We've all got a dream holiday vacation on our wish list. You know, the kind that requires a long flight, a helicopter ride, a boat journey...or maybe even all three. But now that you've got kids in the picture, your dream holiday vacation is out of the picture, right? It doesn't have to be! In fact, it might actually be better now that you've got a whole brood to enjoy it with.
Of course, if you're heading out on an adventure with your kids, you're going to need the right gear. So we've partnered with global mobility brand, Bugaboo, to share how some modern parents make it work when they're on the move during the holiday season…and how they're creating some new holiday traditions along the way.
Toronto blogger Ana-Maria Klizs of Bluebird Kisses is a pro when it comes to traveling with her three young boys, Johannes (6), Magnus (3) and Henrik (8 months). She makes destinations like Amsterdam, Spain and the Caribbean look positively family-friendly, and inspires us not to give up on that dream vacation just because we've got kids. Recently, she traveled to St. Lucia with the limited-edition Bugaboo Bee5 Tone, and now she's sharing her best tips on achieving your dream vacation with kids.
What are holidays typically like for you and your family?
Family traditions are really important to me, and I think the best place to make those memories is in our own space, so for the big days, we stick close to home. I love to decorate and cook. But every year, just before the craziness hits, we usually book a trip somewhere fun and relaxing, so we can enjoy being together and making those kinds of memories as well.
So many of us spend our holidays with family obligations...why is taking a vacation with your immediate family during the holidays so special?
Holidays are hectic and full of obligations so it's nice to reset, get away from real life, and enjoy a bit of downtime for just us. Not that travelling with kids is easy, because it's not, but the memories we'll all have are priceless.
Why has St. Lucia been on your dream vacation list?
St Lucia has been on the top of my travel list for many years. The rainforest, the untouched beaches -- it always sounded romantic to me. And then we adopted our puppy Maddie, just before we got pregnant with Henrik, and she was from St. Lucia. As the boys and I learned more about where Maddie came from, we decided we'd like to visit. So, in a way, our dog helped us pick our destination!
Can you share some of your best travel tips with kids?
I could probably write an entire novel on tips, but the most important ones for me are:
1. Pack snacks, iPads, and headphones for the older kids.
2. Pack a bottle of breastmilk or formula for the little ones, even if you're normally breastfeeding, because they may be too distracted to nurse.
3. Expect that the trip will be chaotic, and if it isn't, you'll be pleasantly surprised. For the most part, our kids have been relatively well-behaved on flights, but they've also had their share of meltdowns, especially on late night or delayed flights.
4. Invest in gear that makes it easier to travel. We love our Bugaboo Bee5 for the road. The ease of folding it and opening it up is wonderful. We also use the Bugaboo Compact Transport Bag, which we put our stroller in before gate check to protect it on our flight. It even folds into a tiny pouch for easy storage.
How did you explore St. Lucia with three kids in tow?
We didn't get to explore the island quite as much as we would have liked. Henrik is pretty small still and needs a routine. So we mainly hung out by the pool. Though one day we chartered a boat to take us out to explore the Caribbean coast of St. Lucia.
The Bugaboo Bee5 Tone was a dream stroller for this vacation. It has all the features we needed, like a fully reclining seat for when the baby wanted to sleep, an adjustable handle bar for my very tall husband, and an extendable sun canopy which really protected Henrik from the tropical rays. The Bee5 is also easy to navigate anywhere, from strolling through the tiny St. Lucia airport to pushing it around the resort.
Any kid-friendly decisions you made during this vacation that made it even dreamier?
We decided to forego the 2-hour drive from the airport to the resort and take a helicopter instead. It was one of the best decisions we made. Not only was the transfer fast, but we were able to see this gorgeous island from a completely different perspective. The boys had a blast!
How does the right gear help create a smooth transition for you and the kids when you're traveling?
Henrik is only 8 months, so he's not yet walking. Having our Bugaboo stroller with us was a blessing. It was where Henrik slept and played, and it helped us stay mobile without having to always carry him...he is quite the little chunker, and I don't work out enough! Henrik is used to his stroller at home, so having it with us also helped him feel more secure, knowing it was his space.
What are your fave Bugaboo accessories for traveling?
The Bugaboo Compact Transport Bag is key for making sure that our stroller doesn't get damaged in transit, and allows us to roll it through the airport easily when we're not using it. I also love the Bugaboo Comfort Wheeled Board with a seat for Magnus. Although Magnus is a pretty big guy, he's only three and gets tired easily. With the wheeled board, he can sit down and rest. Or, when he has a little more energy, he can stand on the board, which feels like a cool ride! It also helps me keep the kids together if we're in a crowded space, like the security-check line.
Why is it so important to start new family traditions when you've got kids?
We all have nostalgic moments thinking back to our childhoods, whether it's vacationing with our parents or baking cookies around the holidays. I want my kids to have those feelings when they grow up, and I hope that they'll remember childhood as being full of adventures. St. Lucia was for sure a fun adventure for all of us...and hopefully not the last dream vacation we take!
*The Bugaboo Bee5 is the ultimate customizable stroller. There are more than 700 possible design combinations with the ability to select colors for the seat fabric, sun canopy, stroller chassis, wheel caps, and faux leather handlebar grips, making it easy for parents to customize the look of their stroller. The Bugaboo Bee5 Tone is a chic limited-edition design, featuring a taupe wax-coated sun canopy with lavender blue lining and matching wheel caps.
Shop a few of our fave Bugaboo Bee5 combos and accessories below.