23.3.18

What to Pack for a Fun Family All-Inclusive Resort Vacation ~ including special tips for Cuba

by Robin


We just returned from a week-long tropical getaway - and while it's still all fresh in my mind, I'm sharing some tips on how to pack for a fun family vacation at an all-inclusive resort - because a great list takes the stress out of packing!


Resort travel is out of the ordinary for us.  Our usual modus operandi is more like the trip we took to Florida (and had a blast without visiting Disney - gasp!).  Our favourite way to travel is to book a HomestayAirBNB or Vacation Rental by Owner for a week and explore the area.  There are perks to this - and drawbacks.


There are definite perks for the whole family to stay at a resort:
  • There's the no grocery shopping or meal prep! Fantasy-made-real for parents.
  • There's the sunny weather and beach lifestyle for everyone.
  • There's the super-fun kids' club (which is truly a treat for parents.)


That last one has never been a reality for us.  Kids' clubs have never been our kids' jams - do your kids like them? The introvert apples fell right next to Ed and I's introvert trees.  They favour the relative solitude and security of spending time just the four of us.  We're ok with that really - our kids are pretty chill travellers and now that they're older (11 and 14) their jokes are actually great - so we don't mind keeping them around for the laughs.



Resort vacations can also be pretty affordable - especially if you can travel in the shoulder seasons or last minute.  They're easy to budget and plan for, with everything included and taken care of for you.


Our first resort experience ever was in Cuba - this time around was Mexico.  Pretty similar packing styles for those countries - with some subtle and important differences.  Cuba has some unique packing tips that I'll highlight below - packing some things will land you in hot water and some will make your stay a bit tastier.


Packing doesn't have to be stressful - and a thorough list makes all the difference - that's what we've got for you.  For our resort vacations, there are things we were happy that we packed, things we wish we packed and things we could have left at home.  Without further ado - here are tips for successful family resort vacation packing - I know I'm going to be reviewing this list next time, too!





Personal Care and Hygiene

- the usual stuff:
  • deodorant 
  • toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss
  • razors
- skip the shampoo, conditioner and body wash - usually, it's supplied
- contact lens, lens solution (and back up eyeglasses couldn't hurt)
- feminine hygiene products (if you're timing is just that great - sorry, hon, it happens...)
- very basic makeup kit (waterproof mascara and tinted lip gloss is about the extent of it for me - but bring what makes you feel good)
- if you need them for sleep:
  • eye mask (we ordered these for the kids and they use them every single night year round)
  • ear plugs
  • a nightlight (this is my new favourite thing to bring to any hotel.  I love being able to see the bathroom in the middle of the night without turning on the supernova lights in there.)



Medications and Basic First Aid

- Any prescription medications you require
- Immodium or Pepto Bismol (we haven't needed ours yet - but we've heard the horror stories!)
- Benadryl
- Gravol (this one might be most helpful in your carry-on for the flight)
- heartburn meds
- probiotics
- pain meds like ibuprofen, acetaminophen (both kid and adult versions)
- muscle and back pain med (long flights and strange beds can wreak havoc on backs)
- bug repellant (sometimes you just hit bug season)
- simple first aid kit with band-aids and antibiotic creams, etc.



Fun at the Beach

- a beach bag (something that packs small is ideal)
- waterproof camera (our son got this one years ago and it's been terrific - holds a battery charge so well!)
- snorkels, masks, fins (most resorts rent them - but it's first come, first serve and if snorkelling is your thing - like it is ours - you don't want to miss out!)
- inflatable ball, floaties (we've never brought these - but it would have been nice.  For a fun on your last day - find a family that's sticking around and have your kids give it to them.)
- sun hats (wide brims are best)
- sunscreen (we are a family of sun safety fanatics - two bottles covered the four of us well for the week - go for a higher SPF than at home - and make sure it's waterproof)
- after sun lotion (despite our best efforts we got mild sunburns and had to buy aloe vera at the gift shop for about a zillion dollars.)
- good quality sunglasses
- tethers for eyeglasses
- empty water bottles to fill at the resort



Clothing Suggestions

- the usual stuff: underwear, bras, pyjamas, t-shirts, shorts
- check the dress code for the restaurants - TripAdvisor is a great place to research this.  Some resorts require skirts/dresses for females, and dress pants for males - other's are more relaxed)
- simple light clothing - shorts/skirts & t-shirts mainly, a couple of summer dresses (you'll spend lots of time in your bathing suit - so plan to re-wear the same outfit a couple of times to cut down on packing)
- bathing suits - it's best to have 2 - otherwise, you're squeezing into cold wet one
- coverup
- flipflops
- sport sandals (these are our favourites)
- dressier shoes, if needed
- workout clothes - if you plan to hit the gym (hahaha)
- small packable raincoats and/or light sweater/hoodie (check the weather forecast before you leave







Kid Considerations

- walkie talkies (we have these simple ones - this can be a great way to stay in touch across a larger resort)
- diapers, sippy cups, bottles, etc (if that's your life stage)
- maybe download a few kids shows onto a tablet (for some downtime for you all)
- paper, pencil crayons (these are our favourite for kid crafts while travelling)


Miscellaneous

- small bills in the local currency for tips (the amount of tipping caught us by surprise the first time, but it's essential!)
- chargers and USB plugs for gadgets (check if your country needs a different adaptor - a universal one like this is helpful)
- headphones
- a tablet loaded with magazines (I love Texture for this!)
- a language dictionary (e.g. Spanish to English) or translation app (Google Translate is great - Google Pixel buds would be amazing!)



Before You Leave

- make a plan for your pets
- call your credit card companies (let them know your spending will be out of the ordinary so they don't put a hold on your card)
- passports
- fill up your e-reader with books (takes up so much less space than printed books!)


For the Flight

- Gravol (if anyone gets queasy on planes)
- gum (to chew to prevent the ear pressure problem)
- audiobooks (check your local library to download at no cost - or sign up for Audible and get your first 2 audiobooks for free!)
- ereaders loaded with books (or the Kindle app can open up ebook options if you don't have an ereader)
- tablet loaded with magazines (again Texture for the win!)
- kids' handheld gaming devices 
- headphones
- neck pillow for sleeping (I've only envied others with these, but I plan to get this one)
- a pen for filling out customs forms
- empty water bottles (to fill with water after passing through customs)
- healthy snacks (airplane food is ridiculously expensive and loaded with sodium that can make you feel awful.  Our favourite things to pack are dried fruits, granola bars, nuts and seeds.  This past trip we made a batch of these cookies - which were perfect for taking the edge off our hunger.)



Baggage Tips

- Check your airlines' specific rules - we got burned once not knowing the carry-on bag weight limit for a flight and had to pay extra to check a too heavy bag.
- Sports equipment (like the above-mentioned snorkelling stuff) often doesn't count against your baggage limit!  Pack separately and save the space and baggage weight for your clothes and stuff.



Specific Packing Advice for Cuba


  • Cuba is a communist country and has unique rules you don't want to ignore.  Don't bring the following to Cuba -  - check this site for official updates:


  • walkie-talkies 
  • handheld GPS
  • anything that could be considered a weapon
  • anti-Cuban literature or pornography (which you likely weren't planning on anyhow!)
  • fruits and vegetables



  • Bathrooms aren't always predictable - Sometimes you may find essentials missing, especially in towns and at the airports - we've heard of missing toilet seats, but haven't seen that ourselves.  Be sure to carry small packs of tissues (for when there's no toilet paper - very likely) and hand sanitizer.  Also carry some change - sometimes you need to pay someone to hand you a couple of squares of tp.

  • Think about bringing small gifts for tips - many little luxuries aren't readily available in Cuba - think about taking some small things like beauty products, kids' novelty toothbrushes, hair scrunchies, toys/colouring things for kids, flipflops, basic medicines, etc.)


  • Apparently American debit and credit cards don't work in Cuba - so be sure to bring cash. (We're from Canada and our credit cards worked just fine.)



  • Plan to buy currency at the hotel, usually weekdays ( there's a different currency for travellers - which you can't buy at home).  You might get a better exchange rate at a bank in town.



  • Also, the saying goes: No one goes to Cuba for the food.  It's good enough - but if you have choosy eaters you may want to bring a few things with you, for example:
    • peanut butter
    • honey
    • hot sauce
    • any essentials your family members "need"
    • Just remember NO fruits or vegetables - those won't be allowed


    • Expect to pay for internet at your hotel and it will be very slow: remember dial-up?  Also, you'll probably have to use it in the lobby.  Don't plan on using any apps that require wifi.



    • Electricity is often 220 volts - you may want to bring a Type C adaptor - or a universal version



    Have a wonderful trip!  And if you've got a great idea to add to this list - please share!



2 comments:

  1. Ah yes, kids clubs...they must work for some families. On the other hand, it was tons of fun to play with out little guy in the pool and ocean on our recent vacation. Our experience and memories would be quite different, and not necessarily better, if he had joined the kids club everyday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you and totally agree! But you can’t tell me a day’s break from parenting would have sucked... ;)

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