Planning a vacation which includes your toddler can be a bit of a challenge. Trips that entail a long time in the car are not going to be the best choice for most little ones. But the thought of letting someone else navigate you around the Caribbean on a ship full of fun and activities does appear to be a wise choice. The secret to a successful cruise with your toddler will depend on your planning and packing skills.
Don’t Under Pack
Adults tend to worry more about over packing than under packing. But with a toddler, the issue is more likely to be a lack of clean, fresh outfits by day 4 or 5. Excitement, new activities, and new surroundings are just an open invitation for bouncing, jumping, and squeals of delight followed by dumping or spilling anything in arms reach. Plan on two play type outfits per day as well as a few nicer, picture worthy outfits to avoid the need for late night laundry in the sink. In addition, remember that pool attire will be liberally soaked in sunscreen and juice so pack several sets of pool attire. This will allow for a day to wash and dry a set while still playing in another fresh set. And if the cruise is to a warm and sunny locale, check out the kids SPF infused pool shirts which are available in both short and long sleeves to avoid the dreaded first-day sunburn.
In addition to your child’s normal vitamins, shampoo and soap (as cruise ships don’t always offer child-safe versions of their bath products) don’t forget eye drops, plenty of waterproof, child safe sunscreen and after sun products, children’s aspirin, and child approved motion sickness medication. If you plan on enjoying any shore excursions, you will also want to include some child-safe bug repellant in a spray form or even a bracelet to fend off mosquitos and other pests.
A child’s cup with a lid is always a good idea as the disposables don’t tend to fall apart when taken out by the pool. A few movies loaded on a tablet are also a good idea as Internet and WIFI might not always be available. And finally, a few small toys can be a great distraction while waiting in lines or before a flight. But a word of caution, taking a favorite toy on a long trip can end in disaster. Before the trip, try to get your child to bond with a “travel buddy” toy to take on the trip. That ensures that his or her favorite toy will be waiting at home when he or she is tired, cranky and just wants something familiar.
Enjoying a cruise with your toddler is very possible if you pack wisely and can overlook a few spills and mishaps. The biggest benefit of this first trip is that you introduce your child to travel at an early age and that you child embraces the adventure and excitement more and more with each passing year.