As promised, here’s a quick glimpse at our family vacation to Sarasota! I started writing this while we were there, but got too busy having fun to finish it up. Vacation was awesome but it’s also good to be home. Mark and I definitely feel rested and ready for the busy spring ahead! For this vacation, we made a couple changes to our usual travel strategy, and we’re never looking back. Any guesses what they are?
The biggest thing we did differently was to go away for a longer stretch.
Traveling with little kids is exhausting, and when we used to go to Florida for one week at a time, it always felt even shorter because the travel days took so much out of us. We also were being cheap. Georgia’s daycare gives tuition credit for just one week of vacation at a time (which I know is more generous than most) so we planned our trip around that restriction. Also? Mark, being self-employed, doesn’t get paid vacation time, so every time we go away it’s to the detriment of his income.
However, we realized that we simply don’t feel very relaxed after those short trips, and what’s the point of vacationing if you return feeling depleted? So, we stretched it out this time, and I’m never, ever, EVER going back to the old way. I might even try leaving for two weeks next time, if we can manage it, even though that likely means eating even more preschool tuition.
The other thing we changed, because we had no choice, was to buy Georgia her own seat on the airplane. She did so much better and we were so much less frazzled! In hindsight, we should have done this when she was 18 months old, if not younger. Sure, it’s expensive, but by now she’s old enough to survive a connecting flight, which is loads cheaper than going direct — so we saved a ton of money that way, and actually ended up paying the same for all three of us as we did to fly direct last time with her on our lap. G was able to eat, play, read and stretch out so much more easily on the plane, and we could actually sit back for a minute instead of wrestling with her for three hours straight. We fly frequently, so I don’t know why it took us so long to figure this one out, but I’m going to tell all my friends from here on out!
The other tip I’d share: instead of having both parents “on duty” for the entire flight, it’s much less stressful to trade off and let one person read for a bit while the other one entertains the little one. We were much less drained after doing it this way, and we each got to read a magazine or book on one leg of the journey. Obviously this gets harder the more the child-parent ratio tips out of your favor, but for us it was a lifesaver.
We also invested in a new travel stroller that we LOVE. I know for some people the City Mini GT already is a “cheap alternative” to a luxury stroller, but that’s not our life and we treasure that thing. We can’t afford for anything to happen to it, because we truly rely on it for actual transportation every single day. It’s our all-terrain workhorse, and we want to make sure it’s still with us for our next adventure close to home!
Thankfully, a friend tipped us off to this amazing single stroller by Kolcraft, and it may be the best $50 I have ever spent. It has an extended UV sun canopy, two parent cup holders, a snack tray, a large basket underneath, two foot brakes, a one-hand fold that locks and stands up by itself, it’s under 10 pounds AND it fully reclines with a five-point harness. It also is comfortable for tall parents to operate and dries ultra fast in case of spills. While it will never replace our City Mini for long walks on trails, hills and cobblestones, it lives in our car for errands and outings, and I’ve already got big plans for it when we attempt to visit Disney next year.
So what else did we DO in Florida?
Well, no trip would be complete without a visit to our favorite Gulf beaches — Nokomis and Siesta Key, recently voted top in the country (for good reason!) — and to get some delicious food and ice cream. This year we had great dinners at Gold Rush BBQ in Venice, Casey Key Fish House in Osprey, and Siesta Key Oyster Bar. Our favorite ice cream place is Nokomis Groves but we also love The Soda Fountain and Ciao Gelato in Venice.
whose long legs are those??
On one of our last days in town, we took a water taxi from Casey Key around the Intracoastal Waterway and out to the Venice Jetty, where we watched dolphins jumping in and out of the ocean. It was amazing!
We also were lucky enough to get tickets to see the Red Sox playing at the Baltimore Orioles spring training park in Sarasota. Georgia lasted until the top of the 8th and it was so much fun! Beautiful facility, great food, nice breeze, and the Sox won 🙂 You have to plan pretty far in advance to get tickets, but they aren’t overly pricey (especially compared to Fenway Park!) and there are lots of places to cool off in the AC or run around with a toddler who doesn’t want to sit still in their seats any longer. We felt so lucky to do this day trip!
We had so much fun and can’t wait for our next family adventure. If you are making a trip to the Sarasota/Venice/Bradenton area, be sure to check out Bundle of Joy rentals for any baby and toddler gear! We rent a full-sized crib for just $25 per week from them, and they will deliver, assemble and dissemble it for you, plus provide a real mattress, sheets, bumpers if you use them, and any other supplies such as strollers, car seats (including installation), beach toys, bouncers, etc. that you need. It sure beats a pack n’ play or portable crib, and Georgia sleeps much better because of it. I can’t recommend them highly enough! Have a Happy St. Patty’s Day everyone!