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There are plenty of tips out there on how to prepare for a trip with toddlers and they definitely came in handy when we took our 15 month old twins to Mexico. But what about the unexpected? The situations you can’t prepare for until, well, you’ve lived them? Learn from our mistakes and avoid a disastrous vacation, or you might end up riding an ambulance the way we did!
Top 10 things to avoid:
1. Forgetting extra change of clothes
This seems so basic yet we made this mistake. Toddlers will get sick, still I didn’t count on my twins vomiting on the way to the airport. We had a 7am flight which meant waking our twins at 4am. Maybe it was the early wake up call, or maybe it was the quick cheerios breakfast my mother offered our twins during the car ride. Whatever it was, there was puke all over their warm comfy pajamas. I don’t know how my mother didn’t gag from the smell, sitting there as she was in the back with our twins.
We had packed summer clothes since we were heading to Mexico, but here in Boston, it was a frigid 30 degree December weather. Thankfully, we had one set of warm clothes intended for the flight back from vacation.
Ever tried changing two squirmy cranky puke covered toddlers in a car with no room to maneuver? Yeah, not a great way to start a vacation.
2. Over packing
This is an easy mistake to make, especially when it’s your first trip as a family and you don’t know what will be available at your destination. We packed 2 travel cribs, 2 strollers, 1 laptop bag, 1 purse and 2 diaper bags. These were our carry-on items on top of our 2 luggage bags.
Imagine getting all these items through the security check point with twins in tow. Sounds pretty painful right? Now imagine carrying a 22lb toddler with one arm while holding a travel crib, a diaper bag and a purse with the other, then putting everything away within the tight confines of the plane, still holding on to your child knowing there is a line of people behind you waiting to get by. That, my friends is the stuff of nightmares. Trust me, you don’t want to put yourselves through that, travel light.
All these items we brought? We only used half of them. Those travel cribs sat unused in the corner of our room. We were too lazy to set them up and the resort offered free ones. We thought bringing travel cribs would help our twins feel ‘at home’ while in a new environment. Turns out they were more adaptable than we gave them credit. If anything, they found the resort cribs fun and exciting since it was new to them. The proof is in the pudding:
Our 2 diaper bags were filled with unnecessary items. We followed all these tips about bringing new toys and books to keep kids entertained during the flight. Turns out our twins were more interested in their surroundings. The new toys and books lost their luster within a few minutes. When Twinkies got cranky, sleep or videos are what kept them happy. The only new items that came in handy were the kids headphones our twins used to listen to their videos.
3. Separate seating while flying
Pull out that boob if you have to (If you are still nursing that is). Turns out when you have twins or two toddlers who will be flying on your lap, you can’t sit together as a family (even though we had paid for those seats) because there aren’t enough oxygen masks in a two seater row.
It’s hard enough to fly with overexcited toddlers using your lap as a trampoline, the last thing you need is to be separated from the one person who can help, your husband. Even so, when the kids got tired or cranky, they wanted mamma’s lap which meant we all needed to sit together. So yeah, pull out that boob and you will see how fast you get your own row. We did!
Said boob also came in handy to help our overtired twins fall asleep, and to provide comfort when they were sick on our flight back, but that’s a whole other topic.
4. Resort baby clubs
Those baby clubs that pose as toddler havens on inclusive resorts? Yeah try to avoid them, or at the very least hose your children down after each visit. While they may give parents a reprieve, these clubs can be a cesspool of germs.
Case in point: our twins contracted HFM (Hand Foot Mouth disease) as a result of playing in the baby club at our resort. The reason we know? A few other toddlers and babies who played there contracted the virus as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think all inclusive resorts are the way to go when vacationing with kids (this is another blog topic coming soon). What’s more, these baby clubs offer great entertainment for babies and toddlers. You just need to remember toddlers who still put everything in their mouth are more apt to get sick in environments like these. This brings me to my next point.
5. Forgetting medications
Thankfully we didn’t. In fact, I brought the whole pharmacy; the Tylenol, the Motrin, the bandages, the nose suckers, you name it, I packed it all! My little travel pharmacy came in handy when both twins got sick with HFM, and ended up with a 104 fever on the 4th day of our vacation. On the 5th day, ugly sores appeared on their legs which quickly spread to their arms, hands and eventually their face. We didn’t realize until later there were also sores inside their mouths and throats. It was not a pretty sight and it looked much worse on Ian whose sores were numerous and highly visible. My mother was convinced he had chicken pox.
We thought our twins would get fat eating at an all inclusive resort full of buffet options, ironically the opposite happened. Those internal sores made eating painful. We assumed at first our twins were eating less because they were teething, although I’m pretty sure that was the case as well. Needless to say, some dinners were a complete fiasco with both twins screaming their head off as we scrambled to wolf down our food and jet out of there to make the 15 minute trek back to our room.
6. A room far from everything
That’s right, our room was a hike away from all the restaurants, the pool, the beach. It was a good 15 minute walk each way. While it was good for exercise, it got old very quickly, especially in the 80 degree weather. It became a hindrance when our twins got sick and we had to hurry back to our room from whatever activity we were doing. Add hungry Twinkies to the mix and it was a disaster.
7. Forgetting home comforts and snacks
That doodoo or lovey, the sound machine, the wraps and the snacks from home. Do bring those. They will bring comfort and a sense of security when things go awry as they did when our twins got sick.
Our resort only offered overly sweetened cereal, flavored yogurt and fruit as snack options. Our twins got tired of eating the same snacks, not to mention the fact they weren’t healthy. Fruit which was the only healthy option didn’t do so well in the heat during transport back to the room.
8. Trusting the local doctor
The resort doctor confirmed our suspicions that the sores were a result of HFM disease. He proceeded to tell us we should get paperwork from a pediatrician to clear us for plane travel or risk getting kicked out since HFM looked like a highly contagious disease. He could not give us that clearance since he was a general practitioner but assured us he would arrange an appointment with the local pediatrician and setup transportation for us.
We ended up riding a white van with the words ‘Ambulancia’ listed on the side. We thought that was odd but didn’t think too much of it.
9. Uncomfortable situations
The van that posed as an ambulance took us to the emergency lobby of an hospital located in Playa del carmen, 30 minutes away from the resort. We assumed at first this was where the pediatrician had his practice. We were given paperwork to fill out, and after 30 minutes of struggling to do so while holding a fidgety sick crying toddler, we were told there would be a charge of $700 per child to be admitted. That’s right, you read right, 700 dollars not pesos.
I couldn’t believe it! They had waited until we completed all the forms to give us that pertinent fact? We would have to shell out $1400 in order to be seen by a regular doctor (again) to be referred to a pediatrician who could then confirm the diagnosis we already knew? I pretty much lost my shit. I was so angry, I think I cursed in all languages and let’s just say my Spanish was on point that day.
10. Giving away your private or insurance information
The minute I found out they would charge us $1400 essentially to get a piece of paper to clear us for plane travel, my gut screamed ‘GET OUT.’ In no uncertain terms I told them this was bullshit and I wanted the paperwork back with all of our information. They refused and told us it was procedure, and we were told our joke of an ambulance ride would be free.
That information we regretfully provided? They used it against us. A month ago we started receiving invoices for said ‘free ambulance’ asking for $1233 per child even though they rode in the same van and they received no emergency services of any kind.
Can we say scam anyone?
Turns out we didn’t need any paperwork to travel. No one stopped us from boarding our plane or any such nonsense. We could have avoided wasting the last day of our vacation chasing travel clearance when we didn’t one.
Don’t let this account scare you into avoiding ‘tropical’ destinations with your toddlers. Instead, use our tips to ensure disaster doesn’t happen to you. Despite all of these disasters, we enjoyed the first 3 days of our vacation, and the rest was still enjoyable even if it was challenging at times.
We made new memories and learned from our experience. We exposed our twins to new sights and sounds, and they managed to have fun even while they were sick. That’s the beauty of kids, they can adapt to any situation, and so can you.
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