Travel Vacation Tips

Guadalajara Mariachi Festival, Mexico.

True Vacation or just more of the same? 2 years into our World travels and we have learned some very important tips. Traveling throughout Mexico, nearly all the United States and now French Polynesia have gained us some realizations that “not all is as it appears”.

Faking a call in Point Venus, Tahiti. We had to bus out of town 30 miles to find some local vibes.

We’ve grown up with our beliefs that we travel to these “Love Boat Destinations”. Let me explain. As young people (I know I’m dating myself) we grew up with expectations of these great vacation spots to see the world. For example Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, St Thomas, Oahu, Montego Bay, Tahití, and even Vegas or New York City. (enter your own memory here).

Makemo, Tuomotus, French Polynesia. This villager treated us to coconut milk, he lives alone, lives off the land and is the only person on this 2 mile wide (Motu) island.

30 years ago this might have been the cultural experience that reflected the county or region you were looking to see. But it’s 2023! Now-a-days these spots, and hundreds of others, nowhere near reflect the culture that actually resides in these countries or states.
My Uncle Lou (who traveled tonight countries) said to us “The less money you spend when you travel, the more you’ll see of what you really were hoping to experience”. It’s not about the pricey hotels and restaurants folks!! It’s about connecting with the local people! The biggest travel tip is that is FREE!

Renting bikes for the day in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
After scuba diving Fakarava south pass, it was time for a beer at the only bar in the village. Tuomotus, French Polynesia.

A week in the Hilton Hotel in Papeete Tahiti will have a nice pool, access to great fluffy drinks and catered scuba diving, but you will not see this island for the wonderful Polynesian Culture that has centuries of history. You won’t shop in their grocery stores or learn what drives their economy or family structures. Take a walk, a bus, see the people and explore.

Hiking the backside of Hiva Oa, Marquesis, we met Jaba cooking his fish dinner. He cut down coconuts for us!
Wandering around Fatu Hiva, we met Marta, she gave us 4 Pomplemouse and we gave her a raincoat.

Mexico is a perfect example of this. We spent nearly 2 years throughout these speacial coastal regions from Ensenada to Zihuatenejo. Biggest tip: A trip to Puerto Vallarta is the opposite of what Mexico is all about. There is a bar on every corner with pricey drinks watching other tourists walk the strip. Or siting at a nearby tourist beach, under a Palapa with nearby stands of inflatable Chinese beach toys. This is not the real Mexico.

A local invited us to dinner. Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia.
Local village children will come and play if you sit and hang out awhile!

Folks, if I may……. Get out of these places (unless that fluffy drink is what your looking for). Find someplace meaningful to you and maybe the people there will find you meaningful.
A week or two in Marquesas, Mexico City, Fakarava, Copper Canyon Mexico, Prague and millions of other places will leave you with more culture than all the places I listed earlier above. Rent an apartment, shop in their grocery stores, walk their streets…….have a drink in their corner bar….learn some of their language!
When you spend a $ in Cabo the bartender only cares about the next drink.
When you sit with the guy covered with tribal tattoos and he explains his involvement in the tribes drum group and explains how the village hunts together with the one gun in town he doesn’t care about your $’s. Just sayin’.

Agua Verde, Baja, Mexico.

If you’re still reading and interested, let’s talk safety.
Of all the time we’ve spent in Mexico, Kathy can only remember one time she felt unsafe and it was in Mazatlan. She confesses it was probably fine, but the area was dirty and sketchy and is not on our real Mexico list.
On the other hand, we’ve both felt unsafe in multiple places in the United States and in California. Of course we believe in not getting yourself in a bad situation. World wide! I feel it is much easier to get yourself in a bad situation in California than in Mexico.
Jus’ sayin’ again. Plan ahead, and GO!!

La Cruz, Mexico.
Mexico City.
Barra de Navidad, Mexico.

Leave a Reply