GROUP TRAVEL TO MEXICO
Why Baja California?
A mix of gritty and creative, Baja California is one of our favorite places right now. If you haven’t traveled to Tijuana since a drunken night in college, you might be all, “huh?” but trust this corner of Mexico is worth a trip. There's an emerging wine region, tons of fresh seafood, a mix of street food and fine dining, and a new generation of creatives making their mark in everything from fashion and art to design and nightlife. Join our next food tour to Mexico and taste it for yourself!
All In The Details
Your Trip Includes...
What's included in a Salt & Wind group travel experience:
Boutique hotel accommodations with complimentary wifi
All meals listed in the itinerary (including 1 alcoholic drink at lunch and dinner)
Private dinner at a high end restaurant
Street food tour and taco crawl conducted by the regional food experts
Hands-on cooking class with chef and food expert, Aida Mollenkamp
Market tours and boutique shopping experience
Art gallery visit and pop-up parties with local creatives
A group concierge to help with any extra events you may want to plan
Group photographer so you can enjoy the moment
20 edited group photos daily
Group transportation across the border to/from San Ysidro, California and to/from all events listed on the itinerary
Tips for all meals, hotels, drivers, and activity guides included in the itinerary
Wifi hotspots at all times
A few gifts from some of our favorite food & travel brands
A couple surprises! (You didn’t think we’d tell you every last detail, did you?)
What's not included in a Salt & Wind group travel experience:
Any incidental expenses
Tips for photographer and trip hosts
Required travel insurance
Any extra excursions or events you plan with our concierge
Transportation from your home to/from San Ysidro, California
Alcohol aside from for 1 alcoholic drink at both lunch and dinner
Anything from room service or the hotel minibar
Sample Mexico Itinerary
Each group travel experience is unique so we don't have a one-size-fits-all Mexico itinerary. That said we work with the same partners to guarantee quality across all our trips. All our Mexico itineraries include first-rate restaurants, street food tours, wine tasting, shopping, and a few surprises. For visuals check our Instagram for previous Mexico travel.
Day 1: Market Tours, Art, & Street Food
9:30AM // Meet STATESIDE & DriVE ACROSS THE BORDER
Meet in San Diego and cross the border as a group
11:30 aM - 2:30 PM // Street Food Crawl
Head on a private street food crawl
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM // BOUTIQUE SHOPPING (OPTIONAL)
Meet the owner of one of the hottest boutiques and shop local designers
3:30 - 5:30 PM // Free Time
Settle into Tijuana hotel + relax for a bit (Or have our concierge arrange an excursion)
6:00 - 8:00 PM // Art Gallery Aperitivo
Get to know Tijuana's art scene during a Happy Hour at one of the city's best art galleries
8:00 PM // CONTEMPORARY TIJUANA DINNER
Enjoy a light prix fixe meal at one of the most popular restaurants in Tijuana
EVENING // Sleep at One Bunk Tijuana
Day 2: Market Tour & Seaside Feast
8:00-8:45 AM // Rooftop Yoga (optional)
Start your day with a vigorous flow
8:00 AM - 9:30 AM // Coffee Demo & Continental Breakfast
Learn the secret to a proper pour-over coffee while snacking on a light breakfast
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM // Market Tour
Get a tour of the city's market where you can shop for everything from local cheeses to dresses
10:30 -11:30 PM // DRIVE DOWN COAST
Drive down the coast to lunch
11:30 -1:30 PM // SEASIDE SEAFOOD LUNCH
Dig into fresh-off-the-boat local seafood (from sea urchin to octopus) at a rustic seaside village
1:30 PM: Drive The Coast To WINE COUNTRY
Drive into the Valle de Guadalupe wine country
3:00 -6:00PM // Check In & Free Time
Settle into the hotel and relax poolside. (Or have our concierge arrange a wine tasting or spa service.)
6:00 PM // ENSeNADA CRAFT BEER & DINNER
Head to Ensenada for beer and dinner
EVENING // Sleep IN VALLE DE GUADALUPE
Day 3: Brunch & Wine Country
8:00-8:45 AM // Rooftop Yoga (optional)
Start your day with a vigorous flow
9:00 - 10:00 // BREAKFAST
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel at your leisure
11 AM // Wine Tasting #1
Get a private tasting at one of the best wineries in the Valle!
12:30 PM: lUNCH AT RUSTIC COUNTRYSIDE RESTAURANT
Stop by a wine country cafe for a quick bite
2:00 PM // Wine Tasting #2
Head to a second wine tasting
3:30 -6:30PM // Free Time
Head back to the property and relax poolside. (Or have our concierge arrange a wine tasting or spa service.)
6:30 PM // WINE TASTING
Get a taste of the wines from the onsite vineyard
7:00 PM // FARM-TO-TABLE Dinner
Indulge in a family-style meal in the vineyards
EVENING // Sleep IN VALLE DE GUADALUPE
Day 4: Ensenada
8:00-8:45 AM // Yoga (optional)
Start your day with a vigorous flow
9AM- 9:30 AM // Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel at your leisure
9:45 AM // CHECK OUT
Head out of the Valle
11:00 AM // TIJUANA BOUTIQUE PIT STOP
Do some last minute shopping or grab one last snack before crossing the border.
12:00 PM // Border Crossing
Our drivers will take you back across the border to San Ysidro where we all first met. Safe travels home!
Opened in May 2017, you will be among the first guests at Tijuana’s first-ever boutique hotel. Between the minimal design, thoughtful decor, and just 9 rooms, you'll feel like you're staying at your stylish friend's apartment. When it comes to comfort, the hotel has it with double-paned windows, Casper mattresses, A/C, wifi, and 24-hour security guards. Its location in the heart of the city on the bustling Avenida Revolucion means you'll be within walking distance to everything from craft breweries and boutique shops to raging clubs and the famous zebra-painted donkeys!
Opened just over 10 years ago by an English couple who ditched their Los Angeles music industry jobs to move to Mexico, La Villa Del Valle is the original boutique hotel in the Valle de Guadalupe. During Salt & Wind trips, we buyout La Villa Del Valle so you can make like you live in a wine country villa. As one of the Valle de Guadalupe’s premiere boutique hotels, the property has sweeping views, a pool, a sprawling garden, a yoga studio, and a filling breakfast. And, they have one the best restaurants in Latin America, a food truck, and a winery on site.
WHY IS SALT & WIND GOING TO BAJA?
Why did you guys choose Baja California?
Baja California (as in Tijuana to the Valle de Guadalupe wine region) is having a moment. As in high-end restaurants, an emerging art scene, sleek design and shopping, boutique hotels, quality wineries, and, with a dash of grit and a pinch of quirk, this region is high on our love list. And we're not the only fans! It's been touted by Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern on their shows and has been written about by Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Sunset, Eater, AFAR, and the New York Times.
So why should I go to this specific region?
One of the reasons we dig this region is that it's Mexico for and by Mexicans. Most of the tourists are Mexicans coming in from other parts of the country for a weekend away. It's a safe region but isn't full of foreign tourists. You won't find the sanitized travel experience you might have in Cabo San Lucas or Cancun nor will you won't find an enclave Brooklyn hipster expats like you might see in Tulum. The people making this region what is is today are largely native Mexicans (albeit a lot of them Mexican hipsters) and we want to show you the community they've created.
What's the deal with Tijuana?
Tijuana is a city that grew on us and we think it'll also grow on you. If you haven't been there since your college Spring Break days, it's well worth returning. Put simply: you've matured since then and so has Tijuana. Yes, it's still a gritty border town with lots of industrial areas so it's not as picturesque as some other Mexican towns. But what it lacks in looks we think it more than makes up in creativity. There is strong local pride and a real desire among locals to keep it "weird" and quirky akin to what you'd find in Austin. Add to that a mix of high-low that can be seen in food, decor, and art, and, well, there's a lot more to see than just dive bars and zonkeys.
TRIP ATTENDEES & STAFF
Who are Salt & Wind Trips for?
Salt & Wind Trips are designed for a traveler who wants a unique, memorable experience without having to do all the legwork. We're first food lovers so we concentrate on good food, but we frame our trips in the context of the location and share everything — makers, independent businesses, art, and markets — that makes the local culture unique. Our trips are for someone who wants to get a chance to learn about the local scene instead of staying put at a resort.
What sort of traveler would enjoy the Baja trip?
Our Baja trip is for an explorer who wants to see a wine region that is more authentic, a region that isn't as scrubbed clean or stuffy as a more developed region like Napa. This is an emerging tourism destination so at times things are rough around the edges but that only means it's more real. Though you will come across a few dirt roads and the occasional service hiccup, overall it's really pleasant and unique with some amazing people.
How many guests are there total? Who else is going on this trip?
We cap these trips at 8 guests and then 3 to 5 staff with us at any given time (including drivers, the photographer, the concierge, tour guide, and our founder/host, Aida Mollenkamp). This makes for a big enough group to keep it lively but small enough you don't feel like its group travel.
We encourage you to bring a friend, significant other, or family member, because our trips are priced for double occupancy rooms and we think it's always more fun to have a roomie you know. Of course, solo travelers are more than welcome too!
ABOUT THE ITINERARY
How much travel is involved?
The entire itinerary takes place within about 100 mile radius so there’s not too much car time. And, we do our best to break it up so you never have to be in the car for more than 90 minutes at one time. Of course, unforeseen circumstances or traffic could cause delays but we’ll do our best!
Can I bring a friend or significant other with me?
Please do! Rooms are priced for double occupancy to make it super simple. Just indicate when you book that you would like to room together. Of course, if you’re traveling solo, we’d also love to have you.
Are food and drinks covered?
For the most part, yes! All wine tastings and meals listed in the itinerary are included (including 1 alcoholic drink at each lunch and dinner). Our seated meals will be served either family-style, as a fixed menu, or as tasting menus, which allows our restaurant partners to service our large group in a consistent manner. Please inform us in advance of any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
Will I need extra spending money? Should it be pesos?
If you would like to shop for yourself, there will be a few opportunities to do so. Anything you buy on these excursions is to be paid by you, separately. We will make an ATM stop so you can pull out some pesos. That said a lot of businesses do take US dollars; however, you'll never get as good a conversion rate from a vendor as you would from an ATM.
I don’t speak Spanish, is this a problem?
Absolutely not! All of our partners speak English and we have Spanish speakers on staff.
There’s a lot here — how busy will I be?
We want you to really get to know the areas we’re traveling to but know that you’re on vacation and will want some downtime too! That said most days don’t start until 10AM and we try to pepper in a fair amount of free time in the afternoon as well as optional activities.
What is the weather like? What should I pack?
Northern Baja California is a desert climate so the weather similar to Southern California (as in warm days and cooler nights). They get minimal rain, a pretty real June gloom, and late summer heat that can get to be triple digits. We planned our trips during the more mild months so you can wear light layers during the day but be sure to bring a jacket because nights can get chilly.
We have partnered with hotels that meet the Salt & Wind standards of service. Our hotel in Valle de Guadalupe is a 6-room property with a pool, yoga studio, garden, and fabulous restaurant. The hotel in Tijuana is an 9-room, newly-opened, designed-minded boutique property in the heart of the city. Whenever possible, we buyout the property so that we can have it all to ourselves.
Double occupancy pricing is the price for (1) person to stay in a shared (i.e. double) room. In other words, each person staying in that room will pay the posted double occupancy rate. If you're a couple or friends traveling together, please know that you'll each pay the double occupancy rate.
Need some alone time? We hear you. That's why we offer single occupancy rooms. The single occupancy rate is what you will pay to have the room all to yourself.
One of the properties we use has a mix of rooms — some with queen beds, some with king beds, some with balconies, and others without. The rooms are the same rate regardless of the bed or balcony setup so we assign room priority — king rooms with balconies, king rooms without balcony, queen rooms with balcony, then queen rooms without a balcony — based on order of booking. So you'll want to book early for the best rooms!
If you do not have a travel partner, you can purchase single occupancy and have the room all to yourself. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.
Just so we're on the same page, we want you to know that most rooms in the hotels have queen or king beds. In other words, you're going to be sharing your bed with someone! That said we do have a few work arounds at each property. Namely, there are a few rooms at the Tijuana property that have anywhere from two to four Twin XL beds while in the wine country we can get a cot brought into the room. At this time there is not a hotel that offers double beds that is up to the Salt & Wind standard, but, as soon as there is, we will be sure to offer that.
What level of service can I expect?
The fact it’s an under-appreciated tourism destination? That means it’s not (yet) as touristy as better known regions. While you’ll get to experience it before it becomes overrun, it also means service can vary. An open-minded traveler who is sympathetic to the changing environment of a foreign country will have the best time.
So, do I have to cross the border on my own?
No, we'll meet up in the United States and cross together! Our usual meeting spot to start and end the trip is near the U.S./Mexico border in San Ysidro, California. From there, you (and your luggage) will board our private transportation (with English-speaking drivers).
These cars and drivers will be with us the whole trip and are fully insured so you won’t have to worry about catching cabs or whatnot (unless you venture out on your own outside the itinerary).
Note: Border crossing back into the United States can take a while and wait times vary greatly so we cannot guarantee an exact crossing time. Please inform of us of any train or flight arrangements so we can accommodate.
Where exactly do we meet?
We'll meet near the U.S./Mexico border in San Ysidro, California. Once you book your trip, we’ll send you loads more information about the trip specifics including exactly where to meet, what time to meet, and, of course, a contact person you can call if you're running late.
How do I get to the meeting place?
San Ysidro, California is just south of downtown San Diego (about 15 to 30 minutes via car or trolley) and you have a few options of how to get there.
- Drive: You can drive to San Diego (if you arrive the day before we can help you get preferred rates with our hotel partners in San Diego); there are a few options for secured, safe parking nearby our meeting spot where you can leave your car for the duration of the trip.
- Train: Alternatively, you can take the Amtrak train to downtown San Diego and then take the San Diego trolley a few stops (about 15 to 30 minutes depending on time of day) all the way to San Ysidro. We have partnered with the Amtrak Surfliner to provide trip attendees discounts for train travel.
- Fly: You can fly into San Diego and then take a car service from the airport to San Ysidro. Or you can fly directly into Tijuana airport and we can pick you up. If you need help, just ask us and we can put you in touch with our travel agent.
I don’t live close by. Can you book my flight?
We do not directly book flights nor does the trip price cover airfare from your hometown to the San Ysidro US/Mexico border. But, we can help! Just ask and we'll connect you with our travel agent who can assist you with those details.
Speaking of, can I fly into Tijuana?
Yes, there are all sorts of affordable flight options into Tijuana. If you need help, just ask us and we can put you in touch with our travel agent. Just please keep us informed before you book your flight so we can ensure it fits into our itinerary. Oh, and keep our concierge informed of any delays so that we can arrange to pick you up!
I need more time off! Can I add additional days on to the trip?
Great! We plan to add on day trips or trip extensions to the trips in the near future. For now, you can use our concierge (for an additional fee) to arrange additional tours, restaurants, or hotel nights. And, if you want to stay longer in Tijuana or include a stay in San Diego, we can help you get preferred rates with our hotel partners.
SAFETY & PRECAUTIONS
I gotta ask...is it safe?
Our team members have all spent an extensive amount of time traveling, drinking, eating, shopping and hanging out in all of the locations we will visit. We would not be running trips there if we didn’t think it was safe, but we urge you to check the U.S. State Department website to make your own determinations. You can also enroll in the STEP program for travel warnings and updates. As with any unfamiliar location, we urge you to take precautions against pickpockets and to minimize traveling with unnecessary valuable goods, like high-end jewelry. All of the hotels we partner with have their own security.
And can I drink the water?
As a general rule the water across Baja California is cleaner and safer than that on mainland Mexico. You can definitely take a shower in the water and brush your teeth. That said you'll want to drink bottled water just in case your stomach isn't used to the local water. Our hotel partners offer filtered water in the rooms and bottled water in the bathroom with which you can brush your teeth if you prefer. Team Salt & Wind constantly has ice in drinks and hasn't had a problem but just let us know if you want your drinks without ice.
Not to be a downer but what happens in case of a medical emergency?
We have work with two English-speaking hospitals (one in Tijuana and one in Ensenada) in case of an emergency. This area of Mexico has a long history of U.S. tourists (and a big expat community) so the quality of care is excellent. You can also look into buying a MedeVac such as AirMed if you want to be able to easily return to the United States for medical care.
Wait, what about Zika?
We urge you to check the CDC website so that you have the most updated information about Zika in Mexico. As of May 2017, there has been only one reported cases of Zika in Baja California, thanks largely to the region's arid, desert climate.
Do you recommend trip insurance?
Yes, we actually require travel insurance in case you are unable to come due to circumstances beyond your control. There are a variety of services for providing trip insurance and note that many credit cards (such as Chase Sapphire and American Express) include the service as part of a trip purchase. Please check with your credit card to confirm.
Does Global Entry or SENTRI help with border crossing?
If you travel a lot, you'll want to look into the CBP Global Entry and/or SENTRI programs, which allow you to have expedited border crossing. The SENTRI program is specific to the Mexico/U.S. border while Global Entry is for travelers flying in and out of the U.S. On our trips we will split our group into two groups when crossing back into the U.S so that the Global Entry and/or SENTRI travelers can take advantage of the program.