It’s the last day of our all-inclusive vacation in the Punta de Mita region of Mexico, and I would literally kill a bitch for some herb tea. Is it just me, or is anything non-alcoholic only available during breakfast? Maybe I didn’t look into this enough. I know I have water in my fridge in the room, but it seems to be an insurmountable task to order anything other than alcoholic bevvies after 11am. Why would I even want to, you ask? Because I fear that my liver is shutting the fuck down, that’s why!
We stayed at the Iberostar, which I adore, but we usually go at the beginning of November when it’s quieter. This time, we timed our vacation to our daughter’s reading break at University-which is precisely when every ass hat in North America wants to go as well. I have been looking forward to this trip for weeks. I planned every detail; flights, hotel, packing lists for my family and me (check out our Top 10 list for what to pack in your carry on). I obsessed -because that is what I do. My angst started in the line-up for security. There seemed to be an abnormally large amount of baby strollers and #basicwhitegirls. Apparently there was going to be a wedding of epic proportions and it would be the happiest day of their lives. Fingers crossed it was not happening at our resort. Sadly, this was not to be the case. On a side note, is it wrong to tell a child that the reason the plane can’t land is because the pilot can’t concentrate and they need to S.T.F.U.? If it is, then I was a bad parent-a parent of blissfully silent children. Don’t get me wrong, I love children and I understand that flying is difficult for them. I get it. I really do. I totally understand when they cry and I feel for the parents. What I don’t go for are the parents who totally ignore their twisting, screaming, red in the face child for the whole flight.
I am hardly what can be considered a worldly traveller, but I feel there is one basic rule to follow while on vacation. That rule is, ‘Don’t be a douche.’ Under this one rule, there are a myriad of other small rules, that you would think would be common sense, but as my grandpa has always said, common sense, isn’t all that common. Here are some of the basics though:
- Learn the laws of the country you are visiting. Taking your medical marijuana prescription with you? You may just find yourself in a foreign jail for drug trafficking. Love showing a little PDA (you people gross me out, btw) you can also be arrested if you are in a country like Dubai which is not super fond of holding hands in public.
- Learn the proper tipping etiquette. In Mexico for instance, most of the workers earn a minimal base wage and rely heavily on their tips. We were told by one of our guides that the daily wage of a cab driver is around $6/day and they still have to pay for their fuel, the cost of which has skyrocketed in Mexico. I am always surprised at the amount of tourists who are super surprised to see us tip. They will ask us why we’re tipping since they are under the impression that tipping is included at an all-inclusive. Whether it is or it isn’t, I would not feel like a very good person to have someone waiting on me for twelve hours straight in the hot sun without showing my appreciation for all that they’re doing. Don’t wait until the last day you leave to tip. It can be the day off for the lady who was cleaning your room all week. I also find a nice tip gets you nice additional items stocked in your beer fridge and fancy towel people/animals. But, on the flip side, there are also countries where they would find it rude for you to tip such as French Polynesia and Japan.
- Learn how to say a few phrases in the local language. You don’t have to be fluent, but by knowing a few basics, it shows that you put in some effort.
- Learn the septic system. What? Why? Did you not know that in many places people wipe their butts and put it in the wastebasket? If there is a sign on the wall (horrifying, I know) that instructs you to put your shit paper in the garbage can, at least be a dear and wrap it up in some more paper to camo that shit. Literally.
So, if you’re ever on vacation and you find yourself questioning, “is this a douche move?” it probably is. Don’t do it. I know you want to have fun, but wheeling your kids into the late night show and having them scream through the whole thing is a fucking distraction. And we all want to throat punch you. We do not think your child is cute at this point. We feel sorry for them. They want to be in bed. You are now the equivalent of, ‘The People of Walmart’ who have their kids ‘shopping’ with them at 11 o’clock so they can take advantage of the extended Christmas hours. Just because you’re rocking your vacation braids, doesn’t mean that general parenting rules don’t apply.
Excursions: Research that shit! Many excursions are remote. Did you see a picture of a beautiful quarter horse running through the foaming ocean waves? Do you see yourself astride your noble steed with your hair flying in the wind while your love of the moment is capturing the best Instagram photos? Let me just start off by saying that if you’re horse looks anything like the ones in the pictures, you have really lucked out. I have had a literal donkey and an emaciated horse that looked like I would kill it if I jumped on. I have been in a mishmash of animals that are all kicking each other (and the leg of one poor person who paid an awful lot to ride said horse) I have swam with dolphins in a green pool that made me itch. It didn’t look anything like the pictures either. I just left feeling sad and empty. I was sitting by the pool beside a lady who just broke her ankle the day before on a waterslide that had the third steepest drop in the world. That’s where I was going the very next day. And I’m terrified of heights. I may or may not have shit my pants a little, which in turn made me think that if other spontaneous shitters were here, I could be contracting Hep A to top it all off. I now travel super prepared wherever I go. I would consider your travel first aid kit a minimum. Even though no tour operator wants bad press, no one else loves you like you do.
I have been on both good and bad excursions, and I have never blamed anyone else for my experience other than myself. It’s my job to make sure that I am comfortable with whatever I sign up for and that I have thought through all possible outcomes. I have seen amazing things with my children while in other countries and met great people. I have learned the history of the area from passionate guides. I have seen blue boobies (the bird, not the body part) and swam in protected waters all while hearing my son dry heaving and trying to hold back my own vomit because we were all so motion sick. But it was still a good memory believe it or not. Part of being in a foreign country is not taking anything for granted. I love travelling. I love meeting new people and learning (and being respectful) of different cultures. It’s part of the human experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every time you leave your house, you should be prepared and avoid potentially bad situations. Being on vacation doesn’t mean that you leave your brain at home.