The Drive to Houston – The First Segment of the Trip
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You know the part of the trip when you go through a list in your head, trying to figure out the item you most certainly forgot? There has to be something, right? The sooner we figure what I forgot, the sooner we can relax.
The drive to Houston is when I realized I forgot the plastic cover for the car seat. Should be fine, but I was annoyed at myself. (spoiler alert: the car seat had no damage even without the protective cover)
I suppose it’s not ideal to have to drive 2 1/2 hours to get to the airport, but because my parents live in Houston, it’s a great excuse to hang out with them for a night. We had hamburgers, watched the Minnesota Twins on TV and caught up on life.
Airport Drop Off
Lucky for us, my dad took us to the airport. Not only does that mean extra time with him, but it also means we didn’t have to pay for parking. I love not having to pay for airport parking.
Even more, I love spending extra time with my dad.
The drive to the airport is when I realized I left her Bear, her little lamb and her bunny in her Pack ’n’ Play at my parents’ house.
My stomach sank.
I had just read this article about this happening and wondered to myself how could something like that happen? I can’t imagine a scenario where I would forget her Bear.
We made a decision: Elmo would have to come with us to Mexico. Originally, he was only along for the car ride, just to keep her company from Austin to Houston.
We will remove his batteries upon arrival so he doesn’t sing the alphabet while we are trying to sleep. (There is no off/on switch and battery removal requires a special screwdriver.)
Check-in was no problem. Flight check-in is about when I realized that my purse won’t work anymore as my carry on.
I need a real carry on. A carry-on that I can wear on my back, that will fit my documents folder, my laptop, and hand sanitizer, among other Mom necessities. (If you have any suggestions for the perfect carry-on backpack, I am welcoming feedback and insight – please let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Airport hanging out included reunited cousins, waiting in line for our passports to be scanned, (again) and breakfast. I had a Starbucks parfait for breakfast. This was a treat. Yogurt and granola are not on my regular rotation. It was $2 cheaper at Starbucks than it was at the airport newsstand.
We flew with Spirit Airlines.
This was not by choice. This was the airline that was included in the package deal that my in-laws purchased. I do not complain about such a generous gift or any gift for that matter. Keeping that in mind, I have only heard negative feedback about Spirit Airlines.
Having heard said feedback from other traveling friends, I did the research. I learned everything I could about Spirit Airlines, their fees, and how to avoid them.
Mission accomplished – we had no additional fees upon arrival and no surprises.
It’s all about expectations. I imagine most people who hate Spirit Airlines aren’t expecting the additional fees upon arriving at the airport. As someone who really dislikes paying extra for things I do believe I am entitled to, (because of how much I have already paid, not because I am an entitled millennial, which could be debatable) I completely understand this frustration.
We sat next to a white, blonde male, in his younger 20’s, I am guessing. He listened to loud music and scrolled through Instagram, zooming in on hot chicks while waiting for take-off. This means there were 4 of us on this row.
This is about the time we realized that while the baby is under 2 and flies for free, she is too big (even at a mere 25 pounds) to not have her own seat. Especially when the seats are smaller than your standard seats. (Spirit Airlines has smaller seats and less-than-standard leg room, in case you were unaware. Although, I did pay for the minor upgrade, so we did have more space than the people behind us.)
Adversity on the Flight
We didn’t realize until the flight was almost over that there were several empty seats around us. Several rows only had 2 people in them.
Historically, when this has been the case, our fellow travelers make arrangements so that the baby has her own seat. I do not expect this to happen, as we did not pay for her seat. It is a courtesy I have become accustomed to and one that I would extend to others, should I be in their situation. (But I know that I am not entitled to a seat for her, just to clarify.)
Things don’t always work in our favor, and that’s okay. It’s a short flight; less than 3 hours. Practicing patience is always a good exercise.
My backup plan for an unhappy baby was to break out the iPad and have her watch the Super Readers, which I had downloaded from Netflix a couple days prior to the trip.
The iPad didn’t work and the baby didn’t sleep.
Things don’t always work in our favor, and that’s okay. It’s a short flight.
Learning to deal with adversity is always a good exercise. Adversity prepares you to better handle more difficult obstacles in the future.
The Airport In Mexico
Turns out, I didn’t fill out the forms correctly for immigration. I forgot the bottom section on all 3 of our forms. We were instructed to the desks on the side of the room to complete our forms. Of course, there were no pens at the desks. For some reason, I haven’t been traveling with writing utensils, which I mentally noted to change when we got home from this trip.
Of course, there were no pens at the desks. For some reason, I haven’t been traveling with writing utensils, which I mentally noted to change when we got home from this trip. (I am always making notes as to how I can improve my efficiency for future travels.) Fortunately, my mother-in-law had given the baby a “busy bag” before the trip which included stickers, paper, post-it notes and a pack of markers so I had a black marker to use.
Whew, what a relief.
Next up – the customs desk. Turns out, the guy at immigration had kept my customs form so had to fill that out again. They had a pen handy this time, so no black marker required.
Bienvenidos a Mexico!
The whole crew congregated and we made out way outside to find our transportation. We were instructed to look for a guy with an orange sign that said “Nexus.” We spotted him quickly and made our way to a table to wait for the shuttle, having to vigilantly fight off other people vying for our business and waiters trying to sell us margaritas and beer.
We were allegedly waiting on another couple from our flight, but it turned out we were actually waiting for our shuttle to arrive at the airport. I dressed myself and the baby for the plane, not the hot Mexico weather outside of the airport. All good. We will be at our resort in no time.
And we were.
Arriving at the Resort – Holiday Inn Los Cabos All-Inclusive
Of course, the baby fell asleep on
the short shuttle ride.
We carried her into the hotel in the car seat so she could finish her slumber while we checked in. The rooms weren’t ready yet so we left our bags at the front and took the party over to the restaurant where the buffet was waiting for us. More importantly, where we could find the waitress to take our drink orders!
With full bellies and a more relaxed demeanor, we went up to our rooms. Our younger niece accompanied us to our room while her parents got some things situated.
Hiccups in Paradise
Right away – our niece locked herself in the bathroom. We hadn’t even been in the bathroom yet so we didn’t know what type of lock she was dealing with. My husband had the brilliant idea to slide his phone under the door so she could take a picture of the lock and we could then instruct her on how to unlock it, but his phone didn’t fit under the door.
Before panic could set in, she figured out the lock and was able to get out of the bathroom.
Boy oh boy were we excited to get our bathing suits on and get to the pool! Oh, wait, our suitcases aren’t in the room. After a couple of phone calls and waiting for too long, my husband went downstairs to get them for us. We didn’t tip the employee who took them originally; rookie mistake.
The crib was also not in the room. It took several hours, 3 calls and 2 visits to the front desk to get the crib into our room.
Our beach-loving, fish baby suddenly developed a fear of the water and the sand. She seriously didn’t get in the pool or go to the beach the entire trip.(Complete 180 from how she was on our trip to Costa Rica earlier this summer) We walked her down to the ocean and she cried the entire time.
She loved watching the waves from the hotel balcony and loved watching the horses on the beach, but that is as far as the love went.
Sleeping Arrangements In Mexico
She also had trouble sleeping the first and last nights there, which is unusual for her. She ended up in bed with us which we’ve never actually done before.
While it was super cute and cuddly having her wedged up against me, I really do appreciate my space while I sleep. I place a high value on sleep and the sleep was definitely compromised a bit with her in the bed with us.
Ultimately, we realized that she is too big for a hotel crib and is accustomed to her bed at home, which is far more comfortable than what a hotel would provide. This didn’t matter as much when she was smaller.
On previous trips, we have taken the Pack ‘n’ Play which is larger and has softer sides. The hotel crib has metal rods and no bumper (yes, I have a bumper in her crib despite what “they” say about it), so not the soft and cushy experience she usually has.
We decided that next time we travel and sleep in a hotel, that she would just sleep in a regular bed.
Besides those minor issues, there weren’t really any other hiccups. At least not for us. My in-laws had an issue with their AC and had to move rooms. But that was no biggie.
Back to Happy In Paradise
Overall, the trip was wonderful. We had lots of quality family time, whether it was by the pool or sitting around a table eating a meal. The pools were great – for adults and for kids. Every pool was kid-friendly (minus the adult pool) and every pool had a swim-up bar. It was a total win-win.
The food was good and while the buffet wasn’t always open, it was open for most of the day and there was always a restaurant open so that food was always available. And the bars were open at 10 am, so there was always a fresh drink ready!
Going Into Town
We went into town one day to check out the scene and do a little shopping. I didn’t buy anything.
We are collecting memories, not things.
Pictures and memories will last a life time.
The town was cute, heavily under construction, very quiet, and hot. We knew we were in the quiet part of Los Cabos, but this was definitely quieter than we expected.
And it was a Saturday!
It was also plenty hot like I said. I’ve said it twice intentionally.
We met in the lobby just before 10 am for the shuttle to take us to the airport for a 1 pm flight back to the United States. We ended up having to wait for another family so it was good we were there so early. Plus, there are 9 of us, including 2 kids and a toddler, so it’s important to include time buffers.
Most of the seat belts didn’t work on the shuttle and while most people might not care, my husband and I are big believers in wearing seatbelts.
Because we watch the news and read stories about how many people die not wearing them. Also, because as my husband says, “Everything is fine until it’s not.”
We don’t play when it comes to our baby’s safety: precious cargo.
The Flight Home
The airport was uneventful.
Beer drinking, chip eating, iPad charging heck of a time. The baby watched the airplanes outside and the luggage being loaded up into the planes.
She also went #2 just before it was time for us to board, which is so much better than waiting until we were on the plane. Changing her diaper on the plane is terrible. The bathrooms at the airport didn’t have a changing station so I had to change her diaper on the small, hard, cold counter top – not ideal. We survived.
Between last-minute bathroom trips and finalizing the bill at the Corona Bar, we were the last to board the plane. And wouldn’t you believe it? Our seats were with the same guy we sat with on the way out to Mexico!
This time, we did not hesitate to immediately suggest he moved up a few rows to sit with his friends. I could tell that he, and his friends, thought he had the entire row to himself on this flight. Imagine his surprise when we showed up again, with a baby!
Anyhow, so we had the entire row for the 3 of us on this flight which made all the difference in the world. She was still restless, but at least she had her own space, which equates to less whining and less kicking the seat of the person in front of us.
Arrival In Houston
This was when I finally got to test out my Global Entry Membership. It was pretty unreal how quickly I got to baggage claim. I walked off the plane, scanned my passport and my finger prints and handed a receipt to Homeland Security.
It was so quick and easy that I felt like I was doing something wrong. Unfortunately, my husband and the baby are not included in these benefits. I was hoping my Global Entry Membership would extend to them like my TSA PreCheck membership is; it definitely does not. “Members only,” they said.
They went to wait in the customs line and I was able to get our luggage off the conveyor belt before anyone else was even down there. So, even though they weren’t able to join me in my seamless re-entry into the United States, it helped that I was able to have the luggage ready when they got through customs. Made for a pretty stress-free situation.
We arrived at 5 pm so it only made sense to have dinner before we got on the road back to Austin. Quick Chinese dinner with my parents in Houston at Feng Ling and we were off!
Getting Home to Austin
The baby cried for the last hour of the drive; she was miserable. We tried everything.
I don’t think I have ever seen her so happy to get home, get in the bath, and cuddle with her bear in her own bed.
Have you been to Mexico with your family? Did you go the all-inclusive route? How did it go with your family? Comment below!