Two weeks ago we embarked on our latest family beach vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida. It was spectacular. The particulars fulfilled all the logistic requirements for our young family:
1) direct flight from Boston to Ft. Myers,
2) good airline: Air Tran surprised us by being in the coolest terminal at Logan and with their amazing service and nice flight attendants,
3) short-ish flight: 3 hours is our max with two young children on the plane,
4) small, easy airport at arrival,
5) walking to your rental car, rather than taking the vomit-inducing courtesy shuttle bus,
6) easy drive to destination,
7) clean, fully-equipped condo only steps from the beach,
9) nice warm, sunny weather,
10) and did I mention the beautiful, white sandy beach with beautiful shells?
I wish I could say it was also totally easy peasy, but that would be understating things. Because for every week of vacation taken these days, there are at least two weeks of work before to prep and after to unwind, not to mention the parenting in between. First off, herding the stuff is a challenge. We have created the “family master packing list”—and though it is not easy anticipating what two small humans in addition to their parents will need—we somehow got everything in there. We had diapers.com send us the necessary diapers, swim diapers, and snacks snacks snacks. For nourishment, we splurged and had the local grocery that delivered and unpacked groceries to our condo (best $25 ever spent on delivery ever).
On the way there and back, my husband did look like an overburdened sherpa on the way to Mt. Everest, lugging two huge britax car seats and two suitcases. Meanwhile I had little Miss in the ergo, a stuffed-to-the-gills diaper bag on my back, all while holding the little dude’s hand; he also did his share, with toddler backpack full of toys on his back. Entertaining two children on the flights did require some creativity--an iPad and those toys for our son, and aisle-walking the duration of the flight for our daughter. Also, try applying sunscreen and changing two squirmy children in and out of swim diapers and sandy bathing suits multiple times a day for a week. I personally would break out in a sweat each and every time. So it wasn’t without some work. We planned a Friday-to-Friday vacation with a weekend at home to recover from the return flight—and boy did we need it.
But at the end of the day, it was so worth it. We had a phenomenal time, and our trip gave us a taste of family vacations to come. The highlight reel: For the journey, the kids were so well-behaved on both flights that multiple fellow passengers congratulated us baggage claim. And we scored the free minivan car rental upgrade (you know you are a parent when that kicks things up a notch). On the beach, we had daily dolphin sightings straight out of the nature channel, and went out for a family ice cream every afternoon after nap and in between beach and pool. And for some couple time (figure that): my husband and I went out for dinner 5 nights out of 7, thanks to two great evening babysitters. Now that is a vacation!
But most of all, the dude and little miss enjoyed frolicking in the sand and ocean, and taking in the sound of the waves, sun, and salty ocean air for a week rejuvenated both my husband and me.