Traveling with kids, especially young kids, is a fabulous experience. It can be pure magic to see the world through their eyes and when you bring them to a paradise such as Los Cabos that joy is magnified.
Beautiful beaches, fantastic weather, great food, world-class resorts, a new world to explore: it’s all here waiting for you and your family.
Of course, there are some practical considerations to taking children, especially small children, abroad.
Here is some useful information pulled from traveling moms and dads to help you keep the kids safe and you sane.
1) Attitude is everything: it is probably best if you expect problems, that way you won’t be fazed when they happen. Try to go with the flow and everything usually works out. Try to treat the trip like an adventure, then annoyances, missteps and mishaps simply become small obstacles for your hearty band of explorers to overcome. I mean, seriously, would Indiana Jones get stressed out because the restaurant doesn't have chicken fingers? This applies just as much for parents as for children. If dogs can sense fear, you better believe your seven-year-old can. If you get stressed when you can't find your hotel, your kids will get stressed too. Just think of it as "exploring the neighborhood,"! Thankfully the likelihood of getting lost when you arrive in Cabo is slim as all the hotels operate shuttle services to and from the airport and there is an excellent, if expensive, taxi fleet. The only issue may come if you rent a car and drive, but even then it is well signed and pretty much a straight road from San Jose to Cabo San Lucas. Contrary to popular belief, driving in Mexico, at least around Los Cabos, is generally easy and relaxed with most Mexican drives courteous and polite.
2. Things to bring with you to Cabo. You can get almost everything on this list here of course, but best to come prepared rather than be forced into running around on your first night buying things that are easily sourced at home.
• Sunscreen and sunblock! Nothing spoils a holiday more than a child with sunburn so use it from dawn till dusk. See our guide to staying safe in the sun here. It's also a good idea to travel with some children's painkillers (e.g. Tylenol or whatever you prefer) so that you don't have to worry about tracking down a drug store in Cabo at 11 P.M. (There are plenty around by the way!) Depending on how much space you have, you might want to bring small containers of cough syrup or Claritin as well. Finally, some parents swear by it and some parents detest it, but Benadryl can go a long way.
• Don't forget the baby wipes. Even if your kid was out of diapers during the Clinton administration, baby wipes are invaluable when traveling. As one commentator observed, "You can clean hands, faces, toilet seats, almost anything with them. On a hot day you can even wipe your face & neck with them to cool down a bit."
• Kids get dirty, especially when they're traveling. Bring a small container of special travel detergent (the Tide from your garage won't work) so you can use your hotel sink to remove the damage from your child's meatball mishap. Ziplock bags have thousands of uses and take up hardly any space. Bring a variety of sizes if you can. Finally, a small, sturdy nightlight can help turn a scary hotel room into a cozy den.
3. Leave at the right time. If you kids nap, use their schedules to your advantage. For example, if you've got a long car ride before your flight, see if you can't leave an hour or so before their nap time. Most kids can entertain themselves for a little while so that buys you some time right there. Once they fall asleep around their normal nap time, you just bought yourself an hour or two of bliss on the way to the airport. This can work for the actual flight as well.
4. Getting the most out of your flight.
• Do a little pre-planning. Always start with the airline online to check out the layout of your flight and try to pick good seats. Map out aisles, windows and think about where to place your family. Do you want everyone in the same row or would you really rather spread them out a little because Johnnie is always getting under Janie's skin? You can get creative here if you plan ahead.
• Board separately. Lots of airlines have dropped special boarding for families with small children. If that's an option for you, consider using it, especially if there is only one grown-up. In larger parties, send Sherpa Daddy onto the plane first with as much stuff as he can carry. Keep Mom or Grandpa or whoever in the boarding area until the gate agents physically force you onto the plane. This way your kids can run around and burn energy in the much roomier boarding area than in the 672 square inches they will attempt to occupy for the next four hours.
5. Choose your toys and books wisely. The old staples like a good set of portable art supplies with crayons, markers and some paper can transform into hours of amusement (or at least distraction). There’s no getting away from iPads and video games these days and on a flight they can be a godsend so bring what they like. Save a couple of brand-new toys to be dramatically unveiled just when your child is about to meltdown.
Advice on travel with kids from the TSA
The TSA is required to screen everyone, regardless of age, in order to ensure the security of all travelers. Many Transportation Security Officers are parents themselves and understand travelers’ concern for their children. Security officers will approach children gently and treat them with respect. If a child becomes uncomfortable or upset, security officers will consult parents about the best way to relieve the child's concern.
Screening procedures for passengers 12 and under include:
• Allowing children 12 and under to leave their shoes on.
• Allowing multiple passes through the walk through metal detector and advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms on children.
• Using explosives trace detection technology on a wider basis to resolve alarms on children.
General Screening Information
• Children 12 and under can leave their shoes on during screening.
• TSA will not ask travelers to do anything that will separate them from their child.
• Passengers cannot leave babies in an infant carrier and attempt to put it through the X-ray machine. Babies should be carried through a walk through metal detector by a parent or guardian.
• All carry-on baggage, including children's toys, bags and items, will be screened. Please let your child know that their blanket, favorite stuffed animal or toy will have to go through the X-ray machine and then will be returned to them.
• All child-related equipment that can fit through the X-ray machine should go through the X-ray machine. Examples include: strollers, umbrella-strollers, baby carriers, car and booster seats, backpacks, and baby slings.
• If possible, please collapse or fold strollers and any other child-related equipment while in the queue. Please put any items in the stroller pockets or baskets, in a carry-on bag or in the bin X-ray belt for inspection. Plastic bins are provided to deposit such items.
• If any equipment will not fit through the X-ray machine, security officers will visually and physically inspect it.
• Ask a security officer for help gathering bags and equipment, if needed.
Traveling With Baby Formula, Breast Milk, And Other Liquids For Infants And Small Children
In September 2006, TSA enacted rules for carrying liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags. All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers, and packed in a one quart, zip-top bag. Each passenger can take one zip-top bag in their carry-on. Larger quantities of liquids may be packed in checked bags.
Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process. Medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. We recommend, but do not require, that medication be labeled to facilitate the security process.
Passengers going on long trips should only carry on the medically necessary liquids and gels needed for their infant/toddler’s immediate comfort during the flight. Please pack larger amounts of liquids for the remainder of the trip in a checked bag.
Avoid any delays by making sure nothing you plan to pack is on TSA’s list of prohibited items.
Children with Medical Conditions, Mobility Aids or Disabilities
Whether your child has a disability or medical condition or because of injury or disability will be traveling through the checkpoint in a wheelchair, please read the following information and share it with children traveling with you so you are prepared and understand the process.
• Please inform the Transportation Security Officer if the child has a disability, medical condition or medical devices, and if you think the child may become upset during the screening process. We welcome your suggestions on how to best accomplish the screening process to minimize any confusion for the child.
• Please tell the Security Officer what the child's abilities are. For example: whether the child can walk through the metal detector or can be carried through the metal detector by the parent/guardian.
• At no time should the Security Officer remove your child from his/her mobility aid (wheelchair or scooter). You are responsible for removing your child from his/her equipment, at your discretion, to accomplish screening.
• If your child is unable to walk or stand, the Security Officer will conduct a pat-down search of your child while he/she remains in their mobility aid, as well as a visual and physical inspection of their equipment. You will remain with your child at all times, and you can ask to have your child screened in private.
• If you’re traveling alone, please ask a Security Officer for assistance in putting your and the child’s carry-on items on the X-ray belt.