When Amy was about three or four (she’s now nine) I thought of
starting a website called Mama Jo’s Travel Tips.  I had a fantasy that
Amy and I would travel the country and post reviews on the activities
we did and the places we stayed. 

Of course, that would have required unlimited time and budget, or at
least would have forced me to think about how to make income while
we were on the road.  I couldn’t get that business model together.

So what you’re reading today is a spin-off of that original idea.  From
time to time I’ll post a little review of a trip I think is fun for children,
and here is my first suggestion.

I would highly consider traveling with children four and older (up
through teens) to any recommended all-inclusive resort in the Riviera
Maya area of Mexico.  Examples:  Iberostar chain, Barceló chain, Riu
chain. Check www.tripadvisor.com for recommendations. 


  • Absolutely beautiful.  Lots of white sand and clear, teal waters. 
    Well-manicured grounds.
  • Most resorts have several pools; some have water parks for younger
    children or a children’s pool where they can play and meet other kids.
  • Resorts run scheduled activities all day long.  Teens can buddy up
    and attend some of these across the pool from you without you having
    to worry about their safety. 
  • You don’t have to make a lot of decisions about food.  Main meals
    are served via buffets, with a lot of choices.  Resorts offer some
    specialty restaurants as well, which is a nice “by reservation” outing
    with older children. 
  • Most resorts include a kids club (drop off your child for an hour or a
    day) and non-motorized water sports (snorkeling, windsurfing,
    paddleboats) in your package.  This gives your family many options of
    things to do during the day.  Our family has found the kids clubs to be
    reliable and safe. 
  • Most resorts offer a shopping area, and/or a shuttle to Playa del
    Carmen or Cancun for an “in-town” shopping experience.
  • Almost all resorts have nightly shows and entertainment, though
    some are too loud or garish for the younger children. 
  • If you do have the hankering to get off campus, tour companies
    keep regular hours in the lobby.  You can book anything from a canopy
    tour to an ATV tour to a day at the pyramids or an ecological park. 
  • You can meet American and international families fairly easily, as
    you see many of the same families out walking or in the pools and
  • You can get really good discounts after Spring Breakers leave the
    area, roughly mid-April through November (see hurricane season
    notes below).

(Honestly, I could go on but I’ll stop there.)

  •  Hurricane season:  July through October.  Your call.  Hurricane
    Wilma, Category 3, whipped through this area in October of 2005. 
  • Mosquitoes can be bothersome.  Bring a strong bug repellant…you
    may not use it but you have it if the critters enjoyed a strong breeding
  • Sunburns.  Rash guard swim suits and hats can greatly extend the
    amount of time your children can play in the sun without suffering.
  • Unlimited alcohol.  If your teen looks old enough to be eighteen by
    Mexican standards, they might get away with being served by the
    bartenders.  Request the no-alcohol bracelet at check-in if this
    concerns you, and keep tabs on your teen. 
  • Water is the center of attention.  If you or the majority of people in
    your family doesn’t enjoy the water, you may not enjoy this type of
  • Service can vary and the culture is not one that’s in a hurry.  A
    problem may take several hours to solve.  Most resort staff are
    friendly, but some seem blasé about their jobs.

I have a hard time finding other things not to like about this area.  In
fact, I’m headed down this coming week on an incentive trip I earned
with the CETUSA student exchange organization.  Enjoy some guest
blog posts next week while I dream up new blog entries in a hammock
by the beach.

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to



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