On our way/ kids leading travel/ Mexico safety

Hello from Atlanta! Family Mexico Trip 2022 is officially underway.

So far, so good. Flight from Milwaukee left a little after 11 a.m.

I made the boys take their obligatory “start of vacation pic” as we left home and drove to Milwaukee:

We stopped by my parent’s house quick, picked up my Dad and then he dropped at us at the airport. They live quite close to the Milwaukee airport, so our van will stay at their house while we’re gone. They won’t be home when we get back (on their anniversary trip), so we’ll have to take an Uber to their house and get our car. Should work out and saves us from paying daily airport parking.

All was super easy in MKE!! The later flight meant a pretty quiet airport.

Got a jalapeño cheddar bagel and tea for breakfast. Asher had a pepperoni/Swiss cheese and cracker thing, and Ivan and Ethan shared a blueberry bagel.

Short wait at the gate before boarding, then take-off!

After feeling a little lousy on our flights to/from San Diego, I decided to pre-medicate with 2 Ibuprofen and a Dramamine. Seemed to do the trick- I felt fine, but it made me super drowsy!! Ugh. The flight to Atlanta wasn’t that long- maybe 1 1/2 hours- and I could barely keep my eyes open when we landed. I started my book but that didn’t last long- too sleepy! :/ I can’t win. Ha.

Ethan in charge of travel navigating:

We told Ethan this morning that he was going to be our “leader” through the airport, and we wanted him to pretend he was traveling alone. Where would we go? Where’s the gate? What’s next? Etc.

He is 14 now! Time to start learning to travel independently.

He was a little hesitant a couple times and “didn’t see” one of the “Concourse” signs, but he did mostly ok. 🙂

When we got off the plane in Atlanta, I said, “ok, now where do we go?” He looked at his boarding pass and said, “There’s no connecting gate listed.”

“Ok, so what do you do then??” I asked.

Pause…. “Ummmm…. Find one of those screens?” Yep!! 🙂

Then, being the ginormous Atlanta airport, we had to take a train 5 concourses down.

Leading the way- to the train

I liked this pic of the boys walking together:

Future travel partners?

We successfully made it to gate E3. 🙂

Note on safety

A couple notes on safety and travel in Mexico. As you probably know, Mexico gets a bad rap for being unsafe.

It’s not fully without reason, and it’s something we are aware of. The truth is, you do need to pay attention. But on the other hand, we’ve never had any serious issues, and one could argue that anywhere can have unsafe places- certainly even here in the U.S.

It may help that we speak the language, Ivan is, you know, Mexican, and we don’t go to places that you shouldn’t go.

Generally speaking, I don’t worry much. His parents live in Toluca, an hour from Mexico City, in a safe neighborhood. You will still find bars on everyone’s windows, basically everywhere in Mexico, though.

I would probably not go out for a long walk there by myself at night- not because it’s unsafe exactly, but because I stand out and look different. I’m clearly not “from there”. Just probably wouldn’t feel comfortable/could be a target.

We have had things happen, like, for example: The last time we were there and we drove from Toluca to Acapulco for a few days, we drove down a major toll road. As we got to the toll booth into Acapulco, we noticed that instead of the regular toll workers, the booth had been taken over by a bunch of… teenagers/young men in street clothes. They were sitting on the ledges outside the booths, taking money from the cars and then lifting the gate for cars to go through. (The booths were empty.)

Odd, right?! We pulled up, the guy told us the fee (I can’t remember if they were charging the same amount as the posted price), Ivan handed the kid the cash, he lifted the gate and off we went.

Obviously some funny business was going on there… but trust me, that’s a case where you keep your mouth shut and don’t ask questions. Sounds like this local “group” (cartel?? I don’t know) has some kind of “arrangement” with the local authorities where they can, um, cash in on the toll fees a day or two per week. (Shrugs/ raise eyebrows… ) I guess I don’t want to know. Lots and lots of corruption in Mexico, and it’s very complicated and very sad.

We had another time once where we pulled off on the side of the road so a very young Asher could go to the bathroom (urgently). Ivan was visibly a bit distressed to be stopping in this remote area and was snapping his fingers at Asher to “hurry up”/ looking around a lot. He is not nervous in Mexico at all usually, but he also knows there are certain situations where you are definitely more vulnerable. Stopping on the side of the road in a remote area is one of those times! All it would take is for the wrong pick up truck to drive by…

Ivan loves Mexico and brushes off most overblown/ exaggerated safety worries, but he is also vigilant and very aware/observant.

One other time we were walking down a quiet side street and some guys were up ahead. I had my iphone in my hand, casually walking along, just holding it (probably had been taking a picture). He snapped at me, “put your phone away! You don’t need to advertise it when you’re on this deserted street.”

Another time we were walking into a Walmart and Ivan didn’t like the look of one guy near the entrance, so we went back to the car until he left.

Anyway, just a few examples. Nothing bad actually happened in any of these situations, but we were just being cautious.

Most of Mexico is WONDERFUL and beautiful and the people are amazing! So it’s not a place to “fear”, but you just need to keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings. Like anywhere, though, I guess!

Ok, off to find a snack before we board flight leg 2 of 2!!

6 thoughts on “On our way/ kids leading travel/ Mexico safety”

  1. I love the idea of travel leader! he must feel so empowered. sometimes when I take an evening walk with the girls I’d designate a leader to lead the way and they love it.
    have fun in Mexico! eat a lot of tacos hahaha.


  2. That is a great idea to have Ethan be the leader to give him some practice on navigating the airport. And that’s really empowering for a kid, too.

    I have only been to Mexico once and it was to a touristy area. We are planning to go there in December for our getaway. A couple of people have commented on how it’s not safe to visit there but I just kind to let those comments go because we are going to a very touristy area and will be at an all-inclusive so will barely be off the resort site. And you encounter risks everywhere you go. Phil speaks Spanish so that does help us. It’s nice to have Ivan as your protector. He knows what feels safe/unsafe and when to speak up or let things go. The corruption is really sad, though. When I visited a friend in the Peace Corp in the DR she talked about the corruption there, too. I don’t know how that gets overcome, though. That’s something we take for granted here in the US, or at least I do. There is still corruption but typically in isolated incident and once it’s detected, it’s taken care of. I’m think of people who embezzle or things like that.


  3. Safe travels and I think having Ethan take the lead is such a great idea. Doing those learning activities when there is less pressure (but it’s still very real-world; ie: you’re not running through this hypothetically at home) is wonderful! And a great way to introduce a new level of independence that will likely help him become a VERY confident solo traveler from a young age which is an incredible skill.


  4. Aww, as a parent I live for these moments when a kid tries to do something “adult” for the first time. They are proud of themselves afterwards and stand a bit straighter. Well done Ethan! About safety – I guess in most countries there are pockets of risky areas. For example when I used to live in London, there were definitely areas I avoided at night (at sometimes daytime too) because of stabbing/knife crime. My cousin who lives in Manhatten also doesn’t go out at night anymore, after the whole Asian hate thing started and people got randomly pushed into the subway tracks!


  5. I love that you let Ethan navigate the airport. That is great “practice”. My nephew (12) is very well-oriented and can get around/figure out directions and whatnot, my niece (13) not so much, she gets lost in our hometown sometimes LOL

    I have only been to Mexico once – walked over the border from San Diego into Tijuana as a naïve college student (with a fellow student). Nothing happened, but let’s just say, I was all of a sudden very aware of my surroundings.


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