I am super honored to guest post for Mississippi Women Bloggers. When I got Megan’s message about submitting a guest post, I immediately agreed after she suggested “traveling with toddlers” as a possible topic.
I am the mom to 2 year old twins, Harper and Henry. My husband and I took them on their first beach vacation back in September, when they were just 16 months old. No, we were not insane, and please know that I certainly do not claim to be an expert at ANYTHING. These 5 tips are what worked for our family. Trust me, I realize every family and every child is different. Here are 5 tips that worked for us…
Tip 1: Plan ahead, and then plan some more!
– My husband and I are both Type A when it comes to planning and scheduling. When we first entertained the idea of going on a beach vacation, I immediately started searching and comparing different resorts in the area we wanted to vacation. I had specific criteria in mind. I knew the resort needed to be family friendly, close to or on the beach, close to restaurants, and it MUST have a pool. (I was convinced we would be using the pool instead of going to the beach!) Once we decided on the resort, I made several phone calls making sure we would have cribs set up, whether or not we could set up a tailgate tent on the beach, etc. We also planned our stops along the way, and we decided to leave at 4 am in hopes that the babies would sleep for most of the 8-hour drive. We packed snacks, toys, dvds, and we let the kids travel in their pajamas so they would be as comfortable as possible.
Tip 2: Consider booking in the “off” season.
– For two very good reasons we decided to book our vacation in late September/early October. 1.) It’s a LOT cheaper and you are able to get some great deals! Like, half the price of what we would have paid during peak season! 2.) I felt like we were vacationing on a private beach. There were almost no people there that time of year. This made it so easy to relax and let the kids run wild.
Tip 3: Don’t skip naps!
– As much fun as you will most likely be having, it will be so tempting to let the kids skip naps. My two were both 16 months old and NEEDED naps. We made this mistake the first day we were there. We let them play right through their naptime, and let me tell you, we paid for it all night and on into the next day. The beach isn’t going anywhere, so don’t feel like you are missing out or losing your vacation if you sit inside for a few hours while they nap. I wish mine would have napped on the beach, but that wasn’t happening. Maybe you will have better luck. I’ve talked to a lot of my friends whose children just won’t nap on the beach either. It is fine! Pack a good book and spend nap-time reading, or alternate with your husband. One day you stay in and he go out and vice versa. Trust me, vacationing with small children brings on a whole new level of tired, so I actually welcomed that break!
Tip 4: Go with the Flow.
– I am the type to be very aware of my surroundings. For instance, I can tell when my children are being too loud in a restaurant and annoying fellow patrons. But on vacation, I just had to get over that! Children are going to be children and the servers have seen it all! Plus, if you go early enough to dinner, it is very likely that you will be dining with fellow parents with toddlers. Being the planner that I am, I had a restaurant picked out for every night we were there. (I even go as far as printing out the menus and deciding what I’m going to order before I even get there. Am I the only one?) Unfortunately, some nights just didn’t work out. Remember that HUGE mistake I made the first day (skipping naps), well let’s just say, we ended up getting take out at a Mexican restaurant and eating in the condo that night. That actually made for a fun memory. So relax, and just go with it!
Tip 5: Bring reinforcement!
– Mark and I recruited our parents to come along on our vacation. It made our vacation so much more fun and relaxing. I realize not everyone can bring their parents, but I would highly suggest considering a responsible teenager to tag along for an extra set of hands. Plus, it was nice to get away one night just the two of us, and have a date night while we were on vacation. Our parents adore our children, so it was fun to see them sharing in all the excitement.
I sure hope these tips have helped. Don’t be surprised if your children surprise you. I read countless blog posts and Pinterest pins about “traveling with toddlers,” and to be honest, after everything I read, I had anxiety about how my children would adjust. Did everything go according to plan? Not in the least! But we had a wonderful time all the same. After everything we had been through the year before, it seemed surreal to be on the beach with our babies. God is good! And believe it or not, we never ended up going to the pool! Not even once! My kids LOVED the beach. I have to laugh about that one because my husband and I may or may not have argued over the pool prior to the vacation. Turns out, I was bad wrong! We are already looking forward to going back.
B.J. lives in North Mississippi with her husband Mark and their twins Harper and Henry. Her blog serves as an online “baby book” for her children. Keep up with the Maz family at www.bjandmark.blogspot.com