It’s Abbey again, and at this point, I’ve only been out of the country twice. The first time was a family trip to Israel during which we drove around the country, explored, discovered, and thoroughly integrated ourselves with the culture in order to find food, shelter, and fun (my dad drove, to be honest; none of the rest of us would brave that). My mother planned out the entire trip during the year before our visit and because of this we ended up seeing Israel’s most famous sights and historical places and remained (mostly) safe during the entire trip. It included freshly picked oranges, walks through the Old City where my sister was nearly traded for a camel, and walks along the rocky beaches of the Sea of Galilee. You can check out my Instagram for more travel photos, and I’ll write about all of it one day, but for today I intend to review a more recent trip my sisters and I took:
Carret. Chetumal – Pto. Juárez Km 252, 77780 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
If for some wild reason you’ve never heard of Groupon, then let me introduce you. I’ve used it countless times. It’s useful for finding cheaper deals on hotels, scuba diving lessons, skydiving, and trips to Mexico (with a wide variety of other deals, obviously). My sister scoured the site while we were talking about making an international trip. We looked at options for Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Ireland–but ultimately settled on a deal for the Grand Oasis in Tulum, Mexico, which is an all-inclusive resort just south of the ever-popular Cancun.
This place was truly heavenly. All-inclusive resorts are–while obviously expensive–definitely an experience you should invest in at least one time in your life. There’s nothing quite like unlimited food, unlimited drink, and unlimited beach time and pool space to urge you into maybe investing in resort-related real estate when you get home.
Sunrise walks along the beach are a must. The pool-clear Gulf of Mexico (or is it the Caribbean Sea?) is mesmerizing. You’ll be able to watch the fish swim by your toes, and if you happen to drop something (like a necklace or sunglasses, maybe?) you’ll be able to easily see them along the bottom of the ocean in order to snag them back up.
If it’s your first time out of the country, if you just want a laid-back and relaxing week, or if you’re uncomfortable exploring a country that speaks a language different from your own, I highly recommend the All-Inclusive Resort side of travel. I encourage you to book a shuttle ahead of time to-and-from the hotel from the airport, to make it all the simpler. Essentially, if you’re at all wary about getting lost or accidentally eating crickets, just book an all-inclusive and stick to the paradise provided.
If you prefer something a little more adventurous, however, then book an all-inclusive and invest in their off-site options ahead of time (something like scuba diving, forest exploration, cave swimming, etc. Different resorts and locations have different attractions at different costs). Or, if you’re feeling especially risky and you’re confident in your ability to navigate anything foreign, then skip the all-inclusive altogether and go adventuring from place to place. Groupon offers many different deals on simpler hotels or random experiences and you’re perfectly able to plan out a more exploratory trip if you so choose!
During this trip, however, we kept to our resort. It was beautiful, refreshing, and entirely worthwhile. Even through our sheltered adventure, I did learn several key lessons:
- It matters who you’re with, not where you go. Maybe this is common knowledge, but I’ve been so impacted by it during random travels that I’ll doubtfully ever compromise it. It’s always more fun to be around people you love and enjoy than to go to some crazy amazing place with just anyone–not that you shouldn’t take the opportunity to go to the crazy amazing place, but let’s be honest: you’ll be much more satisfied with a place (boring or exotic) if you’ve brought along the people you like in “real life.”
- Pack an extra $100-200 to spend on extra opportunities (like scuba diving or cave swimming). You may use it, you may not, but better have the extra cash to spend on some cool, once-in-a-lifetime experiences than to be pinching every five extra pennies you brought.
- All-inclusive food and drink really is an incredible experience. There’s nothing quite like sitting down at a restaurant or walking through a buffet or getting a drink at the bar, being served gourmet dish after dish, and never being handed a check. (I get it, it’s all in your head. You paid the check already when booking the resort–but still. The experience of being served bill-less is magical.)
- All-inclusive resorts in Mexico do not give you anywhere close to an authentic Mexican experience. This comes without saying. If you’re safe inside a fancy-schmancy resort and not in the nitty-gritty towns of the actual country, you’re going to have an amazing, high-class vacation that you’ll love, enjoy, and be refreshed by–and you’ll go home knowing next to nothing about Mexico. But at least the iguanas and peacocks are cool!
All in all, the trip was wonderful and absolutely worthwhile to do with my sisters. If I were ever to go again, however, I’d make sure to head off the resort for some scuba diving. That’s my only regret. Otherwise, I had no complaints whatsoever and hope to book another all-inclusive one day and be completely spoiled rotten for a few more days.