What helps me when solo traveling is to first figure out my purpose for the trip. I then plan my itinerary based on this theme to make sure I am getting what I want with the trip. For me and this time in my life, I needed a break. I wanted to breathe. My purpose for this trip was self care. I wanted to be adventurous and appreciate the beautiful weather by doing outdoorsy activities. I wanted to get to do something that makes me truly happy, which is traveling. I wanted to remember who I am and what makes me excited.
The timing worked out to where I had three days I could use for a vacation during this calendar year then it was the weekend with Christmas Eve and Christmas day following. That equals a full week off from work. Work is great. But there’s also life. I know I was worried about working full-time and what my life would be like going to work 5 days a week, having the weekend, and then doing the whole thing over again. It can get tiring and seem never ending. This trip was to disrupt that seemingly never ending cycle of “I can’t wait till the weekend.”
I wanted to relax and pamper myself more, take time to take a trip outside the country and get some sun. That’s how I ended up thinking of going to Mexico. Well Puerto Vallarta was really an impulsive decision. I’m actually surprised at myself cuz I’m usually never an impulsive person. Every decision is carefully carved out and planned to the tee. But that’s what I like most about this trip. I knew I wanted to go somewhere in December for a while and I had been looking at several destinations. Then on a Monday one of my friends at work had told me she went to Puerto Vallarta and had fun, and I said welp I’m just gonna go there to and literally booked the ticket the same day.
Arriving in Puerto Vallarta
I tried to pack light as usual, bringing with me a carry-on and a backpack. The weather was forecasted to be in the mid-80s, so I brought a variety of clothes. Something to look cute in, active but cute clothes, a dress in case I go out (probably won’t), and a cute swimsuit I bought from Amazon. It was a decent flight just about 7 hours total. Getting through immigration was the biggest hassle. I have never waited in line so long in my life. After 2 HOURS I finally made it out. I booked an Airbnb for my 5 night stay. I found this to be more cost efficient for a single person. The resorts were like $150 a night and I was definitely trying to spend $200 for my entire trip lol. I ended up doing that with an Airbnb. It’s a decent place, with a traditional feel and Mexican architecture style inside. The downside is when the reviews said it was on a hill they REALLY meant it. I thought it was like a Seattle hill or something that’s a little work out. But no, it’s definitely so steep I feel like a mountain goat walking upwards for a straight 7 minutes. Never again will I get an apartment on a hill lol.
I got to the place in the evening with some time to take a walk around the Malecon and get some food. It was a relaxing stroll and I dipped my feet in the beach water.
I decided to hit the ground running with a day of planned activities. The night before I bought an activity package from one of the tourist booths on the Malecon strip, one of the main attractions of Puerto Vallarta. Traveling anywhere I’m always skeptical with buying things from vendors and the slightest error leads my mind to pray ” please don’t be a scam”. The man offered an all-inclusive island tour the the Yelapas Islands with kayaking, hiking, cruise, food, waterfall, and snorkeling AND a free day activity for zip-lining with breakfast for me to use on any day…all for $30. I had budgeted $30 per activity, so the “free” one included was a deal for me. I just had to hope it was legitimate.
The man was late to pick me up at 10:30am and claimed he couldn’t find my airbnb. Then didn’t arrive all together. I was annoyed with all of the talking he did and really wanted to get to the point. I walked down there and just said forget the breakfast. Overall I think the tour vendor was annoying and somewhat nosey. I hate being asked who I’m with, where I’m staying, and my age. Just mind your business tbh. I ended up doing the zip-lining activity around 1pm.
I’ve done ziplining before and it’s something I thought was cool enough to do again. My glutes were so sore from climbing up the mountain to the next lines. It was so beautiful to zoom through the trees and see all of the greenness. There was also a tequila tasting part of the day. They started out with some strong shots and I was like “okay that’s enough for me” but then the next ones were smoothie-like fruit flavors that I really enjoyed.
By the time I got back to the neighborhood called Old Town, it was dark outside and I planned to get some food and leave. I ate a burrito and got some ice cream. I didn’t appreciate having carrots and zuchini in my burrito but I was relieved of my hunger.
For shopping, my strategy is to figure out what items I am interested in buying and remember the prices being quoted to me from various locations. By the middle of my trip, I’ll know what the average price for a purse is and where to get it.
I love that I don’t have to stay out late or do anything to please anyone when I’m traveling alone. I can come in the house at 8:30pm and not feel like I’m being boring or something.
On my second full day, I woke up sore and tired from the previous climbing up the hills for zip-lining. I opted to postpone the cruise activity, slept in, and planned for a relaxing beach day instead. This was such a great decision. I dressed up in a cute flowing yellow skirt and felt stylish and free.
I had good food all day long. For lunch, I ate at a restaurant called Mariscos de Guero. I normally don’t eat seafood but this Marlin burrito was so amazing. Since I had skipped breakfast for sleep, I needed a big meal to fill me up. This burrito did my hunger justice. Too bad I didn’t have a fridge handy because I would’ve saved the other half for later. No need to gamble with my stomach and eat a fish burrito that’s been out in the sun all day. A couple enjoying their retirement sat next to me. We had a pleasant conversation. They spend half the year in Puerto Vallarta and the other half in Canada. They’ve been doing this for 11 years now. The woman told me to enjoy my youth. Indeed I will.
I spent hours at the beach and got a massage. I inhaled what I knew was eucalyptus oil lol. They acted like essential oil aromatherapy was just out of this world. I was hip and knew what essential oil was being used lol y’all ain’t slick. It was a decent massage though. The lady I met afterwards in line was a masseuse too and gave me a hand and neck massage during our hour wait in line for Pancho’s tacos. This Mexican family was so sweet. They had a 7 year old son that was just learning English. I knew probably the same amount of Spanish as he did English, so we were helping each other out with new word and practicing. They invited me to sit with them for dinner. It was warm and fun being around them. There was this cute dog that reminded me of my cat. I noticed there’s lots of stray dogs here but I pretend not to be scared lol.
This was such a great day.
The strangest thing happened. I woke up earlier before my “8 am alarm”. I looked at my phone and it was 7:30am so I laid in bed longer. Then it was 7:58 am and I finally got up at 8:04am. I started my routine and the next thing you know my phone said 9:37 am. I guess it froze or something. I missed the tour again lol.
It was another go with the flow day as I again postponed the Yelapas tour. Today was more of a cultural day. I visited the Naval Museum right on the Malecon strip. I love seeing museums in the new cities I visit. They teach me more of the history of the places I’m in and I get to see a cultural perspective of what events took place that make the culture what it is today.
Next, I had an amazing lunch at Pipi’s and had the best food ever. I ordered 4 enchiladas, rice, and beans. I could only finish 2 enchiladas before I could barely breathe anymore since I was so full.
Down the block was an art gallery that I took a stroll through. The art was interesting contemporary Mexican art and sculptures.. It was for sale but not the type of art in my price range of as now.
I went back to the Malecon and decided today was the day I would finally parasail. I thought the price of $40 was way too much, but I did it anyway. My heart started beating fast as I saw the person ahead of me start to land. I was nervous I wouldn’t land right. As soon as they set me up in the gear, they said to start walking, and next thing you know I was in the air. It wasn’t a gradual rise at all! I was so scared at first. When I finally calmed down, I took in the beautiful view.
I found a nice place to sit on the beach further down towards Old Town. I needed a nap and took one. Then I took a dip in the beach for a while, read a book for a few hours, and ate an ice cream cone. Before I knew it, it was sunset.
I got another massage at Venus Spa. I’m going to use more eucalyptus oil more when I get home. It was kind of funny how she would spray the eucalyptus on a towel whenever I got fidgety and had me inhale it. I could do that to myself.
I did most of my souvenir shopping at the Old Town market. Then I got tapas and ubered back to my apartment.
The last full day I made it to the cruise to Yelapas. The first stop was snorkeling. It’s always more of a workout swimming in the waves than you think. I find it helpful to slow down and take slow deep breaths to get used to being in the water. As I looked below the surface, I could see groups of fish swimming just below my feet. It was really beautiful seeing the animals in their natural habitats.
The cruise itself was quite loud and rowdy. I would recommend it more for families than solo travelers. There were kids everywhere, it was so loud I forgot which language was being spoken. No surprise I mixed up the directions and left the boat and went to the beach instead of the actual hike I had been waiting for. The “activities” boldly advertised on the flyer were kayaking and surfing but neither were anywhere to be found. I was annoyed with this at first, but since being mad wasn’t going to get me anywhere, I did what I liked most and read a book and swam.
I finished the remainder of my shopping and ended the night getting tacos and a burrito from Taco Revolucion. It was decent and filled me up from the night.
I packed in the morning and realized I had bought way more things than I had expected. It was a miracle that I fit everything into a backpack and a carry-on suitcase. I had to toss some old sandals, flip flops and a t-shirt but I made it work.
I had to get one last lunch at Pipi’s, this time ordering 2 instead of 4 enchiladas. I sam in the beach before I left and took the sun rays and scenery all in.
Puerto Vallarta was such a beautiful city. It might be one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been too. At first I was nervous and had to get used to it but then I saw it as a relaxing and friendly city. I felt excitement and how fun I am. I loved exploring and talking with myself. I was content and I needed to see this. I ate good every day. I swam in the beach every day. I got back to back massages. It was a grand time and I absolutely loved this trip. I definitely got the self care tip I needed.