Lisa: Tips for Vacationing with a Toddler
My husband & I have continued to drag our heels when it comes to going on vacation with our daughter. We’ve gone on little trips here & there over the holidays, but never a true vacation scheduled just for the three of us because we honestly never thought it sounded like fun- lol! Who wants to travel with a strong willed toddler to an unfamiliar location & deal with all the daily challenges without the comforts of home (can you tell I’m a home body? )!? A couple of months ago it finally sank in that if we were going to make any memories of just the three of us going on vacation, then now is the time before we start contemplating having another child.
One of my good friends recommended this great resort in San Diego, CA, so took the leap & scheduled our first family vacation!
Just to give you some background, a week after we scheduled this non-refundable trip, my husband was laid off from his job & we made the tough decision to sell our house. So amongst the chaos of getting our house ready for viewings, we were also ramping up to take a vacation. The week we were going to leave, our house was listed on the market which meant we had no choice but to make cleaning our house inside & out a priority (for the record, it paid off because we got a full price offer the day after the house was listed!!!) & packing/coordinating for our trip a secondary.
The morning of the trip we were furiously packing (which in our house also equals tensions running high since we’re all stressed) & trying to get out the door so we could take advantage of an extra afternoon in San Diego. We left about 45 minutes too late…so now enter the 1st toddler meltdown of the trip since she was overtired & just needed a good nap. This trip was also conveniently taking place at a time when our daughter was resisting her normal nap schedule & only taking 40 minute naps (literally 40 minutes to the minute!) so she was already overtired & in need of some overall good sleep.
Picture: Molly “helping” us pack – lol
Fast forward to our 1st evening at bedtime…
Molly normally goes to bed at 6:30pm so to my surprise when I went to put her to bed she stood up & proceeded to scream! Bedtimes are typically a breeze in our house, so this caught me off-guard. Because the day had gone SO horrible (there isn’t enough room for me to write about all the things that had gone wrong ), I actually had my husband pack up our stuff & load up the car to go home! I even called my sister who was house sitting to let her know that we were coming home. After my husband had the car packed & I had the chance to cool down, we had a good conversation about not giving up & how we wanted to make sure our daughter had positive memories about family vacations. My favorite childhood memories are going on family vacations & darn it, we were going to make positive family vacations even if it killed us! So my wonderful husband proceeded to unpack the car so we could stay as originally planned. Just to close this loop, Molly didn’t end up going to bed until 10pm & woke up at her normal time of 5am, which equaled a VERY tired mommy & daddy!
The next day we enjoyed a day at Sea World (pictures below) with only a few hiccups & to combat the nap situation, we planned our day around 2 car rides so she could fall asleep without us having to battle her to take a nap while my husband & I enjoyed our venti Starbucks & listened to talk radio in peace. And because she was so exhausted from the lack of sleep & festivities of the day, she went to bed at 7:30pm which gave mommy & daddy a much needed break!
As you can see, we were able to capture some great moments on our 1st family vacation which made all the challenges worth it! On the drive home it occurred to me that I am now the one who needs to coordinate & make these family vacations wonderful for my family, even if that means it’s not perfect or “relaxing” for me! I guess this means I now know what my parents went through in coordinating all my amazing family vacation memories…THANK YOU!!!
Tips for Vacationing with a Toddler:
Plan, plan, plan! Don’t wait until the last minute, like I did, to pack & coordinate the details of the trip. Figure out what you want to do when you’re on the trip, but leave a little flexibility so you can just enjoy being together as a family! I wish I would have packed us throughout the week so the morning of wasn’t so crazy!
What are you going to eat!? Make sure you plan out meals before you go on the trip, even if that’s planning that you’ll eat out 2-3 meals during the week. Call the hotel concierge to find out the local places they recommend to eat so you can figure out what will make mommy, daddy & baby happy! This was our 1st trip post-breastfeeding so we didn’t anticipate how much food we needed to bring, as well as think about what we should bring with a picky eater. Fortunately there was a grocery store nearby so we did a quick run on day 1 to pick up things we didn’t think about.
Clothing Options. This is one thing we did okay coordinating! Think about the weather of the location & what you’ll need to pack. Since we were traveling in June, we had to plan for layers in the AM & heat in the PM. My favorite baby clothing item are BabyLegs Leg Warmers, Wellesly because they are easy to layer & take off when you’re on the go!
Plan for the bumps. Night 1 (& maybe even night 2) will be the worst, so plan for less sleep & spending time getting your child use to their new surroundings. We let Molly run around until she completely pooped so it was easier to get her to go to bed, but the next day we had to plan for an early nap .
Be Flexible! Just remember that things don’t have to go as planned for you to create amazing memories for your family!