Planning our Family Vacation
Because my hubby and I are not fans of the cold we usually take a family vacation in the winter and head somewhere warm. This year we will be celebrating our 5-year anniversary so we initially thought of Key West. We were married in Key West and thought it would be nice to go back there, even with a toddler, as long as we planned right.
Hindsight is 20/20
Two years ago, we took a family vacation to St. Croix for our anniversary. Our son was almost 11 months old and I wasn’t ready to go that far from home without him (I still don’t know if I’m ready). We had previously only traveled where there were friends or family to watch him so this trip was a new experience. My sweet husband made reservations for us at a nice cozy restaurant for an anniversary dinner. It was the most unromantic dinner we have ever had. My son didn’t want to sit or even eat. My husband and I took turns eating while the other one would walk him around outside the restaurant. We vowed to never do that again.
This time we had to have friends or family come so we could have some time alone. Key West wasn’t going to work for anyone else so we decided on Anna Maria Island. We took a very similar trip there when my son was just over 8 months old. A couple we know spends their winters near there. Plus other friends from Michigan can meet us there because they do business in the Orlando area every February. We found a rental house first because that’s the hardest part. It had a pool and it was near the beach. We found the best price and schedule for flights on Spirit, direct from Atlantic City to Tampa. I also booked the rental car but I still needed one more thing.
A Car Seat Made for Travel
My son had a convertible car seat and when we traveled we would use bungee straps to secure it to a luggage cart (foldable) that I bought on Amazon.com for $20. We would strap him in his car seat and pull him around the airport. He loved it and we could get around easier. His convertible seat would supposedly still fit him for awhile, however, he’s big for his age and he started to look uncomfortable in it.
I started looking for a high-back booster car seat. I happened to find one that folded and I thought that was a good idea for traveling. Most high-back boosters don’t fold and a few that do aren’t made anymore. I did my research though and decided on the Baby Trend Yumi 2-in-1 folding booster. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a “Best Bet” so I liked that. It was also less than 10lbs so I could carry it in one arm while folded and still hold my son’s hand when needed. I figured we could strap it to my rolling luggage until we checked our bags. We gate check the car seat though because I believe it’s less likely to get damaged if it’s put on the plane last and taken off first. I have no proof that’s true though. Anyone else know any details about that?
Packing for a Toddler
I’m a planner so I try to start packing weeks ahead of our trip. Especially with a toddler, they seem to need so many things. He has his own little backpack so I packed that first. I put books and I wanted to put his Leapfrog tablet in there right before we left. I don’t like him using electronics a lot but that is educational and I limit his time on it. The tablet would have been good on the plane or in the car, however, my mommy brain had kicked in the day before we left and I forgot it.
Snacks are always a must. A healthy one that he likes is the Simply Balanced Organic Apple & Spinach pouches from Target. I fit as many of the pouches as I could in a quart-sized storage bag, knowing he would eat them throughout our trip. A granola bar and his sippy cup were the final additions. My carry-on is always full so whatever he could carry in his would make it easier for me.
My husband and I each had a checked bag but as a mother my bag was really my son’s. Maybe 10-20% of the space was for my stuff! My son’s contents: clothes that would be fitting for warm or cool weather, including pj’s, play clothes and some a little nicer for going out to dinner, 2 swimsuits, 2 pair of sandals, diapers, swim diapers (leftover from last summer), wipes, changing pad, sippy cups that didn’t matter if they broke or got lost, smoothie cups and my stick blender to make his smoothies, daytime & nighttime cough medicine, saline nasal spray and toddler ibuprofen (he had a minor cold when we left), his blanket and stuffed animal.
I knew the rental house had a washer and dryer but I was on vacation. I figured I might only do one load of laundry, yeah right! Next family vacation I’m definitely packing less clothes for my son.