How to Enjoy Vacation with a Toddler + Miami Recap

Am I the only one who feels like winter will never end?! After months of enduring freezing temps and weekly forecasts with snow in them, Michael and I decided to plan a little getaway in sunny Miami! It was so nice to have a change of scenery and escape winter for a few days. It was our first flight with Adina in almost a year and our first beach trip with her since she learned to walk, so it was pretty different than traveling with a baby. I must admit, I was skeptical if Michael and I would be able to relax or enjoy our vacation since we were traveling with a 16-month-old. But we managed to have some much-needed downtime and really recharged our batteries. Keep reading to see pictures and highlights from the trip and to read my tips for enjoying yourself on vacation with a toddler!


1. Airport + Flight tips:

I’m not going to go into too much detail about flying with a baby, since you can read my post on tips traveling with a baby here. But we did a few things that helped the whole airport and flying process go pretty smoothly:

Avoid Checking Bags: We did a few things ahead of time that allowed us to just bring two pieces of carry-on luggage. First, we packed travel sizes of our toiletries and knew we could rely on the hotel to provide some essentials (like shampoos and body wash etc.). We also stopped on our way from the airport in Florida (we had a rental car) and bought adult and child sunscreen since we knew we’d need a lot of it. It turned out that our hotel also had sunscreen (of all different SPFs) available by the beach and pool, but it was still convenient to have our own.

Schedule Flight around Sleep Times: I wrote about this in this post and it really helped us on this trip. Our flight to Florida was in the morning during Adina’s usual nap time and our flight home was at night during her bedtime. Although she didn’t sleep much on the flight home, the late takeoff time meant that the lights on the plane were kept low and Adina was in a pretty sleepy, chill mood for most of the flight. Since Adina was riding as a lap infant (most airlines allow this for children under age two), she didn't have her own seat on the flight. Before we boarded, we asked the crew members if the flight was not completely full, if it would be possible to seat us in a row with an extra seat. They were very accommodating (we flew Delta) and granted our request. It was so nice having some extra space for her to sleep on that flight. On our return flight back to NY, it was completely full, so Adina just sat in our laps the whole time. Needless to say, none of us got much sleep on that leg of the trip. But the lesson here is that it never hurts to ask!

Screen time for Plane or Downtime: Although I brought a bunch of new toys and books with us for the flight, I also wanted to have back up entertainment if we needed it. I downloaded a few children’s games and videos onto my iPad for the flight. The plane also had some Disney videos and children’s movies. (Pro-tip: If you’re hoping to watch any of the in-flight entertainment options with your toddler, I recommend bringing your own "old school" headphones for them that will plug into the plane. My iPhone 7 headphones and Michael's bluetooth headphones didn’t plug into the plane so they were pretty useless. We bought ones on the flight for $2 but they were the earbud kind, not the over-the-ear kind, so Adina didn’t want to put them in her ears.)


2. Sleep Tips

If you’re sharing a room with your baby, sleep can be tricky. We opted not to bring a travel crib with us (since we didn’t want to check any luggage) and just requested a crib from the hotel. I made sure to bring my own crib sheet with us. Adina actually napped even better on vacation than she does at home! All of the pool and beach time in the sun must have worn her out! Plus the black-out curtains in our hotel room made it extra dark. She still takes two naps a day so Michael and I took turns on “nap duty” to give each other breaks. One day I went to the spa while Michael was on “nap duty” and he got to enjoy reading solo on the beach, while sipping a pina colada when it was my turn. We also tried to shift nap times a little bit for a slightly later bedtime, so we wouldn’t be stuck in the hotel room from 7 pm on.

I know some hotels offer babysitting services, which you could consider for after your children are asleep, which is a great option if you want to go out later. We didn’t do this on this trip, as were fine with early nights (especially waking up in the same room as our early riser) but we did consider using a baby monitor in case we wanted to leave the room after Adina went to sleep. The idea was to set up a baby monitor (or FaceTime each other) in the room and enjoy a meal or an after-dinner drink in one of the hotel restaurants. If Adina did wake up (which she usually doesn’t once she’s in a deep sleep) we would only be a couple of floors below her and could easily go back up to the room to take care of her. I know not everyone may feel comfortable with that system, but it is worth considering if you want some adult alone time after baby bedtime. Like I mentioned, we did not end up doing that plan once we were in Miami. I was asleep by 9 every night on vacation and it was actually really nice. I just read quietly in bed or hung out on the balcony for an hour or two after Adina went to sleep.  


3. Request a Room with Extra Space

If you’re able to request a suite or a room with some extra space or even a long hallway or separate reading nook, that can help a lot! We just had a standard size hotel room so the crib was right next to our bed. Luckily, our room had a balcony, which was perfect. It allowed us to go outside during naps to read or talk to each other and a place to go after Adina’s bedtime so we didn’t have to worry about making too much noise and waking up our sleeping toddler,  just a couple of feet away. Plus it made for the perfect place to watch the stunning sunrise views over the ocean!


4. Family Meals

One of our favorite things about vacation is eating out at new restaurants since we mostly cook during the week at home. When we’re home, we often make Adina her own meal first and then eat later. On this trip, we all adjusted our schedule a little bit to enjoy meals as a family. That meant eating dinner earlier than Michael and I normally would (although I must say I could get used to the early bird dinner) but we still got to go out and have some great meals. One day we went into South Beach and ate at Joe’s Stone Crab. I guess it’s not uncommon to go out to dinner at 5:30 pm in Florida, because the place was packed! We also went out to dinner at our hotel and at a local restaurant in Key Biscayne. It may take some extra planning and willingness to adjust your normal schedule, but you don’t have to sacrifice eating well just because you’re traveling with your toddler.  


5. Request a Mini Fridge

If your toddler is anything like mine, she loves to snack! We brought snacks with us on the plane and did a shopping trip when we first arrived to get some more food for our trip. We picked up fruit, yogurt, hummus, cheese and some other snacks for Adina. Plus some beer for Michael ;). Ask your hotel for a mini fridge so you can enjoy your snacks throughout the trip. We brought them to the pool and beach with us to much on in between meals and for car rides to and from the airport. It felt great to not rely on the hotel for food or be constantly on the lookout of snack options while we were out.

Trip Recap

We stayed at The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, a tropical oasis about a 20 minutes from Miami International Airport and a half hour from downtown Miami. We loved the hotel! It was right on the beach and it was SUPER kid friendly!! They gave us a cute kiddie tote bag at check-in with some rubber ducky toys, an inflatable beach ball, and some kiddy bath products. There’s also a Ritz Kids club but Adina is still too young so we didn’t use it. It looked so cute though with all kinds of daily activities. The pool is also great for kids - it starts super shallow so they can walk right in - Adina absolutely LOVED it! She was practically jumping into the pool and running into the ocean - good thing Michael was there to keep up with her! One of my trip highlights had to be playing and splashing in the ocean with her and listening to her laugh and smile every time we jumped the waves. There are pool and beach toys for kids at the cabana where you get your towels. Also once we got there, we learned that kids under two eat for free! They have a great kids menu so we got breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Adina at no cost (make sure to confirm with them.) We even ordered breakfast to the room through room service a couple of days. I told Adina she better not get used to having breakfast in bed!

We traveled during the first week of March and the weather was lovely. It was in the low-mid 70s and sunny most days. Ironically, the hotel staff were in sweatshirts (Miami winters) but we were happy in our swimsuits. We ended up choosing a good week to leave NY because there was a nor’easter storm while we were gone. Although we spent most of our days by the beach and by the pool, we took a trip into South Beach one evening and spent our last day in the Wynwood Art District. It was so much fun to see all of the murals and explore the Wynwood Walls. We grabbed a bite a Zak the Baker and popped in and out of art galleries before we had to return our rental car and go to the airport.

This was our first vacation with an active toddler and we all had a great time. While it is certainly different than the traveling we did before kids, Michael and I both had the opportunity to recharge our batteries and come back home refreshed. And as cheesy as it sounds, the best part was seeing the world through Adina’s eyes. She may not even remember this vacation, but Michael and I will cherish the memories we made with her for years to come.

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