My husband and I have three kids with three different personalities and interests.  Throw their particular parents into the mix (i.e. Mom & Dad) and putting together a family trip to please the spectrum of ages and unique personalities is … interesting.  After nearly a decade of working for the tour operator Adventure Life, planning my own family vacation is a true test of my professional know-how.  I’ll admit; I can be pretty picky.  This year’s pick: a number of Mexico Tours, geared for families.  Here’s why.

Water Wonders

Hands down, the number one request I get from my kids when it comes to our family vacations is a place to swim.  Pool, lake, river, ocean – if there is a place where my kids can get wet, the trip is a hit.  Mexico tops the bill.  Boarded by its namesake Gulf, the Pacific and Sea of Cortez, there are endless places to get your toes wet along Mexico’s some 6,000 miles of sand.  And beyond beaches, Mexico’s water activities include world-class snorkeling: whale-sharks, sea lion pups, sea turtles and countless other aquatic wildlife.  Sea-kayaking off the Baja Peninsula offers the chance to get up-close with grey whales.  And the cenotes – underground limestone caverns and clear pools – dot the Yucatan’s landscape.  Sacred places to the ancient Maya, Mexico’s cenotes are beautiful, mysterious, unique – and epitomize the term water wonders.

Our North American Neighbor

I have three kids, ages 3, 6 & 14.  They are great travelers, but no one, no matter their age, likes long flights, complicated transfers or jetlag.  The difference is kids have less trouble expressing their discomfort.  So when planning our family adventures, I play close attention to the time and the trouble, it takes to travel from A to B.  It is nice to know that we can have breakfast in our Montana home and arrive in Mexico before dinner.  And because we are a family of five, I am particularly cost-conscious.  Flights to Mexico are very reasonable, especially if you avoid peak travel seasons and the holidays. Keeping our adventure in the “neighborhood” means we can spend more time (not to mention more money) enjoying our Mexico family vacation, and less time recovering from a painful venture getting there.

Pirates, Treasure & Ancient Cities

Mexico has been graced by some of the world’s most advanced and fascinating early civilizations.  From the Olmec to the Aztec, these empires left incredible pyramids and temples throughout the landscape, and still influence Mexico’s modern-day culture.  We have the lesser-visited Uxmal, and the Chiapas’ jungle-clad Palenque on our agenda. The ruins of Tulum in particular, are a great option for kids.  Located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, the ruins are fairly small, which means it is perfect for young kids with a short attention span.  There is a nice beach, plenty of lazy lizards to gawk at and the ocean breeze will take the bite off of Mexico’s legendary heat.  Many of Mexico’s coastal towns are also filled with legends of Spanish gold, pirate sacs and coastal caves with hidden booty.  Pirates and pyramids?  My six-year-old can hardly wait!  (Neither can I.)

Modern Culture

Once you get beyond the Spring Break Meccas and over-developed regions, Mexico’s modern-day culture is rich and thriving.  I believe family trips should be fun, but travel is also an invaluable teaching tool; experiencing local culture is a must on my family travel itinerary.  Mexico’s Chiapas is a central region of the Mundo Maya (Maya World) with traditions and beliefs resembling that of the Maya of earlier centuries.  This region alone is home to 12 of the 62 indigenous groups officially recognized by the Mexican government.  In Oaxaca, ancient native languages are spoken in villages, and the artisan folk arts, particularly weaving and pottery.  My 14-year-old daughter is already brushing up on her Spanish and bargaining skills to put to use at Oaxaca’s local markets. Teenagers like to shop — who knew?!

Grown-ups Want to Go Too!

I like snorkeling, I like ancient cities, I like pirates…

My husband and I are not simply excited to take our kids to Mexico, we’re excited to go there ourselves!  Mexico family vacations will be on our radar for years to come.  As our kids get older we can take advantage of whitewater rafting in the Chiapas region, surfing in the Caribbean, and a Copper Canyon Trek.  Four times the size of the Grand Canyon, a trek in this region is literally breathtaking.  Mexico is a place to instill curiosity in my kids, encouraging them to learn more about their world.  And it is a place where we can play.

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Author notes:

Beth Conway works at Adventure Life; an award-winning adventure travel operator.  Life experiences and countless travels make her a specialist in adventure travel in the Americas, while her three kids require she knows a thing or two about family vacations.

For more information you can contact Adventure Life at 1-800-344-6118 or check out www.Adventure-Life.com or email them at trip.center@adventure-life.com