How to Survive Winter Vacation with the Kids

Eli watching vacation sunriseWho said parenting means the end of exotic vacations filled with debauchery?

We’re wrapping up a seven-day trip to Mexico, one complete with late-late nights, skin-baring adventures and plenty of outrageous banter. As soon as our boys wrap their nightly bath they demand an “underwear party” where they tell poop jokes and stay up well past their bed times.

It’s still a great way to recharge after freezing temperatures and endless work deadlines. For parents about to embark on a well-deserved winter break, consider the following tips before stepping foot on the plane:

  • Bring the Parents: We’re on vacation with parents who have children roughly the same age as our sons, a decision which gives our kids play partners for the entire trip. Yes, the sound level is double what it would have been, but having them romp around the rented condo is giving the parents time to read dog-eared books and snuggle while watching the sunrise.
  • Travel in Packs: Not only are we vacationing with fellow parents, we’re also joined by three uncles, two aunts, a cousin and a good friend. That means more hands to wash dishes, cook meals, watch the kids, go grocery shopping, etc.  The parents got one good date night each and we could split up so people weren’t stuck doing an activity they didn’t want to do. The downside? More potential conflicts, but that chance decreases if you pick vacation partners who excel at peaceful solutions.
  • Money Changes Everything: It’s not enough to know what kind of money you’ll be using on vacation. Research the exchange rates as well as the best places to make said exchanges and which methods give you more bank for your peso. Also check with your bank and credit card before going to see what their policies are regarding money exchanges, purchases and penalties.
  • Lift the Bribery Ban: Parents may avoid bribing their kids back at home. On vacation, we bribed our boys to go to bed without fussing and fighting, and it worked beautifully. We won’t pay them for doing the same back in our house, but given how hard it is to get our children to sleep on vacation the bribery gambit was worth it.
  • Always Have a Plan B: Our boys adored snorkeling during our 2013 trip to Hawaii. This time around, Eli wanted no part of snorkeling in Mexico’s teal-blue waters. Of course we didn’t learn this until we were on a snorkeling boat ready to jump into the water. Luckily, we discussed the possibility with our boat’s “Capitan” and made sure Eli would be cared for if his parents snorkeled as planned.
  • Free Isn’t a Four-Letter Word (well, it is, but let me explain): Yes, we splurged on the aforementioned snorkeling trip as well as a dolphin-petting session. The boys were just as happy making sand castles on the free beach. Children aren’t counting dollars, nor do they “need” every bonus package on a vacation plan. They’re kids and can make fun wherever they are, especially on a beach.


  1. says

    I’m the only parent in the world who has a child who says “Mom, isn’t it time for you to put me to bed?”. Yep that was the question in Europe when he was five. Although, now, at 15, we don’t “put him to bed” anymore, but he still reminds us it’s time for bed, asks when everyone is going to settle in for the night and when can we call it “lights out”? Never thought to bribe him to stay up late!

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