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- Heading South for the Winter
- 10 mistakes we've made so you don't have to
- 1. Forgetting that kids grow. A lot.
- 2. Not asking for what we need
- 3. Not doing our homework
- 4. Wasting precious vacation time
- 5. Bringing too much
- 6. Not doing enough research
- 7. Not accounting for local norms
- 8. Not bringing warm clothes, too
- 9. Looking at the calendar, not the weather reports
- 10. Not expecting bugs
Heading to Florida or a Caribbean island to relax on a beach can seem like an easy winter family holiday, but once you are out of summer mode, it’s easy to forget a few things. A little advance planning can help smooth the way and limit the damage — to your skin and your wallet.
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Heading South for the Winter
For some of us, a drop in temperature conjures daydreams of sunny, warm vacations. But our winter selves need some help before we head out into that intense sunshine and warmth. Even a trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa at their snowbird digs in Florida requires some advance prep.
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These 10 tips will help you have the most fun with the least pain when you head south for the winter.
10 mistakes we’ve made so you don’t have to
1. Forgetting that kids grow. A lot.
Kids can grow surprisingly fast. Do a test fit before you pack to make sure the bathing suit and shorts from last year still fit. Nothing like wasting your time packing clothes no one will wear once you arrive. If the summer gear doesn’t fit, pad the family holiday budget a bit to allow you to buy new online before you go. It will save you wasting precious vacation time at the mall once you arrive.
2. Not asking for what we need
My mother, who lived in Florida, insisted that her skin was “used to” the sun, so she didn’t need sunscreen. That meant I had to A.) Check bags so I could carry my own more-than-three-ounce tube of sunscreen, B.) Buy it when we arrived or, C.) Ask my mom to pick some up for the grandkids so we could head straight to the pool when we arrive.
3. Not doing our homework
If you are visiting grandparents who live in a retirement home, check regulations on pool use, swim diapers, etc. When my middle daughter was a toilet-trained toddler, a busybody at my mother’s adult community followed her around the pool, making sure she didn’t have an accident.
4. Wasting precious vacation time
Bring inflatable floaties and beach toys. These pack easily and you’ll want them at the beach or pool. If you forget them, you’ll be spending time (and vacation budget) buying them at the local tourist-gouging store.
5. Bringing too much
A host of companies rent everything a vacationing family needs. There’s no need to pack bulky items such as cribs and high chairs. Rent them instead, along with bicycles, bed guard rails, razor scooters and plastic Little Tikes cars. At least check the price on equipment rentals before you pack the trunk full of stuff you may not need. You’ll be happy you did if you have a flat tire on the road.
6. Not doing enough research
This is especially important if you’re visiting family at seniors-only complexes. You’ll want to scope out local playgrounds so kids can run around and be loud without disturbing anyone.
7. Not accounting for local norms
At home, you might eat early with your kids to avoid crowds. In Florida, you will want to eat late – after the early bird rush.
8. Not bringing warm clothes, too
At some point, your family holiday in the warm sunshine will end and you’ll have to return home. If you don’t want to do laundry on vacation, bring a clean cold weather outfit for the way home. We always see someone at JFK in January, shivering in shorts and a t-shirt. Of course, you can wash the clothes you wore south so they’re clean for the trip home. But we believe vacation means never having to say you did laundry.
9. Looking at the calendar, not the weather reports
Just because it’s supposed to be warm in February wherever you’re going doesn’t mean it will be. Check the forecast so you’ll be prepared for cool temperatures, rainy days and other weather unpleasantries. With all of the extreme weather, raging fires and other unnatural phenomena, don’t make the mistake of not buying travel insurance.
10. Not expecting bugs
Bring insect repellent, or plan to buy it once you arrive. The bugs might be gone during a northern winter, but they can be out in force in those warm weather destinations.