Our youngest child is now nearing the magical age of being allowed in a hotel kids club alone, so I feel it is time to be brutally honest about going on vacation with a toddler.
Over the last eight years, we have traveled around Australia, New Zealand, Europe, America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East with one, then two, and now three young children. I am hoping that this truthful tale will help other parents set the bar low, so that your next vacation will be epically awesome.
1. Your sightseeing plans are reduced by 75%
You quickly discover it takes you until 9 am just to get to breakfast, then it’s pool time, then lunch, then nap time, then happy hour, and more pool time, then dinner, and bed.
2. You can’t enjoy the beach
The gorgeous beach you have been dreaming about for months is too noisy, too sandy, too windy, too sunny or too wet according to one of your children. Luckily the pool has a swim up bar.
3. Your children’s idea of breakfast nutrition differs from yours
Your children will eat chocolate balls and their body weight in Nutella for breakfast each morning. Meanwhile, you will smuggle out apples and bananas in the hope they may ingest some vitamins later in the day.
4. They won’t let you leave the kids club
You are stuck in the brightly colored kids club playing with Duplo, listening to Barney or Dora, while every other adult on vacation is drinking a poolside pina colada. Or if your child is old enough to stay in the club by themselves, they all of a sudden don’t like toys anymore.
5. You relax your screen time rules big-time
You allow a little extra screen time in the hotel room when you’re on vacation with a toddler. Secret Agent Oso, when dubbed in a foreign language, is obviously good for a young, developing brain.
6. You order the same 2 items from room service
Sadly, room service is used mainly for bowls of plain pasta for Mr. Fussy and cups of cold, fresh milk at bedtime. And the minibar is squashed full of juice cups and cold chicken nuggets from lunch.
7. The resort wait staff knows your family very well
They will start to remember your daily requests for extra straws, extra ketchup, apple juice, and cups of ice. And they’ll come running as soon as they hear the sounds of a broken glass or spilled drink.
8. Your kids get sick at the perfect moment
Your child will vomit or get a fever on the day you plan to get a babysitter. Don’t forget to pack up your entire medicine cabinet!
9. You hate face paint
The amazing face paint that looked cute at 4 pm will cause a horrendous tantrum at 8 pm when it is time to wash it off, in an attempt to keep the pillowcases white. Note to the kids club staff: temporary tattoos would be a much better idea.
10. You are not about to get any “me time”
You and your partner will tag team in an attempt to squeeze in a quick massage or dive trip, resulting in a maximum of 4 hours of “me time” in this whole so-called “vacation.”
11. You end up with exactly zero family photos
You will take 1,000 adorable shots of the kids, but forget to get a full family shot.
12. Your kids’ dinners get a little repetitive
Your children may possibly have pizza or french fries every night for dinner and way too much lemonade.
13. Your kids are not coping well with jet lag
Jet lag will affect your kids’ body clocks for the duration of your stay and then you get another week of struggling with time zones on your return. Body clocks do not listen to black out curtains, unfortunately.
14. By the time you get home, all the hard times have faded away
The water slides, new friends, happy hours, and fun afternoons learning new tricks in the pool seem to have blocked out all the tough moments of the trip
15. You would do it all over again in a heartbeat
You have lost countless sippy cups and Hot Wheels cars, but the memories you have made with your tiny travelers are truly irreplaceable.
About Karen Temme
Karen Temme is an Australian expat mum in Dubai. She teaches babies to swim but has also been a pediatric physiotherapist, a birthday fairy, and mystery shopper. If she is not on her couch searching on hotel websites, then she is generally on a vacation somewhere with an awesome pool and an okay kids club. Follow her on Instagram.
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