If you just want to skip to the tips… they’re at the end. If you want to read a bit about our first blended family vacation experience… keep reading! xo
Writing for multiple blogs and working in marketing, has allowed me to accept some really amazing opportunities. Most recently, I was invited for the second time to Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos for a conference called Social Media on the Sand. This year would be different though. Last year, I was in a new relationship with someone I really saw a future with. And now… we’re a blended family. We bought a house and moved in. My kids love him. His dog loves us. We’re complete.
This trip was our first vacation together as a family. We both were nervous, but it turns out, there wasn’t really anything to be nervous about. PJ and I sat on the aisle seats with a girl in each middle seat beside us. Sharing the parenting responsibilities was really helpful. It was nice to know I could count on him to make sure she was comfortable, hydrated, and entertained- while I managed the other one. One the way home- we switched kids. This was key. Everyone wants to sit next to Mommy at some point. This made it fair.
The conference was amazing. I learned a few new things I could do to better market myself and made some new connections. While I was off conferencing… PJ got some time with the kids by himself. He was nervous, but excited to be able to start really building a bond with them. They played on the beach, swam, had some meals together, and he even managed the drop off and pick up to the Kid’s Camp one day. I am so proud of him. And not just proud of him, but proud of the girls. My heart is so full knowing that they trust my judgement in choosing PJ as my partner. If I like him. They would like him too. Not all families are so lucky, but being open and honest with my children and speaking to them plainly, has really helped in our trust and communication.
During the conference, I was asked if I wanted to help in testing out a new printing beta program with HP. This was such an awesome experience! We were able to print photos right to a printer in our room by posting a photo to Instagram and using a personalized hashtag. This technology blows my mind. Just like magic… all of our family vacation photos were waiting for us on the printer when we returned from a full day of play! Capturing these moments was another important part of solidifying the bond we were building as a newly blended family.
Our vacation including travel time, was a week long. I really recommend an extended trip like this and I also recommend taking time to be with the children each on your own, as well as all together. One day, I took the girls snorkeling on a boat tour, while PJ had a couple of spa treatments. Afterwards, we came back together as a family for a meal. This reinforced that I was still making time just for them.
Let me share a little bit about the resort. We paid for our flights and for conference badges. Part of the conference experience was our room and the resort is all-inclusive, so the food and activities were included. The Beaches staff is amazing. They go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is unforgettable. Even down to the smallest detail. Have food allergies? Simply note it on your reservation and every server at the 19+ restaurants know about it. They warn you about ingredients in certain dishes and make suggestions for you. Want to try a new tropical drink? The bartenders at each bar have a specialty of their own. Want to try a fresh coconut? Talk to one of the groundskeepers. They’ll cut one down for you! Really!
Then there’s the room. We were booked in the Italian Village. It was a two room sweet with a shared bathroom. The kids had a bunk bed in their room, which they quickly settled into. We had a lovely space with a large bed and a pool view from the patio balcony. The mini bar was stocked daily (free as part of the all-inclusiveness). And our beds were turned down for us each evening. What a special touch!
The best part for families, besides the food being included, are the activities. The resort has a plethora of free things to do! From snorkeling equipment rental, to kayaking, to sailing… they have it all. If water sports aren’t your thing… there are sand toys too and various games on the lawn, like giant chess/checkers and boche ball. And don’t forget the pools! The girls found that the pool at the Italian Village, which is the main pool, had water toys and floats for everyone to play with.
I couldn’t have planned a better first family vacation than this. There was no fighting. There was no boredom. Everyone’s favorite foods were found. New adventures were had. This is a vacation worth saving up for. I can’t imagine vacationing like this without being at a Beaches Resort. We’re already talking about trying Jamaica next year. We’re golfers, you see, and there’s a course at that resort!
I’m sorry this got long, but so much went into making this trip a success!
Blended Family Travel Tips (Or Any Family):
1. Travel in comfort.
This includes: travel pillows and blankets, entertainment, and snacks.
2. Dress for the flight, not the destination weather.
I always dress my kids in sweatpants, a tank top, and a hoodie. No matter the weather, they’re comfortable in layers and warm on the cold plane.
3. Spring for a comfortable room.
If you’re on a budget, you can get a single room and save. But I found that having our own spaces kept us argument free. It also allowed me to keep us on our sleep schedule, even with a 3 hour time difference.
4. Take pictures!
This is a really big deal when you’re on your first big trip. The memories will last a lifetime.
5. Make time together. Make time apart.
Spend some time together, but not every waking moment. Show the kids that you are willing to make time just for them and allow your partner alone time with the kids to bond.
6. Try new things.
I credit our family’s spirit of adventure to keeping us close and argument free. Instead of struggling at mealtime, we encouraged them to try something new. This is especially easy at an all-inclusive resort like Beaches. The same goes for activities. Make some compromises so that everyone gets to do what’s on their list.
Feel free to tweet at me if you have any questions I didn’t cover here. I’m happy to help! And check out some of our pictures on Instagram. You can find me @kellyloubet on both or just click the links. xo