Traveling with an infant and/or toddler to a different country may sound intimidating, but don’t let it deter you from experiencing new places and having new adventures! We recently just returned from a trip to Playa Mujeres, Mexico with 4 other families. All of us have children for a total of 7 children under the age of 6 (yes, you read that right and YES – we all survived!). Here are my tricks and trips to surviving a caribbean vacation with infants and toddlers.
What to bring to keep little ones occupied on the plane:
Believe it or not, infants are MUCH easier to entertain on flights than toddlers. When my son, Cole, was an infant he slept for most of the duration of the flight. The same rang true for my BFF’s 7 month old daughter, Sylvie. The hustle and bustle mixed with the white noise that an airplane provides is the perfect recipe for sleepy infants. When Sylvie was awake, the simplest things kept her occupied. This included things like opening/shutting the airplane shade on the window or playing peek-a-boo.
Keeping toddlers occupied is where you need to get creative. Crayola’s color wonder mess-less markers were a life saver. We also loaded our son’s Kindle with a bunch of his favorite movies and TV shows. We try not to let Cole watch too much TV but if it means he will sit through a 4 hour flight happily, we do what we need to do to make it happen. Also don't forget to pack an endless supply of snacks!
Make the best of adversities and don’t stress.
We went through all hell to get to our final destination of Mexico. I’m talking two canceled flights, a split second decision to rent a car to drive from Boston to NYC to catch an early morning flight, and sleeping in the parking lot of LaGuardia airport with an infant and toddler in tow. We could’ve been angry and grumpy about it, but we decided to make the best of it and it would be a good story to tell our kids someday.
We made sure the kids were happy as much as possible. Happy kids = happy parents! This meant M&M’s at 11PM and Cars 3 on repeat. You have to be easy going and flexible when traveling with children. Bend your normal "no junk food" rules if it means keeping peace in your tribe. Children feed off your energy and if you are stressed or angry, you will see your child’s mood shift for the worst. Be happy. Be positive. You’re making memories!
Feeding Baby on Vacation: Post-Solids
If you are staying at a family resort, you should check to see if they will puree foods for you so you don’t have to pack any. We stayed at Finest Playa Mujeres and they offered to puree any foods at any meal to satisfy baby. This was a godsend for the infants on our trip. All mom & dad had to worry about was bringing formula. They were also able to find foods such as apple sauce and yogurt at breakfast and most places had mashed potatoes at dinner. For meals on the plane and in airports, mom & dad packed pre-made baby food the comes in pouches as they are more compact and easier to handle.
Sleeping arrangements for infants and toddlers while on vacation:
Infants are pretty easy because most hotels offer cribs. If your toddler is like mine and sleeps in a full-size bed, I can’t recommend inflatable bed bumpers enough. They keep my son from falling out of bed and since they deflate, they take up little to no room in our suitcase. They have seriously been a life saver. It is also important to keep your child’s nightly routine on vacation as similar to home as possible. Our sons blanket comes with us and since he sleeps with a sound machine at home, we bring a portable version with us wherever we go.
What you should look for in a resort:
I can't stress enough how convenient staying at an all inclusive resort is. Once you are at your resort, you don't have to worry about budgeting for food. You can leave your wallet in your room's safe and not have to worry about losing it. Your kid doesn't like their dinner? No problem, order another meal at no extra charge.
We have stayed at Finest Playa Mujeres 3 times and always book a suite that either has a private pool or is a swim up suite. It's so convenient to be steps away from your room. When baby naps, you can still enjoy time poolside with your significant other (we always bring a video monitor even though we are steps away from our room just for extra peace of mind). It may seem more expensive when you originally book your trip, but it is 100% worth it once you arrive in paradise.
Also look for a resort that has nightly entertainment that is geared towards kids. Our resort had shows every night at 8PM including a Disney show and a dance party with a light up dance floor. All the kids loved this, even the infants! It was a great way for them to burn off extra energy right before bedtime.
Staying at a resort not for you? Check out All the Rooms. Here you can search for homes to rent in Cancun. They have a variety of options and you are guaranteed to find something that will suit your family's needs!
Have you traveled to a different country and have traveling tips you would like to share? Leave a comment or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org -- I'd love to hear them!