We decided to go with some friends on a last minute trip to Santa Cruz over Memorial Day weekend it was so fun and wasn’t too expensive, which made for a great little getaway. We all have small kids so we rented a big house near the beach on Airbnb (with a jacuzzi!) for two nights. It was a great vacation for kids so I thought it might be useful to share our itinerary here. Day 1: We went to the Roaring Camp Railroads Steam Train. It’s an hour long ride through the redwoods on a steam train. The kids looooved it. After naps at the house we took a walk to the beach and played in the waves. That night my friend found a babysitter so the adults could go out for Sushi. Day 2: We headed over to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and went on a bunch of rides. The kids loved the rides and junk food. After they got tired we could head back to the house which was 5 minutes away. During down times we sat around and talked or hung out in the jacuzzi and took naps. For dinner we had a barbecue that night on the patio. Day 3: Was the sunniest day so after a breakfast at Gayle’s bakery we went to the beach and stayed until we were sun kissed and tired. We jumped in the car and and hour and a half later we were back home in the city. I love when things come together so easy and last minute like that. My Santa Cruz food suggestions are below. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.
Gayle’s Bakery for pastries and for sandwiches.
The Penny Ice Creamery for awesome ice cream.
Lillian’s for Italian Food
Taqueria Vallarta no frills delicious Mexican Food.
Mobo Sushi for really great sushi.
We’ve become seasoned pros at traveling with kids. I am not one to buy a lot of baby gear (less is more in my book.) But here are some kid items we’ve used when we traveled that were very helpful. Of course we always adjusted what we brought based on the trip and what phase the kids were going through. Moses could fall asleep in a hotel bed even when he was a baby so we forgot about the baby crib. But Roman needed one to fall asleep so that became a priority. Here is my list of 10 favorite travel gear for kids.
1. Toddler Headphones. My kids have free reign with the ipad on these flights. Throw in a pair or two of head phones and with luck the flight will be uneventful.
2. Car Seats Travel Cart. On trips where we will be in cars a lot we don’t bring our stroller. Instead we add this cart to the car seat so we can wheel it and check it at the gate. It turns the bulky car seat into a stroller, just for getting through the airport.
3. Kid Backpacks. It’s time they started pulling their own weight, make them carry their own goldfish crackers! Fill these with snacks, stickers and activities. The kids are ready for their adventure.
4. Cute Hats. Dress your kids cute, let them make friends while they are happy. You never know when you’ll need forgiving glances later on in the flight.
5. Disposable Bibs. These don’t take up space and you thrown them away like a napkin when the meal is over. Easy peasy.
For the whole list and sources continue reading.
We really like traveling with our kids. It isn’t because we have tantrum free children or because ours can miraculously take naps anywhere. (No and no.) At this point we don’t even do it for them since they probably won’t even remember the trips we’ve gone on this last year. And even if they did, I don’t think that traveling is the answer to make your kids cultured. We take our kids with us when we travel for more practical reasons: Mostly because it’s too hard to find good and affordable babysitters and we miss them when we are away from them too long. Of course we love traveling without kids too. We’ve gone on a long vacation every year since we’ve had kids. (Lest you think this is a case of we-don’t-dare-to-leave-our-kids.) The main thing to enjoying a trip with children is to adjust your expectations. We no longer try to pack a million activities into one day. Our trips our slower and involve more trips to the parks. Here are my ten tips to having an adult focused trip, but with young kids in tow.
1. Don’t Bring More Stuff than you Can Carry
Make sure everything you are bringing can be strapped to your back or lugged in a suitcase and that includes leaving a hand free for your kid. It’s a fine line between being a minimalist and being prepared for emergencies. I try to find a happy medium. For example, both our kids are still small enough they like sitting in a stroller but we only bring one (instead of a double which is bulky and hard to navigate in cities) and then if both kids are tired at the same time we take turns carrying the second. Baby cribs are heavy. Try to borrow them whereever you are traveling. If for some reason we have to bring more than we can carry we check bags and take taxis from point to point.
2. Stick to One Hotel
Build your trip around as few hotels as possible since traveling is usually the most stressful part of the trip. Before kids we would try to change hotels and move areas every few nights so we could see more. Now that we have kids we choose one city and one hotel and stick to it. It’s nice to give them a little routine in the midst of the chaos and it’s nice for us to know exactly how far away we are from our hotel if anyone has a breakdown.
3. Time to Splurge on the Room with a View
We spend way more time in our hotel room when we travel with kids. A cheap hostel used to work great for us to crash in but now at least one of us ends up hanging out during naptimes and in the evenings after bedtimes. So splurge a little here. For us things like wifi are a must and two rooms becomes pretty important if you want to hang out and do stuff after 8pm without waking anyone up. For this reason we often rent apartments since you get more space for your money.
4. There is Going to be Down Time
Naps and early bedtimes are a bummer but use that time to your advantage. Paul and I take turns exploring the city after hours and then bring back presents and treats for each other. We’ll also go check out stuff that the other person isn’t as excited to see. For example: Paul heads to art galleries and I go to party stores. One night when we were in Venice we watched a documentary about how the Venice canals were built, which was ironic that we were stuck in a hotel room instead of actually walking around outside but it was sort of fun (and the movie was good!) We also can get caught up on work and emails so we aren’t overwhelmed when we get back.
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Last weekend, I was lucky enough to experience a HUGE Flea Market in Texas called Round Top, anyone been? It was miles upon miles of tents, vendors, food carts, and treasures waiting to be found! I am not going to lie, the first hour of my day was spent trying to calm myself down – there was just so much to look at. Can you say TOO visually stimulated!? I snapped a few pictures of things that especially caught my eye. I hope you guys enjoy. P.S. I did not leave empty handed – I can promise you that!! Go here to see a few more shots from the weekend.
We would like to take one last summery trip before Fall gets here and we want to go to the beach. We’re thinking somewhere in the south of France. Any recommendations?
picture by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day