Welcome to our young family vacation blog!

Does Vacation + Families with young children = STRESS???

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of the experience.”

— Francis Bacon

The thought of traveling with young kids is stressful! And it can be! In an effort to encourage more families with young children to go on vacation, we have decided to start this blog:)

This is the first post on our new blog. We are just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more.

We will be sharing what we have learned, tips and tricks from our research, and even some tools to help you decide, plan, and enjoy being on vacation with your family!

Next blog we are going to talk about deciding to go on vacation as a family.

Please feel free to share with us your experiences and tell us what you think about traveling with your young children 🙂

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Our experience of our Cancun All-inclusive resort

Now Emerald Cancun beach view

Now that we’ve actually been to Cancun, I can actually tell you that it’s literally a strip of hotels.

Cancun map

The strip where it says ‘Hotel Zone’ is where all the hotel lines up.
Most hotels have a beach view, while some have both lagoon and beach views.
Some of the hotels are more elaborate, and have water park within the hotel.

So it really depends on what you are looking for!

For us, we were looking for an all-inclusive resort where we would mainly chill at the pool and the beach as a family. So what we were looking for is very specific.
As for our experience with Now Emerald Cancun, it was decent.

  • Food – They had 5 restaurants: A buffet that is more casual, a Pan-Asian restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and a fancy adult only restaurant. There’s also 24/7 room service.
    • Note: Restaurant hours are pretty limited, so it was a little hard to accommodate for younger children who eat earlier than normal hours
    • Note: There are dress codes for most restaurant besides the buffet. So make sure check on those as well to bring some along.
  • Accommodation – rooms are decent, room service several times a day.
    • Note: All-inclusive resorts are also attractive for young party goers, so there could be late night folks walking around kinda tipsy and loud at night
  • Beach – there are bench chairs for hotel goers, and service from hotel at all times
    • Note: Water can be rough at most of the coastline and beach section is kind of narrow.
  • Pool – There’s a tier of family pool, another tier of regular pool, and third tier of pool to wash off sand from the beach.
    • Note: Family pool water can be chilly because of the sun shade
  • Kids club – They have an Explorer club that starts from 9am – 8:30pm for kids 3 years old and up. There’s a specific area where they have a kids pool section and an indoor area. They do indoor activities, go to the beach, play beach soccer, pool time, feed the kids and even have movie night for them.
    • Note: Kids that we saw who enjoyed the Explorer club were some older kids, age ranging from 7 – 14 years old.
  • Activities – There’s a daily schedule that is sent out to guest everyday informing activities that will happen
    • Note: These activities can be quiet loud and happen in the pool area. Good thing, is the windows are very well sound proofed.
    • Note: Travel agent and the hotel would push and try to get you to go explore beyond the hotel. These additional day trips can add up and cost a lot. So really think about what you want to do, and if all-inclusive is the best deal for you.
      We did go out of the hotel for 2 mornings since it was too cold to be by the pool.
      We took a bus and did a submarine trip (which got my husband who has bad seasick really worried about himself), and went to La Isla mall for a walk. We spent the bulk of our time at the pool and beach.
2 hours Submarine experience looking at corals and fishes

Overall, we think it’s not a bad deal and spent too much out of what we expected.
Now Emerald Cancun was decent for us, staff were friendly and super attentive.

Last note, if you are planning for an all-inclusive trip, make sure you figure out if gratitude is included or not.
We did end up spending a bit on tipping people who helped us but it was still within our budget range.

Hope this article was helpful! Please share your all-inclusive resort experience with us if possible!

The 4 hour plane ride…

Logan in his Wayb car seat

Logan was super excited being on the plane for the first time… It was awesome having the window seat as a distraction while we wait for to take off… then it was snack time…

Unfortunately for me… Logan shoves his snacks in his mouth like he’s never had food in his lifetime… So even before we got to 10 feet elevation, he was done with his snacks…

Note to self: bring MORE snacks for plane ride.

Fact: Book flights around nap time is the best!

Our flight from Chicago was at 10:50am, so after some lunch that we brought on the plane, and some play time with his new toys, he was ready for nap. So I actually for about 1 hour and 45 mins of quiet time. I even had time to use the restroom while he was knocked out.

When he woke up, we still had 45 mins before landing… That was the worse… He was eager to get out of his car seat, he wanted to walk, he was not having it with any of his toys or books or me singing to him. I ended up taking Lena’s snack to stop him from fighting his car seat.

Same thing with on our way back from Cancun. We boarded at 12:20pm, we snack while take off, then I sang to him for 2 seconds and he was out for an hour and a half.

But again when we were about to land, he was up and wanted to walk. He kept saying “all done, all done”. I felt bad especially knowing we are landing in Chicago, there is no guarantee that we will taxi at a gate even when we land… and no toys beats being able to move.
I think my next goal is to find something that the kids can be mobile while being on stuck on the plane… or incorporating them moving around on the airplane.

Another thing worth mentioning is this car seat from Wayb!

I bought it when it was on Kickstarter for the supposing Croatia trip because we have traveled before with Lena’s car seat to Malaysia, and let’s just say… IT WAS A LUGGAGE BY ITSELF!

The WayB was 10X easier to bring along (it folds up), and was 10X easier to install. For the big car seat, Anel had to get on the plane way ahead of time to install it on the plane seat. Whereas for WayB, I just needed to have the plane seat belt behind and tighten it up and all is good!
HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! If you travel a lot by air or by land.

How was your experience flying with an active toddler? Share it with us 🙂

We made it!!!

Sorry for MIA in the past few weeks… I’ve had a bad cold for the past month and just thought it’s cold that turns out it’s ear and sinus infection…

Cancun trip!!!

We made it! We are at Cancun!!! Despite the virus at all… We came to Cancun!

Let’s take a few steps back and talk about the steps that got us here…

  1. We talked about going on a budget travel trip because we think Logan won’t make it in a metal tube for long hours (which is pretty accurate since he was tired of being tied down the 4 hours plane ride we had coming to Cancun) and Croatia was going to cost us an arm and a leg that we want to spend on fixing our basement for family to visit
  2. We did research on beach all-inclusive places and read reviews and still couldn’t fully figure out what’s the best place to go
  3. We reached out to a travel agent and didn’t hear back after
  4. Found another travel agent and after many back and forth finally booked the trip for 4 person, all-inclusive resort, 4 nights + flight for $3400
  5. We made an appointment to get Logan’s passport done and received it before the trip
  6. We did research to find things to entertain our active toddler (unlike our other toddler when we flew to Malaysia 3 years ago)
  7. We kept track on things we needed to accomplish

Next was packing… But our packing happened real last minute this time because we were not sure until the day of our flight if we were going to go on a trip or not… The Corona virus incident really threw a wrench in this family trip…
Also check out a previous blog on your family travel must bring/have.

We checked with our travel agent and also other travel insurance and couldn’t figure out anyway to get of the money we already spent on the entire trip… So we risked it and we’ll see what happens.

So fast forward, we are here, enjoying the nice weather, with kids refusing to nap or sleep the first day because they are too excited about being by the ocean and pool.

Kids loving their sunnies

We’ll share our experience with the flight and hotel and the rest of the trip next time 😊

We are still on track!

Last time we looked at our Trello board, we just booked our trip.
Since then, we’ve gotten Logan’s passport done and received it (with a high cost attached to it because of our last minute planning)

Now we are getting things ready for the trip!

From our last blog, we mentioned all the things we could bring… but since we are on a budget, we got each kid 2 new items:
1 for the trip there, 1 for the trip back

With Trello, I was able to copy our ‘Things to Bring’ list from previous trips and paste it on the board. SUPER CONVENIENT.
We’ll have to edit the list a little since Logan is no longer on breast milk, but it’s easier than creating a whole new list.

If you need help figuring out what to bring, reference this ‘Hierarchy of needs‘ blog I wrote for our last trip.

Share with us your packing experience!

Things to entertain a toddler on a plane…


We are looking into things to bring with us on the plane.
Based on research we’ve done, it all comes down to:

  • Things to change their diaper with
  • Things for them to eat and drink with and things for them to snack and drink
  • Emergency items – extra clothes, medicine, etc.
  • Things that can entertain them

In terms of things to entertain… When we traveled with Lena when she was 18 months to Malaysia, we had coloring papers, stickers, books, and magnetic toys. But she is not as active as Logan… so we have to look into other things to keep our active 21 month toddler occupied for 4 1/2 hours…


Here are the bucket of things people are recommending to bring on the airplane to entertain a 18+ month old:

  • Things to draw and scribble on and with
    • Crayons
    • Water WOW
    • Drawing boards
    • Papers
    • Mess free coloring books
    • Magnetic Drawing Boards
  • Things that will stick to different surfaces – paper, window, boards, etc.
    • Stickers
    • Gel cling window
    • Magnetic toys
    • Reusable sticker books
  • Things that they can interact or be hands on with
    • Quiet books
    • Threading toys
    • Busy boards
    • Buckle toys
  • Books they can read

A lot of moms recommended bringing something familiar and something new for the trips.
Now the question is… we are traveling with a budget, how much are we spending on new things vs. something familiar AND how many things are we bringing??!?!

We’ll keep you posted on what we end up getting and bringing soon.
What do you bring when you are traveling with an active toddler? Share your experience with us!

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Passport for lils – the EXPERIENCE

Prepping for passport photo being taken
(was warned about no picture taking after taking this picture)

Last time we talked about getting Logan’s passport done.
We did it!

  1. Turned up before our appointment time
  2. Turned in our application form, original birth certificate and photocopies of our IDs
  3. Sat him down to get his passport photo taken
  4. Took an oath that we filled up his application and said the truth on the form
  5. Paid for the service
  6. Got a receipt

All done in 15 minutes time.

Honestly, it is very convenient to have his picture taken at the post office. If he were any younger, this might not be a good idea, but it worked out really well.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND having pictures taken at the post office if they offer the service.

The prepping part is probably the most time consuming:

  • Filling up the form
  • Making the appointment
  • Photocopying ID
  • Getting his original birth certificate

How was your passport prepping experience?

Time to revisit Passport for Lils!

Now that we are going on an international trip for reals, we need to get Logan’s passport done ASAP!
We wrote about Passport for the lils awhile back while researching on that… Now we get to do it for real!

Scheduling Passport Appointment

We learned that we could actually get passport photos done at USPS at the same appointment!

Check out the Passport Photo Hours!
You can schedule an appointment with Photo Services!

We made an appointment for New Passport with Photo Services for next week.
We’ll keep you updated on how that experience went 🙂

Processing Time

In the meantime, after filling up the form, we learned that we would need to expedite the passport…

Source: Travel State Gov

Normal routine passport processing time is 6-8 weeks, and that does not include shipping…
So in order for us to get Logan’s passport done, we’ll need to expedite it and do express shipping.


Passport book (Valid for all international travel by air, land, and sea) = $80
Expedited processing method (Processed in 2-3 weeks door-to-door) = $60
1-2 Days delivery (Delivery costs for new passport book. Your supporting documents may be returned by First Class Mail) = $17.13
It all comes down to…

Total Payable to Department of State$157.13
Execution Fee
Payable to Acceptance Facility

Lesson learned…
Could have saved up $80…


In our last blog, we talked about the first travel agent (All-Inclusive Resort) we spoke to did not respond to us as he promised… and after a day of playing phone tag with his co-workers on Tuesday, we still have not heard back from him. So SAYONARA (bye in Japanese)!

And we’ve talked about me reaching out to Liberty Travel and received an email confirmation.

The next day I got an email from Alexis, my Mexico Expert!

We chatted on the phone for 10 minutes, and she asked me if I wanted to be on hold on the phone while she did her search or give me a call back when she’s done or she can send me an email of the options.
I opted for her to send me an email of the options just cause I like to see things and compare them 😛

Alexis sent us 2 options. We went back and forth on email to confirm details, and today… WE SIGNED THE CONTRACT AND PAID FOR THE TRIP!

So far, using a travel agent has met our needs and beyond! She even asked us about booking our seats on our flight and made arrangements accordingly.

We are on track based on my Trello board!

Next step for us would be to get Logan’s passport done, pack and get ready for the trip!
We’ll find out how the trip would be when the time comes.

Till then, share with us how you booked your All-inclusive Resort trips!

When the travel agent does not come back to you…

In our last blog, we talked about reaching out to All-Inclusive Resort to maybe have a travel agent help us get the best deal and avoid those ‘gotcha’s’.

Anel spoke to them on Friday, their friendly agent Brian said it’s common that booking All-inclusive resorts options are limited online, so people often opt to have travel agents help them out.
He also mentioned he would get back to Anel by Saturday because their office would be close on Sunday.

TODAY IS MONDAY! We have yet to hear back from him over the phone, and over email.

So back to square one! And worse of all, since the dates are coming up soon… prices are going up! URGH…

Found a few more All-inclusive travel agent sites to try:

  • Liberty Travel gives you the option to make an appointment and talk to someone, OR have them communicate with you via email. I opted for email communication because I really don’t have time to do this when I’m at work.
  • Travel Leaders provides you with a list of agents that can help you with your vacation

There are more sites that we looked at… but they look kinda outdated… so I’m not sure if I’ll contact them. Anel jokingly said they look like we’ll get spammed… 😀

Will update everyone again. Anel will give All-inclusive resort one more call tomorrow, if we don’t hear anything back, then “Bye Felicia”.

Liberty Travel sent me an email confirmation… so we shall see if we more information in 24 hours…

Confirmation email from Liberty Travel

How to decide when traveling on a budget?

So the last time we talked about deciding. Here’s what we decided:

  • When do we want to go?
    • Since it’ll be awhile till we have any public holiday… we decided end of Feb or early March would be great
  • How far do we want to travel, in a car or on a plane or via train?
    • Plane is fine if it’s less than 5 hours (like our car ride to St. Louis)
  • How much are we willing to sacrifice routine and schedules?
    • A lil is ok… but we’ll stick to the Logan’s routine as much as possible
  • How important is it to have something to do with the kids?
    • Very important! 
  • What are you kids interested in doing or like to do?
    • Logan loves water
    • Lena loved the beach the last time
    • Both love dinosaurs
    • Both love the aquarium
  • Which part would you want to save most money on? Travel or accommodation or activities?
    • Might be able to use airline miles
    • What about all-inclusive packages?
  • Where should we go?
    • We are flexible in this section as long as it fits in our budget
  • What’s our budget?
    • No more than $3,500 in total!
Our travel Trello board

So, we documented everything, narrowed down our search and move forward with our next step… RESEARCH!!!
And boy was this hard… when you don’t care where you go, as long as it’s a warm beach in February or March… it’s still a very broad search.

Florida is warm… but with global warming not a 100% guaranteed warm…
Scratch that!

All inclusive or what?
So we did some searching… actually… A LOT OF SEARCHING!

Please ignore the mess in our family room…

We had our laptops next to each other doing research together… but it’s so hard to pick a place because we didn’t really care where we were going as long as it is less than 4 hour flight that does not interfere with nap time; easy access to beach; all-inclusive for 4 nights around our budget…

Here’s what we have learned:

  • We’ve learned that it’s way more expensive if you book flights separate from bundle for All-inclusive resorts
  • There’s ratings from the websites, and reviews from All-inclusive customers that you should read. Highly encourage you at least look at three sites on ratings, reviews and pricing before booking. Some sites we’ve looked into:
  • There’s a lot of “gotcha” when booking All-inclusive hotels (based on what we’ve read)
    • Some things are Elite / VIP package visitors only
    • Making dinner reservations everyday (why???)
    • Kids under 12 not allowed in some restaurants
    • Not include shuttle
    • Etc.

So based on the research we have done, we are going to give Resort Vacations To Go concierge service a try to see if we can stay to our criteria. Will keep all updated 😀

How do you decide on your vacation? Share your experience with us!