I recently went on a family vacation to Ocho Rios, Jamaica with my husband and 2 daughters (4 and 6 years old). I was originally planning to make this a "baecation" and leave the kids with their Aunt but I decided it would be nice for all of us to go together. In the back of my mind however, I was praying that I made the right decision. This was going to be the first trip out of the country with my little ones and I was nervous and excited all at the same time. Although the trip was amazing overall, there was definitely some stressful moments. There are ways that stress can be minimized during family vacations, but ultimately you have to be prepared to ride the waves and make the best out of your family time.
I want to share with you some of the "wins and woes" of our vacation and my tips for keeping your stress level low.
So let me start off by saying that I started packing for this trip a month in advance. I've been on several trips with my kids and I know that it requires a lot of effort to pack for them, so I wanted to make sure that we had everything and anything we might possibly need.
When traveling to the Caribbean you should definitely plan to change clothes at least once per day due to the humidity and heat. We also showered and changed clothes after the pool and the beach. So plan to bring plenty of outfits. We flew with Southwest Airlines and thankfully had more than enough free luggage for the 4 of us. In my opinion the more the better, so overpacking for me was a WIN.
Tip #2-Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks
One thing I know about kids is that they love snacks. Snacks can satisfy a kid and occupy them in many situations. Knowing this, I made sure to pack lots of snacks for our travel time. I had a whole snack bag full of grapes, pretzels, graham crackers, granola bars fruit snacks, candy etc. What I did not anticipate is that my kids would run through all of the snacks on the way there and during our vacation. I failed to re-up with snacks prior to our departure home which made the trip more stressful. I ended up buying costly snacks at the airport which sucked but it kept them quiet so it was worth it.
Normally I limit the snacks that my kids can have throughout the day but when we travel I make an exception in order to keep them quiet and satisfied and to give me peace of mind! So don't be stingy with the snacks during vacay!
Tip #3 Have Patience and Be Kind
After a long ride from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios we waited in a long line at the customer service desk to check-in. We had been traveling all day, the kids were irritable and hungry and we just wanted to settle into our room. When it was finally our turn to check-in, I was told that my kids had not been registered properly through the travel agent so I would have to pay an additional 580.00 in order to get my room key... can you imagine my outrage and frustration at that very moment!?! I wanted to curse everyone behind the counter out! But I was patient and through my anger I was calm. After a lot of back and forth and phone calls I ended up having to pay the money in order to get my key, NOT how I wanted to start my vacation. But in that moment I truly felt like me getting mad at the lady behind the desk, doing her job or the lady on the phone trying to make sense of the situation was not going to help anything. It was late in the evening and nothing would be solved until the next business day. I thought, better to pay the money and get my family into the room rather than keep arguing and still have to pay the money. I got my money refunded the next day and I was so proud that I handled it the way that I did.
Not only did I maintain patience through this situation but I did throughout our entire trip and it really made such a difference. I tried not to fuss at my kids and get frustrated and I let them be free and really enjoy themselves. Win-Win.
Tip #4- Mobile Passport
On our way back from Jamaica my husband downloaded the Mobile Passport App which was so awesome! The process for registering for the mobile passport was super easy, he entered our passport info and took a picture of each of us with his phone through the App. By using the Mobile Passport on our way back home we were able to bypass the line and ease right though US customs with no delays. After a long day of traveling with two hungry fussy kids this was a LIFESAVER! I would highly recommend downloading prior to international travel. Another WIN!
This trip was the best family trip we have had thus far, even though their were stressors we made the most out of each moment and made many memories. I am looking forward to our next trip together.
I hope that my tips can help you in planning your next family vacation!
Remember it's all about cherishing the moments and making memories.