Tips for Parents Taking Kids to a Resort Vacation

iberostar-varaderoI 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,
Chris Thompson

SEE ALSO: This audio lesson will forever change the way you interact with your kids

9 Responses to Tips for Parents Taking Kids to a Resort Vacation

  1. bubabout February 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    Thanks for this post! Love your site and your ethos!

    I couldn't agree more about making sure you bring water, wear sunscreen and also make sure the kids (and you!) are wearing a good hat. We have done quite a few beach holidays and have found that a bigger (I use a 1 litre) BFA plastic free bottle with straw is a great investment (as it sits in the sun, you don't have to worry too much).

    Also our toddler like to “make his own” snacks so on planes or when waiting around, if possible I have cut up sandwich-type things, like tomato, bread, cheese and he is entertained with that! Also, when using room service, it can be handy to order things that you can re-heat in microwave (if available) or even eat cold. I order extra sandwiches, steamed veggies or even a soup. That way I always have something available for the hungry active little one!

  2. TY February 7, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    HEY CHRIS, THUMBS UP FOR YOUR WONDERFUL VACATION IDEAS.
    WONDER, IF YOU HAVE SUGGESTIONS FOR THOSE THAT LIVE IN THE TROPICS AND WILL BE TRAVELLING TO CANADA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OCTOBER.
    I DO INTEND BY GODS GRACE TO VISIT CANADA THIS YEAR, BUT WHAT TIME OF THE YEAR WILL MOST SUITABLE, TRAVELLING WITH 2 TODDLERS AND AN ELDERLY MOTHER.
    THANKS.

  3. Chris Thompson February 7, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    What city are you visiting? If you want to avoid rain and snow I'd suggest coming in the summer. It's quite beautiful throughout Canada in the summer time. It's the law to use car seats for toddlers in Canada, so bring your own or rent them if you will be in a vehicle. There is a ton of sightseeing to do, but it really depends where you go. Google is your friend for finding a wealth of ideas!

  4. Lisa February 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Chris, how old are your kids? My daughter is 2 and she's been to italy three times already (my husband is from there and his whole family is there). Each trip has been three flights over and back and they've been horrible traveling with her. She would miss her nap in the airport and then by the time we left she was overtired and cried the entire trip from new york to rome. It was awful for us and the other passengers. We tried everything, portable dvd player, books, games, etc. She just cried and screamed. I'm just curious how you dealt with the flights. Plus with the time difference, it took a long time for her to adjust and the then it was time to go home again. Hopefully this will all improve as she gets older!

    In any case, thanks for the tips!

    Lisa

  5. Mila February 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    Lisa, I have a 3 year old daughter and since she was born I have taken her to Spain to visit my family (we live in the States). There are a few tips that I can share with you.
    – Make sure your kid is well rested before taking a plane.
    – Take her favorite snacks with you
    – If you pack toys, try to give them to her one at a time. The idea is that she has something “new” to play with through the entire plane ride
    – Once you get to Italy (most likely the next morning), she probably wants to go to sleep all day. I try to keep my daughter awake and let her take a nap (no more than 2 hours). By the time it is bed time she is exhausted by the next day she is already adapted to the country time. I prefer ONE cranky day than fighting all trip against the clock.
    – Last tip, when you travel, make sure you take medicines such as Tylenol, eczema cream, and whatever else your kid might need. Sometimes, you cannot find the same products, and even if you find similar things, you might not be sure about doses for your child.

  6. Lisa February 8, 2010 at 12:59 am #

    Chris, how old are your kids? My daughter is 2 and she's been to italy three times already (my husband is from there and his whole family is there). Each trip has been three flights over and back and they've been horrible traveling with her. She would miss her nap in the airport and then by the time we left she was overtired and cried the entire trip from new york to rome. It was awful for us and the other passengers. We tried everything, portable dvd player, books, games, etc. She just cried and screamed. I'm just curious how you dealt with the flights. Plus with the time difference, it took a long time for her to adjust and the then it was time to go home again. Hopefully this will all improve as she gets older!

    In any case, thanks for the tips!

    Lisa

  7. Mila February 8, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    Lisa, I have a 3 year old daughter and since she was born I have taken her to Spain to visit my family (we live in the States). There are a few tips that I can share with you.
    – Make sure your kid is well rested before taking a plane.
    – Take her favorite snacks with you
    – If you pack toys, try to give them to her one at a time. The idea is that she has something “new” to play with through the entire plane ride
    – Once you get to Italy (most likely the next morning), she probably wants to go to sleep all day. I try to keep my daughter awake and let her take a nap (no more than 2 hours). By the time it is bed time she is exhausted by the next day she is already adapted to the country time. I prefer ONE cranky day than fighting all trip against the clock.
    – Last tip, when you travel, make sure you take medicines such as Tylenol, eczema cream, and whatever else your kid might need. Sometimes, you cannot find the same products, and even if you find similar things, you might not be sure about doses for your child.

  8. http://www.allinclusive.co.uk January 18, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Thank you! I was very worried about how to handle my children on holiday.

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