Saturday, November 25, 2017

Packing for Cozumel

Last week's post was all about our wonderful trip to Cozumel, but I wanted to share a second post about packing for a similar trip.

Our trip was all about spending time in the water and relaxing and my packing list reflects that. Our fellow vacationers in the resort and around town were also quite casual. Going almost anywhere in swimwear (with a cover up) is quite the norm and I wore my suit more than anything else.

I was packed fairly light for this trip as evidenced by the ample free space I had in my checked bag and the back pack I always carry on.

Here's what I packed:
  • Clothing: 6 t-shirts, 4 nicer knit shirts, 5 pair of shorts, 1 skirt, 1 pair of dressier capris, 1 pair jean capris, pajama shorts and shirt, 2 swimsuits, 1 cover-up.
  • Rain coat and hoodie (worn on plane)
  • Shoes: 1 pair of sandals for the beach, 1 pair of dressier sandals and I wore sneakers on the plane.
  • Hairbrush and straightening iron
  • Phone and ipad (loaded with books)
  • Snacks: protein bars, snack mix and beef jerky for the plane
All things considered,I did pretty well. And bonus, I only purchased two new thingsfor the trip: a cover up and new sleep shorts. The only things I didn't wear was one knit shirt and the rain coat. Most days we showered and changed before dinner since we spent the majority of our time in the ocean or pool. 

I didn't bring a hairdryer since they had one in the room and only ended up using it once on the night we went to the fancier restaurant at the resort. Same thing goes for my hair straightener and makeup. I only used them once and would definitely leave the hair straightener and most of the makeup at home next time. It so humid in Cozumel that any effort I spent on my hair didn't last long.

[photo: Christine und Hagen Graf]

There are a few things I would add to my list for future trips:
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: I bought regular sunscreen for the trip, but the boyfriend had read about the need to bring reef-safe sunscreen in order to protect the reefs and sea life from harmful chemicals. We managed to find some before our trip, but it was pricey so we decided to wait thinking it would be easy to find in Cozumel. Wrong! Sunscreen in general is surprisingly expensive in Cozumel and reef-safe sunscreen was even harder to find there than at home and what you could find was double the price. Luckily my aunt had some extra.
  • A swim-shirt: Despite my mooched sunscreen, I still got burnt, as I often do. This time it was my back and arms so next time I'd buy a sunblocking swim shirt or two to help block some rays during snorkeling.
  • A snorkel: My aunt and uncle brought extras, but I think it's worth investing in a snorkel that fits well if its something you intend to do a lot. The boyfriend insisted on buying his own snorkel to bring and was quite happy with it.
  • More cool, dressier tops: While many people at the resort were super casual all of the time, others dressed up a bit for dinner, which was fun the two times I did it. So next time I'd take a few more dressy-casual tops that were also cool because it ws pretty warm and humid.
  • Second swimsuit and cover up I love: I bought a cover up on Amazon to take on the trip, but next time I'd take a second, prettier one since I wore it so much. Also, while I took a second suit, I didn't love it and hardly wore it. It's been years since I bought a new suit so it's probably time to invest in another before a second beach vacation.
What about you, do you usually pack too light or too much for trips? Anything you'd add to the list?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Recharging in Mexico

Fall is here already, with winter rapidly approaching, but I'm in denial of the changing seasons since we just returned from our summer vacation in Cozumel, Mexico.

This was our first trip to Mexico (and the boyfriend's first time leaving the country) and first time staying in an all-inclusive resort. I was anxious before the trip about the U.S. Department of State's recent travel warning regarding increased crime and murder rates in the region, but by that time everything was booked and paid for so away we went.

Happily, I can report that our fears were unfounded. We had no issues whatsoever and thoroughly enjoyed our trip.

We stayed at the Melia Cozumel. My aunt and uncle have a timeshare there and due to a change in travel plans had an extra room that was going to go to waste, so not only did we get to stay in a great room, but it was an amazing deal for us. It was a lovely, roomy suite with an ocean view, marble tile and a canopy bed. Being an all-inclusive, meant that all food, drinks and most amenities were included. The resort had four restaurants, two pools, three bars including my fave--the swim up bar, and lots of beach front.

My favorite part of the trip was our visit to Chankanaab national park, where we swam with dolphins, met some manatees, watched a sea lion show and enjoyed the best snorkeling of the trip. Entrance to the park is $21 per person but includes park and beach access with free use of chairs and furniture.  Restaurants and swimming with the sea life are extra. It's amazing how many fish we saw so close to the shore at the reef there, such variety and so colorful!

The snorkeling area at Chankanaab [photo: jchessma]

We also took a snorkeling boat trip to a reef and sand bar area, but the crowds (people would literally swim over you) and lack of fish meant that wasn't my favorite.

A small glimpse of the shops in downtown Cozumel.
Downtown Cozumel, where the many cruise ship visitors are dropped off, is full of restaurants and shops that mainly cater to tourists. It also wasn't our favorite because the vendors are fairly aggressive about trying to get you to come in their shops or restaurants. But that's also where Mega, a large grocery store, is located. Think of a Walmart or super Target and you'll get the idea. I love going to grocery stores in different countries and seeing the different and similar foods available. This one had a large, very delicious looking bakery, plus anything else you might need. The exchange rate there for U.S. dollars was the best one I saw and prices were very reasonable for most foods. The only "souvenirs" we brought back were snacks.

We also drove around the island and saw the more wild Caribbean side, which is gorgeous but the water is much rougher since it doesn't have the island for protection like the opposite side where we stayed and swam.

Most of our time was spent in this area of the resort--ahh!
The rest of the time we spent at the resort, mainly in a cabana on the beach which was incredibly relaxing. There's also decent snorkeling in the beach right next to the hotel property and we saw a surprising amount of fish there and even a star fish. There's also the swim up bar, located in the adults-only pool, that we discovered on our last day. So fun!

That's our trip in a nutshell. We had a great time and came back refreshed. Stay tuned for next week's post about what I recommend (and don't) for your Cozumel trip packing list.


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