Thursday, October 7, 2010

Have Kids, Will Road Trip

Healthy White
SPF 24
Vaseline came out with Vaseline Healthy White SPF24 Triple Lightening last summer along with the Vaseline Road Trip of a Lifetime contest. The lucky winner Trina Samaniego got to take friends along on a road trip to various vacation spots in the Philippines! Oh, lucky lucky kids!

At the time, I just gave birth to Olly so I was house-bound for quite some time already and raring to be out and about! Of course, I shouldn't be so I didn't. I know I'm no spring chicken and child birth is equivalent to any extreme sporting event on the planet. Recovery is as important as the before and main event, especially since my body would never be called athletic by even the most tactful person. Lolz :D

Anyhoo, the roadtrip thing really sent me dreaming as I rocked Olly to sleep, confined to our room. I mean, I always wanted to travel and before we had kids, RF and I tried to take every available opportunity to go where we haven't gone before. I always fantasized about having a map on the wall and throwing a dart with my eyes closed. Then we'd go where it landed. God forbid I hit RF accidentally with that dart! We'd have nowhere to go but the ER then!

Another fantasy of mine is to pack a bag with the basics, go to the bus station, pier or airport and play travel roulette there. Not with the dart of course! Maybe pick a random detail like a number or color then hop on the corresponding transportation or destination, wherever it may be! :) lolz, mystery location! Fun for adventurers everywhere!

Ah, such excitement! But alas, such games of chance are no longer mine to play :) I got a hubby, a toddy and a baby.

Nowadays, I have to research target locations, rate for child-friendliness, pack ten suitcases a week in advance, book pack donkeys, camels and sherpas and secure maps with every available CLEAN toilet and hospital known to mankind. And that's just for two days.

My vacations nowadays are the sort I need a vacation from AFTER we get home. The following are a few pictures and what I learned from our Bolinao Road Trip earlier this year taken with my mother's side of the family to celebrate our Lola Mommy's 80th birthday. We went to Puerto Del Sol a little after summer so there wasn't a crowd to contend with :)

1. Location, location!

Choosing where to go and spend more than a day at, is the first challenge. Ratings largely depend on the hotel or resort's child-friendliness: safety, food availability/variety/palatability, activities, accomodation comfort, cleanliness, convenience and proximity to emergency rooms and pharmacies.

Research is the key. Go online, ask around and if you can afford it, check it out yourself first before dragging everyone to a place you've never been to. It wouldn't be fun if you found out that the hype didn't match the reality. Be flexible though and have some room for adventure :)

L-R Oona, eating biscuits; Daddy RF;
Mommyluscious Laya;
and Ollypolly, caught in the middle of a yawn.
 2. Transportation

It's a huge relief if you got your own private vehicle. No worries about rushing to stick to a schedule that doesn't revolve around your kids. Imagine riding a bus, taking a potty break at a stop-over and coming out to find your bus gone. Or colic strikes and the rest of the passengers are ready to riot and throw you and screaming baby out the moving coaster.

Private vehicles and kids are the *lurve*.

Just be sure that when you're driving, you have ample supplies in the car, enough gas/gas money, toll gate cards/money/tickets, your driver's license, a good navigator, a map and a substitute driver. I drove for ten hours straight from Bolinao, Philippines to Manila, Philippines. My spirit was willing but my body was weak. I will *never* do that again. 

3. Budget

Do I need to say more? With kids, whatever budget you had for splurging is automatically rerouted for emergencies. Absolutely no splurging unless you have a buffer reserved for that. I wouldn't recommend buying too many keepsakes either as this would just eat up precious space in your bag, extra weight to lug around and added mess you don't need at home. Pictures, a seashell or a cute shirt for the kids would be fine. Oh, and help the local industry and buy local delicacies to eat and bring home. They would make great pasalubong instead of those overpriced "I was at *blank*" shirts that would most probably get worn just once in their lifetime :)

4. What To Bring

EVERYTHING INCLUDING THE POTTY! RF, my husband, always teases me that I'd take the kitchen sink and refrigerator if I could fit them into the car. I think he should pack his stuff himself next time and if he needs a toothbrush or an extra pair of fuzzy socks, he can just go sailing back home to get one. I'm not giving up mine or the kids' to warm his stinky toes.

Seriously, sometimes it's better to over pack a few things than have to trudge all the way to civilization to buy something you already have in the first place.

Basic needs first:

Kids: Diapers, Bottles, Formula Milk, Bottled Water, Snacks, Clothes (Climate appropriate but bring jacket with hood for emergencies), blankies, little pillows, maximum of 3 toys, bath wash, toothbrush, alcamforado, manzanilla, sunblock, swim shoes

Adults: Clothes, toothbrush, Vaseline Healthy White SPF 24, slippers

Towels and toiletries are provided for by the resort already so that takes off some weight from your luggage!

First Aid Kit should include:

Medicine for Kids and Adults: Antihistamines, Paracetamol, Anti-diarrhea, Rehydration salts, calamine lotion, sunburn lotion

Ethyl alcohol, betadine, band-aids, cotton, gauze, cotton tips, tweezers, swiss utility knife, medical scissors, thermometer (better to pack both digital and mercury type) and all pertinent medical records of the kids.

Emergency numbers: Pedia's name and numbers, Blood type, known allergies and taken medication.

Jollibee Play Area at Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac
Lunch Break/Play Break
5. What To Do

Stop-overs. Frequent stop-overs. So you take your journey in increments for food, stretching, potty stops and general boredom breaks for the active toddler.

On the road, you play "I Spy" games, sing songs, count cars and include the little ones in the conversation. Be curious, appreciative and excited about the whole journey and the kids will take their cue from you. 

Oona in her floater :)
When you get to where you're going, any SMALL CHILD-friendly activity will do. No hiking or para-sailing or bunjee-jumping yet! Wait til they're ten years old at least for the more adventurous and semi-life-threatening expeditions.

Child-friendly means railings to dissuade curious toddlers from running into the tides, a swimming pool with a lifeguard, wading pools and little mini teeny tiny water slides.

Oona, Mommyluscious
and cousin Dame
Go for PRIVATE resorts as opposed to the huge, heavily populated popular public resorts as the contaminants would spell disaster for your child's sensitive skin and expose them to infectuous bacteria and viruses. Think people pee. Spit. Snot. That UFO: Unidentified Floating Object. In the swimming pool. Gag much yet?

Private resorts make me worry less about germs and help me concentrate on having as much fun as I can.

Which brings me to...

Oona and Daddy having a moment by the sea :)
6. When To Go

When everyone else and their aunts are home. Then YOU go. The rates are lower because it's off-season and you get to monopolize the whole place and the staff. With kids, you need all the help, service and attention they're advertising and you're paying for. You're also not going to fear that your kids are going to get lost in the crowd and get picked up by child-traffickers (so you can forgo the GPS implants for now).

Travelling with the kids isn't really as horrible or as hassle-ridden as this post sounds. It just depends on what you're focusing on.

Olly and Daddy on the hammock!
When it's the adventure of it that you're enjoying, the wonder and excitement that you see in your kids' faces as they cross the threshold from familiar sights to the unfamiliar, and the joy you hear in their laughter over new discoveries, nothing can be too bothersome for you.

Sweet Daddy and Olly
It's really the memories that matter. And as long as you PREPARE, you have nothing to worry about. All you would have to do is kick back and let the children you brought into this world show YOU how wonderful every little thing is :)