With most American workers having limited vacation time, I believe you have to take advantage of all opportunities given to travel. So of course taking a trip while on maternity leave was a must for me. Kennedy was 10 weeks when we embarked on this trip and Jordyn was 23 months.
How We Got to Cartagena
We decided on Colombia because 1. JetBlue had an amazing deal, $75 each way 2. The flight wasn’t that long, under 3hrs and 3. Colombia is pretty inexpensive as far as accommodations, food and tours. I found this deal on Skyscanner, download there free app here, it’s amazing!
Landing in Cartagena
We arrived in Cartagena from Ft. Lauderdale, FL and gained 1hr due to the time difference. You de-board on the tarmac, having to walk down the stairs on the side of the plane. You’ll need to be able to carry everything you have on your own so be consider that when choosing to carry-on or check bags. We gate checked my daughters stroller but they sent it to baggage claim upon arrival. Depending on the age of your child you may want to use a carrier if they can’t walk down the stair. Be sure to put them in the carrier prior exiting the plane.
Where We Stayed in Cartagena
We booked our Cartagena Airbnb within the “walled city”. Just 10mins from the airport it was a $5-$7USD taxi ride. Sign up for Airbnb here and save $40 on your first stay. Nervous about using Airbnb? Here are 8 Tips to Guarantee a Great Airbnb Experience.
What We Did in Cartagena
We got settled in and headed to Boca Grande for dinner, the South Beach of Colombia. We asked the cab driver to drop us to a good restaurant and he did, but unfortunately writing down the name slipped my mind, sorry!
When deciding where to stay in Cartagena we were contemplating between Boca Grande and the Walled City. Let’s just say I was very happy we chose the later. Boca Grande was okay, just not my scene for this trip. There are tons of casinos but to me there didn’t seem to be much else other than night life.
Day Two: Totumo Volcano Tour
Thursday morning we were booked for the Totumo Volcano Tour. The tour cost $30USD per person and included lunch, grilled chicken or fried fish and coco rice. We took my 23 month old daughter on the tour and she was free of charge. Prior to booking the trip I asked about bringing my 10 week old and they said she was welcome but there was really no place to at the volcano to keep her out of the sun. My mom stayed in Cartagena with her as she wasn’t interested in going in the Volcano.
The tour picked us up from our Airbnb and made a few other pickups before we headed to Totumo, about a 2hr drive. When you arrive there is a covered room with lockers to put your belongings. Each group is assigned a photographer. You give him your phone or camera and he takes about 50 pictures of you before, during, and after your descent down the volcano. With so many people I was unsure he would use the correct camera but he did a great job.
You leave your shoes at the bottom of the volcano and walk up the wooden stairs barefoot. When you get to the top you see how steep the climb down is. I started thinking to myself this might not be such a great idea because I am terrified of heights. There isn’t much space while waiting at the top and there is no security railings to prevent you from falling off the side. I didn’t feel comfortable holding my daughter in my arms to climb down so my dad. There was another lady with a toddler and she also didn’t feel comfortable. She was alone so she didn’t have anyone to help her but one of the employees carried her son down for her.
Once in the volcano you are given a 5min massage. I read about this and had decided before I didn’t want one but they don’t really give you an option. They say you can’t sink and I have to say you do just seem to automatically float in the mud. I held my head up as to not get my hair filled with mud and my daughter laid/sat on top of me and I still didn’t sink. The climb up is much scarier than the climb down as this ladder is filled with mud from everyone who has climbed before you.
After you get down from the Volcano you walk over to a lake area where there are women to wash you off. I hope you aren’t shy because they dig ALL in your swimsuit to get every bit of dirt out. I definitely know some people saw my boobs, I’m still shamefully wondering if one of them was my dad….
When you go back to get your belongings the staff that gave you the massage and cleaned you up come up for their payment. Bring small bills and coins because they DO NOT give change. The tour company provided watermelon for a snack and then we were off to lunch at the beach.
In hindsight my mom could of came along and just not went in the Volcano. There was actually a lady on our tour who did just that. When I inquired about the tour they said it would be really hot and no place for her to sit while we were at the Volcano. That proved to be untrue as there is the covered area where the lockers and snack shop were.
Day Three: Walled City, Getsemani, and Dinner at Carmen
Day Four: Playa Blanca
Day Five- Head back to Fort Lauderdale
Using Car Seats in Cartagena
We traveled with Kennedy’s infant car seat but the cab didn’t have seat belts in the backseat so I kept her in the carrier. Unfortunately not one cab we got into the entire trip both in Cartagena and Medellin had seat belts! We still used her car seat to snap into the stroller so it wasn’t a complete waste bringing it. During our trip we didn’t see the benefit of renting a car for our itinerary. However, if you do not feel comfortable not having your child in a car seat that seems to be the only way. The only other option is not leaving the area you are staying in and walk everywhere. Of course I didn’t want her to not be in her car seat but when traveling the world these are things you face. Here are 3 things to consider when traveling with young kids.
Using Strollers in Cartagena
The sidewalks are uneven and narrow and it was difficult to navigate our double stroller. Using an umbrella stroller would be easier but the cobblestone roads might be very bumpy for your child.