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A tropical vacation is a fantastic way to escape the winter weather and enjoy time together as a family. Vacation is an excellent way for everyone to take a break from the routine and come home with a fresh perspective and new appreciation for many little things that had become mundane. Traveling with littles can be stressful, but it’s well worth the trek! (Check out 12 Simple Tips for Flying with Young Kids.)
We recently went to Hawaii for a week, and it was truly paradise. Seeing a toddler get SO excited about everything was invigorating! As soon as we stepped off the plane his first question was, “Mom, why is it not cold here?” and our first morning on the balcony he exclaimed, “I hear biiiirrrrrddddsssss!” This was our first vacation as a family of four, and we rather enjoyed the slow pace and being fully present. Our children needed lunch at about the same time every day and needed to be back to our room for naps. This was wonderful, as it prevented us from cramming too many activities in, which is tempting when you want to make the most of a relatively short vacation. Hubbs loved napping with the kiddos, and this mama loved escaping to the pool for umbrella drinks, magazine reading, and working on a tan!
There were some things I didn’t think to pack, and also things I was thrilled that I had packed. Some items may seem obvious, but I found it’s still nice to have a reminder. Here’s a list of the top 10 Packing List for a Tropical Vacation with Family:
Of course, you can buy sunscreen upon arrival at your destination. However, babies have sensitive skin, so it’s nice to bring a tried and true brand that you know works well for your kiddos. (Our son had a reaction to a new sunscreen I sent with him to daycare one time and he doesn’t have particularly sensitive skin, so now I’m extra cautious.) The 50 proof tear-free option that is water resistant is wonderful. (This one is great for sensitive skin! It does leave a white residue though, because it doesn’t rub in as well.)
I’ve also fallen in love with the sunscreen “stick” for faces! It doesn’t get in their eyes, like the lotion does. It seems inevitable as you’re attempting to massage it into the face, your kiddo will jerk their head and get a sunscreen-covered finger in the eye. Also, when kiddos sweat, the stick doesn’t melt and drip into their eyes as easily. Even the tear-free sunscreen can hurt!
Young children have sensitive skin, and it’s simply not possible to apply sunscreen on the scalp, which burns easily. A sunhat that has a brim all the way around it and/or a piece that drapes over the neck is ideal. That way it provides additional coverage over the neck and face. A hat is easy to throw on at any time, not just while you’re by the pool or at the beach. Hats also help keep the sun out of a little one’s eyes, since they aren’t always so good about keeping sunglasses on.
Even the best sunscreen doesn’t last long when you have a couple of water babies who are happy to spend every waking moment splashing around in any water they can find. The long-sleeve rash guards are easy to throw over any swimsuit and provide optimal sun protection. This also reduces the surface area that requires sunscreen application multiple times each day.
4. Aloe vera
Even when you slather on the sunscreen, it seems inevitable that a small area of skin gets missed. (On our most recent trip I didn’t get close enough to our son’s left eye and our daughter’s right eye, so they each had a little burn under an eye – I felt awful! I was trying so hard not to get sunscreen in their eyes that I didn’t get it close enough.) When you wake up to a sunburn you don’t want to wait to run to the store before you can apply this soothing gel, so make sure you bring at least a small bottle.
5. Swimsuits & swim diapers
Since most children love the water, be sure to bring several swimsuits. We found ourselves at the beach in the morning and back at the pool in the evening. Nothing feels worse than wearing a wet swimsuit and getting one on is miserable. Additionally, after time at the beach, a suit can be covered in sand. A sandy suit chafes and there may not be time to do laundry. Additionally, I pack 3 swim diapers for each day in case of soiling and/or multiple trips to the pool in one day.
Toddlers often have some success with wearing sunglasses, but maybe refer back to #1 for infants, as wearing a hat is likely more effective. If mom and dad are wearing sunglasses, then that bright sunshine (in all its vitamin D glory) is also uncomfortable for our kiddo’s eyes. This is especially important if you’re around water and there’s a bright reflection!
7. Clothes & car blanket
Pack light-colored, loose-fitting, comfortable clothing in breathable materials like cotton and linen. If kiddos will be wearing tank-tops and you have car travel on the agenda, be sure to bring a lightweight cardigan to wear. This way car seat straps don’t dig into their little shoulders. Additionally, while you’re in a tropical location, the air conditioning can be rather cold, especially when it’s blowing on bare skin. We brought lightweight blankets for each kiddo to have in the car. They rolled up small, so they hardly took up any space, but they were handy to have.
In addition to comfortable shoes for travel, comfortable sandals are good for walking around and ensuring feet don’t get overheated. Water-shoes are a nice option for walking to and from the pool. They’re also great for exploring the beach, if some areas aren’t barefoot friendly. However, water-shoes aren’t essential if you have a great pair of sandals.
9. Snacks & water bottle
At home, we always have a fully-loaded snack bag, and vacation is no different! I made sure to have at least several non-perishable options available. That we weren’t worried about bringing ice-packs or having greasy limp string-cheese. A cheap disposable water bottle was ideal! I could freeze a little water in it the night before so that the kiddos had cold water the next day. (The frozen water bottle also serves as an ice-pack in the snack bag ;-)) The disposable water bottle also means not keeping track of an expensive water bottle or being disappointed if it gets lost!
10. Bag or backpack
Depending on your plans, this bag was perfect for the beach and the pool. If you plan to hike or go for long walks, a collapsible backpack may be a better option. I loved the “saltwater canvas” bag because the sand fell right through and it didn’t get dirty. A small collapsible backpack doesn’t take up much space, and it is handy to have. Both options keep everything in a single location, so it’s easy to find what you need when you need it. We also brought everything from the car to our room because we often needed some of the contents. Having everything in a bag made it easier to bring stuff back and forth!
Tropical travel is a fantastic opportunity that you absolutely don’t want to miss! It has a different twist with young children, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less enjoyable. Protecting your kiddos from the sun is a top priority, as is keeping them comfortable in a warm climate. With these packing tips, you’re sure to be adequately prepared for all the fun coming your way!