We survived our first beach vacation with the twins…and now I need another one to recover from it. No. Joke. We went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with both of our families, two weeks, two different houses with a hotel stay in between. We didn’t initially plan that long of a vacation but last minute time off popped up for my brother, so we booked a beach house with my family the week before our vacation week with Charlie’s family, only they didn’t overlap so we ended up in limbo in between. One thing we’ve learned over the past 7 months is how resilient these girls are. They did amazing in all the transition (except for some sleeping issues, of course). I’m pretty proud of our girls!
We heard from many people that driving at night, leaving at their bedtime, works great, so we tried it and it went perfect. They passed out immediately and we didn’t hear a peep, not even when we transferred them to their pack n plays when we got to the beach house. We started in Buxton, NC which is a fishing town near Hatteras. The house was right on the sound with beautiful views, and beach was a few minutes drive. We were able to pull right up to the beach to unload, which was really nice. The preparation (suits, sunscreen, packing, loading), set up (chairs, blankets, tents, umbrellas, pool, toys), and recovery (try nursing two upset, sandy, sweaty, hot, sticky, wet babies while you’re also all of the above) takes much longer than our actual time on the beach but it was fun. We only made it down there twice in Buxton, once for a short 20-30 minutes and another for about 1.5 hours. We allllllmost got them asleep on the beach until a huge gust of wind took out the beach tent they were laying in and covered them with sand. Beach time over.
After a few nights in Buxton, we checked out of the house in the morning and had basically an entire day to kill before we could check into our hotel for the night. We made the most of it and visited some tourist sites, took the girls to our favorite restaurant (talk about a spectacle), and did a lot of driving around for nap times. It was interesting staying in a hotel with them. We put them to “bed” and had to actually walk out of the hotel room at 6pm. We had dinner on the patio of our room and called it an early night.
The next day was the same thing…check out in the morning, kill time until checking in at the next house. I have to say, the girls did amazing with all of the time in the car. The only time they really fussed was the last 20 minutes on the way to the house when we were stuck in traffic, and that’s because it was feeding time.
We spent 5 nights in Duck, NC with Charlie’s family and the view from the place was amazing. The house was on a hill so you could see both the sound and the ocean from one big room on the top level. The house also had a brand new pool with a cabana- perfect for us. We spent a lot more time at the pool than the beach, really only bringing the babies to the beach for sunrise (hey, gotta make the most of early rising babies). It was a pretty hot week and with the pool being right outside, it was just so much easier setting up there than bringing everything down to the beach. The girls love the water, and even just hanging out under the cabana. Anything outside these girls are game for and I love it.
We made the trip home at night like on the way down, and the girls did great once again. I was ready to be back at home, on normal sleeping schedules (or getting there at least). Also, after 10 days of living in big houses with lots of stairs…it makes me even happier to live in a small house with everything and everyone close by. I’d say our first beach trip as a family was successful, but I learned a few things along the way.
- We probably won’t be taking the girls out to dinner until they’re 10, even if it is a loud, casual, quick lunch. Not worth the headache.
- Hotels are great when they were 7 weeks old, a little trickier when they’re 7 months old.
- Driving at bedtime is the way to go.
- Pack strategically- I had a bag for almost everything which made things easier for us. I had a nighttime bag, a bag for diapers etc, clothing bag, swimsuit/beach bag, toy bag, pumping/nursing bag, bath bag, solid foods bag…etc. Keeping everything sorted and organized helped tremendously when moving from place to place as well as finding things among everything you bring on vacation for babies!
- Don’t expect to get any sleep on vacation. The girls were thrown off from day one being in a new environment and didn’t sleep well at all during the night, so I spent just about every nap time catching zzzzs myself.
- Beaches and babies are not the best combination, but worth doing in small doses.
- Get a house with a pool, if not for the kids when the beach is too much to take on, for you during naps so you don’t feel home bound while everyone is at the beach.
- Bring big blankets to block light from windows in your bedroom. We brought black trash bags which helped for nap and bed time when it’s really bright out, but a big blanket worked better. Also- swaddle blankets over the sides of their pack n plays worked great for blocking them from seeing us in the room as well as each other. Great tip from my friend Jennifer!
- Set low expectations for what you can do. I think we did this right, we were looking to get away with family and just enjoy time together. If we had gone into our vacation expecting an actual vacation…like relaxing, dinners out, cocktails, and sleeping in…we would have been very disappointed.
- Set expectations with family or guests you’re staying with. Being the only ones in both of our families with kids, I can imagine it was a tough adjustment for everyone else who are not used to living with babies 24/7. They cry, sometimes for no reason, and they sleep only when they want to, so it was kind of rough trying to cater to the babies but also try to not ruin everyone else’s time/sleep.
All in all, a great time! Any other tips you’d add for vacationing with little ones?