Are you packed & ready to go? We hope so because it’s time to go on a little journey with the Beach Bums – today, we’re guiding your family all the way to the beach!
No matter what, a family vacation done right, will bring you closer together and create memories that will last a lifetime. Experiencing a destination through the eyes of your children is absolutely amazing. For younger children, all the little things like the hotel’s mini toiletries and beverage service on an airplane are so cool. For grade school kids, it is a combination of awe-inspiring moments and lots of energy! Be prepared to keep them busy! Teens are definitely the hardest to please, but they still bring a unique perspective to the table. You might have to try a little harder to impress them, but when they are “wowed,” the relationship that you share with each other is strengthened by having experienced that moment together.
This is harder than it sounds. But make the commitment to go no matter what. Things may come up, timing may not be right but pick the best week or long weekend and put it on your calendar. By writing it down, you are making the commitment. This may seem silly but once you make the commitment to go it actually becomes a reality and the decision turns into where do we go?Stress-free tip: make one decision at a time to keep from getting overwhelmed.
Do you tell the kids at this point or should you wait? You have the choice to include the children in on the planning or not. If you have toddlers or young grade school children, Beach Bum Vacation recommends not including them on the initial planning. For pre-teens and teens it can be beneficial to include them on the planning at this point. Showing them that you value their opinion will go a long way. Letting them in on the family decision making process is a big responsibility. Whatever you do, approach them in discussion mode without any distractions. By making it a real conversation, they realize the importance of it. By approaching them in this manner, your family bonding time has already begun – what a great way to connect with your kids!
Step 2 – Deciding what you’d like to experience
Set aside time for a family discussion to envision WHAT YOU WANT. Stress-free tip: Note that I did not say where you want to go yet. Places may come up as you are having this initial discussion, because if what you want is a theme park with mouse ears, then obviously that narrows down places pretty quickly. But the initial discussion should be what you want to do/what you like to do. All points of view should be taken into consideration here. If you have included your children, you must include them in the rest of the planning process as well. (Side note, by including older children there is less of a chance they will say they are bored. There is a greater chance that they will absolutely find the vacation thrilling because they helped make it happen.) Write these thoughts down – the experience you envision having while on vacation, the activities each family member wants to do, etc. No budget thinking yet. Don’t worry, that will come. Even better than writing them down is typing them so your Beach Bum can see your initial thoughts. At the end of this discussion, highlight commonalities between each other. Mom wants to lay out. Dad and Ben want to surf in the ocean. Okay well there you go – you know you want to go somewhere tropical and warm.
Step 3 – Initial budget planning
After this discussion, parents should start thinking about budget. The children do not have to be included in this discussion, but they should be told that this discussion is going on so they remember that it is not free. Kids tend to think that. Everything is all inclusive to them! 🙂 If you are going to fly somewhere, airfare is expensive. If you want the Caribbean or Mexico, it will cost you approximately $400 – $1000 per person for flights. This airfare greatly ranges for what city you are flying out of, what island and destination you are going to, but it’s good to keep this in the back of your mind so you know initially your base cost is going to be this much without even including your resort stay.
Step 4– Contact your Beach Bum
One of Beach Bum Vacation’s specialties is family vacations. We go on them, we experience them, we know the destinations and the resorts, and more importantly we also know the staff who work at the resorts, ensuring your vacation is as seamless as possible. Yes, this is the “hard” part about our job – our tropical travels. 🙂 But we actually take it much more seriously than one might think. Of course we have a great time while we’re there (that’s just what Beach Bums do), but we spend most of our time meeting with resort management, touring properties, and asking questions with our clients’ point of view in mind. This makes us a unique travel agency as we are not just looking at a brochure saying “Hmmm….this looks like a great place.”
Your Beach Bum will interview you and ask you the right questions to determine what you want out of your vacation. Share your initial thoughts with them. We want to know if you have any goals for this trip: to reconnect, to just spend time together that you don’t get at home, to celebrate a special occasion, etc.
Beach Bums are honest… sometimes brutally honest. We want you to know what you are getting and the pros & cons of each destination/resort. The last thing you want on your vacation are surprises of the unpleasant variety, and we do our best to not let that happen. We want you to know that not everywhere looks as great as it does in those Photoshopped or airbrushed photos online. If the beach is great, then we’ll tell you. If it’s not, then we’ll tell you that too. We do not match you up with a resort that we think is not worth it. No matter what your budget is, we’ll find the best match for you. We are extremely picky because our clients are our extended Beach Bum family, and we want to make sure they are treated well! After all, it is a reflection on us as well! We want to ensure your hard-earned money and precious vacation time is well spent. It’s important to us to create a lifelong relationship with you; sending you on amazing Beach Bum Vacations year after year!
Planning a vacation takes time, but when you partner with a Beach Bum it is time spent efficiently and effectively. We are working behind the scenes for you; saving you hours upon hours of research and taking the guesswork out of planning your vacation. We vow to always lead you down the best path, taking all of your wants and wishes into consideration and pointing out the pros and cons to you. Our honesty is what you will get. Remember YOUR Beach Bum has been to the destinations – we are the experts.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series – steps 5 through 8! We’re guiding you all the way to the beach!
By: Beach Bum Lisa, Mom of two toddlers, ages 2 and 4
So you have decided you want to take a vacation, and…. you want to bring your toddlers. Your parents are questioning your sanity. Your friends think it’s a great idea. And you are excited but wonder, “how in the world am I going to plan this trip and then get through it?”
First off – DO NOT pick a hotel off of a website. Contact your favorite Beach Bum, they have been there and can tell you firsthand about the best all inclusive family resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Everywhere looks good on a website but do you really want to chance being in a hotel that is sub-par and lo and behold your room is a mouse house and dirty. You don’t even feel comfortable letting your kids walk on the floor. Do you want to take the chance that you have to deal with service issues or food issues (or even worse – food poisoning – ick!!) while you’re trying to make this a once-in-a-lifetime vacation? It would be once-in-a-lifetime that’s for sure. There are so many all inclusive resorts that cater to families with toddlers.It’s not worth it to go unless you choose the right hotel. Beaches Resorts offer amazing water parks, Sesame Street characters, fabulous beaches, inviting pools, toddler slides, big kid slides for the parents, great food, drinks, milk in the room, refrigerators, kids’ menus, daily and nightly shows, parades, crafts, kids club, dance parties both for adults and kids, the list just keeps going. It’s amazing! Beaches has partnered with the best of the best when it comes to kids’ activities: Sesame Street, Crayola, Xbox, and more! They went to the experts to find out what needs to be done for a successful family vacation, and they implemented it! My other favorite – Azul Hotels have kids clubs, all rooms are Jr. Suites and/or connecting rooms, Fisher Price toys you can borrow, Pack N Plays, baby food, strollers, stools in the bathroom so kids can reach the sink, kids’ menus, and more. They have all those little “luxuries” you have at home that make your life a bit easier and don’t realize what an impact they have on your day not to mention the great beaches, pools, amazing food, and drinks!
Beach Bum Lisa's son, Connor, with Grover at Beaches Boscobel in Jamaica
When you pick the right hotel, everything is easier: packing, preparing, and then the vacation itself. You WILL spend more time in the room than you think. Kids are out of their routines and will need downtime to relax so they don’t lose it. A nice size and comfortable room makes all the difference in the world. Equal to that is having a great staff at the hotel who speak your language and are willing to get what you need…”Yes my kids drank that half gallon of milk today, can we get more?” (yes that was me in August). “Yes, could we get some more Red Stripe in the room” (yes that was me in August as well).
Beach Bum Lisa's daughter, Allie, with Ernie at Beaches Boscobel in Jamaica
Setting your expectations is also equally as important. Will everything go picture perfect? Most certainly not. What happens at home can and will happen on vacation AND things could be even worse because normal routines are not followed. Kids skip naps, they are confused about what is going on, their ears start popping on the plane, they want to run on the plane – it can happen so be prepared for that. If you’re prepared for that – then it won’t be as big of a deal if it happens.
I HIGHLY recommend practicing airport etiquette and flying on a plane prior to traveling. We did this, and our kids did absolutely fantastic. At home, we had “tickets” and I would take the tickets from them as they were pulling their suitcases. I asked to look in their suitcases and called it security.mI had them take off their shoes, etc. etc. the whole bit. We didn’t run in the airport and we had to make sure to walk to our terminal. I do recommend using the real words as they will hear you guys discuss it at the airport. This way the kids know what is going on. It eases their potential fear. We had to wait in chairs before getting on the plane and pretended it took a long time. Then we boarded the plane and put our suitcases to the side. And then we got to hold our fruit snacks! Yay! When the plane took off, we were able to eat our fruit snacks and pretended our ears hurt so we took some drinks, etc. etc. You get the picture. I tell you what – our kids loved practicing, and they were pros at the airport. They even commented that their ears didn’t hurt as they were prepared for that to be the case. When we experienced turbulence on the plane, my son, Connor, age 4, said Mom this plane moves just like we did at home. I’m excited!! He was so pumped about it.
Beach Bum Lisa with kiddos Connor and Allie
I would also explain that you get to ride on the bus or van to the hotel from the airport. Kids think that you will land at the hotel so if they know it’s going to be a little bit longer that helps them. For our trip to Beaches Boscobel, we got to ride a couple planes, a train (monorail at Atlanta airport), and a bus! We were very excited. It actually made the transfer easier for me because the kids were so excited.
Take lots of snacks – lots!! I would also take a variety of snacks – small, lightweight, easy to eat, non-sticky, you know what I’m talking about. Drinks – take cups of water. No milk unless you have to. If water spills, no big deal, and you can easily fill up with water at the airport.
While on vacation – take advantage of the resort’s activities they have for kids. Use the toys they have there. Only pack the toys you need for the airport – leave the rest at home. The kids will want to play with the “new” toys. This is a question you should ask your Beach Bum – are there sand toys at the resort…the airport toys will be fine for the room. Do bring swimmies so the kids can swim on their own. Do not bring towels – the hotel has them. Take LOTS of sunscreen especially if you are taking spray bottles – those run out a lot faster than you think. Be prepared but try not to over pack too much as it’s just more stuff you have to haul around. Don’t expect to lay out and relax in the sun yourself. It may or may not happen. Traveling with toddlers is a different fun than an adult vacation, but worth every moment. I didn’t get as much of a tan as I wanted, but got something much more!
Playground on the beach at Azul Beach Hotel in Mexico
Make sure to monitor the kids’ moods. If they are wearing down, make it exciting to go back to the room and hang out. Even if they don’t take a nap, turn out the lights and have quiet time. Don’t try to go out to eat after a long day and the kids are exhausted – that makes for a long dinner. Order the kids’ meals first so they can start eating while you wait on yours. Take lots of pictures, and if the kids are old enough – have them take pictures so you can see the vacation through their eyes. Go exploring…kids get excited about crab holes, shells, plants, a popcorn machine, and all the other little things. Turn it into a learning experience – let’s count the crab holes, what color is the ocean – the kids will be pumped!! See and experience the vacation through their eyes, and your vacation will infinitely be better, and your memories will be priceless!
Water slides and lazy river at Beaches Negril in Jamaica
My personal favorites for families with toddlers: Beaches Turks & Caicos, Beaches Negril, Beaches Boscobel, Azul Beach, and Azul Fives. These resorts offer kids programs so if you do want to experience a bit of an adult vacation while you are traveling with your kids, you can! And they’ll love all the activities the kids club offers while you are basking in the sun enjoying a pina colada in solitude.