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Our First Family Vacation: Mexico

I remember the first vacation we took with my daughter. She was 15 months old, walking and climbing with no capacity to sit still. She also had no teeth yet and no interest in mushy baby food.

I wondered how I would get through a nearly five-hour plane ride to Mexico with her squirming on my lap and I worried about how I easily I would find food that I trusted that she would eat. I packed my suitcase with cereal bars, Cheerios and microwaveable mac & cheese while my husband rolled his eyes at me.

Before Tiny Traveler came along my husband and I were intrepid. We’d driven from Mexico City to Acapulco in a VW Bug that had neither radio nor air conditioner (a very bad idea). We’d kayaked in Vietnam, trekked in Spain, toured ruins in Cambodia, snorkled in the Galapagos and even climbed a volcano in the pitch dark in Bali. We were determined to start traveling again as soon as we could with our wriggly new carry-on in tow. But like a lot of parents, we weren’t sure where or how to begin.

mexico-beach-playingThe Yucatan, it turns out, was a good place, and TT was a trooper. She insisted on not being carried around the eco-park we visited, and instead scrambled all over, climbing on every boulder and examining every leaf and twig she found. She napped in the stroller while we ate lunch at a seaside restaurant. She gamely devoured the baby bananas we bought in the markets and the fresh guacamole we found everywhere. She found kids to play with at the beach.

On the other hand, she would only nap while we walked on the beach with her in the Baby Bjorn or on the street with her in the stroller—definitely not in her crib. She climbed out of every rickety high chair (the only kind they have) that we put her in, and of course smeared my clothes with samples of everything we ate.

The high point was a “date” dinner with my husband while the in-laws watched the sleeping tot. The low point was a particularly hectic lunch where my MIL tried to place a bowl of hot soup in front my husband just as he was settling a tired, overactive toddler on his lap (which is also where the soup wound up).

But on balance we had a good time and learned a few things:

  • We won’t use the words relaxing and vacation in the same sentence for a while.
  • Beach reading is out; reading after the toddler goes to bed at 8:00 is in.
  • Sticking to your usual schedule, give or take an hour, really does help.
  • Kids are curious and resilient if you allow them to be.
  • Three restaurant meals a day is two too many.
  • Pack a lot of extra clothes and Tide pens
  • The snacks you pack will come in handy.

Most of all, we learned that each time you travel, your kid is a little bit bigger and you’re a little more experienced. It does get easier.

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