There are countless articles out there setting guidelines on what families need to pack for their all-inclusive beach vacation to Mexico or the Caribbean. Swimsuits, resort casual wear, sunglasses, toothbrush, obviously. But what about toothpaste and sunscreen? And if traveling with small children, is it BYO when it comes to bottle warmers and baby food or toys and step stools? Do you need to Google how to gate-check a stroller as you’re frantically packing those bags?
The simple (but not very helpful) answer is that your “do not pack” list depends entirely on the resort you choose to spend your (young) family vacation at. To help get the most specific answers possible, in addition to general guidelines, we once again found a pro to Ask a Pro: Javier P. Ruiz Garcia, manager of the Family Selection at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa. According to him, here’s what you can leave at home.
For families with infants/babies:
“No need to pack everything but the kitchen sink!” exclaims Ruiz Garcia. “Our exclusive Family Selection on the resort operates around the philosophy that kids are the family boss and we design our amenities and inclusions for that category around their needs.”
- Bottle Warmers: Many high-end family resorts have begun to keep bottle warmers on their premises now, which means no fussing around to bring your own. “Ours are available upon request,” Ruiz Garcia shares, “so that your little one can enjoy a warm bottle from the comfort of your own suite.”
- Baby Food: Always check before you start sweating over how you’re going to transport a week’s worth of jars and liquids. “If you make a request prior to your arrival, we make sure there’s baby food for our tiny guests at The Nest – an exceptional family restaurant exclusive to our Family Selection guest,” says Ruiz Garcia. “Regular name brand purees like Gerber will be made available,” so no matter where you’re staying, have your travel advisor reach out, ask, and if possible, make that advance notice request for your booking!
For families with toddlers/young children:
The older they get, the more aware kids become of their own individual needs, preferences, and habits. That can be a long rider for parents who want to travel, but it doesn’t have to be when you choose a property that considers the tall orders of small fry.
- Snacks and Meals: Don’t even worry about these – most family-friendly all-inclusive resorts keep simple eats for picky eaters on offer at the buffet. Others may go beyond even that to provide a child-size buffet. At Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa, Ruiz Garcia tells us you can expect staples like chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, an “endless selection!” of cereals in the morning, plus vacay treats like doughnuts.
- Strollers: No matter how compact manufacturers shrink down those buggies, it’s still a hassle to wrassle with them through gate check and transfers. “Strollers are one less thing our Family Selection guests have to pack!” raves Ruiz Garcia. “We have Family Boss strollers available that our guests can keep in their rooms to use as needed during their stay.”
- Bathroom Stepstools: Brushing your teeth daily is an important healthy habit no one wants their kid to fall out of, but no one wants to have to remember to pack a booster stool, collapsible or not. Many resorts who cater to families will have cute ones on hand. “Family members come in all sizes, so we keep stepstools for smaller ones,” Ruiz Garcia confirms.
- Toys and Games: At Palladium brand resorts that feature the Family Selection category, “We provide a welcome kit for the little ones, with three gifts to choose from, and we can provide board games, puzzles, and video games based on availability if guests tell us prior to check-in,” Ruiz Garcia says. “Otherwise, we have games and activities in the kids clubs, where there are separate, age-appropriate clubs for babies, kids, and teens.” Their resorts also have their own specific brand character attraction: Play at Palladium with Raggs, with characters and fully produced stage shows based on this Emmy award-winning live action TV series. “This is a key component of the Grand Palladium Resort Experience,” he says with pride, making them among the handful of elite resorts that feature meet-and-greet opportunities with licensed characters and merch.
- Nanny/Babysitter: It’s not uncommon for parents to shell out to take their nanny with them on vacation or to hire a babysitter from home to travel with them or independently in destination. But some hotels have their own vetted childcare team you can contract, and Grand Palladium’s Family Selection resorts are among them. Ruiz Garcia assures us, “All our nannies have certification with the Red Cross. You can talk to your Family Host about extended Family Host hours, too,” which allows them to be on call longer for assistance. But for childcare, “The cost is 20 USD per child, per hour,” he shares.
For all ages:
Then there are some things families think about packing for every member.
- Sunscreen: Bringing enough sunscreen for the whole family means committing to checking luggage due to liquid restrictions. And what a disaster of a trip it’d be for everyone if a child’s delicate skin gets a wicked case of sunburn? Luckily, some resorts are happy to think ahead for you. “We keep sunscreen available by the Family Selection Pool and Family Selection Beach,” Ruiz Garcia confides. “Both areas are exclusive to Family Selection guests.”
- Insect Repellant: When frazzled parents who need a vacation think of going to a beach resort, it’s easy to forget that they might still be close enough to the jungles for mosquitoes to make their ways over to the shore. Plus, gorgeous landscaping can be just as attractive to insects as they are to humans. For all of these reasons, Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres does offer bug spray to their guests if asked.
- Bathrobes and Slippers: “Grown-ups are accustomed to finding a luxurious bathrobe and comfy slippers for their stay, but in Family Selection, we pay special attention to our smaller guests and provide them with their own little robes and slippers, too,” Ruiz Garcia says.
Final Thoughts: Best Pro Tips
Always book with a travel advisor so that all of the specifics of your family’s needs get communicated to the resort. They often have a direct line to the property, unlike when you make an anonymous booking through an online tour operator. Talk to your advisor about getting available special treatment notes added to your reservation. Ruiz Garcia advises, “When our guests book their room, we gather their needs and preferences in advance so that upon their arrival, they have everything we need and we can provide a customized experience.” At Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Family Selection, this means added bonuses like milk and cookies turndown service for the kids; a kid-friendly appetizer and snack bar of candy, chips, popcorn and fruit; and information on workshops they might want to sign up for.
Also, go ahead and ask your travel advisor to look into which resorts have the most comprehensive kids programs, and keep resources like TravelBlogue on hand for insider details. You might find your baggage and your minds both set a little lighter than you’d expected.
We all know how important it is to Plan with a Pro when it comes to travel. After all, Travel Advisors Get You There. But equally important is making sure advisor pros are supported and surrounded by pros themselves, particularly when it comes to topics peripheral to travel. That’s where TravelBlogue comes in as we Ask a Pro on your behalf to provide you with tips and advice from fitness, health, nutrition, mental health, beauty, wellness, and travel gear experts from around the world … and put it all at advisor fingertips.