Itinerary for slow travel with child?

Old Dec 13th, 2015, 05:28 PM
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Itinerary for slow travel with child?

Hi there. We (mum, dad & 12 year old from Australia) are looking to spend 5 weeks in Mexico Dec 2016 - Jan 2017. Interests are culture, food, ruins, colonial towns, hiking, perhaps rafting or horse-riding & maybe a bit of beach (but not too much).

We prefer to travel slowly, spending maybe 1 week at each stop & minimising travel time and number of relocations. Contrasting experiences are good (e.g. an overall mix of city / country, jungle / mountain). And we would prefer to avoid internal flights and overnight buses if possible (but the occasional long bus journey by day is OK).

With this in mind, can you please help us come up with an itinerary by recommending places that would be good bases for us, with plenty to do over a week.

Mexico City is our likely starting point & we'd be keen to spend a week there. We could exit from Mex City or open-jaw to exit Cancun. So far, I've been looking at variations on the std Gringo Trail (Mex City-Oaxaca-SCDLC-Palenque-Merida-beach (e.g. Puerto Morales)), though the long haul bus rides are daunting.

Or maybe a loop back to Mex City with time in Puebla-Oaxaca-beach (e.g. San Augustillino).

We spent time in Yucatan pre-child, so this is less of a priority for us, though our daughter would love the cenotes & eco-park activities (zip lining etc).

Your thoughts most welcome...
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Old Dec 14th, 2015, 06:12 PM
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I might suggest something like this:
Mexico City.
Puebla/Cholula/Tlaxcala. Colonial cities and a couple of ruins. Old haciendas, too. Of course, Puebla is known for it's food.
Xalapa/Coatepec/Xico/Jacomulco. Rivers, rafting, cloud forest, waterfalls, hiking, coffee. Quaint colonial towns (Coatepec, Xico). This area was where Romancing the Stone was filmed. If you've got a 12 year old, she's probably never seen it, and y'all might not have either!
Veracruz. The city "mas alegre de Mexico", (happiest city in Mexico) Culture, history, museums, music, a handful of nearby ruins. Charming, but gritty port city with French Colonial influences, but yet not without it's modern side. This is where Cortez entered Mexico. The downside is that good beaches are not Veracruz's strong point, but there are some in the area, such as those of Boca del Rio and Anton Lizardo. Gulf water is greenish and the sand can be more gray than golden. 2 1/2 hours to the north is the Costa Esmeralda, a 20 km stretch of mostly deserted clean beach. A hour from there are the ruins of El Tajin.
From Veracruz, its about a 5 hour return bus ride to Mexico City. And even though you'd like to avoid internal flights, Vivaaerobus does fly from Veracruz to Cancun.
Anyway, some combination of the above would tick most of your boxes, I'd think. Worthy of some googling, if nothing else.
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Old Dec 15th, 2015, 02:09 AM
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Thanks for the reply Baldone. Your suggestions are certainly different from the variations on Oaxaca / Chiapas / Yucatan that I had been considering. And I'll def look into them.

Though isn't Veracruz (including Xalapa) beset by drug & political violence & considered a state to avoid?
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Old Dec 15th, 2015, 02:26 PM
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I very much get your concern especially traveling with a 12-year old. But let me provide the following for some perspective.
It is curious that you mention Oaxaca and Chiapas as 2 destinations yet have concerns about political instability. In recent months, both states have experienced plenty of political activity. In Oaxaca, the radical teacher's union continues to threaten blockades, strikes, protests and the like; with some of the threats increasing as teacher's exams are taking place.
In Chiapas, there have been recent reports of roadblocks, particularly on the highway from San Cris to Palenque. In both cases (Oaxaca & Chiapas) the demonstrations are designed to draw attention to political causes and pretty much affect locals and tourists alike. Rarely do they turn violent, but it would be unsettling to be caught in one. As well, there are municipios in Chiapas that essentially are without any sort of official police presence (which may not be all bad...), as they are indigenous lands, and they are self-policed. They have been known to be pretty brutal in their treatment of lawbreakers (or suspected ones), like setting them on fire. Alive. Yet no US travel advisories for these states.
I live in Guanajuato state, and destinations such as San Miguel and Guanajuato state is considered by many to be quite safe. And it is. But Guanajuato has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country. Yet no advisory.
By contrast, (see attached link) Veracruz is far down the list of states high levels of violent crime. Xalapa is home to a number of universities and is the capital of the state, thus student protests can and do occur. But that can happen anywhere at any time.
But one main reason I mentioned Veracruz is your desire to go rafting. It is one of the more popular areas for rafting, as the rivers have water year round, whereas in some states the rivers dry up during the dry season. But in any case, you'd be hiring a guide/outfitter wherever you'd go, and they will be on top of any local security issues. I was recently there and the mountains are green and lush, whereas the western side of the Sierras tend to get quite dry this time of year and are not as appealing.
I also tend to see safety issues as I do eating in Mexico, i.e., eat where the locals eat, and travel where the locals travel. Veracruz state is very popular with people of Mexico City and Puebla, partly because of it's proximity to both cities. And if it wasn't safe, they wouldn't go. I did find interesting that in many parts of Veracruz (city & state) there was a lot of signage in German due to the huge VW factory in Puebla.
Anyway, it sounds like a good trip wherever you end up.
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Old Dec 15th, 2015, 02:28 PM
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Forgot the link:
http://www.unionguanajuato.mx/articu...o-mas-inseguro
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Old Dec 15th, 2015, 05:16 PM
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Thanks Baldone - I'm half-aware of the issues you mention in Oaxaca & Chiapas, but all good food for thought.
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Old Dec 20th, 2015, 06:11 PM
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Hi gnik, I might suggest you register and post on Trip Advisor as well. There's only a couple of regular posters here on Fodor's that have much central Mexico experience, while on TA there's many more.
One other thing about Veracruz (then I'll shut up) is that there is a nice aquarium there where kids (as well as adults) can swim with the dolphins. Plus a shark feeding thing. http://acuariodeveracruz.com/english/
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Old Dec 25th, 2015, 09:42 AM
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Greetings gnik - I'm no expert on Mexico, much more experience in Europe & Asia. However, I spent 3 week in Oaxaca a couple of months ago and enjoyed myself immensely. There were demonstrations by the teacher's union but, as far as I could make out, nothing to stop anyone from visiting. It meant simply that weekend days on the zocalo were very busy, certainly not, from my experience, by any means, dangerous. I intend to return for a longer stay, maybe regularly, and can recommend it highly to you for a stop on your progress around Mexico.
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