive isn’t for you, but you don’t plan to leave the pool and/or beach, stay at the most popular hotels.
Do Not Use Lyft/Uber to Get Around
It is best to stick with a registered cab company for transportation. While tourists are generally not kidnapped in Mexico, it, again, is better to be safe than sorry!
Learn Basic Spanish
Learning some basic Spanish will help you get around safely, and make you seem less ignorant. Not to mention it can greatly increase your chances to NOT get swindled!
Three Unique Things To Do on Each of Hawaii’s Islands to Help You Enjoy Hawaii!
Hawaii is a tropical paradise tucked away in the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of 6 islands, and each one has plenty to do if you choose to visit. Here are three things to do on each of Hawaii’s islands, and they are sure to help you enjoy Hawaii!
The Big Island: Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the world’s most active volcanoes, but don’t let this keep you from visiting! They have warnings for these sorts of things. In fact, the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, has been actively erupting since 1983! So what is there to do on the Big Island?
Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, though it is closed on most holidays, so it’s best to check before you go! And you can purchase a pass online that will be valid for 7 days from purchase. Enjoy day hiking, back country hiking, the Crater Rim Drive tour, the Chain of Craters Road Tour, the Kahuku Unit, and visit two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. To truly take in the most of this natural beauty, you should plan to spend at least one day exploring the park.
Akaka Falls State Park. Here, you can see two gorgeous waterfalls on one short, .4-mile hike uphill through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns.
Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi that last erupted approximately 4000 years ago. At 13,796 feet above sea level and over 33,000 feet from the bottom of the ocean floor, Mauna Kea is the tallest sea mountain in the world. In the Hawaiian religion, the peaks of Mauna Kea are sacred. Stop by the Visitor Information Station, the best amateur observation site on Earth! Also, the Onizuka Center holds free nightly stargazing sessions from 6-10 pm. And on weekends, guests can take part in Mauna Kea summit tours!
The Valley Isle: Maui
Maui, known also as “The Valley Isle,” is the second largest Hawaiian island. And Maui has been voted “Best Island in the U.S.” by Condé Nast Traveler readers for more than 20 years!
The Road to Hana Tour. This tour has something for everyone, including the INCREDIBLE beauty of Hawaii! You will be able to catch a roadside waterfall, or enjoy an off-the-beaten path hiking trail. Also, some of the best banana bread stops in the state! Guests can either drive themselves or take any number of guided tours.
Haleakala National Park Maui. Towering over the island of Maui, 10,023 feet above sea level, in fact, the Haleakala Crater is a dormant volcano with breathtaking views. Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian, and legend goes that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last longer. (You’re welcome.) Catch the sunrise, or the sunset, and learn about how Haleakala contributes to the fragile ecosystem of Maui.
Ka’anapali Beach. Three miles of white sand beach and crystal clear waters: the literal definition of paradise. And, of course, the ideal way to enjoy Hawaii! Here, you can take in one of the world class golf courses, or zip line above the breathtaking coastline and see the incredible beauty of the beach for yourself. Each night, a cliff diver lights the torches of the cliffs known as Puu Kekaa, diving off Black Rock in a reenactment of a feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.
The Gathering Place: Oahu
Chances are, everything you know about Hawaii is on Oahu. Beacause Oahu is the most populous island in Hawaii, the home of Waikiki and Pearl Harbor.
Kailua Beach Park. The main park here is 35 acres of green space and sand dunes and, since Kailua Beach is less developed than Waikiki, it has more natural beauty. Enjoy the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters as you enjoy Hawaii in this amazing paradise.
Pearl Harbor. There is a TON to see and do, as well as learn, at Pearl Harbor. It is certainly more than just the USS Arizona, though that is the most important part.
Diamond Head State Monument. Created about 300,000 years ago by a violent volcanic eruption, the Diamond Head crater has become Oahu’s most recognized landmark!
The Garden Isle: Kauai
Kauai, the oldest island of the Hawaiian Islands, is a place where worries vanish in the trade winds, warm saltwater laps the golden sands of Kauai’s Beaches and the rain-forests of Koke’e host earth’s rarest plants and birds. While here, you will experience the secrets of The Garden Island as you dive into the beauty Kauai has to offer. There is truly no place like the Garden Isle of Kauai.
Waimea Canyon. Waimea Canyon State Park is the largest canyon in the Pacific. Here, you will find several Insta-worthy photo spots and overlooks to capture the breathtaking sights. Surrounding the Waimea Canyon is the Koke’e State Park, which occupies 4,345 acres of land. Norfolk pines, Koa hardwoods, native plants and wildlife are just a small fraction of what you will see here. State operated cabins and hiking by permit is available year-round with advance reservations.
Na Pali Coast. This rugged coastline stretches along the Northwest side of Kauai, and is absolutely GORGEOUS! Here, you can take in the high cliffs, sea caves, cascading waterfalls, and lush green valleys of the coast. During your visit, you can go snorkeling, take a catamaran tour, helicopter tours, and more!
Hanalei. This idyllic town, located on Kauai’s north shore, is home to everything from historic places to contemporary art galleries. Here, you will find the Waioli Mission House, where you can learn more about the history of beautiful Kauai. Or maybe you would like to see a ukulele concert at the Hanalei Community Center. Also, you can take in the breathtaking beauty of the misty green mountains and try to figure out words to describe their beauty. Fans of the musical South Pacific may recognize the Hanalei Pier, which was featured in the movie version.
The Friendly Isle: Moloka’i
Moloka’i is the fifth largest Hawaiian island. So this island is TINY! In fact, it is only 38 miles long and 10 miles wide. And it has some of the highest sea cliffs in the world and the longest continuous fringing reef. It is said that Moloka’i is the most urban and most “Hawaiian” of all the islands. It is also quite rugged, so it is not for the faint of heart!
Kaluapapa National Historical Park. In order to even access Kaluapapa National Historical Park, you have to take a 3-mile mule ride. Like I said, Moloka’i is NOT for the faint of heart! Here, you will find the highest sea cliffs in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This serene park is a breathtakingly beautiful place of preservation and education.
Papohaku Beach. Known as “Three Mile Beach,” this three mile stretch of white sand beach is home to, well, nobody. You will enjoy the “Friendly Island” vibe while taking in the amazing sands, without all the foot traffic. There are campsites, indoor and outdoor shower facilities, restroom facilities, and picnic grounds. And you can take in the incredible views of Oahu from the serenity of the beach!
Moloka’i’s Seacliffs. The absolute best way to take in the beauty of the Moloka’i Seacliffs is to take a helicopter tour from Maui. What an awe-inspiring way to enjoy Hawaii!
The Pineapple Island: Lanai
Once a pineapple plantation, Lanai is now owned by billionaire Larry Ellison, and he is turning it into a playground for the super rich. This is the smallest Hawaiian island that tourists are allowed to visit.
Munro Trail. This rugged 12.8 mile trail can only be hiked or biked, you cannot drive. It was named after the New Zealand Naturalist, George Munro, who arrived in 1890. Munro introduced the Cook Pine Trees that you’ll find along the trail.
Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods). The rock towers, spires, and formations formed by centuries of erosion are at their most enchanting at dusk. But know that the area is only accessible via four-wheel drive vehicle or mountain bike. The area actually used to be part of a native dryland forest, parts of which have survived today. As the sun sets, it casts a warm orange glow on the rocks illuminating them in brilliant reds and purples. And on a clear day, visitors can see the islands of Molokai and Oahu from these high elevations.
The Cathedrals. For SCUBA divers, the Cathedrals offer an underwater wonderland full of rock formations, coral, and native sea species.
How You Can Visit and Enjoy Hawaii
Disney’s Aulani, a Resort and Spa. Located on Oahu, this resort offers the beauty of Hawaii with the magic of Disney. Get your Aulani Quote!
How to Beat the Heat and Enjoy your Walt Disney World Vacation in the Florida Summer!
People think we’re crazy, because we go to Walt Disney World in July and/or August every year. Yes, it feels like the surface of the sun, and I have sweat through my shirt within 37 seconds after walking outside, but it’s actually less crowded than almost any other time of year. It’s still crowded, yes, but not nearly as crowded as, say, October or May. So how do we beat the heat? Here are some of our tried and true “Disney in Summer” methods to help your family beat the heat!
1. Stay Hydrated
First and foremost, you MUST stay hydrated. It is incredibly hot and the sun and heat and pavement will wipe you out quickly. Remember that you will be walking on concrete and asphalt, so when the temperature is 96 degrees at 9am, the ground is MUCH hotter. But don’t waste your money on water in the parks. You could buy a whole case of water for the price of one bottle of water in the parks. And not only that, the “cheap” bottles of water are Dasani, and Dasani adds salt to their water, which then just dehydrates you. Yes, salt is necessary for the human body, but there was one vacation where I drank Dasani and came out of it incredibly thirsty and very swollen.
The solution? Pack your own water bottles. You can fill up at the quick service refill stations in your hotel, order bottled water for your room, and get water at all quick service locations for free. If the Florida water isn’t something you like, get a water bottle with a filter (like Brita) or pack some drink flavoring. There are also water bottle filling stations at each park. PRO TIP: Pack something to flavor your water with, like koolaid mix sticks. The water can be…funky.
2. Use Cooling Towels
Cooling towels are your friend! These little beauties will lower your body temp significantly, especially if you use them on your head. We have towels that you can wrap around your head like a scarf or a headband, which are not only comfortable, but fashionable. And let me tell you, when you’re dripping with sweat, being fashionable is completely important. There are several versions of these available to purchase, but I suggest a version that folds up easily. I like things to be light, compact, and easy to carry, so that your back isn’t broken by all the stuff you lug around. Also, you don’t want to be “that guy” in the bag check line.
3. Spend More Time in the Air Conditioning
The good news is that most of the rides at Walt Disney World are inside, so maybe standing in a long line every once in a while isn’t so bad! Make sure you’re going into air conditioned spaces as much as you can during the hottest parts of the day. Spend time shopping or grabbing a snack and a seat inside. Get in that Peter Pan line that is 90 minutes and play in the most awesomest line queue there is! ESPECIALLY if there’s a storm! This is a great dry and cool place to wait out a storm!
4. Get Up Early/Stay Out Late
Are you not a morning person? Believe me, I understand, but one of the absolute best ways to beat the heat is to get up really early and head to the parks. We like to get up early, get a ton done in the parks before it gets too hot, head to brunch, then head back to the hotel to rest and/or swim, before heading back out in the evening when it starts to cool down again.
PRO TIP: plan a longer trip in summer months so that you can take advantage or more down time and more time at your resort.
5. Add Park Hopper Plus or Water Parks and Sports
Adding Water Parks and Sports to your ticket gets you into the parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Golf and/or Mini-Golf, and the Walt Disney World Water Parks. If you want to park hop, you can purchase the Park Hopper Plus and gain access to the sports and Water Parks, in addition to park hopping privileges. This is a great value and an awesome way to beat the heat!
6. Eat a LOT of Frozen Treats!
There is nothing better on a scorching hot day than some ICE CREAM! And Disney has PLENTY to offer! Read about my top Ice Cream Spots!
7. Sunscreen/Moleskin/Body Glide/Extra Deodorant
DO NOT skip sunscreen. The last thing you want to do is spend thousands of dollars on a vacation to get scorched on day 1 and be miserable the rest of your trip. Use it often! Pack some moleskin. You will walk A LOT at WDW. People are surprised by how much walking there is. On our last trip, I think the lowest step count was about 20K in one day. Couple that with sweat and rain and wet socks, you might come away with blisters. Moleskin will help with that and protect your feet from infection AND pain. At the very least, make sure you have bandaids!
For those of us not blessed with a thigh gap, body glide is a life saver. BONUS PRO TIP: Gold Bond powder keeps lady bits and undercarriages of all types fresh and dry. Helps with the chafing and burning. Just trust me, you’re gonna want these things! I also pack a travel deodorant in my bag. I have smelled some stuff while in the parks in summer and let me tell you, it WILL NOT be me! BONUS BONUS PRO TIP: baby wipes or deodorant wipes to wipe the sweat off of you, makes you feel refreshed and clean.
Yes, they sell ponchos in the parks. Yes, they have Mickey Mouse on them. Yes, you could easily reuse them. OR you can spend the same amount of money on a box of 20 or more ponchos you can easily throw away when the rain stops as you would on one Mickey Mouse poncho.
It’s summer in Central Florida. It’s going to rain. Most times, it will pass quickly, though there are those vacations when it just rains the entire week you’re there. Instead of carrying around a wet piece of plastic, throw it away and go about your business. Much easier, much nicer. You could also purchase a small, foldable umbrella or a raincoat to use instead of a poncho (I hate ponchos so much, so I get it).
As I said, it will rain. It may be good to invest in a waterproof backpack. If you are like me, though, and you already have 20 backpacks dedicated to Disney trips (I’m probably embellishing a bit), just stick different size ziploc bags in your suitcase and stick them in your bag. This also comes in handy for electronics when you go on water rides. Some people also pack flip flops or sandals to wear in the rain, so their shoes don’t get trashed when the parks start filling up with water. PRO TIP: pack extra socks in your bag. As Lt Dan said, you want to keep your feet dry! Whether it be rain or sweat, sometimes just changing your socks midday can vastly improve your mood and the way your feet feel!