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Traveling with Children in Mexico

Traveling with Children in Mexico

Montse and Saul, ready to welcome your kids

Montse and Saul, ready to welcome your kids

Mexico is an incredible destination for familes!   Mexicans love children, and you’ll find they are welcome everywhere.  There are so many kid-friendly things to do in Mexico, your family is guaranteed a great time!

October 2, 2007

At first glance, you might think that children and Mexico don’t mix.  Ice-cold Coronas, volcano-hot foods and romantic getaways aren’t very kid friendly, you reason.

But you’re wrong.

Mexico is an incredible destination for kids of all ages.  There is so much to see and do that, with a little advance planning, children will have the time of their lives.

“But isn’t Mexico a little dangerous for kids?”

Come take a look around at all the beautiful, happy and healthy Mexican children who live here, and that will answer your question. The chance you are going to find a scorpion or a rattlesnake, even if you are actively searching for them, is very slim.  Precautions have to be taken against getting separated or lost, just like anywhere else.  Children must be instructed not to eat tropical plants or approach animals on the street.  If you are at the beach, let your kids know how far out they can swim, and ask locals about jellyfish and which beaches may have mosquitoes or sand fleas.  All common sense precautions.

“What about all that spicy food?”

First, it is easy to find food that is not spicy in Mexico.  Quesadillas are a tasty standby that kids love.  Most soups can be made ‘sin chile’ (without chile peppers), and carne asada and tacos are available everywhere.  In cities you can even subsist on McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut, if you find your children need a familiar meal.

But you may be surprised.  Mexican children—even toddlers—eat the hottest peppers.  Many local candies are surprisingly spicy, and people put ground chile powder on fruit—oranges, mangoes, cucumbers—all the time.  You and your family will become accustomed to hot food too.  Start out with a little Tabasco sauce at home, and the family will quickly come to enjoy the heat.  You’ll usually find dishes of salsa on your table in Mexico, and you can add as much or as little as you want.  If you go to a restaurant with few empty tables, the sauces will always be delicious and fresh.  Just be forewarned if you are not used to spicy food—the sauce may be scrumptious at night, but first thing in the morning you may relive the experience.  There are many Mexican jokes about hot peppers burning at both ends, toilet seats curved up at the sides, and fingernail marks scratched on the walls.  Make sure you don’t confuse the laxative effects of hot peppers with dysentery!

My Mom never used to eat hot foods.  After several visits to Mexico, she adds habanero peppers (from her own garden) to her spaghetti sauce, and laughs haughtily at “Extra hot” chicken wings.  Hot peppers are quite addictive—once you are used to eating them, you don’t want to go without.

“What if the kids get sick?”

The most likely sickness will be stomach problems.  Mexico is famous for “Montezuma’s Revenge,” but actually any change in water, diet, and habits can challenge your bowels, no matter where you are.  Usually the problem clears up in a day or two with yogurt and Pepto Bismol.  But kids being kids, what happens if they come down with strep throat, a cold, or an ear infection?

One of the great things about Mexico is the pharmacies.  A diagnosis and prescription that might take 3 doctors and a phalanx of tests in the states to make can often be handled by the pharmacist alone in Mexico.  An example.  Years ago I came down with a case of strep throat.  I had had it before, and knew what it was.  I went to Farmacias Guadalajara, our local chain of drug stores, and told the pharmacist my troubles.  For $5 he sold me three vials of Lincocin antibiotic and three syringes (which are legal to buy in Mexico).  I had a friend who was a nurse and she gave me the injections, and I felt better in a couple of days.  The pharmacist can always recommend someone nearby who gives shots, usually out of their house.

Moral of the story—health care for routine problems in Mexico is often faster, always cheaper, and just as effective as back home.  And if the problem is more serious, there are wonderful doctors, both private and in government hospitals, to help you.

“Are children welcome in hotels, restaurants, and museums?”

Oh my gosh yes.  The average age in Mexico is something like 8.  That’s not true—the average age is about 25—but Mexico is a country of young people and lots and lots of children.  Everyone loves kids and are used to having them racing around through their daily lives.  Children are a huge part of Mexico.

A generation ago everyone had large familes—Omar’s father has ten brothers and sisters—but the government went on an education program and now the families are much smaller, with probably 3 kids average.  It’s just that there are so many young families, children seem to be everywhere.  Mexicans realize that children are their future; they are proud of their kids and are anxious to give them the best life they can.  You will be amazed how quickly your children make friends and fit in with the Mexican way of life.

And that’s the really nice part—kids are a  passport to meeting people and really experiencing Mexico (dogs work, too!).  You will find people stop to ask about your children, that your kids will make fast friends in the park, and that everyone is anxious to show a family with children a good time and to help out.  Even if you speak no Spanish, you will find you are included much more easily if you are traveling with children.  They open the doors to many more wonderful adventures!

So what is there for kids to see and do in Mexico?  Much more than we can cover here!  There is nature and the great outdoors, from kayaking in mangrove swamps and snorkeling to climbing volcanoes.  There is culture—both modern and ancient—in great cities and sprawling ruins.  Where else can you see the latest art exhibits and climb inside a pyramid?  Try exotic foods, visit an opal mine, take a short course in Spanish or in Mexican cooking, see a Broadway play in Spanish, visit a Mayan market—the experiences are endless.  Your children may even be able to visit a Mexican school for a day.  Younger children will be fascinated with the handmade wooden toys and animal masks available in many markets.

“What do we need to bring?”

Unless you require a specific brand or prescription medicine, you can count on finding everything you need here.  Many large cities have a WalMart (Guadalajara has at least 4) so diapers, contact lens solution, over-the-counter medicines, and other items like Q-tips, towels, and the like can be bought here.  Make sure your tetanus shots are up to date.  No one here takes malaria pills and you don’t need to either.  If you are going to a very mosquito-prone area, take repellant or coils (they burn like incense and work great).  You may want to bring Pepto Bismol.  The pills are most convenient.  The liquid is great, but it is one of those substances that won’t stay in it’s bottle when traveling—even with the top screwed on tight you’ll have pink spots on everything.

So bring your kids (or grandkids!) to Mexico.  We’ll take good care of them–and they’ll just love it!

Dan and Omar

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.