Holiday in paradise: Exploring Cancun

Our family holiday adventure to Cancun, Mexico was about to take off. We were all packed up and ready to go. Rex (our 13-year old Border Collie) is enjoying the holidays on the Outer Banks while we seek warmer weather in Quintana Roo, Mexico and the beautiful Caribbean waters. Our trip started off a little rough with the rental car agency, but got better every day. This is our holiday adventure in Mexico for the first time as we explore the beaches in Cancun.

December 19th – Traveling to Cancun from RDU

We booked our flights on Delta a few weeks ago and scored a great AirBnB in Central Cancun. So, we are not staying in an all-inclusive resort or hotel in the “hotel zone,” a barrier island that juts out into the Caribbean from the beach town. We opted for a 3-bedroom condo called Torre Tzalam with a great view of the area, a walkable neighborhood, and a very green & lush park connecting the block together. I love a great AirBnb with comfortable beds and the amenities that we need to enjoy our vacation–and this place fits the bill!

While I’ll admit, it would be awesome to have a place on or near the beach, we booked our travel just a few weeks ago and kind of on the seat of our pants (due to our crazy, busy lives and a lot of unknowns about if we wanted to vacation or not). We looked at several different options in the Caribbean, including St. Marteen, Puerto Rico, Aruba, and several other islands. Cancun had the most affordable airfare for a family of four. Let’s go!

We had really decent flights, meaning we didn’t have to wake up at the ass crack of dawn or fly north to travel south. Our flight left Raleigh (RDU) just before 10:00 AM with a connection in Atlanta and a short layover before boarding our flight to Cancun. Our travel was non-eventful, but the parents getting upgraded to first class on the Cancun segment was a nice little start to our vacation. 

We landed on the Yucatan Peninsula, just after 3:00 PM. Sunny, warm, and we can’t wait to get going, but a little speed bump was in our path to vacation. We de-boarded the plane and cleared customs. Then we proceeded to get our checked bags, waited at one place, then were told via announcement to go to a different carousel, turns out our bags were back at the original location. Great. We got our bags, now onto the rental car that we reserved from Hertz.

With Hertz, we are “Gold” members (I’ll get you Austin Powers) and have booked with them consistently without any issues for many trips. But my mood was about to drastically change while we waited for at least an hour to get the car and Merri Beth was getting hustled over car insurance. Lesson learned, we did not do our research on this before we traveled and we got burned. Future travelers renting a car in Cancun: Alert, alert, alert, please read on so you don’t get scammed.

While the kids and I patiently waited with our backpacks and luggage for mom to complete the rental car agreements, we were informed that rental insurance was not included in our reservation. This is the worst Mexican tourist scam on the books (besides filling up your car with gas, search that one too). Our rental price almost doubled and was now over $1k (US) for the week. I was fucking livid. Some dude tried to sell me an excursion, I looked at him and said very sternly, “I’m not happy about this” and he walked away. No one else approached us and then suddenly our rental car appeared.

I started reading all the travel blogs about this. It’s insane (we had no clue). You should video record your vehicle and deeply inspect it for any damage, dings, cracks, rips, stains, farts, etc, etc, etc, because they want to cash in on your vacation. Out of all the places I’ve traveled, this was the worst rental car experience I’ve ever had. The problem is, they’re all in on it together. I’m hoping that American Express can give us a little help when we get back home. I’ll report back, but I doubt it. Dammit! Also, I despise taxi cabs. No bueno. 

Once we finally got in the car and started driving, things started to get better. We drove north from the airport to our AirBnb in central Cancun. Parking was easy, we had two reserved spots with our place. Getting in was also easy, punch in the code, enter. Done. We settled in and then ventured out for dinner. MB found this dope spot called Playita, a short walk from our place. 

It was nice to stretch our legs after flying for a few hours on our way to the restaurant. We got a table and started devouring the menu, trying our best to translate and make sure we knew what we were ordering. We had some Ceviche to start and everyone ordered. The food came out after a short while and the family seemed content. There were burgers, burritos, and good times. 

Exhausted from a day of travel and eager to enjoy our vacation, we went back to our AirBnb to relax and get ready for bed. And while this might sound a little crazy, we didn’t book any excursions or adventures before our arrival. So we’ve got some research to do before the fun begins. This is just how we roll.

When folks went to sleep, I ventured to a grocery store for a few supplies. It was an interesting experience at Chedraui after a day of travel. I managed to get snacks, soda for the kids, and some provisions for the parents. Cheers!