Don’t assume the (international) GPS replaces a good map. We bought the Garmin mexico map set and it was ok, but not great. It was useful as a compass, and in the cities. It helped to know our position on long roads, to be sure we hadn’t overshot our destination, and estimate travel time. But it was generally bad at finding the shortest route and getting us there. Some of the new roads were missing, and it frequently thought we were driving through the jungle with no road. Get a map.
Do bring an Ipod adapter for rental cars. We, um, have cars so old that they have cassette decks. (How do you think we can afford to travel?) We brought our cassette-mp3 adapter but the rental car didn’t have a cassette because it was made in this milennium. We needed one of these.
Don’t bring big luggage. We generally like to carry a lot of stuff and it’s tempting to bring large bags. Increasingly, with luggage weight limits, airline bag fees and rental car trunks getting smaller, it’s a tricky balance of size and quantity. I recommend multiple smaller bags including a few lightweight duffel bags, because they can be squished into irregular spaces, like car trunks.
Do give Mom some time by herself. There is so much closeness on a long family adventure that it’s easy for adults to get a form of ‘cabin-fever.’ Trish needs time alone to recharge once in a while, and we didn’t find the time for her. She got a little grumpy at points. A solo walk down the beach, or a nap indoors while Dad takes the kids on a hike would have been helpful.
Don’t forget the Bug spray. Seriously, the bugs can be bad. Bring bug spray and use it. We really liked the spray with Picaridin, like this one from Cutter. Our only mistake was taking just a single bottle. We needed more.