5 Sultry Days in Cancun


Chris and Julie at Chichén Itzá

Chris planned a surprise trip to Cancun for our 25th wedding anniversary - so thoughtful! It was my first time to Mexico and we had a ball exploring Cancun, Chichén Itzá, and five different cenotes in the area.

I wrote four articles summarizing our 5-day adventure:


This map highlights the places we visited in and around Cancun, or wish to visit next time. If a place is pinned, it’s mentioned in a blog post. To easily locate specific articles, use the “Search this website…” function on our website. For example, Chichén Itzá has a map pin. To find that write-up, type “Chichen Itza” into the search bar and a few articles will pop up. Note that we also took an excursion to visit 4 private cenotes which are not identified on this map.


Chris planned ahead and took a couple key actions to cut expenses:

  • He researched and booked our two full-day excursions online. This appeared to save us a bundle given the prices we saw while wandering the Hotel Zone in Cancun.
  • He also read the fine print on our credit cards to ensure we took those with no international fees.

I Googled a bit and picked up sage advice for traveling in Mexico including:

  • Only drink bottled water.
  • Be wary of drinks with ice or crushed ice; only consume ice that has been made with bottled or disinfected water.
  • Don’t eat raw fruit or vegetables unless peeled.
  • Don’t eat street food and make sure all food is cooked thoroughly and piping hot.

I got caught up in life and didn’t make time for a book about Cancun or Mexico. Looking back, I wish I’d read Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya. It looks to be a gripping page-turner that tells the true story of how the Mayan civilization was discovered.

Packing List

We visited Cancun in early May when temperatures were forecast in the 80s. I knew we’d swim, run a couple times, take a bus excursion to Chichén Itzá, and zipline, kayak, and snorkel in cenotes. The key items I packed:

  • Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
  • Swimsuit and flips
  • A beach bag and backpack: These doubled as airplane carry-on bags.
  • A rainshell: Thunderstorms were forecast one day.
  • Running shoes for exercise and sightseeing
  • Dri-fit clothes
  • One half-zip long-sleeve and one light sweater for cool evenings
  • Pepto Bismol caplets: My hairdresser tipped me off that Pepto Bismol can be used preventively and sure enough, online research supported her claim. It was a brief visit and we cringed at the thought of losing time to stomach woes. Better safe than sorry! We each took two take two caplets twice a day, which is less than the recommended two caplets four times per day.  We never had issues, but it's impossible to tell if the Pepto helped - can't prove a negative!
  • Dramamine: I took some along but didn’t use it. Here are my pre-trip thoughts: We are doing a tour of four cenotes and online reviews say the bus ride can be torture if you have motion sickness issues. Unfortunately I remembered at the last minute and only have regular Dramamine on hand, not the less drowsy formula. Hmm. Which is better: To be wide awake but nauseous, or lethargic but A-Ok in the head and stomach?
  • A packet of antibacterial wipes
  • Allergy medicine and ibuprofen
  • Passport
  • Printouts of our tour reservations plus airport transport info

I should have brought:

  • Bug spray: We bought some in Cancun.
  • A second swimsuit, or a little detergent to wash the one I brought.

Chris and I packed so little we fit all of our clothes and toiletries combined into one carry-on bag. It was freeing to travel light and entertaining each time someone asked incredulously “This is all you have?”