Hey everyone, I’m April from April’s Lush Lashes! I’m a makeup-loving mommy of two boys; 9 and 2. The majority of my time is spent filming makeup tutorials, driving my oldest to soccer practice, and attending toddler playdates; however, one thing that we love to do as a family is travel. We don’t just plan the typical road trip to a waterpark though. My husband and I are big believers that having children shouldn’t prevent you from having a great vacation!
My youngest’s first plane ride was to Costa Rica when he was 17 months old. Costa Rica is such a family-friendly country but most parents are intimidated at the thought of traveling with kids to an exotic locale. If you are prepared (and prepared for the fact that things may go awry!) you will have a memorable trip.
We were fortunate enough to travel with a large group of 7 other adults and rented a large home in Playa Guiones right outside of Nosara. Playa Guiones is known for its surfing and yoga. The beach and town exudes such a tranquil vibe that makes you want to just live there forever. We may have even considered it for a brief moment in time…
Here are my tips that can make traveling with children relatively easy:
Bring lots of snacks and new games/toys: It was an easy flight for my then 8 year old. I downloaded a couple of movies on his iPad, packed fruit snacks and granola bars, and called it a day. The toddler was a different story. I purchased many inexpensive toys from the Dollar Store or Target’s Dollar Spot and surprised him on the plane with them. His attention span lasts about 5 minutes so I brought quite a few with me.
Don’t worry if your child cries on the plane. They aren’t the first one to do so: My toddler fell asleep right as we took off from O’Hare and napped for about 2 hours in my lap. He was an entire angel the rest of the flight. The return flight…not so much. It was a 6 hour flight and a 3 hour car ride from the Liberia He was overtired, hot, and didn’t want to be with anyone but mommy. He cried almost the entire flight and fell asleep as we touched down at O’Hare. I wish I was kidding. I started to worry when other passengers looked in our direction but then realized that he was not the first toddler to be on a plane. He also certainly would not be the last. A very sweet woman across the aisle gave him some snacks since we had run out and chatted with me. She remarked at how fortunate he was to have visited such a wonderful country at such a young age.
Pack more than enough sunscreen, bug spray, and diapers: You can definitely find the above in other countries but you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for them. If it means packing an extra bag, just do it and save yourself the headache of having to buying it down there. There are some companies that deliver diapers and other baby necessities abroad but you need to do your research first. Remember that if you are heading to a tropical vacation such as Costa Rica, you need to be diligent with the sunscreen application.
Rent a house: You’re probably going to have a lot of luggage and need somewhere to unload all of your belongings. Not only will a house provide this but it will also come with some extra amenities that will be great for children. While our toddler napped, the rest of us could still enjoy ourselves. If my 8 year old needed a place to wind down and get out of the sun, he could go inside for a bit and I didn’t need to worry. Having a kitchen also saved on dining out.
Don’t be tied to a schedule, but still make time for naps: Skipping one nap might be okay. Two naps and you’re treading into dangerous territory. Three naps and you might as well just end your vacation. Children get overtired very easily and they really need the time to rest. If you have a strict nap time, just realize that you don’t need to rush back to your hotel or vacation home to get your child to sleep. As long as they are roughly getting the same amount of hours of sleep per day, they will be okay. If they normally take one long nap at home but take 3 catnaps on vacation, so be it. Once you get home, you’ll get back on a schedule.
Babywear: The gravel roads and sandy beaches of Playa Guiones are not made for strollers. We did not bring ours with and opted to use our Tula the majority of the time. I also recommend purchasing a water sling if you want to keep your little one close (I used a Suppori).
Introduce your children to the local activities early in your trip: My oldest was given the option to surf many months in advance. He said no. He never even played on the beach until our final full day because he was so content with the pool. While watching everyone surf, he said he wanted to try it. Well of course, it was the last day so he could only lay on the board for a bit while my husband towed him in. If I have one regret, it’s not making him go play on the beach on the first day. If he would have witnessed the magic of the waves, we could have signed him up for lessons. To this day, he continues to ask when we are going back so he can try surfing.
Sure, traveling with children takes a bit more patience than if they aren’t with you but the pure joy in their eyes is completely worth it. We witnessed howler monkeys in the trees of our street and every day, my boys howled right back at them. They splashed in the pool and the Pacific Ocean together. They danced in restaurants past their regular bedtime. They ate fresh mangoes from a fruit truck. They had a trip of a lifetime and I’m so happy to have had such an amazing family vacation.