We’re a traveling family. Not for work, not necessarily for fun, really for the experience of the adventure. We travel with our toddler on trips most wouldn’t. Vegas, the Caribbean, St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands, Aspen, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I’d be down to drive 3 hours to the coast for a beach vacation, we just usually choose the experience over whether it will be convenient or easy with a child.
Our latest trip was sailing the Caribbean for 8 days with our 18 month old. Crazy? Yes. It was my husband’s first sailing trip bareboat (Him as the skipper…. i.e. no help) and we chose to travel during hurricane season. Even crazier? Yes, we’re almost stupid.
Along the way, I started making a list on ways to travel abroad with a baby or toddler. You too, can travel to crazy places with these simple tips:
- Choose a place overseas you want to explore. Don’t think about what’s easy, just choose somewhere on your bucket list. After you’ve decided where to go then you can plan how to do it with the kids.
- Do your research on good hotels, there are more family-friendly hotels in exotic places than you think. We stayed on land (thank goodness) after our sailing trip at the most gorgeous family-friendly resort in San Juan, the San Juan Courtyard. We’ve been to San Juan 5-6 times and have had some terrible hotels, this one exceeded our expectations. Play pool for the kids, adult pool with swim-up bar for the adults. Yes, please! Even big toys for the little ones to play with. A life-size Connect Four game kept my toddler occupied for an HOUR while I enjoyed yummy, beach drinks.
- Get a suite wherever you go, or a boat/cruise with multiple staterooms. It’s usually only $20 – $40 more a night at a hotel, and it’s worth it to have some down time without the babes.
- Buy new toys, download new movies and iphone/ipad apps. Hide the toys in suitcases and carry ons. When you get to your destination, the kids will be so excited to have brand-new toys to play with. This SAVED me. It’s hard to keep kids occupied sometimes, especially without a vehicle, or stuck on a boat or hotel room. These new toys and movies let me relax and get some reading in while the babe played.
- Designate a room for play and a room for sleep. We did not let our toddler play in his bedroom. Traveling can be so exciting for kids and it’s hard to get to sleep while on vacation. This is what I hear most from families who don’t travel extensively. Separate out the “fun” from sleeping and they’ll do a lot better. Stick to a schedule. We had our master bedroom as the fun room and the pack-and-play in another room for sleep. Another reason to get a suite at a hotel. He slept A LOT better than we thought with his own room.
- Be ready for accidents. Pack a first aid kit or make sure your destination has one. Crosson fell on a step in the boat and sliced his head open. We didn’t freak out (okay, maybe I did afterward) and patched him right up. Called our pediatrician at ARC and she talked us through the options. Don’t be afraid to go to a doctor in a different country. It’s always best to have it looked at. And it adds to another experience on an adventure.
- HAVE FUN! There are going to be hiccups and obstacles but it’s all about the adventure. That’s why we travel. Your marriage will stronger, your children will learn new cultures and you’ll have a trip of a lifetime under your belt. You’ll find yourself again and come back renewed and ready for the next chapter. Yes, you’ll be tired and it will be work but take my advice, don’t settle on an average vacation, go big and explore the world, together!