Posts Tagged With: Mexico

Was that a Vacation?

There is a myth that travel agents vacation all the time and get to travel for free.  Really?  Somehow I must have missed the boat on that one.  The reality is that most of us do travel more than the average person but not always for pure enjoyment and rarely is anything free.  I can’t remember a vacation that didn’t turn out to be a working vacation in the end.  Even if I plan a weekend getaway or have every intention of relaxing and enjoying my surroundings, it just never turns out that way.

Fam Trips are trips we have the pleasure of being invited to by resorts, tourism boards, cruise lines or any number of other sponsored groups.  While they are often offered with free room and maybe a discount on air, they are not “vacations”.  FAM stands for Familiarization.  Let’s say I just booked a large wedding in Mexico at a 4 or 5 star resort or maybe I just completed the training to become an expert in the brand.  The resort sends me an invitation to come to Mexico to their resort and experience it first hand.  This is great, right?  When I arrive, I am shown to my room and given my itinerary.  Yes, I said itinerary for my 4 days.  You didn’t think they wanted me to come here to pamper me and treat me like a queen, did you?  Now, let’s say that this resort also has 2 sister properties within the area.  My itinerary is to take an escorted walk around the entire complex, sample the food, check out the different rooms, check out the spa, etc.  Now on day two, I get to catch a transfer early that morning to go visit one of the sister properties.  Same as the day before but with a different resort.  Back to the resort late afternoon for some free time before dinner.  I am able to take an excursion of my choice on day three in the morning, then off to the third resort for the afternoon and dinner.  Back to the resort in time for a cocktail and bed since I am flying back home the next day.  That was fun, wasn’t it?  Well, in all actuality, it IS fun for me.  My husband isn’t too crazy about me calling them vacations but I love it.  I love being able to share with you what a resort, destination or area is like from first hand experience.  Many of my recommendations come from these “vacations” because I know what the service is like, what the staff is like and have first hand knowledge of the resort.

Cruises – To obtain and maintain certification with the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) you must take “x” number of cruises of varying length as well as continuing education.  Of course, unlike a FAM trip, you are booked as a regular passenger.  This could be great, if I could just leave my “travel agent” brain at home and not drag it along with me.  I look at every thing, place and meal as something that I need to share with someone interested in a cruise.  We do get offered “seminars at sea” which are educational cruises and very much the same as FAM trips but onboard a cruise ship.

Scheduled Vacations – Yes, I do schedule a real vacation from time to time.  Whether it is a weekend road trip (love ’em)  or a week long stay in a new and exciting destination or anything in between, I always wind up thinking about you, my clients and readers.  Would you enjoy this restaurant, this view, this B&B?  “Wait Honey, I need to get a picture of that before you put your fork in it!”  or “Stop!!!  I need a picture of that for the blog.”   See what I mean?  It always turns out to be a work in progress.

The beauty is:  I love my work!  I am addicted.  My soul is restless for adventure, for travel, for new experiences.  My grandmother used to say I had “itchy feet”.  This is why the travel industry was such a perfect fit for me when I was blessed with the opportunity to change careers.  I have always dreamed of travel and it thrills my heart to know that I am helping people to realize their dreams of travel if even only for a vacation.

Happy Travels,


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sandos Caracol and a Wedding to Remember

Imagine your dream wedding being in a beautiful beach side resort where you have friends and family with you for a week to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.  That is exactly what happened to Jessica and Frank.  They had been to Mexico before and decided that was where they wanted to have their dream wedding.

Jessica and I spent time discussing what was important to them for their wedding.  We went over numerous resorts, amenities, prices, wedding packages and location to find the perfect spot.  Since the wedding guests were each paying their own way, it was important that we found a resort that could accommodate most budgets but still be beautiful and provide the most wonderful wedding.  The wedding was to be casual and FUN for everyone invited.  They made their decision and chose Sandos Caracol as their wedding destination.

Sandos Caracol is a beautiful eco-resort in the Mayan Riviera south of Cancun and 15 minutes from Playa Del Carmen.  They are a family resort but do have an adults only area for those who wish a little more quiet time.  The resort staff was incredibly helpful and worked with us to make the wedding week both memorable and personal.  One of the most amazing things I love about the Caracol is the amount of indigenous wildlife that can be seen all around the resort.  There are carefully laid out walkways through the resort area where you can experience the beauty of the natural cenotes and mangroves.  Who wouldn’t like to have more to your wedding week than just a beautiful wedding?

Jessica and Frank chose to have their wedding on the beach.  Jessica chose a simple yet elegant dress and the bridesmaids work Mexican dresses in a variety of colors and sandals.  The gentlemen wore crisp white shirts with khaki pants and sneakers.

Did I mention that FUN was what this couple wanted?  Well, they found it.  The girls took a day to themselves by taking a trip over to Isla Mujeres and the boys spent a day fishing for the pre-wedding parties.  Everyone had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed being able to spend time together during the days leading up to the big event.  Jessica told me that was one of the best parts of the whole wedding, the ability that they had to spend days not hours celebrating with their guests.

The wedding took place on the beach in the late afternoon.  Afterwards, the new bride and groom as well as their guests were led to a private deck where they had the reception and dinner.  The fun didn’t stop with the pre-wedding festivities as you can see here.

Bride and Attendants

Of course, a destination wedding is not complete without the dancing after the incredible private dinner and reception.

The Bride and Groom's first dance.

Everyone enjoying the dancing

It was a PARTY!!

I was honored to be able to help Jessica and Frank make their dream wedding a reality.  They had guests arrive from all over the US and were happy that it turned into such an incredible experience for everyone.  Below is a quote that Jessica sent to my website after her return.

“Thank you for THE MOST amazing time of my entire life! All of my friends and family had the best experience at Sandos Caracol!  Their beach was the best beach I’ve ever stayed at. They were very accomodating and quick! I’d have to say my favorite parts were the beach, all of the animals and their activities crew(they were constantly getting some sort of fun time started!)  Everything went smoothly and beautifully! There is absolutely no way I could have ever achieved a wedding this memorable and extravagant in Dallas!! I will always recommend destination weddings now:) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jessica F. 

If you are thinking of having a destination wedding, one of the main objectives for you is to learn what type of wedding you desire.  While Jessica and Frank chose a more relaxed, casual wedding, you can get any type of wedding you desire from the casual to the more formal traditional.  You can always find more information on destination weddings on my website  or by emailing me.  I would love to help you plan the perfect wedding.

Happy Travels,


Categories: Destinations, Travel, Uncategorized, Weddings, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Birth of Passion

Merriam-Webster defines “passion” in part as:  intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.  I believe one’s passion is a gift from God and I believe passion starts deep within one’s heart for some thing, some place or some activity that begins as a small kindle and with nurturing (and sometimes without) grows to a raging fire.  It’s the one thing that drives you or if you have suppressed it, the one thing that keeps rearing it’s head to be seen. That is how my passion for travel began, slowly.

In my early childhood years, I was bitten by the travel bug.  I never recognized it for what it was, only that I loved being on the road, in new places, meeting new people, experiencing new things.  I was often the child who was described as being the one with “ants in her pants” or “restless”.  Some things never change, I guess.  I still get very antsy when I don’t get out on the road for a while.

My mother is a retired school teacher who taught a vocational office education course.  Each summer she was required to spend a week in training. Those trainings took place in cities all over Texas and since she would be gone a week we went with her.  That, of course, meant that Dad would have to keep us entertained for an entire week in a new city each summer while Mom was in class.  You can only spend so much time in the pool at the hotel so every morning we would start out for breakfast and then off we went to explore and have some fun.  I discovered early on, that I had no favorite cities because each was unique and offered experiences worthy of being a favorite.  I’ve come to realize it was the adventure that mattered the most.  Travel and exploration of new places was firmly taking root in my heart.

Once, while in Corpus Christie, we had only been there two days when we were rushed out of town due to an impending hurricane.  That was devastating for me not because I missed out on seeing Corpus (it wasn’t our first time there) but because I spent all year saving up money to buy one of those awesome and often trashy souvenirs.  After much complaining and whining, Dad allowed for a quick stop for us to buy something to commemorate our vacation “that never happened”.  Photography in the 70’s was not what it is today.  As kids, our souvenirs were often the catalyst for recalling the memories we made.

One of our summer sojourns sent us to El Paso.   For those of you who don’t know Texas, from El Paso it is just a short skip over to Juarez, Mexico.  Ah, my first trip to the land I came to love!  Dad took us across the border to shop. Yes, I was a shopper even back then.  I still have the silver ring and leather purse I bought on that trip.  Back at that time, there was dog racing there also.  Mom tried to always take one day off to spend with us while we were there.  The dog races was part of her “fun time” with us.  I don’t remember much about the dog races, I was much more into horses but while sitting in the restaurant/bar area I noticed a lady who had a drink with an olive in it.  Man, did I want one of those!  I practically begged Dad to get one so I could have the olives.  Oh, the innocence of a child!  He finally relented and asked the waiter to bring me some olives.  I didn’t know until much later that I was begging him to order a dirty martini!  El Paso was great but now, Mexico, THAT was the place to be!  The sounds, the people, everything was foreign to a child and yet so very exciting.

For many years, all I knew of Mexico was the border towns but I was fascinated by everything about it.  Border towns back then were not the dangerous meccas they have now become.  It was a safe place for families to cross over and experience another culture.  As a child, I vowed to explore Mexico from border to border.  With that, my passion truly took root in my heart.  I explored in books what I could not explore in person.  I’m still a road-trip kind of girl and love to get in a car and just GO!  One of my dream trips is to load up a Jeep with my husband and dog and travel Mexico from coast to coast.  The coastlines are beautiful but so much culture and adventure awaits throughout the interior.  Just what my “restless” spirit needs!

You might say that travelling by auto does not compare to getting on a plane and saving hours and hours of travel time, but have you ever wondered what you missed by jumping on that plane instead of heading cross country?  I always wonder…. what did I miss?  what’s down there?  where are we now?

Most who know me well, were not surprised when I went into the travel industry.  One girlfriend even asked “what took you so long?”. It was not something I planned.  I found myself with free time after selling our business and the opportunity came up.   Sometimes the best experiences in life are those you do not plan for.  That, my friends, is my passion.  I wish to pass my love for travel onto you and love helping someone’s travel the best it can be.  Please share your passion or comments below.  I would love to hear from you.

Happy travels,


Categories: Destinations, Mexico, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Fun Day Trips from Cancun, Mexico – Part 2

In our second installment to Fun Day Trips from Cancun, I would like to tell you about an area just South of the hustle and bustle of Cancun.  The city of Playa Del Carmen lies approximately 45 minutes south of the Cancun airport down highway 307.  If you are staying in Cancun, you can either rent a car, travel by bus or hire private transport.  My recommendation would be to definitely rent a car for the day or week depending on how adventurous you are and how much of the area you would like to explore.

The beach areas in “Playa” (as the locals call it) are beautiful white sand with the expected palm tree shade.  Both swimming and snorkeling are wonderful.

The most enjoyable shopping in Playa is along Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue.  It is an entire street lined with all types of shops from beach wear to fine jewelry and authentic Mayan artisan shops.  Vendors often set up shop in alleys between stores.  I wouldn’t advise travelling too far down an alleyway but there are often great deals to be had on the same merchandise you just saw 3 doors down.  The open air vendors are also more than happy to bargain with you.  As you are strolling and window shopping, don’t forget to stop in one of the open air restaurants for a bite to eat and a margarita.  The people watching alone is worth the trip.

After dark in Playa you have several opportunities for nightlife.  Whether you are interested in “older” music, 70-80-90’s, newer rock or something in between you can find it in Playa.  Some of our favorites are: Senor Frogs, Coco Maya Beach Club and Coco Bongo.

All in all, Playa Del Carmen is a fantastic outing to get away from the hotel zone in Cancun. If you find time on your hands the trip is well worth it.

Of course, we have more information if you need it.  Just let us know.  We can also help you plan your excursions and get them booked for you ahead of time.


Categories: Beaches, Cancun, Destinations, Mexico, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on Mexico – No fear of travel

As a travel agent who specializes in Mexico I follow the news and trends of this niche closely.  While Mexico continues to be the vacation destination of many, the reports of violence have had travelers questioning the safety of their vacation choices.  I was disheartened to see that the State of Texas has issued a travel advisory for Spring Break travelers.  The reality is that traveling to the tourist resort and historic destinations in Mexico are safer than many other countries.  The violence and gang battles are occurring in border towns along the Mexico and US border.  The vacation destinations such as Cancun, Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit are safer than many of the large US cities.

While news media may tell you to beware, in the first 10 months of 2010, Mexican officials say, the country received 8.2 million international visitors.  That figure jumped 17.8 percent from 2009. The number of Americans totaled 4.9 million.   2011 looks to be an even larger year for Mexican tourism.  There are many new hotels and resorts slated to open in this year and the deals are available year round.

I will advise my clients to stay away from the border towns like Tijuana and Metamoros and to stay away from lower economic areas of the cities and back alleyways in resort towns.  You wouldn’t want to take chances there any more than you would in decrepit areas of our large cities.  Bottom line is that Mexico is still safe for travelers and offers more than meets the eye for the well informed.

A well informed traveler is a happy traveler.  For more information contact us.

Edwina Parker

Yapa Now Travel

Categories: Beaches, Destinations, Mexico, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Day Trips from Cancun, Mexico – Part 1

When people think of Cancun, Mexico, they often think Spring Break and “party”.  Cancun and the surrounding areas have so much more to offer than just a party away from home.  Cancun is a fabulous destination in Mexico for anyone of any age.

The resorts in Cancun vary from moderately priced hotels to luxury resorts with a little bit of everything in between.  Whether staying at a beach or lagoon resort in the hotel zone or the charming hotels within Cancun proper, the day trips offered will certainly give you plenty to do.  I would like to share with you some of the fun day trips that can make your vacation extraordinarily memorable.

Our first day trip is to Isla Mujeres (Isle of Women).  Isla Mujeres is a short ferry ride from the Hotel Zone in Cancun.  The ferry service runs from the Embarcadaro Dock, Playa Linda pier, five times a day beginning at 9:00 am and ending about 4:00 pm.  I would recommend going as early as possible to be able to enjoy all the island has to offer.

Once arriving on Isla Mujeres you will want to rent a moped.  This is by far the easiest and quickest way to navigate around the island.  You will find moped rentals available just beyond the docks.  If you are hungry when you arrive, you will find restaurants offering everything from Asian, International, Cuban and authentic Mexican cuisine.  If you are there before lunch, try Elements of the Island for a fantastic breakfast or brunch to get your day started.  Another favorite of mine is La Cazuela M & J where both tourists and locals go to enjoy the atmosphere of the island and enjoy the fresh Mexican fare.

By moped you can travel around the entire island allowing you to stop at various destinations along the way.  You will come upon Tortugranja (Turtle Farm).  It is a nice little departure from the beautiful scenery along the coast and a real treat to see the different breeds of turtles of varying ages.  We were able to observe babies that were less than a week old.  They are doing a fantastic job of preserving the great turtle population.

As you travel along the island you will see signs for all types of diversions.  Frankly, some are worth stopping for and some are not.  We came upon a sign that said “Swim with a Shark”.  We stopped to check it out and it was a man in about 4 feet of water with a nurse shark that barely seemed to move.  Needless to say, we didn’t pay up to swim but we did step over to the cantina next door.  On a long open, wood fired grill, two men were cooking fish that had just been caught.  The price of a meal was very inexpensive and the opportunity to watch how they cooked was very entertaining.  While enjoying a Cerveza and relaxing to the jovial attitudes of the men cooking we were able to enjoy the scenery and look forward to our next find.

Garrafon Park is a must see if you have the time.  This could easily be an all day adventure in itself.  The park hosts an amazing reef formation which is one of the longest in the hemisphere.  There are several dive shops to choose from as well as restaurant, snack bars and bathrooms with showers.  From the park you can choose guided tours to Punta Sur and the “Blue Eye Cave”.  They also offer zip line flights and Caribbean bungee jumping.

If you are a diver or snorkeler, you must visit the Underwater Museum.  The museum was created by artist Jason deCaires Taylor.  There are an amazing 400 life size sculptures.  The underwater museum will help to create a man-made reef to aid the abundant marine life.  It’s just an exceptional outing.

The Isla Mujeres downtown area (Centro) is a mere 4 blocks by 6 blocks but has some great little shopping spots.  Everything from handcrafted Mexican items to jewelry, dive and tobacco shops.  The assortment of beach wear and cover ups is worth a stroll through the markets.

Isla Mujeres is a great day trip from Cancun.  You may even consider two days there to enjoy all that the island has to offer.  There are also hotels on the island and it is a very quaint area to stay.

I have information on all the excursions above as well as lodging.  If you are interested in more, please contact me.

Follow us next as we head south from Cancun for another day trip.

Edwina Parker

Yapa Now Travel

Categories: Beaches, Cancun, Mexico, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Destination Weddings on the Rise

The Riu Club Hotel Tequila in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

I recently read an article in the LA Times stating that the number of brides and grooms choosing to have their wedding away from home was on the rise.  There are a number of reasons for this change in attitude by couples.  It is often hard for a couple to limit the number of guests invited to a hometown wedding.  Not so with a destination wedding.  Many guest who would attend a wedding at home will not travel for the same wedding.  Couples are finding that the atmosphere is more relaxed and they are able to enjoy more time with their guests.  Another factor is that the destination wedding is often much less expensive than the hometown wedding.  The bride and groom can choose either to pay for their guests travel or have the guests pay their own way.  Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean are still the top destination choices for weddings.

As a professional travel agent specializing in Mexico and romantic travel, I find that my clients who choose destination weddings are enjoying the romance of it all.  Exotic locations with beach side nuptials and day trips or excursions for the pre-wedding parties are all the more reason to choose a destination wedding.  The couples are traveling with their guests several days prior to the wedding and staying up to a week after the guests leave to experience the pleasure of their honeymoon in the same beautiful location.  All in all, it is no wonder couples are choosing to say their vows away from home.  I have wedding requirements for the various destinations as each country is different.  Let me know if you would like me to send you information on requirements.

Edwina Parker

Categories: Beaches, Destinations, Weddings, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to Yapa Now Travel!

If you already read the About page, you know I love my job as a travel agent and I absolutely love Mexico.  I fell in love with Mexico on my first visit.  The warm ocean breeze and the beautiful flora and fauna in the Riviera Maya area was breathtaking compared to our little slice of paradise in Texas.  This soon became my dream destination spot.  I vowed to return over and over to explore and discover more of this incredible country.  Long after witnessing a beautiful wedding beach side and experiencing as much as possible, I had an opportunity to become a travel agent and share my knowledge and experience with others. I jumped at the chance.  I now specialize in Mexico and romantic travel including destination weddings, honeymoons and weddingmoons.

There are as many different types of vacations in Mexico as there are the world over.  With everything from beach destinations, Mayan ruins to explore, culinary tours and luxury resorts to destination dream weddings, Mexico has it all.  The Mexico tourism board has created a motto stating “Mexico  The place you thought you knew.”  I always tell my clients what an incredible adventure it is, no matter what the destination or purpose and upon their return they admit, it was not the Mexico they had heard about.

Yapa Now Travel – Because you deserve a little something extra.

Edwina Parker

Categories: Beaches, Destinations, Uncategorized, Weddings, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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