Last night we got home from our first official family vacation and it was magical! We’ve traveled a many times with Amalia with family and with friends, but this was the first time where it was just the three of us with no agenda other than enjoying each other and the sunshine.
We decided to go back to Sarasota, Florida after a great babymoon. It might seem like kind of a random location, but we picked it originally because it was one of the few places with warm weather on the east coast that wasn’t affected by Zika last year. When we got there, we fell in love with both the hotel and the town, so it was an easy decision to go back.
We also knew that the flight would be quick and painless with the baby, the rental car situation at the Sarasota airport is so easy, and the drive to town is only 15 minutes. These days, vacation is just as much about ease as it is about the location for us.
After a really rough trip to LA in January (Amalia and Anel got the worst stomach bug) and a few stressful road trips, I was nervous about how it would go, but it exceeded even my wildest expectations and made me excited for vacations to come.
Everyone warned me that “vacations” after you have kids are actually just “family trips” because there is no relaxing, but we found that not to be true! Yes it was different and there was definitely way less relaxing, but traveling with only one kid who still naps is not bad at all.
I have a whole new view of motherhood after spending time with my little family without having to rush to be anywhere or do anything. The three of us connected as family in a new way that I can’t even explain. It was nice to just enjoy each other’s company without having to rush anywhere or worry to much about work and errands.
I think the trip was so successful because we were really strategic about a few things:
1. Nap time: Anel and I knew that Amalia would be super cranky and exhausted if she didn’t get her two full naps each day, and she’s not one to casually nap at the beach, so we decided that she would take both of her naps in the room and we’d take turns being “on duty.”
Anel planned a round of golf during one morning nap and worked out the next day, and I spent an afternoon nap at the beach and another one by the pool. This also allowed us to each get some alone time doing something that we loved, and made it feel a little like a pre-baby vacation
We both had a lot of work to do while we were there, so when we were on duty, we would sit on the balcony of the hotel room and get work done until she woke up. That also cut down on stress last night when we got home because we weren’t totally backed up.
I got a lot of questions about what she sleeps in when we travel, and we always bring our Baby Bjorn travel crib. We usually fly on Delta where you can check anything baby-related for free so we check it when we fly. I’m not sure about other airlines, but look into that! The first time we used it was on a road trip to New Hampshire and we had her sleep in it for a few naps at home before we traveled so that she would be used to it. She’s now used it for probably six or seven trips and finally sleeps as well in it as she does at home.
2. Activities: We kept everything to a minimum. Between her naps we went to the beach, on walks, and to a botanical garden, but most of the time we spent at our hotel’s pool because it was just so easy and so pleasant. Again, not all that exciting, but she got to splash around, we got to enjoy the sun, and there was no stress. When we weren’t in the water, we would put her on a towel in the shade with some toys and take turns playing with her.
We definitely could have done more beach time or checked out more sites, but not having to get her in and out of the car in the heat and figuring out scheduling around naps was so worth it.
Part of the reason that other trips we’ve taken have been so stressful is that we’re always trying to figure out logistics and rushing around for her feeding and nap schedule, so we strategically decided to eliminate that stress and it made a huge difference.
3. Dinners: We both still feel uncomfortable with strangers babysitting her after a few weird experiences, so we opted to not to get babysitters at night. That said, Amalia is usually asleep by 6:30 so we had to get creative around dinner time.
One night, we went out at 5:30 for an early bird special and put her to bed a little late. The other nights, we put her down at her usual time and ate our dinner on the balcony of the club level (on the same floor as our room) with the baby monitor, similar to how we do it at home. Otherwise, we would have been sitting in a dark hotel room from 6:30pm on every night.
We ordered up from the restaurant downstairs and took advantage of the free drinks while we watched the sunset over the ocean. While it was definitely quieter than our usual vacation nights, it was easy, the food was good, and it got us in bed by 10pm every night which had us well rested for our cute but enthusiastic 6:45am wake up call each morning! Anel and I were really able to connect the way we used to on vacations without phones in a beautiful location.
Side note: I realize that someone is probably going to call me a terrible mother for leaving my child in a hotel room, but she was only a few hundred feet from where we were sitting, and we watched her the whole time on the monitor. What sealed the deal for me was that our room to the club was the same distance as her bedroom to our family room at home.
Overall, the vacation was just really easy and happy and relaxing and I’m so glad that we decided to book it last minute. While it was definitely different than what we’re used to, we made it work by taking the stress out of as many situations as possible. We’re coming into this week feeling happy and connected as a family!
Julia’s Shirt c/o / Jeans / Earrings / Sandals
Anel’s Polo c/o/ Shorts c/o/ Sandals
Amalia’s Dress c/o
Julia’s Shirt c/o / Jeans / Earrings / Sandals
Anel’s Polo c/o/ Shorts c/o/ Sandals
Amalia’s Dress c/o
In the name of transparency, just wanted to let you know that although this blog post isn’t sponsored (aka I’m not being paid to write it), the hotel gave us comped rooms for two nights and a press rate for the third night. In exchange, I was required to post on Instagram but I mentioned the hotel in this post because we truly loved it!
I just had this conversation with a friend of mine who went to on vacation with her little one and her and husband ate at the hotel with the monitor….to be perfectly honest I do not have children so I can’t really comment or say what I would do but seems more common than I originally thought.
I think it is too. I got the idea from a few of my friends who did the same thing!
Where did you feed her? Did you rent your car seat or take one with you?
We gave her bottles wherever we were during her eating times and we’d put her in a high chair for solids. We always bring our car seat and gate check it on the plane. It’s so easy!
Sounds like you did everything right! If you ever have more kids you’ll look back on this trip so fondly because vacationing with more than one kid is a game changer!
Hahah I totally believe that. I’m scared to travel with more than one!
Thank you for this! I am engaged and looking forward to kids soon, and I feel like everything I read about motherhood is how hard it is/how much everything changes/you can never enjoy anything again. Of course I know there are great parts of it too and moms just need to vent, but it’s so refreshing to hear that vacations can still be fun and relaxing with a baby. Your family is lovely!
Congrats on your upcoming wedding! It’s definitely hard but motherhood is also amazing and you can definitely still enjoy your life, you just have to make that choice 🙂
I honestly love the idea of getting dinner in the hotel, especially with the monitor! You can see her just as you can at home! Glad you so enjoyed your trip 🙂
Exactly! Not super exciting but also eliminates any stress.
What monitor do you use when you travel? We use Nest at home.
We have Nest and Infant Optics at home. We brought the Infant Optics with us!
Sounds like an amazing trip, and your family photos are so adorable!!
Kristina does the Internets
What a perfect situation to have dinner…I wish I had thought of that when my kids were little!!
Sarasota is so cute! I love walking around the circle. You guys look so cute together too, such a happy family! Happy Monday! xAllie
Love the circle! Especially Shore (restaurant and store!)
Thank you for this post. It was exactly what I needed to read! I’m having some anxiety about our upcoming vacation. My husband and I are taking our will be 5 month old to Antigua in a month and half the people we tell think we are crazy. (We originally planned to go prebaby, but Zika resulted in us having to postpone our trip) We know it won’t be the same as vacationing just the two of us, but are looking forward to our first adventure as a family. We plan to take a similar approach and spend most of out time just hanging out by the pools and on the beach. Any recommendations on baby bathing suit cover ups?
You got this!! As long as you’re smart about it, you’ll be good to go 🙂 Cover up recs for you or baby?
Great vacation! Good for you. Did you actually take Amalia into the pool water?
Most of the hotel pools I have gone to say No Babies or No Diapers in the pool.
How did you handle that if in fact your pool had that rule.
We did! The hotel was very kid friendly so there were a ton of babies and kids in the pools.
Sounds like the perfect relaxing vacation! Sometimes the trips where you have no agenda and just get to break from your normal routine and enjoy time together are the best. XO
We have a big European trip planned for this summer with our now 8 mo old (will be 11mo at the time of the trip) and it’s left me feeling super anxious. My parents, sister and her boyfriend are coming too so that’s lessening my anxiety. However, your trip to Sarasota has inspired me to plan a small trip with just my husband and baby! I’ve been to that Ritz Carlton and loved it, so we might just follow your lead and book it for the early fall! I’m so glad you and Anel had such a successful family vacation with Amalia!
You’ll have so much help on your Euro trip, it will be totally fine and amazing!! xo
As a non-mom I NEVER would have thought about the baby monitor but it makes SO MUCH SENSE! Why can’t it be just like at home? I love it!! I’m so glad yall enjoyed your vacation together as a couple AND as a family!
It is completely different. You are not at home with your baby you are at a hotel with staff whom have access to your room at anytime.
Was this trip sponsored?
If something is sponsored, I always make note of it in my blog post. You can read more about how to tell if something is sponsored or not here: https://lemonstripes.com/lifestyle/sponsored/
Let me know if you have questions! I know it can be confusing with bloggers these days 🙂
Did you pay for your hotel accommodations? If you want to be taken seriously as a professional blogger then please have some integrity and don’t mislead loyal readers.
OH MY GOSH! I just addressed this on my Instagram stories, but I couldn’t figure out why you had asked this question until I realized that I hadn’t mentioned that the room was comped for two of the nights. I added a disclaimer in the post but I’m so sorry I didn’t have it in there earlier!
Thank you. I understand bloggers depend on sponsorships and comped goods and services but it feels a lot better and builds trust when it’s transparent. Glad you had a fantastic vacation!
I could not have imagined leaving my baby in a hotel room with a monitor and I say this having travelled extensively with our children. I have never heard of anyone doing this, at least not that they have admitted. I am not coming down on you as it is your baby your choice but I am shocked by the positive reaction of some of your readers.
I totally get it! Normally I would have never considered it but because we could sit essentially in a living room right next to the room, it felt ok. Obviously I’d never put my baby in any situation where I felt it was unsafe but to each her own of course!
I may be the odd Mama out here but I would not for a second think to leave my child in a hotel room with a monitor. Maybe I’m an overprotective mother of 3 little girls but for some reason the thought of Madeleine McCann pops into my mind and there isn’t one reason on this earth I would put my child in that situation. I understand not wanting to be stuck in a hotel room with a baby from 6:30pm on but unfortunately having a baby changes things and sometimes that’s the sacrifice that has to be made.
100% agree and I spoke to a bunch of friends at a luncheon today here in Connecticut and all agreed it was a huge resounding NO !!!
100% agree with you as well. I have 4 boys, very close in age and I have never done that. We have vacationed in many places and have stayed in hotels but anything can happen, even in the best hotels.
I do understand that we all have the right to make our own parenting choices. I am not judging. Just be careful, anything can happen. So many crazy things happen in our world today.
I have a 3yo daughter and we went on several vacations with her. We always go for dinner after she is asleep within the hotel grounds with our baby monitor and never had an issue. It is totally normal here in Europe so please do not feel bad by some other comments
Wish I would have planned as well as your hotel/baby monitor situation on a recent vacation. Sounds much better than the room service my husband and I ate in the bathroom next time we’ll do better!
Hi Julia, how exactly did you bottle feed? Did you bring bottles from home and wash in the hotel? Did you use ready made formula or powder? We sterilize our bottles at home, and this has kept us from traveling with our baby.
Great question! I always bring our bottles and a small container of our bottle washing soap as well as a travel bottle brush. We sterilize the bottles before and after the trip and just wash them in hot water while we’re there. But we usually only sterilize every 3-4 days anyway!
Thanks, Julia! We love your blog.