This month’s guest post is from Ashley at Simplicity and Coffee, so head on over to read all these mama’s posts!
If you are looking for more of my posts on traveling with kids, I have quite the series:
Although I only have one child, I would consider myself a pretty experienced traveling mom. We have taken Marina on at least 20 plane rides, including France, Hawaii and New York. The airplane or car travel itself has definitely become harder the older Marina gets, but in my head I can remain calm because it’s just the flight. Knowing that we have picked a destination that will allow both Marina and us adults to have a good time is key. The ultimate goal for most trips is vacation, and sometimes traveling with children can be anything but!
What’s Actually Hard About Traveling with Toddlers: The Destination
Many people get overwhelmed thinking about packing up car seats and strollers, milk bottles and diapers, and carrying bags and bags of crap through the airport. I argue that the airport is the simplest part. We drop off the car seat and 2 check-in bags right when we get to the airport, and I carry nothing but our travel stroller and backpack (with toys and food) for the flight. Once we arrive, we order an Uber at Baggage Claim so we have no more than 50 feet to carry the bags!
But, what really makes a difference in our travel is the destinations and accommodations we choose. Here I will break down our thoughts on what makes a good vacation with kids, allowing relaxing time for both of us!
Think the Beach? Think again.
While tons of young families look to the beach as the perfect relaxing setting to have some cocktails and get some sun, depending on your child’s age that just ain’t gonna happen. From active crawlers to about 3 years old, the beach is anything but relaxing. First, its the constant slathering of sunscreen or worrying about sun protection, a hat, and sunglasses that get thrown off every 5 minutes. Then it’s the child’s short attention span, and besides a sand castle, there isn’t much for a non-swimmer to do. And while of course it’s important to get your young one familiar with the ocean or pool, its typically a short amount of time before you are worried about them, or they are screaming to get out. Which means packing up all of that beach gear and loading it back in the car. As a couple, your beach day would have lasted 6 hours, but as a new family, you have about an hour before you have to head back to the hotel and find some other way to entertain yourself!
We love going to Hawaii with our daughter and we have found it beneficial to stay in busy Waikiki. Although most people looking for a relaxing beach vacation would shy away from this high-end strip, we like the fact that there is good food, shopping, shows, hikes and the beach all within a few blocks. That allows us to do the beach in the morning and still have other stimulating activities for both the adults and kids in the afternoon!
AirBnB over Hotel
While we prefer hotels for the daily cleaning and in-room dining options, AirBnBs have proved to be the better options for traveling with toddlers. Often for a fraction of the price of a hotel room, we are able to get a 2 bedroom home that often has a pack and play or crib and a high chair. The second bedroom means better sleep for all of us and the overall extra space means more room for the little one to run around. Even in the nicest hotel rooms we often feel cramped for space, and can’t quite figure out what to do during naptime and the 2 hours between our daughter’s bedtime and ours… sit in darkness in the room? Storing milk and food in an AirBnb is easier too, as those hotel mini-fridges don’t allow for much space for your own snacks.
Public Transportation or Driving, decide ahead of time
We really try to decide ahead of time what type of trip this is going to be. Will we be taking public transportation mostly (like in NYC) or will we be exploring via car (like in France?). Deciding ahead of time can help you figure out if you need a car seat, which one to bring, and whether or not you will be taking it in and out of the car constantly. For example, even though we used to live in NYC and would take Taxis and Ubers a lot, with a toddler that doesn’t make sense because you have to bring the toddler seat once you get out of the car. So we committed to public transportation (except for the one Uber to and from the airport) meaning we didn’t have to worry about the car seat the entire trip. For most places though, we have found it much easier to rent a car and keep the car seat in the car the whole time, allowing us to be more spontaneous and explore more.
Return to the same place!
My favorite for traveling with toddlers is this: if you liked where you went once, just make it easy and return to the same place! We travel with our toddler a lot, but we are fortunate to have go-to places (AirBnBs) in NYC and Hawaii to make the travel easier. It minimizes stress about how we are going to get around, where and how the baby will sleep, should we bring this carrier or that stroller, etc. Sure, it means returning to a place that you have already been instead of adventuring somewhere new, but if what you’re looking for is a vacation, then reducing your stress level is key. Some of these places feel like a second home for us, and we like that Marina will get to know them more as a local than a tourist over the years.