I have friends who just had a baby girl. They would have been in for a rude awakening had they not had dinner with me. =)
At dinner that night they talked about planning their first family vacation. A trip to France, complete with tours of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards, leisurely lunches on the Côte d’Azure, and shopping in Monaco.
perfect. Wonderful. And, of course, totally unrealistic. As parents of a two-year-old, we’ve learned that in addition to wipes, diapers, stuffed toys and snacks, there’s one other thing you need to bring when traveling with a child: a change of expectations.
I can’t stress this enough: If you assume vacations will include all the cultural fulfillment, relaxation and partying they once did, I have three words for you – Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.
It’s just not the same when the little one is dumping your Pina Colada in the sand, or tugging at your swimsuit while you’re trying to melt into that lounger. And strolls through quaint little towns are a whole new experience when they involve, well, strollers.
We learned these lessons on our first vacation with our daughter, Sydney. After two or three days spent gazing wistfully at the crowd around the adults-only pool, we came to accept our new reality for what it was, and adjusted accordingly.
They were small adjustments after all. The sun was just as warm at the family pool. The grilled snapper just as tasty whether we ate dinner at six or nine. And the beautiful people heading down to the bar just as we were tucking Sydney into bed? Well, they weren’t going home with photos of chubby little feet drowned by sea foam or pudgy cheeks caked with sand.
So the positives of traveling with our little daughter far outweighed the compromises. As for our friends? I have no doubt they’ll reach the same conclusion—it just might take a few spilled glasses of Côtes du Rhône before they do.
Here are our 7 tips for globetrotting with a toddler:
Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence, once said “Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity.” Traveling with a child will force a host of necessary compromises, adjustments and concessions. But the daily pleasures are well worth it.
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