JP’s 24 Trips in 12 Months!

Trip No. 1:  Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dates:   Sept. 10 – Sept. 12, 2017
Hotel: Barcelo Maya Palace


  1. Riviera Maya is an amazing destination that everyone needs to visit.
  2. Barcelo Maya is a top-notch, all-inclusive resort.
  3. Xel-Ha Eco-Park is a fantastic excursion and an amazing way to spend the day.
  4. Olympus Tours is a solid, reliable transport company for your transfer to and from the Cancun airport.

Best tips and lessons learned:

  1. There’s often no wifi on flights over the Gulf of Mexico so be sure to download local copies of your work if you need to work on the flight.
  2. Make sure to plan at least one day of pure relaxation and chilling when you are at Barcelo Maya (or any all-inclusive).  Doing nothing rather than excursions and exploring can be crucial!
  3. If you need to work in your hotel room while your significant other is sleeping, bring eye shades and a lap desk light.  Trust me!
  4. Get strong bug spray if you are going to an eco-park.  The bug spray they sell there, while having natural ingredients, simply doesn’t work.  You’ll be much more comfortable covered in deet.  

My Riviera Maya Trip:

One of the great destinations that Tripaly regularly offers is Riviera Maya.  I had never been there, so when Tripaly offered a long-weekend, platinum trip there, my girlfriend and I made the last-minute decision and jumped on it!

We had an early morning flight from Austin.  I enjoy spending my pre-flight time at the airport in Austin at the Saxon Pub.  If you plan on working during the flight, I find this pre-flight time at the airport is a great time to make sure you’ve got local copies on your laptop of any files you need on the flight (in case there’s no in-flight wifi).

Our flight was on Southwest, and the staff were incredibly nice and helpful.   We upgraded to seats to the front row where we had tons of extra leg space.  Though I appreciated the extra leg room, there was no seat in front of me to put my bag under, so make sure you keep that in mind when picking your seat, especially if you need easy access to a laptop or other items in your bag.

While on our layover at DFW, we ate at Ling & Louie’s.  I definitely recommend it.  We ordered a delicious stir fry to share, and the service very fast (which is great when you have to catch a connection).

The flight into Cancun is stunning as you get near the coast.  As we got closer, there are vibrant, colorful reefs and the shades of blue and green in the water are absolutely breathtaking. As you approach the airport, you see a small city surrounded by rainforests, as far as you can see.  

Tripaly’s recommended transfer company from Cancun airport is Olympus Tours.   They have free wi-fi, different options for rides, and, as you book in advance, they are there expecting you.

We had a Tripaly platinum trip, so our hotel and room were top notch.  When we arrived we were taken to a private check-in area with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres.  

This was my first all-inclusive experience and I was blown away.  Our room was spacious, well designed and stocked.  The food at the resort was delicious, well-prepared and full of options and variations.  We started at one of the open buffets which was quick and easy.  For dinner, our concierge had arranged a reservation for us for a “Festival Dinner,” with seven chefs coming together to create a seven-course meal.  Each chef prepared something different, with each dish being unique and unexpected.  It was an amazing first afternoon and evening.

For me, as a traveler and a professional, I have to work while traveling, so the next morning, I woke up early before our excursion to work.  I didn’t come properly prepared for this… If you’re going to work in a hotel room with a significant other, you may want to consider getting eye shades for him or her and a lap desk lamp for you…

Our big adventure for the trip consisted of a day at an eco-park called Xel-ha.  The park had snorkeling, cliff jumping, ziplining, hiking, biking and great food and open bars all day.  It was a perfect way to spend the day for us!  We started our day with snorkeling… beautiful water and wildlife.  The craziest thing we saw were stringrays (big ones).  Others encountered a barracuda… but we didn’t run into him.  One thing to avoid:  the water slide.  The walk up the seemingly endless flights of stairs is exhausting and the ride down the slide is extremely painful–so not worth it!  After zip-lining, cliff-diving, biking, hiking, and other adventures, plus eating and drinking all day… we were pretty exhausted.  We met some nice people, had some shots and laughs, and then caught our bus back to the hotel.

The forecast for the entire trip said it was going to rain… but luckily, in Cancun, if it rains, it’s real short and then good weather after that.  When we were leaving the park, it started to pour, but it didn’t last long and then it was back to beautiful weather.  We didn’t really get out to enjoy it though… after that long day at the park, we went to bed real quick after a nice dinner and some drinks in the evening.

The next day was our last, but we weren’t going to fly out until later in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the resort.  I started the day with a nice long walk on the beach.  The waves were soothing, the sand was soft under my feet and my mind felt clear–I felt alive and well.  After that, we got to enjoy the huge pool and swim up bars.  The water was perfect, the bartenders were attentive and the other guests were nice and social.  I wish we had more than a few hours before we had to leave!  Also, I really appreciated how clean the pool area was. This resort really was taken well care of all the time!

Overall, this was an amazing trip. I would definitely recommend the resort as well as the eco-park. Thanks for reading about my adventure to Riviera Maya, and I encourage you to sign-up and take your next last-minute travel adventure with Tripaly!  

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