Are you thinking about taking a trip with your little ones but want to learn more about the options for traveling to a tropical destination with toddlers? We have just what you’re looking for!
Today, we’re excited to kick-off the first post in our newest series: Tropics with Toddlers! Our guest blogger and toddler-traveling extraordinaire, Jess P. is here to share her tips and tricks for how to take the vacation of a lifetime with your little ones!
Have you ever thought to yourself: “you know what sounds fantastic? A relaxing vacation in the tropics!” And then realized, “but I have kids…”
I’m not ashamed to admit it. That feeling. That “dot dot dot” following the sentence. It stopped us for quite a few years from taking the vacations of our dreams. I’d mentally plan the perfect trip, complete with frozen drinks, infinity pools, a great book, an amazing spa treatment, perhaps even a romantic dinner on the beach. And then I’d start to list the cons…. What if the kids don’t sleep? What if there isn’t kid food available? How will I get to relax if I’m constantly chasing a toddler who is committed to plunging himself straight into the deep end of that gorgeous infinity pool? Those cons, they kept me from planning the trip for six years, three months and thirteen days, but who’s counting?
Here’s the good news. We came. We stayed. We conquered. And now, I’ve lived to tell the tale and share our adventures of tackling the tropics with toddlers. The good folks at Dreams Resorts & Spas have allowed me this mini-platform for a quick series of posts on traveling with tiny humans in tow and still managing to have the fantastic vacation you want and need.
A quick word on us — we are your traditional suburban family with two working parents, two mayhem-creating little boys (ages 6 and 3) and a dog (he didn’t come on the trip). Our point-of-view is ours and ours alone, certainly not meant to be expert advice, merely the thoughts of exhausted parents seeking margaritas, sandy toes, a slight sunburn and amazing memories, but hopefully you’ll find some kernels of truth in here that can help allay those “dot dot dot” thoughts that follow your vacation desires. Because here’s the real truth, will there be moments of meltdown? Yes. But there will also be incredible moments, amazing memories, and experiences that you couldn’t have anywhere else, and even better, taking that plunge into tropical vacationing with toddlers will offer your kiddos a unique perspective on the world and help shape them into better travelers for all those incredible future trips you’ll want to plan after returning home (after all, there are 15 Dreams Resorts to check off that bucket list).
Let’s start the series with some “Getting There” tips, and we’ll go from there, shall we?
It’s about a 4-hour flight from our home to Cancun. Four hours for my husband and I on a plane sounds like a great opportunity to nap, read a book, perhaps watch a movie. Four hours stuck in a seat with my 6- and 3-year olds, sounds like imminent doom for me and those poor souls unlucky enough to end up in the seats around us on the plane.
Here’s the key to our airplane success:
We rolled the dice and went with the earliest flight. We let the kiddos sleep until the very last second at home, and then popped them into their car seats in their PJs. The novelty (and comfort) of traveling in pajamas was a big hit. They were cozy enough to relax, and warm enough on the airplane to handle transitioning from our Northeast climate to the tropics without any complaining. We packed shorts and t-shirts, and changed the boys in the Cancun airport so they were resort-ready at arrival.
When in doubt, snack. This is always a personal motto for me… which explains so much, but I digress. Each of my guys had their own carry on backpack, and I hid healthy (and not so healthy) snacks throughout the pockets. Lollipops for take off and decent to help with popping ears — but also because they last a long time (and are a treat, particularly at 8am), and bowls/bags of dry cereal for in-flight breakfast. Again, consider packing things that take a while to eat. You are looking to both nourish and burn time.
When snacking isn’t working, pull out the toys. Visit your local dollar or craft store ahead of time, and pick up some new toys/crafts. The novelty of newness helps while on the airplane, and you aren’t investing a lot. In fact, consider it an investment in your sanity.
When toys and snacking aren’t working, it’s time for the big guns: the devices. Pre-charge all those tablets and screens ahead of time. Make sure you pack headphones. My boys don’t get along with ear buds, so we go old fashioned with the headphones and bought ones that were volume limited to try and protect those tiny ears. Most importantly, make sure you’ve pre-downloaded some good options for everyone. You won’t have wifi access on the plane that allows for streaming so triple check their favorite games, shows or movies to make sure they will work in a non-wifi environment. That’s not a surprise I’d like at 30,000 feet in the sky.
But here’s the reality, the plane ride is only one aspect of the “traveling” part of the trip. When you’ve got kids in tow, make sure you’ve thought through all the challenges ahead of time.
Our Spring Break getaway brought us to Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, the newest property in the Dreams Resorts & Spas family. The hotel is 30-40 minutes north of Cancun — a fact that gave me my second planning heart attack: car seats. Did I need to lug our bulky, heavy car seats all the way to Mexico? After all, we didn’t plan on leaving the resort once we were there, but that car ride, however short it was, still posed the challenge of how to best, most safely transport my precious cargo from the airport to the resort.
There are a myriad ways to get from the Cancun airport to the resort. And here’s the good news, nearly all the methods I researched offered safe transportation for the kids. Either buses which, just like in the United States, don’t use car seats, or private transfer vans/cars which provided convertible car seats. We ended up booking a private transfer to ensure the shortest possible time from touching down in Cancun to laying poolside at Dreams Playa Mujeres, and the car arrived with clean, safe, met-my-crazy-carseat-lady reputation seats for my boys.
Concern #2: No problemo.
Check back later this month for more thoughts and tips on tropical travel with the teeny ones. Drop comments or questions below and I’m happy to give thoughts or tricks that might make your travel and vacation a bit easier!
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