We left the snow and rain and grey behind for a vacation in the sunshine. First time in three years. First flight for the girls. First success traveling as a five-ring circus (six with my mom for the first part). It was amazing and wonderful and chaotic and tiring and relaxing and warm and sunny and at times a little painful … but mostly just awesome.
I learned a few things this trip – mostly thanks to amazing friends who also have multiple kids and were kind enough to bestow this knowledge on us – thought I’d share my top six…
1. For the six-hour flight and travel on either end: headphones by kidz gear (thanks Lucy! Awesome recommend) to go with our ipads and laptops so that everyone had their own viewing station for shows/movies, and apps. We practiced in advance of the trip because the kids have never worn headphones before … needless to say it was successful
2. A borrowed maclarens double umbrella stroller for epic travel-day airport navigation evenings on vacation (thanks Lori!) – even if they didn’t always sit in it – it was a HUGE help on many occasions
3. On one not-so-awesome note: the friendly skies are really the fend for yourself skies these days. We deliberately chose the airline that boasts friendly happy people – hoping for an awesome experience for our kids. Super thankful we also planned in advance and have patient children because the service and attitudes of our crew both ways were horrendous. Granted we have three kids four and under so we must be every attendant’s (and passenger’s) nightmare – but we had people complementing us both ways on kids, while the crew complained openly about their working conditions (yes… on their way to Hawaii) Not super great for that brand. Again – thankful for headphones and ipads (and Grammie on the way there!).
4. VRBO is fabulous. And what’s more, renting a place with a full kitchen and big deck were huge assets for the kids – it meant breakfasts and snacks could be breaks from the sunshine and breaks from restaurants and the deck meant we could spend nap-times evenings outside relaxing with a cold wine/beer.
5. Get floaty toys. We went to the local mini-store a few days in and bought water wings and floating birds and it turned our some-what timid clingy splashers into full on swimming and jumping machines. We even had to bring the floaty things home – the packing of them was supervised by one of our two-year olds. They loved the water.
6. Ask Questions. We usually aren’t super social when we go away. We have our hands full and never get enough time together alone so we tend to stay together as a little pack – but my friend and my sister both mentioned asking local hotels about music and activities so that we could plan when to go where. I did this on the first (very) early morning walk with the girls – and it was great! We got to see sharks and stingrays, feed fish on the beach, watch an outdoor move, two live nights of great music, a Luau and more. I got so into it that I started chatting up other people staying at the condos we were at – as a result we found turtles five minutes from our hotel, learned about the best local drinks and even got some grilling tips at the resident BBQs … people on vacation are friendly. It was great!
In my resolve to chat with the other guests I also discovered one other interesting tidbit: I spoke with 14 guys who were on kid pool duty during the trip … about our respective kids, where we lived, local highlights, their jobs … and not one of them asked what I did for a living. If Cam was with me for the conversation – every single one asked him what he did. I spoke with 4 women during that time and they all told me my ‘hands were full’ and I ‘must be done’. None of them asked me if I worked either. Don’t get me wrong – everyone was very friendly and very nice. I just found the perspectives, or maybe the societal expectations to be … interesting.
I’m super grateful we had the opportunity and ability to get away – we all really needed the quality time together, and some sunshine and I’m so glad it all worked out. Can’t say enough about a sunny trip in the doldrums of winter. Heavenly. It was a wonderful way to reconnect with our amazing little kiddos and to spend time ‘relaxing’ together as a family. Our only takeaway for next time was that we’d stay for even longer