Have Baby, Will Travel: Holbox
One of the most challenging issues of travelling with a baby is how little of my previous knowledge is actually useful now.
I have backpacked through Europe in the 90s, traveled South East Asia, lived off grid, and even WWOOF’d – you’d think I was some kind of traveling expert right? With a kid, all that shit goes out the window. The beautiful sleepy island of Holbox is a perfect example of how your old expertise can ruin your new mom life.
Nestled north of the Yucatan, Holbox is the super trendy sleepy little tourist island that all the yogis and hipsters are flocking to. Think Corn Islands in Nicaragua, or Gili T in Indonesia. Holbox has sandy beach roads and locally owned restaurants, and shallow aqua blue water as far as the eye can see. I thought it was a slam dunk for a week away with my babe, but I will never be making that awful mistake again ever and here’s why little idyllic islands with kids suck:
1. You can’t be single and go to these places. Sure you can be single and 23 and outgoing and getting drunk every night and ho-ing your way through a travel experience; and even then, you still won’t have much fun here on your own. It’s mostly families and couples and girl-besties. This is single mom hell. I basically spent a week completely alone with few people to talk to, nothing to do at night and nowhere to go cause I was stuck on a tiny island.
2. Babies are the worst accessories at the beach. If your kid can walk, then you can take them to the beach and watch them eat buckets of sand and walk around in a saggy diaper living it up. If your kid is under 6 months then they can’t do shit, not even wear sunscreen. So here you are, under a palm tree trying to get some shade, wearing your sweaty baby panza-a-panza, stressing about lack of sunscreen and volume of sand in eyes.
3. You are stuck. Oh you wanna go? Well you can’t. You booked your hotel/hostel/apartment for a week, so now you’re stuck on this island of death just looking at hipster couples on their bikes eating tacos and wishing you could cool off in the ocean already. Bank machine out of pesos? Well looks like you’re gonna get ass raped with American dollars cause you have NO CHOICE and this little island knows it. You are in a tourist trap baby. The less you struggle, the better. Nothing is worse than travelling to a vacation destination by accident and then getting trapped there for 7 excruciating days cause you can’t get out of your reservation.
4. The internet is awful and inside is worse than outside. All little islands have terrible internet, but what this means for your trapped single mom ass is: you can’t even make lemonade by getting ahead on work or staying in and watching a movie. The place I rented was fine for sleeping/making breakfast, but awful for actually hanging out it, so it was just as boring inside as out.
5. There are no baby friendly activities to do. Sometime on Day 3 I decided to book a tour for me and Luna to kill the boredom. All the tours save for one were unacceptable for children – either booze cruise type catamaran rides, or snorkel/dive related. We went on the most popular half day trip which is an island hop. Basically we were bored with other couples with small children instead of bored by ourselves.
Before having children, this is the kind of island I would have loved to travel to for a couple weeks or even a month. There was a great little beach hostel that was looking for an in-house yoga teacher for trade and I would have taught there in exchange for a room; cooked most of my food and socialized with my students. I would have been low profile, but that’s not to say that there wouldn’t be the odd night of tequila and a romp with some dumb young thing. But as a single mom, Holbox was hell. I will never ever go back to any place like that with a kid by myself. Only with a friend on single mom + no babies trip, or with a family, or with kids and not babies, or in a group or with a lover. But never again alone with my baby.
p.s. the one really good thing Holbox has going for it is the street art – Instagram HEAVEN