SALT & WIND TRAVEL
Salt & Wind Travel is by the team who brought you the food and travel lifestyle site, Salt & Wind. We launched Salt & Wind Travel because we believe travel is more fun when you have a good partner! Our founder, Aida Mollenkamp, has a made her career in food travel media and has crisscrossed the globe searching out unique destinations.
What is your trip philosophy?
Our trips are all about balancing a mix of high and low experiences: as in refined but without losing touch of the local culture; relaxed but with a lot of exploring; active but with quality food and drink; meticulous planning with enough leeway for adventure; and a small group of fellow food and travel lovers. Traveling with Salt & Wind means you get access to exclusive experiences, first-rate service, expert-led tours, and lots of fun!
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 world-class restaurants, an emerging art scene, high-end 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 food travel shows and everything from the food to the art and wine has been written about by Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Wine Spectator, and the New York Times, Head to Salt & Wind to read all that we adore about the Baja California food scene!
So why should I go to this specific region?
One of the reasons we love this region so much is that it's Mexico for and by Mexicans. Most of the tourists in wine country are Mexicans from other parts of the country coming in for a weekend away. It's a safe region but isn't full of foreign tourists. That said you won't find the sanitized travel experience you might have in Cabo or Cancun nor will you won't find an enclave Brooklyn hipster expats like you might see in Tulum or San Miguel de Allende. 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. That said, it's still a border town with industrial areas so it's not as picturesque as some smaller 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 or Portland. 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, painted donkeys, and souvenir shops.
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 taste of it all with a fair amount of relaxation, but also 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 the 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 things can still a little rough around the edges but that means it's more real and lesser known. And, though you might come across a few dirt roads or the occasional service hiccup, overall it's really pleasant and unique.
How many guests are there total? Who else is going on this trip?
We cap these trips at 12 guests and then have anywhere from 3 to 5 staff with us at any given time (including 2 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 that you don't feel like you're doing 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 — please read on for more information about that!
Why the group photographer?
Our trips include a group photographer so that our travelers can be present in the moment. Mind you they are the photographer for the whole group and not a personal photographer. The photographer will provide travelers with unique images on a daily basis throughout the trip so that travelers can share their experience in real time. The photos will be shared with the whole group of attendees and we at Salt & Wind plan to use them for future marketing of our trips (ie on social media and on our website).
And the concierge?
Team Salt & Wind values quality hospitality and we want to make sure you have a top experience. That is why we provide a group concierge to help with any hiccups (delayed flights), to help you arrange some activities during your free time, and to assist with any special requests you may have.
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; either you can let us pair you up with another trip attendee and pay double occupancy or you can have privacy in a solo room.
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.
Will I need extra spending money? Should it be pesos?
If you would like to shop for yourself or to bring back souvenirs for others, there will be an opportunity to do so. Anything you buy on these excursions is to be paid by you, separately. We will make an ATM stop before we cross 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 as you would from the ATM.
I don’t speak Spanish, is this a problem?
Absolutely not! All of our partners speak English and we have many 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 (with warm to hot 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 in Valle de Guadalupe can get chilly.
We have partnered with boutique 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 award-winning restaurant. The hotel in Tijuana is an 8-room, just-opened, designed-minded boutique property that is in the middle of the city. Whenever possible, we do 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 have two options: a) purchase single occupancy and have the room all to yourself b) purchase double occupancy. If you choose double occupancy, you must be comfortable sharing a room with another traveler in the group of the same gender (please read below to understand the bed situation). Not that we only allow this option if two people of the same gender are willing to room together. Please contact us at email@example.com 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 meeting spot to start and end the trip is near the U.S./Mexico border in San Ysidro, California close to the Best Western Americana Inn (map below). 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). Other tour companies have you to cross on foot, but we will drive you across in our own transportation so that you don’t have to stress one sec.
Note: Border crossing back into the United States can take a while and wait times vary greatly. We have partnered with a car service that has priority so they typically get through in less than 1 hour. However, 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 at the Best Western Americana Inn. 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.
- 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 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 certain kinds of 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 February 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, as travelers ourselves, we wholeheartedly recommend 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 many credit cards (such as Chase Sapphire and American Express) provide the service to their members for a fee.
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. If you can and are interested, please enroll in the programs before you come on our trips because, if there are enough people enrolled, we can go through an expedited lane for border crossing back into the United States.
PRICING & PAYMENT
For a specific trip's pricing please visit the "Reserve" section of the site. Please read all these FAQs for more information and take a look at our BOOKING TERMS AND CONDITIONS for the fine print.
Got it. So, what’s included in the cost?
A group photographer so you can enjoy the moment
Hands-on cooking class with Salt & Wind founder and food expert, Aida Mollenkamp
Street food tour conducted by the regional food experts at Club Tengo Hambre
Market tours, art gallery visits, and pop-up parties with local creatives
Complimentary morning yoga classes
A group concierge to help with any extra events you may want to plan
10 edited group photos daily + additional 50 edited images 2 weeks after the trip ends
Group transportation across the border to/from San Ysidro, California and to/from all events listed on the itinerary
Boutique hotel accommodations with complimentary wifi
Meals listed in the itinerary (including 1 alcoholic drink at each lunch and dinner)
Tips for all meals, hotels, drivers, and activity guides
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?)
Then what's not included in the cost?
Tips for photographer and trip hosts
Any incidental expenses
Recommended travel insurance
Any extra activities you plan with our concierge
Transportation from your home to/from San Ysidro, California
Alcohol outside of the included 1 alcoholic drink at both lunch and dinner
What types of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, and Paypal.
I snagged a promo code. How do I use it?
If you have a promo code, you will use it during checkout. Click on the "Book Now" button below or on the "Reserve" tab in the upper or lower navigation. While you're checking out, you'll see a promo code field and that's where you'll apply the code. Note that promo codes cannot be combined for multiple discounts.
How do I make sure to get a spot on a trip?
If you have your heart set on a certain trip during certain dates (and at its current price), you really should book your reservation as early as possible. To reserve a spot more than 45 days before the trip's departure date, a deposit of 30% of the trip price is required. Within 45 days of trip departure, the full payment is due immediately. Please visit the "Reserve" tab in the navigation in order to make a payment. If you pay your deposit more 60 days or more in advance of the departure date, you’ll have 24 hours to request a full refund.
What is Salt & Wind's payment schedule?
We offer several easy, fee-free payment options for your trip. All that’s needed to book a tour is a 30% deposit so long as you're booking more than 45 days ahead of departure. The remainder of the balance will then be due 45 days ahead of departure. If you do not pay your balance at that time, you will forfeit your spot on the trip. We will implement an Automatic Payment plan and a Pay-As-You-Go plan but they are not available at this time.
Can I transfer my reservation to another person?
That depends on the kind of trip you are going on — please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
What if the trip I want to go on is sold out?
Even if a trip is sold out, there still may be a few options to get you onto the trip of your dreams. If we can make it happen, we will. We have wait list for our trips so contact us at email@example.com to discuss.
Have additional questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org