Yes, I said relaxing! We recently took a week long vacation to the beach in Georgia.
And I'm ready to go back now, please!
I was initially apprehensive about taking a vacation with our 18 month old daughter. We had taken a short trip to Chicago a few months back and it ended up being a bit stressful trying to get places with a sometimes cranky toddler. Even after writing the 5 Tips for Traveling With Toddlers, I was still worried about a 10 hour car drive.
But, we decided to brave it and planned for a stress-free, relaxing vacation. And I'm so glad we did! It was the most fun and relaxing vacation I have ever taken, not to mention full of amazing memories and priceless moments.
Since I know many of my readers are mamas of toddlers, I will share with you some of the ways we planned for a successful road trip and beach vacation!
*Take both car seats. Say whaa? I know what you're thinking, crazy woman, ain't nobody got room for that! While we may have had to pack a little lighter, it was well worth the sacrifice for a happy road tripper in the back. We had debated back and forth on which car seat to bring on the trip. We wanted her to be able to nap (which she doesn't do well in the forward facing), but we also wanted her to be able to have fun and look out the window during our long trip.
Bringing both seats was a tip I didn't find on any other websites or blogs while preparing for our trip and it was the best thing we did. If your child has recently transitioned from the baby car seat to a forward facing, or is about to, bring both seats! That way, they can lay down in one for naps and play sitting up in the other. This one simple choice made our lives SO much easier. It also provided some variety for our daughter so she wasn't in the same seat the whole trip!
I know this may not work for everyone, but if you can swing it, do it! You won't regret it!
*Bring Snacks, Toys, Books, Movies, and Coloring Supplies
While there's no way to plan activities for every hour of the drive, especially on a 10 hour trip both ways, there are several things I would recommend bringing to occupy your toddler's time periodically. Coloring books, crayons and/or markers are a must! Be prepared to find your child tattooed with marker by the end of the trip but it's worth the periods of silence! We also loved this Reusable Sticker Pad with stickers. It has all sorts of animal stickers that you can place in different nature scenes. Sweet pea loved playing with this!
We also brought along an activity book similar to the one pictured below with pictures to color, stickers to match up and fun little activities.
In addition to the books, we also brought her favorite toys, stuffed animals and other little things for her to play with! When all else failed, we let her watch Curious George on one of our phones. Although we had the occasional whiny hour, it went really well for the most part! Here are a few shots from the road trip!
It's alright to have a plan, agenda or schedule. It actually helps to be organized in that way. But if you aren't ready to leave for the lighthouse tour at 2 PM, don't stress out and force it to happen meanwhile making everyone miserable. Plan so that you have everywhere to go, but nowhere to be. It's a wonderful feeling!
*Find Kid Friendly Accommodations
We were blessed by my Aunt Bea who let us use her family's condo which was only about 5 minutes from the beach! Bea blogs over at Filled With Retirement so you should stop and say hi! Her condo was set up perfectly for a toddler with toys, games and books all over the place! We set any breakables out of her reach so she could be free to roam around and make herself at home. I definitely recommend staying at a place where you don't have to be worried every minute that your toddler is going to get into something dangerous or break something. It makes your down time much more relaxing! We are so thankful for our Aunt letting us stay at her kid-friendly condo!
Here's sweet pea enjoying a little relaxation at the condo after a long day at the beach. Tired girl!
*Enjoy the Little Moments
You can't do all the big things many people do on vacation when you have a toddler in tow. Snorkeling, Kayaking, Water boarding, Kite Surfing...yeah those are all out of the question unless you are blessed to have a babysitter with you. Even though you may miss out on some of those bigger events, try to enjoy the little moments just as much. We loved our nightly walks on the beach watching the sunset, looking for shells, building sandcastles, playing in the waves, and catching fish. Sometimes a slower paced vacation is just what is needed with a toddler!
It's so easy to get stressed out and start to be irritated by your spouse or child when you are tired from a long day of travel or activities, in a new place, and have a lot going on. Purpose in your mind that you will not be mad at your spouse for forgetting the camera and the world will be a much happier place! Sometimes you just have to let things go because having a good time as a family is more important than you expressing your mind. Yes, easier said than done, I know, but it's worth it!
Oh and lastly, *don't forget the camera so your memories can last forever!
Happy vacationing y'all!