This article contains affiliate links at no cost to you. Special thanks to Xcaret Park for hosting us for this adventure. This in no way shapes the opinions in this article.
Have you ever considered ditching your neighborhood Halloween tradition for a Day of the Dead in Mexico? I know there are a lot of feels this time of year as our kids don their favorite costumes and get ready for Halloween trick-or-treating. And while I love Halloween, as you would clearly see upon entering my home decorated since September 1st, I don’t stick around for it with my son anymore. Yes, I do miss him getting all cute and dressed up. I still take him to Fall Festivals and any Halloween party I can, but for me, there is something much more cultured in mind (and a little less damaging to the teeth). Yes, I’m talking about Mexico with kids. Day of the Dead style. Xcaret Park style.
As a mother to a tween, I am always aiming to nurture his cultural awareness. And as travelers, this opportunity comes often, but it’s not always as interesting for him as it is for me. That is why this festival is so special for us. Apart from the allure of its pop culture elements, it’s a truly remarkable and fascinating holiday which offers not only culture but a perspective on death and the celebration of life.
Last year would mark the first time I brought my son to Xcaret Park in the Riviera Maya to experience Day of the Dead in Mexico (AKA Dia de Los Muertos, the Festival of the Dead and the Celebration of Life and Death). He had been several times before but never for this. At first, he was reluctant to go, upset that he would be missing out on trick-or-treating and dressing up. But as the culture revealed itself, along with the meaning of the holiday, the festive costumes, colors and artistic elements the Mexican culture is so well known for, he was magnetized to the celebration. And I was magnetized to him as I watched my son grow even more cultured than he was the day before. And, you know what? It was more rewarding than any run-of-the-mill Halloween festivity, period.
So how can you plan a trip to Mexico with kids? Keep reading as I share my practical tips and a photo journal of our experience. And be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for our 2017 Day of the Dead in Mexico adventure.
Day of the Dead in Mexico with Kids – Our 2017 Photo Journal
In an age when visuals speak louder than words, I hope that you find our personal photo journal inspiring. You can also check out my experience from 2015 here also complete with photo journal.
Where to Stay, Practical Tips, and What to Expect
Already packing your bags? This is a four-day event beginning the 30th of October and ending the 2nd of November. So keep that in mind while planning. You don’t have to attend the park for all four days, but those are the dates the event is happening. I recommend you take a five-day trip to include other Xcaret parks like Xel-Ha, Xplor, and Xenses. These are practical tips that will be useful before and during your trip, and what to expect from your family culture vacation.
Where to Stay – My Paradisus All-Inclusive Resort Experience (Hosted)
Without getting into too much detail, as I wrote an entire post on this fabulous resort earlier this year, I will let you know that this is to date, my favorite all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya. From the service level to the in-room amenities, everything was flawless. They have both an adult side and a family side. On the family side, you are given a personal butler. Your suite is basically an apartment with a hot tub on the patio.
There’s everything you could possibly imagine right at the resort, including a Kidz Zone where you can drop your kids off so you can get some alone time. In-room dining, adult beverages, restaurants (with the exception of one or two) all included. It’s a stress-free experience that I highly recommend. Special thanks to Xcaret Park for inviting us to stay with their hotel partner last year.
Practical Tips – Transportation, packing, and during the event
Transportation – You can get a shuttle from the Cancun Airport to your resort in Playa del Carmen for about $50 USD each way per group. They are standing curbside ready to haul when passengers get off their flights, but you can Google a few and shop around. Once you’re at your resort, if you opted for the all-inclusive parks packages online, Xcaret will shuttle you from your resort to the parks. Your entire Day of the Dead in Mexico adventure will be drive-free. I love this for many reasons.
Packing – While we are all cozying up for fall weather in the states, it’s still quite warm and humid this time of year in the Riviera Maya of Mexico. In my opinion, it’s more humid than summer. You’ll want to pack loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing. And, depending on what your itinerary looks like, you’ll want a variety of beach, resort casual, resort dress, and adventure attire. Waterproof shoes, adventure sandals, and pretty sandals are fine. For the kids, think along the same lines. I wouldn’t go through the trouble to pack loads of sunscreen because you can get all that stuff at the resort. And if you stay with Paradisus, they have the kids’ toiletries in the room already (which I love).
Most resorts (including Paradisus) have a beach tote in the room for use. One less thing to pack! I recommend getting a waterproof phone case. It allows you to use your phone without removing it, and it hangs from your neck. Also, if you can find a water bottle holder, I always bring one of those as well (I like the hands-free life). In addition to these, if you’re going to be taking some serious photos with an expensive DSLR, you’ll, of course, want to bring your camera bag. Much of the event is at night, so keep that in mind and plan for low light photography.
During the Event – Bring cash. The cheapest way to exchange money is at your home bank. It takes a couple days to come in, so be sure to order in advance. You’re going to want cash on hand so you can buy things in the villages and at the craft fairs. The people of Mexico are fine craftsmen and women, they pass down family art for generations, especially for the Day of the Dead festivities.
Don’t be afraid of the food at Xcaret Park. Sit down and enjoy the authentic Mexican cuisine and street food offered during the event. There are multiple buffet style restaurants (with kid-friendly food), enjoy it. Try some of the local fresh juices as well. They are amazing!
I wouldn’t recommend donning some intense costume unless you don’t mind sweating. Face paint needs to be water resistant or it will sweat off. I recommend buying or making a pretty headband with marigolds and roses, finding a tribute shirt and adding some smaller face paint elements. Forget amazing hair (this goes for your entire stay).
What to Expect
On this trip, you are going to find relaxation, luxury, adventure and culture at every turn. Be prepared to fall in love with your resort experience, and the overall park experiences. Take your time, don’t ruin the moment by rushing through things. Remember, little things stand out to children like making sugar skulls, or learning about the Day of the Dead story from the actors and staff. You and your kids will never forget this experience.
Xcaret Park is a place to explore culture and adventure. Your day visit and night visit will be much different. Follow this for more information on spending your day at Xcaret Park.
If you are planning for 2018 and want to get your kids excited for the trip, I highly recommend taking them to see the new Disney/Pixar film, Coco. The beautifully animated story of a Mexican child musician. It’s inspired by the Day of the Dead in Mexico culture, and it will surely give your kids a way to make the connected fast. It hits theaters November 22, 2017.
Check out the Coco Trailer here:
Taking my son to experience the Day of the Dead in Mexico was an unforgettable experience. I’m proud to say that I’ve checked this off our bucket list and look forward to many more years of this cultural tradition. It’s made my fall season even more special than ever before and I know it will for you too. Be sure to follow our upcoming Day of the Dead adventure later this month! We’ll be sharing our Instagram story @thefairytaletraveler and on Twitter @FairytaleTVLR!
If you follow my tips, you’re sure to have an amazing story to share with friends and family when you return.
Questions? Feel free to comment below or contact me! I love hearing from our readers!