Skip to main content

2015 Vacation: The Beach with Kids

Several people have asked me about our beach experience with a baby and toddler. Was it worth it? How did we manage? That kind of thing. So I thought I would share a bit about how we made it work and whether we would do it again.
 

When it was just Daniel and I, we would occasionally vacation at the beach but we rarely got in the water. We were content to bike and take long walks on the beach. And we typically went to the beach in the winter to avoid crowds (you won't see us at Disney World any time soon).


With kids, we have discovered that vacations are easier if we actually embrace the beach and take advantage of the water and sand (though we still try to go right after peak season –late summer/early fall– to avoid crowds). Most kids are content to splash in the water and dig all day. Jack (age 3.5) is no exception and would spend every day digging if he could. The beach offers endless sand for this purpose.


Here are some ways we have found that make vacations to the beach with children a little easier:
Our best tip for planning vacations is to decide on a budget before you get started. We have learned that this saves us a lot of frustration (this is a good idea whether or not you have kids). When Daniel and I start on the same page regarding how much we are willing to spend, we don't spend valuable vacation time fighting over the cost of restaurants or outings. Plus with a cap, I don't think we have ever spent the entire amount we have allocated. With kids we spend less money because we spend the majority of our time on the actual beach playing.


One thing we have relied on (for the last 10+ years) is the website vrbo.com (Vacation Rental By Owner). We always book last minute to get the best deals. Daniel is great at calling potential rentals and negotiating a cheaper rate. We have discovered that you have more negotiation power when 1) you are not set on a specific location, and 2) you are willing to go last minute. With kids we think that being right on the beach, with quick access to the water, is ideal (more on that below).


Besides negotiating price, we also ask about the flexibility of check-in and check-out times. On vrbo.com you can see the booking calendar and if you know that no one is checking out the day you are checking in, you can generally ask to arrive early. It's the same with leaving. If you can ask to check out a little later, it makes a world of difference. This year we had a noon check-out instead of 10am. With kids, the extra two hours made a big difference. We had time to go down to the beach one last time. Time to walk Sophie. Time for everyone to get cleaned up without having to rush out the door.


Another way we take advantage of the beach is to book lodging right on the water. On our first trip to Destin with Jack, we were in a condo that was across the street from the beach. This meant lugging all of our gear down to the water, and having to lug it back. We had to plan more and pack more items (like lunch and lots of snacks) so we could take full advantage of the beach. The last two years we stayed right on the beach and it made a world of difference. We could run in and out of our house or condo at our leisure. We could easily take Isaac back inside if he was getting fussy while the other parent stayed with Jack. We found that we were in and out at the beach all day long instead of making one big, arduous trip to and from the beach each day.


For gear we used a small float with sunshade for Isaac and a puddle jumper for Jack. Jack really just needed shovels and buckets to be happy. Having a mat to sit on was nice and we figured with the outdoor shower at our condo, we didn't have to drag towels down to the water with us. 


We do wish we had a large pop-up tent (or umbrella) and chairs. My sister had these things in her arsenal last summer when we went to Mexico Beach and it made sitting on the beach more enjoyable (we are learning!).


With Isaac being 4 months old, there were definitely some challenges – Isaac would get hot and we were always trying to keep him shaded so he wouldn't burn. But overall, we are glad we went. The beach is a great place for young kids and worth the challenge of a baby.

Our days went like this: 
Sleep in. Eat breakfast. Go to the beach for a couple of hours. Get cleaned up. Go somewhere for lunch. Go back to the beach (Daniel and I took turns taking Isaac back inside and playing with Jack). Get cleaned up for dinner. Take a walk on the beach as a family after dark. Go to bed. Repeat. 

Besides having a laid-back schedule that didn't wear everyone out, breaking up our day like this meant that we had lots of built-in potty breaks for Jack.


The biggest things we have embraced are 1) you need a budget, 2) lodging on the beach is ideal, 3) you don't need a lot of stuff (swimsuits and sunblock, check) and you don't have to do a lot of activities to have happy kids, and 4) we need to invest in some beach specific gear like a tent and chairs.

I think my best advice would just be to keep it simple, and if you forget anything, I'm sure you can find a Walmart or Target (we did!).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Baby Update: 32 Weeks, What's It Like to Have Polyhydramnios

I have had some questions about how I am feeling so I thought I would share what it has been like for me to experience Polyhydramnios with this pregnancy. If you have missed my previous posts, I have too much amniotic fluid in my uterus which makes my belly really big and it also causes early contractions (and possibly labor) because my body thinks it is further along than it is. For me it meant a hospital stay at almost-30 weeks to stop contractions.

Yesterday I had my follow up with the high-risk OB. Their ultrasound measurements showed the fluid is currently 21cm (which is below the risk). The measurements are a bit of an art project with different people getting different numbers (last week I was still measuring 25cm). The doctor I saw said they will continue to measure and assess me on a weekly basis for now. According to him, once I make it to 34 weeks, they would not try to prevent birth if I went into labor. He also mentioned wanting to induce me at 38 weeks. We shall see... my…

Weekend Project: Sign Art

UPDATE 01/07/16
This project is by far my most viewed post thanks to Pinterest and also this blog post from Make Magazine in 2014. If you are interested in purchasing a PDF of the words from me, you may do so for $20. Contact me at cheree dot moore at gmail dot com to make the purchase. If you make your own sign, I would love to hear about and see your results!


For some time, I have been intrigued by the idea of transferring printed art to wood. Specifically the transfer of words (or typography). Sign art is all over the internet – be it blogs I follow or Pinterest – and I have had an itch to try my hand at it. 


Daniel and I had some scrap wood from pallets from our move to Alabama that was in good shape and I thought that this wood gave me the perfect opportunity to create a (cheap) sign for our living room.


It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to go on the sign and then it took even longer to research how I would do the transfer. Actually doing the project took even longer sin…

It's the Final Countdown

Three long years ago, we learned that Daniel was going to be relocated from working in Hollywood, Alabama to two hours north in Spring City, Tennessee. We knew it was coming, but it still turned our world upside down. We spent eight months living out of suitcases, in and out of hotels and vacation homes during the week, until finally settling into our current home on Signal Mountain.
We both felt strongly that we made the right choice in regard to the location of our new home, but we knew it would be a difficult journey – Daniel's new position promised long hours, with a 70-minute commute each way. We were told the job would last about a year, so we hoped and prayed for the best.
To say it's been a hard experience would be an understatement. Jack went through a phase where he didn't believe that Daniel lived at our house. Which was kind of true. For months on end, Daniel worked 6-7 days a week, and sometimes weeks at a time without a day off. The hours were lo…