On Saturday we visited the Frist (our local art museum) to see an exhibit on Frida Kahlo and Mexican Modernism before it closed, and I got such a thrill from reminiscing with our daughter about our visit last summer to Mexico City. Enthusiastic child that she is, she unequivocally shouted “YES!” every time I asked if she remembered something (though I’m certain she doesn’t actually recollect an experience that was over half her life ago).
I’ve also been thinking about this blog as my creative outlet and how to keep it going when I’m in “real-life” work mode nine months out of the year. It’s easy to get stuck in a “save it for summer” mindset, when there’s more time for new adventures and also to write about them. But I’ve got loads and loads of notes and photos from previous trips that I want to share, as well as our everyday adventures around home, and I want this blog to be a reference point should anyone need advice or inspiration. With that being said, this weekend’s Casa Azul connection seems as good a time as any to go back and share what I never got around to writing about our phenomenal trip to Mexico City.
**Don’t miss Part 2 of this guide to find out what to see, where to stay, and what to eat!**
We booked bébé’s first international trip sort of on a whim—we found the least expensive days to fly, then used Google Flights to explore where would be the most interesting and affordable to go during those dates, and landed upon Mexico City. Despite its proximity, Mexico was a county we had never visited before, and further research about its capital really opened my eyes to what a cool trip this could be!
Mexico frequently gets a bad rap from our fellow countrymen, for whatever reason. On the more innocent side of this scale, I think it often gets overlooked (because it is so close) or generalized as a certain type of tourist destination (beaches). On the more negative side of the scale, all of the country’s negatives (drugs, crime, poverty) have come to define its reputation—and that stereotype is perpetuated when people fail to look closer and deeper. The reaction we got from family when we announced our travel plans veered more negative, so we decided to make it our goal to share experiences that would (hopefully) shatter unfortunate stereotypes.
That’s not to say I went into this trip lackadaisically worry-free. We were still traveling abroad for the first time with an infant, and to a very large city that speaks a language I do not! The advice I discovered on other travel blogs prior to this trip helped ease my mind a great deal, so here is a need-to-know-guide for traveling to Mexico’s capital, with or without a baby in tow!
| Staying Connected. |
Our cell phone carrier is Verizon, which allows you to use your domestic plan allowances in Mexico and Canada for an additional $5/day. (It’s $10 for other international destinations.) It’s called TravelPass, and to activate it, you just text TRAVEL to 4004 from the device you plan to use. (You can also do it through your Verizon account or the Verizon app.) Other carriers have similar international plans for Mexico to ensure you’re always connected.
| Getting Around. |
Since I had usual use of my cell phone, we were able to use Uber for all our getting around town. It was seriously the easiest, most efficient, and safest way to go, since we never had to exchange paper money, always knew who our driver was and what car he/she was driving, and could track our route by GPS. It’s also WAY cheaper than in the U.S., and our 8 days of Uber trips all over the city ended up costing a total of just under $US 50.
| Car Rides with a Baby. |
I waffled back and forth about whether to take the car seat with us, because it does have the capability of being buckled in without any kind of base. At home, it’s blasphemous (not to mention illegal) to even consider putting your child in a car without one, but Mexico has no such laws for car seats. We ultimately decided to just go with the local flow and left the carseat at home. For all our car rides, we were buckled in the backseat with bébé strapped to one of us in her Ergobaby carrier. It felt a bit odd at first, coming from the world we are used to, but you’ll never get an odd look, and never was an Uber driver wary that we had a baby. It actually became so fun and freeing that I was a little sad to see the car seat when we got home. It’s an entirely personal decision, and maybe you’re already judging me for mine, but my thought process was that thousands of babies survive this way every day in Mexico. And if you’re still nervous, traffic in Mexico City is awful, so you’ll never go very fast anyway.
| But What about the Water? |
If you’re thinking of going to Mexico, especially with a baby, there’s a good chance this is at the forefront of your mind. Having never been to Mexico, neither of us had any prior experience with this, outside of stereotypical hearsay. “Drink only bottled water! Don’t trust ice! Close your eyes, breathe out, and don’t open your mouth in the shower!” To be honest, I’m curious about the actual threat level here, but I also wasn’t going to take any chances, especially with a 7-month-old. And despite these many aggressive, stress-inducing warnings, it wasn’t actually that difficult to survive. You can buy big 5L jugs of water in the grocery store that we used for our own drinking and for baby bottles, then we used boiled tap water for her bath. We used water straight from the tap to wash any dishes, including her bottles, though we did also use a bottle sterilizer after washing. (It was provided by our Airbnb and maybe it made a difference, but maybe not—we’ll never know!) Like anything else with travel and babies, trust your own judgment…but consider if vomit is worth the risk!
| And the Weather? |
Mexico City is at a deceptively high elevation—over 7,000 feet—so the temperatures are a lot milder than you would expect! During our trip in mid-July, temperatures ranged from mid-50s to mid-70s, mostly sunny with regular late-afternoon thunderstorms. The temperatures are actually fairly consistent throughout the year; there’s not a huge swing between the seasons, though rain is more frequent in the summer months. It’s amazing how much of the city’s design is based on its mild temperatures. There are open-air features to many buildings—patios, courtyards, atriums— bringing the outside air in. And there’s little humidity! If planning your outfits, pack for layers. It gets very warm in the afternoon sun, but early mornings and evenings still have quite a chill to them.
| Hotel or Airbnb? |
I’ve read lots of conflicting advice about where to stay with a baby. Some folks swear by hotels because of the ease and amenities; some praise apartments with their space and freedom. We opted for the Airbnb for a couple reasons. One, we wanted the separate bedroom/living room so that our activities weren’t beholden to a baby’s sleeping schedule. Two, we wanted the kitchen to prepare our own meals. Airbnbs can be very affordable in CDMX, and many are run by management companies that provide additional amenities and have English-speaking staff. We stayed at this one, and the folks that managed the property were incredible accommodating, providing baby-care necessities and luggage storage before our departure. I think the decision between hotel or Airbnb hinges on your personal needs (extra rooms or kitchen?), your trip vibe (week-long lounge or weekend jaunt?), and your budget (dining out or at home?).