How to Vacay with a Toddler (Part I)

While I may not have learned how to fight off my toddler in public (see that story here), I did successfully vacation with one. Trust me, no one is as surprised at this than I.

Back in the fall, J & I toyed with the idea of taking a long weekend adventure to Gatlinburg. Trying to plan this before the holidays and during football season was near impossible so we made the decision to take a weeklong beach trip instead. While I was thrilled to plan a trip (it had been three years since our last vacation), I had some anxiety about the level of R&R that would be achieved taking E since no family or friends would be around. It takes a village, people.

I am pleased to report that our family vacation was a roaring success! We had a wonderful time in the sun and sand for seven glorious days. Packing and planning for a toddler friendly trip can be overwhelming so I put together a list to lend you a hand. If you want to learn more about any of the items listed below, click on the image and it will take you to the appropriate retailer’s site.

 1. Bring a DVD Player

Nothing will bring you closer to the brink of insanity than driving with an unhappy, screaming child. Take a leap and purchase a portable DVD player, if your car does not already have one. We purchased a refurbished one off Amazon and it has been a lifesaver. Headphones were purchased before this trip, but unfortunately E was not a fan. Be sure to bring a variety of movies and shows to entertain the littles. You can use them in the car and have a family movie night during your stay. Since we do not have a large collection of DVDs, I borrowed some from my sweet friends. #caringissharing

 2. Spray Sunscreen

Contrary from my sorority days of holding the “Tanning Bed Goddess” title, I now bathe in sunscreen. The sun is brutal and skin cancer is real. So are wrinkles. Keeping these things in mind, I cover my very fair skinned child in sunscreen. The Honest Company has had some negative PR regarding their sunscreen, but it has never failed us. In fact, E was the only one who did not burn. We used a mixture of the Honest Company and Babyganics brands since I am semi crunchy when it comes to my baby. Prior to leaving the house we lathered her in 50 SPF lotion and used the face stick. On the beach, we used spray sunscreen. The spray is much easier to use since applying sunscreen on a toddler should be considered an Olympic sport. Both brands are mineral based and go on white, which is nice in my opinion because you can ensure that all areas are covered. As always, make sure you read the directions for how often you need to apply and make sure you always use it after swimming. Always.

3. New Toys are a Must

This far into the parenting game you know that entertainment is key to enjoyable outings with a small child. Even when your firstborn has never experienced waves or having her feet in the sand, toys remain a necessity. Vacations are supposed to be fun so splurge on a set of new toys. I purchased these for under $20 and the ROI (return on investment) was well worth it. My two-and-a-half-year-old spent all day playing with these on the beach and they come in a clear, plastic bag that she could carry. #winning

4. Rent, Rent, Rent  

We debated spending money on items we could bring ourselves such as sleeping arrangements for E (yes, she still sleeps in a crib #sorrynotsorry) and chairs for the beach. The property management company we used for lodging suggested contacting Crib Connection, a business where you can rent equipment like a crib, highchair, etc. Genius! Plus, the price includes delivery and pick up so you don’t worry about a thing. We rented a crib for the week instead of loading up our pack ‘n play and I would do it again, every time. Additionally, we received a discount since our management company was a preferred partner.

One of our more expensive purchases was utilize the beach chair company on our resort. Each day they set up two chairs and a giant umbrella right in front of the ocean. This was ideal as we did not have to fight for space on the beach and had a prime location where E could play. Since we had enough items to carry it was wonderful to have three less things to lug.  The umbrella provided shade from the sun and E even napped in the chair one day.

5. Buy Baby Powder

A few times before our vacation arrived, I asked the Facebook faithful what beach items were a must for traveling with a toddler. Many people suggested baby powder, claiming that it was miracle substance when sand was involved. It turns out they were right. Rub some powder on that sandy body and it comes off – a perfect prep prior to reapplying sunscreen! Do yourself a favor and throw a large container of it in your suitcase. You’ll thank me later!

Hopefully some of these suggestions will prove beneficial as you plan a fingers crossed relaxing holiday.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Please share as we have already booked our next beach trip!

Part II has been updated! Find it here


  1. Thanks be to God for the invention of spray sunscreen!


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