I just got back from vacation with my wife and kids. We were in Cuba, which is an absolutely beautiful island with amazing beaches. I know a lot of my US readers have never experienced it because of the trade embargo and travel restrictions placed upon US citizens … but for everyone else, I highly recommend Cuba.
We stayed at the Iberostar Varadero, which our travel agent recommended to us as one of the best hotels to stay at. He was right. We had been to Varadero 8 years earlier, without kids, and we picked a pretty crappy and cheap hotel. This time around it was way better.
Over the years, traveling with kids, we have learned a few important tips that I thought I’d share in this blog post. Most of these relate to visiting all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, since that’s what we usually do in the winter. Here goes:
- Most of the restaurants at resorts do not have “take away” packaging for food. If you have young kids who are excited to hit the beach or pool, they may not eat enough at breakfast. By 9:30 or 10:00 they’ll be begging for food. I recommend that you bring a couple of plastic plates with you on vacation, or a small disposable Tupperware-style container. This way you can go grab some food from the buffet restaurant and take it back to your spot at the pool or beach.
- It’s also a good idea to pack a sippy cup for each child, for easy transportation of water and juice.
- Sunscreen is a must! I really believe in the value and health benefits of sun exposure, but when you live in Canada, or any colder climate, you just can’t tolerate hours of Caribbean sun every day. We went to the Dollar Store (Dollarama, in Toronto) and we got spray-on sunscreen for $2 per bottle. It was a name brand, also. Spray is easy and fast, compared to the kind you have to rub into your child’s skin. It also covers the face better (make sure to get your children to close their eyes and exhale while you spray it, and just be quick).
- If the dinner hours at the restaurant do not correspond well with your child’s bedtime, you might use room service (included at most resorts). If you do, ask them to bring extra plates because you’ll likely be sharing the food with more than one child.
- If you are a coffee drinker, bring travel mugs. You will probably end up leaving the breakfast restaurant before you have your fill of coffee, so this solves your caffeine problem. I can’t tell you how many years in a row my wife and I would forget to do this. Then, at the resort, we’d see other people with travel mugs and kick ourselves.
- Do your best to get your kids to take an afternoon nap. They will get very tired playing all day, and they’ll probably want to stay up later than their normal bedtime. If you want to avoid having them run their little immune systems into the ground, a nap is a wonderful way to do it. Plus, it gives you a bit more quiet time to enjoy your vacation.
- Keep the kids hydrated. Remember the sippy cup idea? Make sure you keep pumping your kids full of water, and sometimes juice (I recommend diluting it with water).
- Pack a lot of cheap activities that your kids can use on the plane and in case of rainy weather. Coloring books, crayons, and stickers are all cheap and effective ideas. You can buy them at a dollar store and just throw them away when done.
- Buy cheap inflatable toys for the pool and then leave them at the resort when you come home. You can get beach balls, and other great water toys for next to nothing these days, and they don’t take up any space in your luggage, nor do they weigh much. I also bought a pack splash bombs for about $4 at WalMart. These things are hours of entertainment in the pool. Highly recommended.
- Bring snacks for the plane also. Charter flights from vacation companies are always packed, and you’ll be glad you planned ahead if you bring your own snacks. I recommend healthy alternatives such as nuts and dried fruit when possible, not cookies, twinkies, and other garbage.
Those are my thoughts. Do you have any of your own tips that you’d like to share? Please leave your comments!
Enjoy your children,