Our vacation challenges

We’re back safe and sound from our big family vacation. It could be said that it was an adventure, I’d rather call it a hard lesson to learn. Don’t get me wrong, there was sun, sand and surf and when from Canada these are very welcome in the month of January. But I cannot say it was the best vacation ever. I learned a few lessons about travelling with children, but the hardest of all was learning that a vacation with young children is not a vacation at all.

My husband and I drove to Florida so that we could minimize costs, i.e. flights for the two of us and the cost of a car rental for two weeks while there. The drive down was fantastic. It was the first extended period of time we’d had alone together for a long, long time. It was nice to chat, listen to adult music, stop when and where we wanted. We delighted as the weather got warmer as we drove further south. We were excited to see our condo and get a lay of the land. My parents flew down with our boys two days later. We were all giddy in excitement for the vacation that lay ahead.

Challenge #1: Children struggle with routine when away from home. The first few nights were difficult. Our oldest was scared at night by his strange surroundings and had trouble settling to sleep. It wasn’t a big deal, I just layed down with him until he was sufficiently comfortable that he could fall asleep. The baby had much more trouble settling in to his new surroundings. The second night he was up until after midnight, fussy and way over-tired. It took a good three or four days before they were sleeping well. Our oldest also decided it was a good time to test every limit he has, from when and what to eat, to climbing on furniture, to not washing hands after going to the washroom. You name it, it was a fight. He was downright sassy. (Can a boy be sassy?).

Challenge #2: Our condo, while gorgeous and comfortable, was MUCH too far from Orlando. This was a compromise we made with my parents. They didn’t feel there was much to do in Orlando (in hindsight this was ridiculous) so insisted that if we go we must stay close to the ocean. They wanted to be able to walk the beach each day. Fair enough, I was willing to make this concession. At the time I thought New Smyrna Beach was only an hour drive out of Orlando. The trek, however, was closer to an hour and half. This meant we stayed put in New Smyrna much more than we would have liked. There was so much we could have been doing in Orlando with our children, but for the sake of three hours or more of driving each day we mostly stayed put. New Smyrna is not a destination for families with young children, the community quite obviously caters to the older set. It wasn’t disastrous, just not the kind of family vacation we were hoping for.

Challenge #3: The weather. Perhaps it is unfair for me to complain since we were in a southern locale, but I assure you there were several days when it didn’t feel very southern. Coupled with the fact that most of our vacation was planned around “ocean time,” you can imagine that weather in the mid-teens wasn’t exactly something to write home about. We had to bundle up each day to walk along the beach. It didn’t feel very tropical at all. That was, until our last two days, when Mother Nature decided to tease us with warmer temperatures that only made it hard to go home.

Challenge #4: Travelling with extended family has it’s pros and cons. It was great to have my parents with us, we were able to get away for one day on our own to do some shopping. My dad was also a tremendous help with keeping the baby entertained. However, he spent most of his time keeping the baby entertained while I cooked and prepared meals and tidied up after everyone else. I’m not suggesting that I was the only one who did this, however it certainly felt like as much, if not more, work than when at home. Why is that? Throw in the usual element of trying to keep various personalities happy and entertained, well, I would imagine you get my drift. The days we stayed close the condo were also about keeping the kids on routine. With so many people around that was challenging to say the least.

Challenge #5: Several of us were fighting viruses. My mom got sick, Jay got sick, the kids were a bit off a few days, I was sick and still am. This made for some cranky condo-mates.

Challenge #6: (Yes I’m still complaining) My husband had a mid-life something or other. I’m not sure what precipitated it all, but he ventured out one night and came back with this awful tattoo on his back. It’s ugly, I really dislike it. I’m not opposed to a tattoo and think they can be really attractive. This one, not so much. More than that though, I was unimpressed with how the whole thing went down. He told me by text message practically after the fact. I wasn’t given the courtesy of offering an opinion. I have many issues with the whole situation. I was unhappy about it for days.

Now that that is off my chest, I feel better. I don’t imagine I was always easy to travel with either, I can be very moody myself. The most important lesson I learned was to think twice before too many more big adventures with my young children. The littlest one was a rockstar and did great, but it’s obvious to me that it was tiring for him and possibly a bit overwhelming. The oldest had a great time, as I mentioned in my earlier post, but still took some time to get used to his surroundings. We’re avid travellers, so this isn’t the end to be sure, we’ll just think twice in future about the type of vacations we do and plan more carefully based on our children’s needs.


12 thoughts on “Our vacation challenges

  1. Have Baby Will Travel says:

    The first trip with kids is always the toughest! You had a trial by fire but now you know what's doable and what isn't. They get easier and easier the more you do it!

  2. SoloParentProfessional says:

    I've had the same experience travelling with my little one. We go away every year with my parents. While it's lovely to get out of the Canadian cold, it's definitely not like holidays used to be. Great post. I really enjoyed it.-Carolyn

  3. Some kind of Wondermom says:

    We went to Florida for 2 weeks with my parents last February. It was definitely a challenge, so I understand what you're staying about routines and trouble sleeping. I found the hardest part was trying to have time for just our family without offending my parents. There was a lot of walking on eggshells trying to please everyone. I don't think I will ever share a condo with them again for a vacation. As much as a cost savings it was, it wasn't worth the fights, arguments and stress. Next vacation will be without children for sure!

  4. Maria @BOREDmommy says:

    Well, I'm glad you survived!!! The tattoo thing would have sent me over the edge — way over (like I would be removing it with my bare hands). The trips will definitely get easier as the kiddies get older. Glad you're home safe!!

  5. Jeffrey Duckworth says:

    Have you ever noticed that most times a vacation is needed to recover from a vacation? Traveling with little ones can be tough!

  6. Christine says:

    Jeffrey, it's so true! I've spent the last few days recovering, on top of getting control of all the clothes and stuff to put away. Now I need a REAL vacation.

  7. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    @Jeffrey Duckworth: You took the words right out of my mouth!Christina, I also just got back from a multi-generational trip to Orlando and reading your post was like reading my own journal entry. Minus the tattoo part. 🙂

  8. refashionista says:

    The biggest thing I learned early on is that a "good" vacation with kids takes at least 2wks in one location.We travel to NS every year. Our kids take about a week to settle in to their new digs and we would then be uprooting them to go spend a week with the rest of the family in a different part of the province. It was always two continuous weeks of upheaval and hard for everyone involved. Now we try to make a shorter visit with one side of the family and a slightly longer one with the other (alternating each year) to give the kids suitable down time.I also learned pretty quickly to not plan stuff for every day. While I loved to cram as much into a trip as I could — get my "money's worth", so to speak — this doesn't work with kids. They need a lot more time to just chill out.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Christine, as you know we travel a lot, by car, because both sets of grandparents are away, plus we do hotel/inn visits as a family for mini-vacaysLast summer was the big one – 3plus weeks away driving from Ottawa, to Windsor, to Thunder Bay, to Ottawa ;)The more you do it, the easier it gets, because you learn the little things that make everything easier. Melissa is right – it takes a while each trip to settle in and planning too much off regular schedule is a disaster. We always have to do down time still, healthy food etc. We take the kids each year to a fancy place where we got married. We only can do it because they are good travellers and are quiet in the hotel room lol BUT, the kids will sleep anywhere as long as we're there (we cosleep anyway so really, it doesn't make a difference to them ). Keep travelling and enjoy the adventures! Some days are disasters I know but it sounds like you have so many memories to cherish (I'm ignoring the tattoo convo ;)Welcome home too 😉

  10. Charlotte says:

    We are planning a vacation next month to visit my parents in Texas. I agree, traveling with kids is not fun, although I think it gets a lot easier when they can self entertain and can regulate their schedules themselves. We've accidentally ended up in places geared more toward the retired crowd and that is always a bummer. And I would have killed my husband.

  11. Amber says:

    I keep the traveling with kids to a minimum because, honestly, I'm just afraid of it. I haven't had great experiences when I've done it, and like you said it's not really a vacation at all. If anything, it's more work than staying home.And I would have been totally cheesed about the tattoo. :/

  12. Christine says:

    Thanks everyone for the tips and suggestions!

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