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Are You a Trophy Hunter or a Chillaxer?

Our travel-happy family learns the art of compromise


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Illustration by Daniel Zalkus

When we travel as a family, there’s always some inherent tension. Good tension, but tension nonetheless.

Never was this more apparent than during our recent trip to San Jose del Cabo, where we spent a week bouncing back and forth between extreme outdoor activities and poolside lounge chairs at the luxury Hilton Los Cabos Resort. That’s when we realized it: Our family is a mash-up of Trophy Hunters and Chillaxers.

Trophy hunters want to conquer a destination, engaging in all there is to see, do, taste, and experience. A friend once said to me, “What, are you trying to win this place like it’s a blue ribbon or something?” And she had a point, since I tend to obsessively research our chosen location, booking activities and tours, comparing reviews for restaurants where tourists don’t go, and seeking off-the-beaten-path jewels. I like an immersive experience and am pretty much willing to try anything at least once, even if that means weird food like deep-fried crickets or barbecued iguana.

And I’m not alone. Ava is my little hunter-in-training; meanwhile, Triton and Sophia fall into the chillaxer category, preferring to sleep in with the curtains drawn, languishing in cushy feather pillows and unscheduled lazy mornings. For them, the first stop after getting out of bed is down to the pool, staking out lounge chairs strategically chosen for their prime location between sun and shade, pool and beach views. Chillaxers like to leave the stresses of home and school behind and get lost in the reverie of sun-drenched days and swim-up bars.

Neither is right or wrong, and after years of trial and error, our family has learned to strike the perfect balance of both.

Those who get antsy without some injection of action (ahem) were satiated by zip-line, rock climbing, and dune buggy excursions arranged by Cabo Adventures. These would wow even the biggest adrenaline junkie. (I may or may not have squealed like a little girl while zipping along a one-mile section of the course, in a prone Superman position at 50 miles per hour.) Even the girls cracked a smile through their too-cool-for-school teen ice.

The next day, we lay stretched out in the sun by the infinity pool, relaxing with a stack of magazines on one side, ice-cold drinks on the other. Our biggest exercise was Rochambeau-ing for who would swim up to the bar for the next round of piña coladas (virgins for the kids, of course). Later, our new best friend Jorge brought his cart around the pool deck, handing out fresh fruit pops while cleaning our sunglasses with an Evian spritz.

Our family’s moment of truce? After years of grunts and groans over too much action and not enough chill, we now alternate days, with one day planned for activities, the next for nothing at all. This keeps everyone happy and minimizes the drama—to the extent that drama can be minimized when teen girls are involved.

So which are you?

Chillaxers make spa appointments, blissing out with hot stone massages and candles.

Trophy Hunters host an impromptu cannonball contest at the pool.


Chillaxers head into town when they’re hungry, happening upon a great restaurant based on the luck of the draw.

Trophy Hunters bring their gym togs on vacation, and actually use them.


Chillaxers think the big decision of the day is whether the pristine beach or luxury pool is better for swimming and sunning.

Trophy Hunters quiz the beach guides for best snorkel sites and the chances of getting to see a shark.


Jon Bailey pens the travel blog 2dadswithbaggage.com.

2DadsWBaggage

2dadswithbaggage

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