Remember back in the day, when going on vacation meant that you'd actually be, well, vacationing? What it meant for me, essentially was:
Wake up at 10 a.m.
Get into bikini. Put on cute cover-up.
Find the perfect spot by the pool, and tan. Order a drink. Swim. Drink. Swim. Tan.
Relocate to the beach. Swim. Swim. Tan. Drink. Swim.
Go shower so you can go shopping before the stores close.
Get dressed, and decide which pair of shoes (out of the 50 you brought) you'll wear.
Shop. Shop. Shop.
Back at hotel, take off all the tags from the new purchases, and make them look 'not new' so customs, who has you on their 'hotlist' as someone who spends too much money in other countries, doesn't think you shopped too much.
Go out for dinner.
Go out for drinks.
And do it all again the next day.
This is of course when I was not traveling to Greece, where a lot more walking and sightseeing was done. Europe is all about doing the tourist thing. The list of reasons I will not take my kids on a 10 hour plane ride to Greece until the youngest is 3 years old is long, and is a whole other post!
Fast-forward to life with a child. It was daunting, at first, to even go to the grocery store. Everything had to be well thought out ahead of time - diaper bag packed, baby fed, baby's diaper changed, apply makeup, find purse, change baby's diaper again, feed him again, go to the grocery store. Phew.
So, the idea of traveling with my child came up. I was missing Florida. I needed the sun, the sand, the beach. I needed to see palm trees, and to be on vacation. So, since hubby was working, my mom, my sister and I, along with Christos, went to Florida. Christos was not yet 2 years old - and I was pregnant. Oh yeah. Traveling with an almost 2 year old while pregnant was... actually, not bad.
My tips for traveling with a toddler?
Take a short flight. No longer than 3 hours, and you'll all keep your sanity.
Bring a portable DVD player with your child's favourite DVD's.
In your carry-on bag, bring new books and toys to occupy your child.
Travel with family. The more, the merrier. Seriously - as many extra hands as you can get to come with you!
Try to take as many cute pictures as you can while on vacation.
Also? Bring lunch to your child in the hotel room. No need to sit and wait to eat at a restaurant. Who wouldn't enjoy a burger and fries in bed?
Now, taking a trip with 2 kids - a 6 month old and a 3 year old - became a bit more challenging, but still totally do-able.
Nurse your baby on the plane. He won't even realize the plane has taken off, and he'll sleep almost the entire time. Also? When you travel with a baby who is breastfeeding, you have more room in your suitcase for shoes!
Take your husband, your sister, her husband, and your parents with you. You're good to go.
Make sure to stay at a child-friendly resort, where they provide things like beach toys for the kids to play with.
Okay, moving on to traveling with a 1 year old and a 3 and a half year old. Try to pack light. I had to pack less shoes than usual so I could pack things like formula and diapers. Oh, the things I sacrifice!
Don't worry about leaving your baby half dressed after a diaper change on the plane. It is hard enough changing the diaper of a squirmy baby on the plane to begin with! And don't worry if he walks up and down the aisle of the plane, talking to everyone he sees. They don't mind at all. He's happy? You're happy, all is good.
Make sure your children have enough soothers to last them the entire trip.
Leave the flat iron at home, and go 'au natural' with your hair. It's okay, really.
Again, pick a child friendly location. I recomment the Atlantis in Bahamas - you'll never have a dull moment, and with 5 children's pools to choose from, the kids will be happy all day long! This pool had a HUGE play structure in the water, with slides, and buckets of water, and so much more! (Note - my hair is straight here, because it's the day we arrived. As if I'd have time to straighten my hair with 2 boys in one hotel room with me!)
Nap time can be enjoyed under a palm tree in the shade. That way, someone can always stay close to the baby while you swim!
Did I mention bring your parents? My dad is such a great grandfather - traveling with them made this trip more enjoyable.
And of course... after the kids are happily tucked in and asleep, you can have a few drinks. And actually realize that you're totally enjoying vacationing with your kids!
And then you start planning the next trip all over again...