We have been planning Emma’s first vacation for months. In September, we will be taking her to Cocoa Beach in Florida with my parents. I love my parents. We go on vacation with them EVERY year and it’s one of the highlights of my entire year. So, thinking we had months to spare, I didn’t plan too much. Then, we were blessed with the opportunity to go to Savannah, Georgia, for the week of the fourth of July. We said yes, of course! The only downside? I had to begin planning QUICK what this vacation would look like for Emma and how we would do vacation with our little 10 ½ month old baby. For your sanity and future reference, here is how we did Emma’s first vacation. The good news is we survived and lived to tell.
We spent the entire week preparing for this vacation. I also spent the entire week prior writing and editing my packing list. What to bring, what to bring. Would it be possible to bring the WHOLE house? Unfortunately not. So, we loaded up the car completely full. Full of more stuff than we ever needed. As I was doing this I thought, “What a great post this could be!” so I began documenting our trip to help those who followed us learn from our
- Spend as much time as possible planning. Prior planning prevents poor performance. So true! As we began working on our list and narrowing down what we needed versus what we wanted, we felt that a beach pack and play was a necessity. The problem? We only have ONE pack and play and I wasn’t about to go and buy a new one to bring to the beach and ruin. We searched on craigslist and then had the brilliant idea to ask our friends on facebook! Within just a few minutes, a dear friend sent me a text saying I could HAVE her old one. Woot woot! Nothing like something for free. If we hadn’t spent time planning this, we would have been at the beach thinking of what a good idea this would have been, rather, we got to watch Emma play in the shade under a tent we borrowed. Without getting sand in her mouth. This was TOTALLY worth the extra space it took up. The downside to prior planning? You think about things too, too much. I talked myself into packing about 20 outfits and we washed and wore the same 4-5 outfits all week. Note to self: pack the 2 pack in plays, make room by removing the bazillion clothes you THINK you need. Also, we bought Emma a travel dvd player at Christmas for this specific purpose. We haven’t used it before the trip and don’t plan to use it afterwards, except for long car rides. We’re not big on watching a lot of tv with Emma but desperate times call for desperate measures. The tv entertained her and gave her some time of relaxation.
- Remember who you’re traveling with on your voyage. This is not a 5 year old. It’s not a 15 year old. It’s not grandpa. It’s a BABY. All of the previous may have their moments but at least they know what’s going on during the trip. Emma had NO IDEA why we were driving for 8 hours non-stop nor did she see any reward for the end. She just saw the back of the seat. I would loose my mind, too. Thank goodness I got her awesome car seat for our Florida vacation. On our way down, we decided to stay the night in Greenville, South Carolina, to visit with my amazing cousin, Kelly, and her amazing husband, Brandon. Emma loves them! We went out for dessert that evening and then to church and lunch the next day. We stayed at a hotel with a pool so Emma could swim some to help relax for the trip ahead. This was a great idea! We split the trip almost in half and about an hour out of Savannah, Emma started to fuss a little so we made a pit stop for her and daddy to play. Such fun! On the way back, we decided to make a stop again in Hilton Head. We visited with our long lost friends, the Becks, and then headed out. We should have spent the night somewhere but we decided to be brave and make the 7 hour drive with the baby. Did we remember who we were traveling with? Apparently not because we made it to Columbia fine and then had about 20 meltdowns and just as many stops on the way back. Our 9pm arrival time quickly turned into 12am. We were pooped. And learned our lesson. It’s well worth the sanity and peace of mind to take breaks during your travel. For Florida, we are going to leave early in the morning for both trips to help Emma out and then attempt to stop overnight. Win for everyone!
- Once you arrive, do things that are FUN. Don’t spend the entire vacation jumping from one spot to the next. We spent several mornings taking our time, fixing a nice breakfast, letting Emma hang out and play, and then went on about our day. I think Emma’s favorite time on vacation may have been when she raced with daddy through the house. It was awesome to see them crawl their way through the house. She’s a hoot and thought it was even funnier that she had a racing buddy. Another thing we did was spent time at the Statesboro water park. What a blast! If you ever make your way down there, it’s totally worth the money! It cost us $12/each to get in and Emma was free. We packed our lunch and definitely got a deal! We arrived around 11am and didn’t leave until about 6pm. Emma is a water dog. I’m pretty sure there are gills somewhere on her body. She spent a lot of time in the kiddy section just crawling around and hanging out with mommy, daddy, and the occasional kid that would come say hello. We are definitely planning on doing a water park again one day soon! Splash country is calling our name.
- Take time to cool off. If you’re going on a warmer weather vacation, make plans to cool off from time to time. If it’s hot for you, imagine how hot it is for your little one who still doesn’t have 100% control regulating their temperature. During one particularly hot day in Savannah, we stopped by and played in the water next to the City Market. There were a lot of kids splashing around and having fun. Emma was more entertained by them than the water. It was a good cool off for everyone. We also went to the mall one evening. This was fun for everyone, too! Mom got to visit the big sale at Gymboree and get over $50 of hairclips for $7. I was so excited. I’m not sure daddy understood exactly what had happened but I’m sure my excitement filled in the gaps for him. We also let Emma check out build a bear for the first time. We thought she would be all about the big animals, but the small ones caught her eye and we went with it. She LOVED them. At the end of the day, one was all we could take home and she picked a pig. We named her Savannah. Appropriate, huh?
- Remember who you’re eating with on vacation. We considered a few fancier places and then remembered we had a wild and crazy 10 month old with us. This wouldn’t be fun for anyone. We decided to go another route and pick some of the more laid back, local restaurants and boy did we have fun and more money to play with! Smaller places are cheaper which means we got to visit more than 1-2 places. Emma had strawberries for the first time at Clarys, a local restaurant that makes killer PB and banana French Toast. Another stop we made was the Crystal Beer Parlor where Emma dived into a whole stack of sweet potato fries. That child can demolish them. We also visited some favorites like the Breakfast Club on Tybee, Leopold’s on Broughton Street, and some new favorites, in particular Gigi’s Cupcakes, Harris Bakery and the Sentient Bean. We also spent a lot of time cooking at home. I love to cook and prepare meals. We are eating clean, remember? We could only eat French toast and ice cream so often before we exploded. We visited Trader Joe’s and the Fresh Market and brought back a bounty of yumminess to eat on, too.
- When in Rome, dress like the Romans do. The same applies to Savannah. We walked around all week saying, “I do declare” and JR renamed himself Savannah Junior to make a little extra money doing tours. We lived it up! JR also found this precious hat for Emma at Gymboree for .99 cents so we bought it and let her wear it the last night. What a doll! We felt she looked like a true southern belle. She preferred to play with it over wearing it. Whatever works. We also introduced her to butter. She didn’t get to eat any but she played with it. We felt it would be a smack in the face to Paula Deen if she didn’t at least check it out. By the way, have you been to Savannah? We joked on and on about it being the life goal for several of the women we saw down there. I’m pretty sure after visiting Lady and Sons and carrying around their 20 store bags, they were good to go. Their life now had purpose. Ha!
There is a sneak peak in the first Linkous vacation with a baby. Join us back in September as we attempt for vacation number 2 with us, 2 dogs, and my parents. Craziness with ensue! But be totally worth it!
What tips do you have for vacation with little ones?