Weight Loss. Travel Gains

With the holidays right around the corner, you may find yourself questioning what to gift your loved ones this season. It may be especially hard to figure out what to get the globetrotter in your life because let’s be honest, hardly any gifts top that of the gift of adventure. Except for something that helps make travel easier or is travel in itself!

Below, I’m sharing 18+ gift ideas from my own wish list this season (or past wish lists), these will make the perfect gifts to aid the travel lover in your life, even if it’s yourself!

Firstly, if you have a loved one who’s recently been bitten by the travel bug, but they’re not quite sure where to start, help them out by getting them a copy of my travel guide, The Ditch The Travel Agent Start Kit, a 30+ page e-guide with all the travel need to knows, HERE. You can also grab them a copy of one of my itineraries HERE to help ease their travel planning.

$ These are great gifts that won’t necessarily break the bank. They could also make up a great gift basket or bag.

a) Compression Socks: Any frequent traveler knows the very real risk of blood clotting when on long haul flights, compression socks help reduce the risk by improving/increasing circulation and reducing swelling. Here are a few of my favorite compression socks: Vim & Vigr and Amazon.
b) Tripod: Whether traveling solo or with a group, it may still be challenging to get the perfect shot, help your friend capture all of their favorite moments, and a few Tiktoks, with a tripod! There are handheld ones that they can use vlog style or larger ones to better capture more intimate, special moments. My favorites are listed HERE in my Amazon storefront.
c) Luggage Tag: While I try to be #teamcarryon where and when possible, sometimes you need to check a bag, and you need your checked bag to stand out, it’s easy to do so with a chic luggage tag, HERE is a list of some cute, affordable luggage tags.
d) Power Bank: Rule #1: never get caught slipping with a dead phone! I carry my portable power bank everywhere when traveling for quick and easy access to charge my phone. Gift convenience and safety with one of THESE devices.
e) Luggage Scale: Why wait until you get to the airport to see how heavy your suitcase is, you can better prepare at home with a handheld luggage scale, found HERE.
f) Door Stopper: Safety first, always, whether traveling with a group or flying solo, give your globetrotter peace of mind with this safety device, HERE.
g) Packing Cubes: Help your traveler (or yourself) to not only fit more in your suitcase but better organize everything all together with packing cubes. THESE have been my dirty little secret to being #teamCarryOn for so long!

$$ A little more pricey, these gifts will be sure to put a smile on your world traveler’s face!

a) New Luggage: You can never go wrong with gifting your loved one a nice, new luggage set so they can travel in style, check out these quality brands here, Calpack, Away (Offering up to 40% off for Black Friday), and Amazon. Don’t forget to check out TJMaxx and Marshalls, I picked up all of my luggage at these stores for a great price!
b) Scratch Map: My friends and family got me a scratch map for my birthday and it’s one of my favorite ways to remember my trips, you can get really nice ones right on Amazon or by checking this list from Vivid Maps HERE.
c) Toothbrush Sanitizer: Help your travel lover in ways they may not even know they need help by purchasing them a toothbrush sanitizer to keep the bacteria and organisms to a minimum in between brushing, HERE are some affordable, portable sanitizers.
d) Personal Water Filter: Depending on where you’re traveling, the water may not be deemed safe to drink, help your traveler to help themselves and the environment by getting them a portable water filter. There are several options on Amazon, check them out HERE.
e) Passport Wallet: One of the keys to a successful trip is organization and planning, help your traveler to stay organized with a passport wallet where they can keep their important documents, cards, files, and a pen all in one place. HERE is a list of some great passport wallets as well as HERE, HERE, and HERE.
f) Gift Card: You can gift as little or as much as you want, any amount that your travel lover can put towards their next adventure will go a long way. Some of our favorite travel companies offer gift cards such as Airbnb, Hotels.com, Southwest, Carnival, Delta, and many more!

$$$ These lux items and the matching price tags will make excellent presents for the traveler in your life, helping to elevate their travel game or capture all of the memories.

a) Luxury Luggage: Self-explanatory, spoil your loved one, or yourself, with a higher-end piece of luxury luggage like these LV duffles.
b) Trip/Travel Fund: Arguably, the best gift, you can never go wrong with a cash donation towards your travel lover’s travel fund or next trip! No amount is too small as long as it helps get you to your destination!
c) Camera: One of the best things I’ve gifted myself was my Canon EOS M50 Vlogging Camera, I am able to capture the most intimate of my travel moments for my forever memories! You can go higher end or even throw back to an instant camera with one of the FujiFilm Instax Mini cameras!
d) A flight: Self-explanatory, helping your globetrotter literally see the globe by funding their next flight will certainly go over well! Several airlines will be offering Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals like Delta, Emirates, and Jet Blue.
e) Drone: Drones are definitely the new IT travel gadget, helping to capture amazing footage and images from above on your travels, like never before! I’ve linked to some great Drone options right on Amazon, check them out HERE.

As an added gift, below is a list of companies who will be running Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals:

Jet Blue
CNN Shares a list of companies & offers HERE
Travel & Leisure Shares a list of offers HERE

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to get yourself something nice this holiday season! Check my Amazon Storefront HERE for links to the rest of my travel necessities.

An impromptu text message from a friend turned into a much needed getaway weekend to the Cape! Cape Cod (affectionately known as “The Cape”) located in the southeastern corner of Massachusetts, is an actual cape or headland that extends into the Atlantic Ocean. Its busy season is in the summer when it’s majestic beaches, maritime character and resort destinations/islands attract heavy tourists from New England locals, eager vacationers, and many celebrities. For those of us who live in New England, a visit to the Cape is the cherry on top to the perfect summer!

Cape Cod, or Barnstable County, is comprised of 15 towns: Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Harwich, Dennis, Brewster, Chatman, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincenton, split into 4 sections, Upper Cape, Mid-Cape, Lower Cape, and Outer Cape.

South of the Cape, you’ll find popular New England destinations, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

Getting There

Unlike it’s popular cousin Martha’s Vineyard, you don’t need to catch the ferry to get over to Cape Cod, instead you can pop in your destination via google maps and make a road trip out of it. You’ll get to drive over the popular Cape Cod Canal.

-From Boston, it’ll take you approximately 90 minutes with light traffic following along I-93S (plan to leave early to avoid traffic)
-From NYC, the ride is approximately 5 hours following along I-95N

Depending on where you stay will determine if you will have access to parking, but most rentals provide them!

And though I mentioned that there’s not a true need to catch the ferry, it certainly is an option and can make a quick day-trip/activity from Boston. Seasonal ferry service is available from Boston to Provincetown (P-Town), with traditional or high-speed ferry routes available. Visit capecodchamber.org or cityexperiences.com to get more information on scheduling and tickets. Expect to pay around $65 USD for a 1-way ticket from Boston to P-Town for adults and $42 USD for a 1-way ticket for children (ages 3-11).

There’s also a train, the CapeFLYER that offers service between Boston and Cape Cod on weekends (Friday-Sunday) in the summer from Boston’s South Station. Travel time is a little over 2 hours and tickets are $20USD 1 way or $40 roundtrip. Head to capeflyer.com for more information on schedules and reservations.

Alternatively, you can opt to fly into the Cape Cod Barnstable Airport in Hyannis, what has been the main airport on Cape Cod since the early 1920’s. There are flights to the Barnstable Airport from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the Boston Logan Airport. In the summer (May-September), the airport offers daily routes from New York’s JFK airport. If you have the coins, you can always charter a flight to the Cape, or you can take a commercial flight with on Cape Air, Nantucket Air or JetBlue.

When to Visit

The Cape Cod busy season is in the summer, when you’ll experience the best weather, May-September, with June/July being the most popular months. If you want to experience the best weather without the crowds (and the peak-season prices), plan your visit for the early Summer (May) or Fall (September or October). If you don’t mind winter weather and are looking for a more low-key getaway, visiting in the winter is less crowded and less expensive, but be mindful that most tourist attractions and several restaurants may not be open.

Getting Around

The best way to get around the Cape is absolutely by car, either bring your own car or rent one! Route 28 and Route 6A are two main roads that run across the Cape, stretching from Sandwich to P-Town, making navigating throughout top tourists destinations/areas quite easy. Overall, parking throughout the Cape is pretty to source and inexpensive, with a of off-street and metered parking available. The exception to this is beach parking, which is not only hard to come by, but also relatively expensive. I suggest getting to the beach early and carpooling with friends when possible, or simply budgeting the roughly $20 USD beach parking fee into your overall budget. *We both drove our personal cars and took turns navigating throughout the city*

Other popular modes of transportation throughout the Cape include :

-Riding/renting a bike, there are over 100 miles of bike trails/paths throughout the Cape, most stretching along the beautiful coastlines. You can do what my friend and I did and opt to ride and explore solo or you can take a group tour! We used Corner Cycle to rent bikes for the day!

-Taking the public bus. Cape Cod’s Regional Transit Authority has bus service year-round on the Cape. One-way rides cost $2USD or you can get a day pass for $6USD. Check HERE for more info on scheduling, stops and updates/alerts.

-Walking. Depending on where you’re staying and where you’re going, you may be able to simply walk around. Our Airbnb, in Falmouth, was located right near the action, a 5-10 minute walk from the Falmouth Center/Strip with popular restaurants, quaint cafes, bike rental and more.

Where to Stay

I mentioned that there are 15 towns that comprise the Cape, so wondering which one is “the best”? Well, that all depends on what you’re looking for :

Falmouth: We stayed in Falmouth, one of the 4 towns in Upper Cape, known for its beach-town vibes with beautiful coastal views. Falmouth is known for its 10 beaches, boating scene, enchanting downtown (Falmouth Center), and local winery. Falmouth is great for young tourists, beach lovers and families and is known as the most walkable town on the Cape.
HERE is a link to the AirBNB we stayed at during our most recent visit. It was perfect for our quick, overnight trip, the owner was adorable and I really appreciated her decorative style (check the pictures in the listing to see what I mean). However, I wouldn’t recommend for larger groups (more than 2), unless you were able to reserve the entire house. There is free parking available on site, it was super clean and there were a few amenities, stocked mini-fridge, snacks and travel-sized toiletries.

Provincetown (aka P-Town), anchored at the northernmost tip of the Cape. P-town is home to the LGBTQ+ community in the Cape, known as being extremely welcoming, vibrant and full of the arts. P-Town is also home to the site of the historical Mayflower ship. Provincetown is great for art and beach lovers, couples, young travellers, foodies and those who like to shop.
Where to stay in P-Town: The Masthead Resort

Hyannis: Hyannis is in the Mid-Cape and is for the foodies, offering the biggest restaurant selection. It’s also great for younger travelers looking for a fun nightlife.

Where to stay in Hyannis: Hyannis Inn

One of the most popular destinations in the Cape driven by it’s historical relevance, the site where the first Pilgrim settlement in 1620, visitors can stand in the very spot that the pilgrims first landed on shore of the United States. Plymouth is for the history buffs, with the Plymouth Plantation available to tour to learn more about the heritage of the area. There’s also a water park, which makes it great for families. And a trip to Plymouth isn’t complete without a visit to Plymouth Rock, amongst other neighborhood highlights.
Where to stay in Plymouth: Hotel 1620 Plymouth Harbor

I highly recommend you pursuing Airbnb for charming “air” BNB options throughout the cape. This is always my go-to when visiting small towns like these listed above in the Cape.

What To Do:

Rent a Bike
There are over 100 miles of bike trails throughout the path, stretching along scenic coastlines and other gorgeous views. You can opt to travel solo or you can join a group, either way, it’s a top 2 activity and it ain’t 2! One of my favorite things to do when visiting the Cape. Check HERE for a list of the best bike paths throughout the Cape.

Head to the Beach
The Cape is one of the best beach destinations in the U.S. Northeast, with over 100 beaches to choose from. Some of the top beaches to choose from:
-Macaroni Beach
-Race Point Beach
-Coast Guard Beach
-Head of the Meadow
-Skaket Beach
-Nauset Beach
-Town Neck Beach
-Falmouth Beach
-Chappaquoit Beach
-Old Silver Beach

Use Viator to Schedule a Tour
Go on a Sunset Sail
Head to the Truro Vineyard

Other things to do:
Cape Cod National Seashore
Heritage Museums & Gardens
Sandwich Glass Museum
Cape Cod Museum of Art
JFK Hyannis Museum
Wellfleet Drive-In

Where to Eat

Cape Cod is for the foodies, the sea-foodies! New England has an abundance of good-eats and they do seafood extremely well. You can get your NE seafood heros, a classic lobster roll or clam chowder, and some other favs like oysters, calamari, scallops and clams.

Moby Dick’s (Wellfleet)
The Wicked Oyster (Wellfleet)
Pearl (Wellfleet)
Chatham Pier Fish Market (Chatham)
Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar (Hyannis)
The Lobster Pot (Provincetown)
Pie in the Sky (Wood’s Hole)

Other good eateries :
Estia- Greek Food (Falmouth)
Water Street Kitchen (Falmouth)
The Mews Restaurant and Cafe
Caffe Gelato Bertini (Yarmouth)
Cuvee (Chatham)
The Red Cottage (South Dennis)

If you’re already in the New England area, Cape Cod is absolutely a no brainer, and if you’re not, but looking for a quaint, cozy getaway, this place will not let you down!

I’ve been to Tulum, Mexico twice now, each time having a different experience driven by my choice in lodging. During my first trip in 2019, recapped HERE, I stayed in the cutest airbnb located off of the downtown strip, this gave us plenty of freedom, flexibility and space. During my most recent trip, in July 2021, my group opted to stay at the Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa, an all-inclusive resort located just 20 minutes from the historic, Tulum strip and 97 minutes from the Cancun International Airport. HERE, I give all of the logistics and need-to-knows about getting to Tulum from Cancun (CUN) the only airport currently servicing the area.

Firstly, how did we book? I typically start with expedia.com as I get a better understanding of what’s available and average pricing. This Tulum trip was a part of a larger, group trip, so the location was set, it was just up to me to search for the best deal! We ended booked our stay with  Booking.com who happened to be running a mobile special at the time, so we paid $1,300 for a deluxe garden view room in the adults only section. Check HERE for a mini property and room tour.

The property was huge and came with several amenities, listed out below:

-9 restaurants
-7 bars/lounges (1 swim up bar and 1 poolside bar)
-2 pools
-Private beach access
– Renowned Spa
-Fitness Center & Tennis Court
-Free wifi across the property
-Game Room
-Grocery/Convenience Store
-Room Service
-Laundry Facilities
-18 holes of golf
-Beach Volleyball and Yoga

The property is also accessibility-friendly with multiple accessible rooms, bathrooms, restaurants and more.

What did I like about the property?
-The aesthetic was everything, leaving you feeling as though you were in the rainforest or in the wild with all of the lush greenery, tucked away, a mile back from the mainroad. if you are looking for a resort with a mix of luxury and relaxation, Dreams Tulum is it.

There was not shortage of things to do. From a lazy day in one of the two pools, lounging at the beach, being pampered at the spa, getting a quick sweat the gym or on the dancefloor to live music, or even enjoying a game of beach volleyball and everything in between. If you are someone who doesn’t want to venture off of the resort, you’ll still be able to keep yourself occupied.

I loved the rooms! There are a few different sections across the resort with varying room types, from adults only sections, sections with swim-up rooms, and more.

The staff were all great, super friendly and helpful!

The live music/band at night, under the stars, near the bar was a perfect night cap to perfect days. I wish they would have been able to have performances every night, or even karaoke (it was said that there was karaoke on Tuesday evenings but we left in the AM).

What could have been better?

The food! The foodie in my was highly disappointed with the food options, being an all-inclusive, you want to try it all, but you also want to enjoy it all. There weren’t many things that I would say were completely terrible, but it’s Mexico, everything I put in my mouth should be tantalizing!! My favorite restaurant was the Sushi spot! If you do decide to stay here but want to venture off to try some authentic Mexican cuisine, check HERE for my top 7 recommended restaurants to check out in Tulum.

I live for a good spa treatment and luxurious experience and was excited to get a treatment at Dreams, until we looked at the price list, it seemed like too premium of a price for the services and times being offered, so I decided to wait.

Would I stay there again?
I am not usually a fan of all-inclusive resorts, but if friends or family were planning a group trip or even destination wedding, I would definitely visit again! In my post HERE, I break down my opinion on all-inclusive resorts and even list 10 of the best from around the world.

Covid-19 Notes
: Dreams Resort was kind enough to offer free, on-site covid-19 testing, for those who stay 3 or more days and need a negative test for travel, with results coming back within 24 hours. Once you confirm your reservation, hotel staff can provide more information with getting set up.

Also, be sure to check out their website, or their social media HERE for more updates!

At this point, I’ve pretty much planned your entire visit to Tulum, Mexico. From sharing 6 Tips for renting a car HERE, to sharing all of the need-to-know logistics HERE, recapping my super lux experience at the Coqui Coqui Spa HERE and literally laying out my day to day itinerary HERE, you should be covered. And if that wasn’t enough, on my IG you can follow along on my journey and get even more tips and guidance via my saved highlights and guides tabs (HERE-All You Need to Know to Explore Tulum, Mexico), and now, I want to share my recommended must-eats for the area, below!

  1. Rosa Negra
    From their IG: A tribute to Latin American cuisine. Our eclectic menu includes gastronomic traditions from Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.

    This was my favorite place we ate at while in Mexico, from the food to the atmosphere, I will go back again and again! I got the salmon and though it’s hard to mess up salmon, it was one of the best I’ve ever had! This is the perfect place to go if you are celebrating something!

    Price Range: $$$

 2. Taboo Tulum
From their IG: Taboo is a beach club, rated as one of the best restaurants in Tulum which adopts Mediterranean food as a lifestyle.

Come for the food, stay for the hookah and vibes. I love the menu here at Taboo and I’ve been on two separate occasions with large groups who have tried just about everything on the menu and there were no complaints! I also love the live music and everyone dancing around, truly a party scene!

Price Range: $$$

3. Ziggy’s Beach Club
From their IG: Culinary experience in Tulum beach 🍴; Best vibes occur in Ziggy’s

The food here is simply tantalizing, come here if you value good eats!

Price Range: $$

4. El Pescador
From their IG: Restaurante Mar y Tierra

The food on their IG was enough to get my mouth watering!

Price Range: $$

5. Makech
From their IG: Makech hookah bar

Their IG bio says it all, a hookah lounge (outdoor) with good eats!

Price Range: $$

6. Taqueira Honoria
This street stand may not have a huge social media presence, but they more than makeup for it with it’s trendy flare and full flavor.

Price Range: $

7. Encanto Cantina
From their IG: 🌮Mexican contemporary and sea food

With a whimsical drink menu, inclusive of mezcal and other Mexican spirits, you’ll have plenty to choose from to wash down whatever delicious thing you pick from the menu!

Price Range: $$

Mexico is known for many amazing things, and food is certainly at the top of that list, I hope you enjoy everything you decide to try! Happy Planning!

If you follow me on social media (which you absolutely should HERE for all of the Weight Loss Travel Gains behind the scenes), you most likely know my stance on all-inclusive resorts. But if you missed it, or you’re new here, know that it’s not my top choice in terms of lodging.

For me, travel is an immersive experience and a huge part of that immersion is exploring a culture through food. I don’t feel I can do this in an all inclusive. These resorts are typically geared towards the bland taste buds of American and English tourists, completely watering down the culture. I mean, what good is all you can eat food if it’s not the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth? This is not to say that every all-inclusive has bad food, because there are plenty of 5 star resorts with top-notch culinary offerings, and I wanted to curate a list for those who either love all-inclusives or are on the fence and need some convincing.

I do feel there is a time and place for these properties. For example, on my June 2021 visit to Tulum, we had a party of 30, so it absolutely made sense for planning purposes to choose an all inclusive location. More examples of best time/place are:

  • Solo Trips- For safety and planning reasons, staying in an all-inclusive resort can be a great option for solo travellers
  • Destination Weddings-Resorts work really well when it comes to planning special events like weddings, engagements or like events! They help take the stress of planning off of the wedding party and help to organize for family/guests!
  • Group Trips-Typically, I rent a big Airbnb for a group trip, but depending on size, age range and other factors, an all-inclusive resorts can be a great option for ease of planning across budgets, needs and activities.
  • First trips-Travelling can be scary, it can be intimidating, overwhelming, etc. but an all inclusive resort can be a great way to “dip your toes in” to have a bit more structure to your first voyage (similar to a cruise)

So, let’s get into this list, curated from resorts across the globe, taking into account amenities, decor, food choices, and activities

1. Jumby Bay Island Resort | Antigua and Barbuda
From their IG, “a private island paradise accessible only by boat.
Website: https://www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/jumby-bay-island/

2. Royal Malewane | South Africa
From their IG, ” South Africa’s most exclusive Big 5 safari lodge. A haven of stylish luxury and home to the most qualified guiding team in Africa.”
Website: https://www.theroyalportfolio.com/royal-malewane/overview/

3. Sanctuary Cap Cana | Dominican Republic
From their IG, ” Set on the pristine beaches of Cap Cana, #SanctuaryCapCana is the Dominican Republic’s most exclusive adults-only all-inclusive resort.”
Website: https://sanctuarycapcana.com/

4. Jade Mountain | St. Lucia
From their IG, ” Jade Mountain is an architectural marvel in Saint Lucia. Rated the No.1 Caribbean Resort by Travel+Leisure #travel, No. 1 in St. Lucia by Condé Nast”
Website: https://www.jademountain.com/
5. The Brando Resort | Tahiti
From their IG, ” The Brando is a unique luxury resort on French Polynesia’s breathtakingly beautiful private island of #Tetiaroa.”
Website: https://thebrando.com/
6. Lux* South Ari Atoll | Maldives
From their IG, ” Crowned the most eco-friendly luxury resort in the Maldives 2020 🏝 A five-star @luxresorts island for anyone who needs to relax or adventure!”
Website: https://www.luxresorts.com/en/maldives/hotel/luxsouthariatoll
7. Excellence Playa Mujeres | Mexico
From their IG, ” Iconic resort with a Mexican contemporary scenery and sophisticated fun for adults only”
Website: https://www.excellenceresorts.com/cancun/excellence-playa-mujeres/
8. COMO Parrot Cay | Turks & Caicos
From their IG, “The epitome of barefoot luxury. Re-connecting with nature, wellness and adventure in Turks & Caicos.”
Website: https://www.comohotels.com/en/parrotcay/about
9. Four Seasons Tented Camp | Golden Triangle, Thailand
From their website, “A magical escape in tented camp luxury”
Website: https://www.fourseasons.com/goldentriangle/
10. The Caves Hotel | Jamaica
From their IG, “The Caves Hotel is a seductive oceanfront sanctuary offering a refreshingly organic interpretation of romance.”
Website: https://www.thecaveshotel.com/

Check back for an extended list with more of the best all inclusive resorts around the world!

I’ve been to Mexico a few times now and absolutely plan to keep going back again and again! I’ve only just scratched the surface of this massive country, visiting Cancun, Tulum and Cozumel, and have done something different each trip- from lodging, to itinerary and even transportation. For example, on my most recent visit to Tulum, I rented a car to make the trek vs taking a shuttle or taxi. In this post HERE, I recapped my October 2020 trip and the various transportation options to get from Cancun to Tulum. Of the options, renting a car was my favorite for the ease and flexibility! Below are 6 tips for renting a car in Mexico to bring ease and flexibility to your own trip:

  1. While you do need a driver’s license to drive while in Mexico, you don’t have to apply to any special license outside of your valid U.S. or Canadian license. Be sure that your license is not expired and is in English. For those who are not U.S. or Canadian citizens, or if you’re license is not in English, you can still drive in Mexico, you will just need to get an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Check HERE for more information on what an IDP is and how to obtain one, if needed. Again, licenses issued in English are recognized by Mexican law as valid to use to drive- but always double check with your rental agency when confirming your reservation or google ahead of your visit.

    Note: You will also need to show your passport when picking up your car from the rental agency.
  2. Be prepared to pay for renter’s insurance or have a significant hold on your card! I have the Chase Sapphire Reserved credit card, which comes with built-in renter’s insurance, which covers up to $75,000 USD in damages, at no additional charge. But, I quickly found that Mexican rental companies don’t recognize out of country coverage, not without a huge fee at least. I rented with Economy and in order for them to recognize my coverage, they would have had to place a $15K USD hold on my credit card, basically a deposit equal the size of the cost of the car, in the event of any lost, theft or damages. Insane, I know. The alternative, was to get the insurance the rental company offered, for an additional $150 USD, which is the option I ended up going with. The original total for my rental car was $150 USD but after including the additional insurance fees, our new total was $300 USD.
  3. Budget additional time to receive your rental. While the Cancun International Airport (CUN) is fairly small, you will have to budget time to find your rental company desk and then time to get to the shuttle to actually grab your rental. We rented with Economy, which doesn’t have a desk inside of the airport, instead we found the representative for the company outside of the airport. The representative confirmed our reservation and directed us to the shuttle to Economy’s rental office, approximately a 10 -15 minute ride. Once there, i took us roughly 1 hour to fill out all of the paperwork, confirm our reservation and receive our car. The total ordeal took almost 2 hours, though we didn’t budget this into our itinerary, we left our first day extremely flexible to accomodate any travel snafus. Our friends, who arrived a few hours behind us, waited almost 3 hours to get their rental car, so while that was extreme, it’s important to be flexible on your travel days. Returning the rental car was a breeze, we filled the gas tank to the same level we received it, checked for any damages/marks and were then escorted back to the airport via the shuttle, all within 20-30 minutes.
  4. When at the gas station you will pay in pesos! I did not have cash on me when we went to fill up the gas tank, so while I was able to use my credit card (Chase Sapphire Reserved), I had to figure out how much I wanted in U.S. dollars and then convert this number to pesos to tell the gas attendant. Similar to New Jersey (for my USA folks), you do not pump your own gas in Mexico, an attendant will do so for you. I used the Global Convert app to help me with the conversion!
  5. Book ahead where and when possible. There are some things I wait to reserve when I am at my destination and other things I like to lock down in advance, my rental car being one of those “book ahead” things. With the current rise in travel, rental cars are not only a bit hard to come by, but they’re also expensive-especially when trying to book last minute. Additionally, the type of vehicle that you need may not be available, say a larger car when travelling with a big group! Book on sites like expedia.com or directly with a rental car company (on their website), to secure your rental.
  6. Have your own GPS system as most of the rental vehicles are older models, so many will not have GPS or other more advanced systems. One of my travel mates has a travel plan with AT&T which extended her service to Mexico for free, so we were able to access Google Maps on her phone for directions. If you are heading to Tulum for Cancun, it is literally a straight shot on highway 307!

*Other notes: In Mexico, they drive on the same side of the road as the U.S.- on the right side of the road. Also, we didn’t have to mention that we wanted an automatic car (this seemed pretty standard), but be sure to take note of this if you’re not familiar with driving a stick shift/automatic car.

And be sure to check HERE for my post on general tips on renting a car in another country!

Happy Planning!

When visiting Sedona, Arizona, there are a few things that should absolutely be on your list, hiking the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead is one of them! The Devil’s Bridge Trail is a breathtaking view and amazing experience, with it’s 54ft high/45ft long natural bridge, surrounded by red rock. It is Sedona’s largest sandstone arch, located in the Coconino National Forest, off of Highway 89a. Check below for tips on planning your own visit to the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead and check HERE for tips on planning the rest of your Arizona visit.

How to Get There:

There are a few ways to get to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead:

  1. Mescal to Chuckwagon to Devil’s Bridge trails (4 miles round-trip) from Long Canyon Road (the one we did)
  2. Chuckwagon Trail to the Devil’s Bridge Trail from Dry Creek Road (5.8 miles round trip).
  3. If you rent a 4×4, you can actually drive straight to the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead and park your vehicle there (2 miles-round trip). Only do this with a vehicle that has the ability to off-road.

We stayed at the Arabella Hotel located in downtown Sedona, so this was our starting point for our journey. My recommendation is to rent a car, I did not see a ton (or any) public transportation during my visit and the trailhead is roughly 7.3miles from the city. The drive is scenic and pretty straight forward, we simply entered “Devil’s Trailhead” into our GPS (google maps) and followed directions to the Mescal trailhead lot (Long Canyon Road) for parking.

Don’t be like us! Despite having directions and parking at the right location, we entered the wrong side of the trail, and walked a mile in the wrong direction before we realized we were headed the wrong way. The lack of signage or other hikers didn’t tip us off, but the end of the non-existent trail is what finally gave us pause. Once we turned around and began to retrace our steps, heading toward the entrance, we ran into a couple who confirmed that we were on the wrong trail, telling us to head back another .5 miles to get on the right trail. This extended our total hike time.

How will you know you’re going the right way? Devil’s trailhead had several signs both at the start of the hike and all throughout the trail to signal you’re headed in the right direction- so, if you don’t see these, you’re going the wrong way! Below are pictures from the start of the Mescal trail.

Parking outside of the trail will cost you $5 and you’ll need to pick up a Red Rock Pass. It gets extremely busy, so plan to arrive early to secure a good spot! We arrived at 6:50am and there was already a crowd, though we did secure a spot! Alternatively, you can park along Dry Creek Road, you’ll see several cars parking along the side of the road.

Note: It tends to be busiest between 10am-3pm, year-round, so arrive before or after if you wish to beat the crowds.

It is free to enter and walk the trailhead!

There’s also an “at-your-own-risk” photo opp at the end of the trail, which is also free, but be prepared for a long wait (on average 2 hours). We arrived early for our hike (6:50am) , and despite running a bit behind due to getting lost, still made the trail by 8:00am and there was already a roughly 2 hour wait for a photo opp.

Once at the spot pictured below, the actual bridge, you can walk toward the middle and pose for a picture, someone from your party or a kind stranger will have to snap your picture as there aren’t any official workers on the bridge to take photos or regulate how long people are taking to get their perfect shot. I did not walk across the bridge, a mix of my fear of heights and not wanting to wait the full 2 hours, I stood in front and on a nearby ledge capture my photos.

Most blogs that I read stated that this hike was moderate. While I would agree with that statement for the first 3/4 of the hike, the last 1/4 is literally an uphill scaling of a rock and was relatively difficult for me, though there were several children, dogs and older people also making the trek! Please consider this as you plan your journey-if it becomes too much at any point, you can simply decide to turn around!

The hike is roughly 2 miles 1 way (1.8 miles to be exact) , so roughly a 4 mile round trip (depending on your starting point), expect to spend 2-3 hours completing the trek (not including any time spent for the photo opp).

Dress appropriately, as though you’re going to have a moderate workout, including wearing comfy, closed-toe shoes!

I felt the hike was 100% worth it, the views were amazing, something I am certainly glad I was able to take in, in my life time. The bridge is scary for those with a fear of heights (such as myself) so you can enjoy it without actually walking across or with a bit of common sense, carefully navigate to the middle for a photo opp!

What to Pack:
1. Pack light! You don’t want to be lugging too much, especially as you get to the more strenuous part of the hike.

2. Wear layers to protect against the morning cool air, enabling you to strip down as it starts to heat up. You’ll also want to wear comfortable clothes and shoes!

3. Pack sunscreen for easy reapplication, don’t get caught slipping unprotected. You may want to also bring a hat or sunglasses!

4. Pack water and snacks! There is nowhere to buy water or snacks on the trail so plan ahead and come prepared. (I’d also recommend eating a good breakfast/meal ahead of your hike).

Best Times to Visit:

The best times to visit Sedona would be April and May for optimal weather before the sweltering heat of the summers.

In addition to the above tips, please also use common sense and put safety first, the hike can be an amazing and scenic experience, but it can also be dangerous. There have only been 2 reported deaths for falls from the bridge, in addition to several reports of lost or dehydrated travelers, so be careful, stay aware, keep hydrated and have fun!

For more tips on planning a trip to Arizona, check my recap and guide to spending a long weekend HERE.

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