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Travel

What to Pack: Cartagena Bachelor Party Trip

An Unforgettable Colombian Getaway

By Brittany Hammonds | Mar 15 2017

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Whether you’re looking for a not-so-typical bachelor party destination, or even your next getaway with your gal, I have a suggestion: Cartagena, Colombia.

I recently took a winter escape vacay to Central and South America, ultimately winding up in La Ciudad Amurallada, so I’ve got some street cred with this recco.

This vibrant city is on every travel enthusiast’s radar right now. Punch in a quick Google search and you’ll see sun-drenched technicolor Spanish buildings lining cobblestone streets with encouraging descriptions like: Havana without the hassle!, New Orleans with beaches instead of beads!, and Colombia’s least crime-y! …Okay, I may be paraphrasing with those last two.

The old town of Cartagena that looks as if a city planner let children armed with a box of crayons go to town on the design. Think: surreal sights, beautiful women in bright dresses, enough aguardiente to sink a pirate ship, and a nightlife that ranges from lounge to let-loose club. Factor in budget-friendly adventure and stupidly tasty authentic meals, and I’d say my work here is done.

Dig out your passports and scroll through the packing list and hot spots to hit during a weekend on the Caribbean coast.

Below, your Cartagena bachelor party trip:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

…and for the bag to pack it all in:

The flight

Wear it well: Flights to Cartagena are delightfully easy to score with direct routes that won’t set you back too much. We’d pack an eye cover and powerful headphones because you’ll need extra prep to catch any Zzz’s on a flight this ripe with pre (or post) vacation energy. As for the outfit: Opt for a combination that’s equal parts comfortable commute and ready-for-action once the plane touches down (this includes your undergarments and grooming kit).

Relax and revive

Wear it well: Whether you’re seeking a luxe recovery zone or an oasis from the heat, vibrant boutique hotels like Charleston Santa Theresa and Quadrifolio or the next-gen Bourbon Street Hostal all feel as festive as they are authentic.

Your crew surely will want to check-in then check out the bustling Plaza Santo Domingo, but I’m a big fan of changing out of “airport clothes” as a quick refresh. That way, when it’s time to swap socks and grab your wallet for a big brunch or a midday street food snack (arepas con huevos anyone?), you’ll be feeling as good as you look.

On the town

Wear it well: Any restaurant that promises the chance to be serenaded by a guitarist already wins in my books, though La Vitrola is a mainstay for much more than that. It’s the ideal upscale spot to kick-off or close-out your trip with unexpected Italian-inspired food. As for the eatery that really stole the show for me? Montesacro Resto and its lulo fruit martini and pulpo (octopus) appetizer – just be sure to grab a spot on the balcony for prime people watching. Now, if only you could box both up and ship them to me…that would be super.

Ready for a night cap? This isn’t your average beach town. Cartagena’s nightlife tends to require real shoes and more polished get-ups (cologne, pomade, and a watch, oh my!) to enter fan favorites like La Jugada, La Movida, or the Eivissa rooftop. If you ask me, adding dress socks and a belt is a worthy trade-off to experience the lively dancing that captivates Colombian socialites and locals just the same.

The beach

Wear it well: Here’s the thing: Cartagena feels dangerously close to Miami (unless you’re all about Miami, in which case, bonus points!) once you leave the old city, but you’ll also be rewarded with soft sands and wildly affordable cabanas. I’m talking fifteen big ones for a full day. Grab your slip-ons, a portable speaker, and a quick dry towel for the 45-minute car ride to Playa Blanca or hour-long boat ride to Isla del Rosario. You’ll be rewarded with a cool breeze, hammocks, and – nearly – bottomless mojitos.

Pro Tip: Take a few notes from my bus companion whose skin rivaled the shell of lobster that’s already been cracked and pack extra sunscreen to reapply throughout the day. Closer to the equator equals closer to a sunburn.

The day trip

Wear it well: Should you choose to venture further outside the city just once, allow me to introduce the glory that is El Volcan Del Totumo – and its mudbaths. An easy trip by bus, you’ll cruise through a forest of Totumo trees on a dusty road until reaching a lagoon that surrounds the mud volcano.

Fast forward a few bucks and steep staircase later to a floating massage inside a mile and a half deep crater of dense (probably healing) mud. But don’t worry: After your mud massage, local women help you – very publicly – bathe in the nearby river before offering fresh fruit and cerveza for the trip back.

{Behold; My own mud bath experience}

An outing this unique requires a good water bottle and strong deodorant to last through layers of lodo. Luckily, you’ll be clean enough to slip on your cool polo, dry socks, and go-to cap.

TELL ME:

WHAT’S THE MOST UNEXPECTED BACHELOR TRIP YOU’VE BEEN ON?

Plaza Santo Domingo photo credit: Beyond Blighty