A trip to Florida promises to be a wonderful vacation for the entire family. Whether it is to one of the grand theme parks, the lovely beaches, or the beautiful state parks, you will find plenty to do and appreciate. There are great places to visit, restaurants to eat at, and views to admire. An entire state of memories to be had for you and your entire family. But after the planning, the travel plans, the accommodations, the entry tickets, and the reservations, there are still some minute details to attend to. Like what to bring to the great state of Florida. It all depends upon exactly what your plans are, whether it be visiting the fine dining and local bars, hitting all the great local beaches, or the state parks, or finally visiting one of the many theme parks. Together we will go over some things that are critical for a visit to Florida, especially with small children.
We will go over many of the popular destinations in Florida and what to bring along and be aware of and how to prepare for each one. First, we will discuss what you need for the trip there, at the beach, at the state parks, at restaurants/bars, and at the theme parks, especially with little ones.
1. The Trip
2. At the Beach
3. At the State Parks
5. Day at the Theme Parks
Check out this article on how to plan your next Florida vacation for beginners.
So you have made all your travel plans, have your tickets, and boarding passes, or have your vehicle inspected, gassed up, and ready to go. Think you have it all ? Maybe, maybe not. If you have a small child(ren), then you need to be concerned about their safety. Don’t forget their car seats, of course, because if you travel by public transportation or ride share once you get there, such necessities are not always available. A travel pouch is handy for all of your information about your trip, tickets, passes, and anything that can’t be saved on your phone or isn’t in E-form or in email. Some people still print off passes and emails to save just in case they lose their phones. If you are driving, make sure your licenses, insurance, and tags are up-to-date. Make sure you check up on driving regulations in Florida and en route, so make sure you don’t inadvertently break any laws. No one wants a ticket on vacation! Small children need regular bathroom breaks, so make sure you know where all the rest stops are. Snacks are important, make sure not to bring anything messy that will make a mess down the road. Drinks as well, that won’t spoil or go bad if they aren’t kept cool. A favorite toy or something else to occupy their time is valuable as well, such as a tablet with downloaded games or videos (there’s not always Wi-Fi), electronic games, or toys that are vital to bring. A blanket or pillow for naps as well as tinted glass or a sunshade for their window.
At the Beach
Besides the swimsuits and towels, remember to bring sunscreen! Especially if you decide to visit the Keys area and the coral reef, you need to have environmentally safe reef-safe sunscreen. Some of the beaches are rocky in areas, so you may want to bring swimshoes for everyone. Beach toys, drinks, and snacks are important for extended stays at the beach, but to carry all your stuff, a beach cart or wagon is also a great asset. Sunglasses to protect your eyes and a hat to protect your face and eyes. The sun’s glare over water and sand is fierce and can hurt your eyes and skin quickly. A swim shirt can protect your little one, as well as a hat, from the sun’s rays and the grit from the beach. Swim diapers are essential if your little ones are still in diapers.
if you decide to bring your furbaby to the beach, don’t forget sand shoes for them to protect their paws from the sand and heat, paw balm, toilet bags, and a towel for them too. Remember a waterproof camera, too to document all your precious memories!
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At the State Park
The state parks are beautiful, yes, and sometimes massive. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes, and some method of transporting the littles when they get tired, like a small stroller. Some parks allow bikes, so their trike may help. Sunscreens and hats are important, too. But maybe the most important is bug spray. Make sure you pick one that is safe for children. Some parks may allow snacks and drinks, so a few may help make the day last for your little ones. Make sure you check out the best time of the day suitable for your child’s age and temperament; for example, don’t plan an all-day hike for your two-year-old if they can’t keep up or tend to get bored easily. A water bottle is a must for everyone. And don’t forget your camera, for you will see many wonderful things!
Sometimes the adults need adult, alone time. If you do desire this, make sure you are aware of all the childcare services in the area. Some hotels and resorts may even offer this service. Also if you’re more of the epicurious nature, and desire fine dining, your may plan on hitting all the elite restaurants in the area. Not always a good idea with small children, so once again, you may want to research child options or even research dining options that are more kid-friendly. Check out restaurants that have time frames that accommodate both your plans and your child’s needs, especially since kids often need to eat early and often. Most kid-friendly restaurants will have high chairs, booster seats, and sometimes, even bibs and drawing placemats. In case they don’t, wet wipes and disposable bibs are handy to have. Also, some quiet playthings, such as a coloring book and crayons or a book or even a tablet on mute can provide entertainment while they are waiting on food or for the adults to finish, without disturbing other diners. A fully stocked diaper bag must never be forgotten as well! Nothing is so unappetizing as a smelly diaper next to you.
Day at the Theme Parks
So now you’ve reached the highlight of your vacation, a trip to a theme park, and you’ve picked one of the BIG ones. So plan on the number of hours you think your little ones can handle and prepare to handle less. Don’t force them to keep up with a schedule and your expectations, because all you will end up with is an unhappy, frustrated family on both sides.
First off, there will be WEATHER!! Plan accordingly. Florida sun is intense, bring sunscreen, hats, sunshades. Wear comfortable shoes, but be aware, some rides require close-toed shoes. Do your research before arriving, so you know no one will be disappointed.
Get a map of the theme park.
Plan which rides you want to visit, and what the height, weight, and clothing requirements are for them.
There is a LOT of walking- make sure you are aware of the transport options withing the parks, and think about bringing a cart, wagon, or stroller with sunshade/canopy to protect the kiddo(s) and provide a quiet place for them to decompress of possible nap during the day. That will help extend your day as well.
Also if your child needs a quiet place or needs to decompress there are “quiet places” in most parks for children to have quiet. Research before you visit and find out if the park you are visiting has one. These parks can be overstimulating for little ones, both visually and noise-wise, so noise-canceling headphones may be beneficial for them.
There may be times there are lulls, such as when you have to stand in line, so some favorite toy or something to occupy them to keep them from being bored might help. If your child doesn’t wait well, perhaps investing in the quick passes like the Genie Pass at Disney to skip long lines would be a good idea, or even practice waiting in line at home, building up before the trip.
Don’t forget the diaper bag, fully stocked of course. Full of snacks, juice pouches, if allowed, wet wipes, all the diaper changing needs, plastic bags, everything your child may need for a regular day.
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Also, with everything else, make sure you have everyone’s medical records up-to-date and all medicines stocked up and handy. You will find, once you have planned properly, the rest of the vacation falls into place and is far less stressful when organized.
While you are planning your trip, be aware of flight limitations on baggage, and when traveling by auto, make sure you have room to safely transport everything there and any extras you may shop for back. Take care of how much you carry and plan only for what you absolutely need, because you will have to carry or transport it all eventually and the more you take with you, the more there is to lose. Happy vacationing!
Check out this article on How to Actually Afford Your Next Florida Vacation.
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Be sure also to check out our BEST DEALS AND ATTRACTION TICKETS page for a full list of the best prices on all of the top Florida theme parks and attractions.