How to Travel Like a Grown-Up: Riviera Maya

This isn't your college spring break.

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Gone are the days of overly packed hotel rooms and stuffy car rides just so you and your friends can afford to go to the beach. Now that you've got a great job, when it's time to relax you should splurge on the little extras that won't just make your trip memorable, but super relaxing as well. Since there are so many things to do in a new city, it's a good idea to pick a theme before really starting to make travel plans. Are you headed somewhere to try the cuisine, take in art exhibits, perhaps you want to hike mountains or drive up the coast, or maybe you really just need to recharge. Whatever your destination has in store for you, knowing how you'll spend most of your time will help you focus on how book (and pack!).

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1. Kick off your vacation with a spa session.

This trip was my journey to a state of complete relaxation (#theme), so I began at the Rock Spa at Hard Rock Resort in Riviera Maya. My personal spa butler (#fancy) escorted me from one atmospheric room to the next, including sauna, steam and an ice room — literally. I perused the menu of music-infused massages, body wraps, and facials, curated to a mix of rock and roll and soft jams while the massage bed moves in tune to the music. The massage techniques are even synchronized with the sound. This hour-long day dream with a shot of detox tea.

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2. Find a cozy spot to eat — and don't be afraid of a table for one.

Just a 10-minute taxi drive away is the town of Playa Del Carmen, which I strolled and shopped through before popping into dinner at the deceptively charming Casa Del Agua. Almost forgettable from the outside, the ambiance inside was delightful. I'm still drooling over the ceviche and grilled grouper with goat cheese. I only wish my stomach was bigger so I had room for seconds.

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3. Get out of your comfort zone.

After dinner I needed a little entertainment and luckily stumbled upon La Bodeguita Del Medio, a local spot packed with live music, salsa dancing, and the best mojitos around. A place like this is a much better option compared to hotel bars, often filled with rowdy tourists. The staff was friendly and the dancers were total professionals. I was so inspired I'm officially signed up for salsa dancing lessons here in NYC.

4. Immerse yourself in the culture.

When I was younger, my focus on a trip was the sun, the beach, and a tan. Now when I travel I long to feel submerged in the country's culture and history and that's exactly how I felt after visiting the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. If the site of the pyramids and stone houses isn't enough, these ruins are settled on a cliff over looking the dramatic beach. After making way through the ruins, I swam, played in the waves, and soaked up rays on the white sugary beach.

5. Get physical.

In the Yucatan Peninsula there are over 3,000 cenotes, or underwater cave systems. I swam in three of these among the stalactites and nesting bats. Then I hiked a half-mile to a series of zip lining and ended my adventure kayaking back to shore. After working up an appetite, my guide took me to the local village where we had the pleasure of eating a fantastic homemade Mexican meal.

While this trip was short, I was able to experience a little bit of everything this destination had to offer. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and and tag #MCTravels so we can keep up with all your travels this summer!

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