Bucket List: Ratchet-Cation in Los Cabos, Mexico
Three best buds relive their college shenanigans during spring breaaaaaaaaak in Los Cabos, Mexico
Alix George, Emily Bowes and Tina Gadzala are over adulting. They. Just. Cannot. This gaggle of gals has been buds since college, when they attended Humboldt State University 🍁 insert stoner joke here 🍁 and, according to Emily, where they “partied pretty hard.” Now all growed up with careers and boyfriends, they craved an escape from their real world responsibilities and a chance to relive their college days like the true ratchets they are. Can you think of a better place of doing that than Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during spring break? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
How did your spring break trip to Los Cabos come together?
Emily: Tina had never seen the 2012 movie, ‘Spring Breakers,’ starring James Franco and Selena Gomez (WTF?). Being the huge Britney Spears fan that I am, I made Tina watch it. Afterward, we both said we missed how ratchet we used to get.
Tina: All our friends have begun adulting and we, both in the same boat, wanted a few days out of the norm, away from trips to the health food store and reasonable shoe choices.
Emily: So, we started planning a ratchet pool party complete with a twerking contest, Jell-O shots and trending swan floaties. Nah not ratchet enough. Next, we planned a full-on houseboat party weekend on Whiskeytown Lake in Northwestern California—complete with the exact DTF sweat pants and one-piece pink cheetah swim suits from ‘Spring Breakers.’ But that was going to break the bank.
Tina: We kept our eyes on Groupon, and after a few days, scored a sweet deal that not only included, a beachside resort but it was an all-inclusive. That meant tequila was free! Best of all, the resort was in Cabo, or more commonly pronounced, Caaaaabbbooooo. All our 1997 MTV Spring Break dreams were becoming a reality.
Emily: Then, I threatened Alix until she came with us as our partner in crime. Basically, we needed to remember that we were young and something had to get us through the tail end of winter.
Alix: Now that we're all busy in different towns with life, relationships jobs and school, it seemed like a great opportunity for us girls to get together and get away from it all. It was a great deal too—Emily and Tina paid $570 for two people for three nights at Solmar Resort, and it cost another $80 to add me to the reservation.
What was the first thing you did when you arrived?
Tina: The first day, we did the Medano Beach party scene, drank a bit too much tequila and headed to Mango Deck to watch a twerking contest.
Emily: After failing to get Tina into the twerking contest, we took a water taxi across the bay to the hotel. The water taxi was only $10 and saved us about an hour of walking. It also had a killer sound system, so we pole danced on the boat until arriving at the dock.
Alix: Yep, we went out and did that kind of ratchet nonsense, but the best part was just getting to relax with my girls poolside and drink cocktails that we didn’t have to pay for!
What would you like first-timers to know about Los Cabos?
Alix: There are two towns, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. San Lucas is a little wilder so if you're looking for beach parties and nightlife—that's the place to be. San Jose is calmer, with better local restaurants, a great art district to explore and a mellow vibe.
Tina: Definitely bring good friends and a good attitude. Also, drink more water than you think you need and slow down. Find a wonderful beach to lay on and a good bottle of tequila to share with friends
What was the nightlife scene like in Cabo San Lucas?
Tina: The party scene was true to its word. We stopped by Squid Roe—whew! Drinks were expensive and the music was a solid early 2000’s playlist. But, the boogieing was real fun. Mandala was more clubby, with newer hip hop songs, EDM bangers and better drinks.
Emily: I really don't recommend the nightlife scene in Cabo San Lucas unless you are 22 years old or younger—or if you have a large enough crew. Everyone was just so young and repressed. Drinks were really expensive, but I learned that you could bargain with the guys on the street—who are trying to bring you into their bar—and negotiate drink prices before you even step inside. Some guy was like, 'hey, pretty girls, come into my club and I’ll give you two drinks for $15.' I was able to haggle him down to $12 for two shots and two mixed drinks. Also, a word of advice—don't try smoking joints in the club. They will kick you out.
What are some activities that you'd recommend in the area?
Alix: I've been to Los Cabos a few times and always love to go up to Todos Santos, which is a little town about an hour north. It's a designated Magic Town, which is similar to a historic designation in the U.S. The town features cobblestone streets, little shops and the best fish tacos I've ever had. It provides a great glimpse into the real Baja peninsula away from the Cabo spring break shenanigans. Also, if you appreciate alcohol and are interested in how it's made, definitely do the free tequila tasting they offer all over Los Cabos.
Emily: Yes, if someone asks you to do a tequila tasting, do it. I found the best tequila called Cavas de la Dona and met the man who made it. It is seriously the best tequila I have ever had.
What were the stand-out highlights of the trip?
Alix: Swimming with whale sharks in La Paz! Whenever I travel, I try to budget for one major tourist activity, such as snorkeling, a boat cruise, a dinner show or something that makes the destination special and gets me involved in the environment and culture of the area. The tour operator, Cabo Adventures, was amazing. We got up close and personal with the whale sharks—they're HUGE—and had an amazing rooftop lunch after the adventure.
Tina: Of all the touristy things I’ve had the chance to do, swimming with whale sharks was one of the best. They are huge, yet kind, creatures. The whale sharks were abundant that day, and our group was wonderful. On the way back, we stopped at Todos Santos, home of the Hotel California.
How did you budget for the trip?
Tina: We bought our Groupon several months prior, and I kept my eyes on flights, finding a roundtrip fare for $300. That wasn’t too bad since I can easily spend $300 in a month on other things. I saved my pennies by avoiding excess coffee dates, that extra beer and shopping trips. I knew that I was going on this trip plenty in advance so, planning was huge. Spitting up other costs among us was also extremely helpful.
Alix: My method certainly isn't the best for everyone, but I have two amazing travel credit cards. One is Alaska Airlines Signature Visa Card, so I can rack up the miles on the airline I use the most. The other is a Bank of America Travel Rewards card that gives me redeemable points on travel purchases such as flights and hotels. I use the Alaska card for all my business purchases, which gives me tons of miles to travel for practically nothing. Then, while I'm traveling, I put as many of my purchases on my Bank of America card as possible. This card has no transaction fees and much higher exchange rates than any money exchange place would give me. It’s also super easy to redeem the points online, which basically feels like a discount when I apply them to hotel charges I put on the card. I know these options don't work for everyone, but if you run a small business or can be diligent about paying the balance every month, the rewards can give you some really great perks.
What are some ways to save once you’re in Los Cabos?
Tina: Asking for drink deals at bars—most seemed to have one—and haggling was huge. Otherwise, prioritize what you want to do, save for those experiences and then spend the remaining time on the beach or by the pool. Gas stations and grocery stores had cheap beers for stocking up.
Emily: When we left our resort, I would only bring a certain amount of cash with me, around $40, so I wouldn’t be tempted—and I never needed to spend more than that. Also, we were always within walking distance from the property and our hotel had a beach, so we didn’t have to spend extra on transportation.
What was your key takeaway from your Rachet-Cation?
Alix: Well, every trip I've been on for the past seven years has been for work or vacations with my family and boyfriend. Those are all great things but it was really special to have a week of exclusive girl time. We are talking about making 'Broads Abroad' a yearly girlfriends' getaway, and I can’t wait to plan the next one.
When they aren't doing body shots, Alix, Emily and Tina have real jobs (gasp!). Emily is a wildlife technician Shasta–Trinity National Forest in Northern California. Tina is a massage therapist in Sandy, Oregon. And Alix owns a boutique clothing store, The Cotton Broker, in the historic town of Jacksonville, Oregon. Her boutique specializes in natural and high-quality fabrics that are Made in America.