Wasted Away Again in Margaritaville
By Paul Morrone CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
Planning a trip with a child is something I’ve never really had to do. Jill and I have done some extensive travel over the years, but the focus has always been on us. Our trips have focused on three simple elements: a great location, great hotel and great food. In our experience, this is the recipe for a good time. A child is like a monkey wrench thrown into that perfect formula. Different dimensions are added, some are eliminated entirely and the whole world is upended because the vacation is no longer about getting some much-needed rest and relaxation, but more about making sure things don’t spiral out of control and turn into a nightmare.
Fortunately, our recent trip to Florida was far from a nightmare. It was, admittedly, a learning experience, but well worth the effort and a lot of fun. The hardest decision that we had to make was leaving Ryan with my parents for a few days. Masking requirements, nap schedules and the additional equipment he needs (stroller, crib, toys, diapers, etc.) would have made an already short trip more taxing than fun. In retrospect, it was the right decision. In a few months, he’ll be ready for his first adventure, but we decided it would be best that he sit this one out.
The hotel was the second biggest decision we had to make. No longer was the priority a great hotel, great location or great food. It was all about convenience, amenities and kid-friendliness. Our search led us to the Margaritaville in Hollywood, Florida. It ticked all the boxes. A short 10-minute drive from the Ft. Lauderdale airport (which means we were able to fly out of New Haven!) meant no need for a rental car, and a central location on the Hollywood boardwalk kept everything in walking distance. The resort offered a very family friendly atmosphere and had a huge pool and beach. For a 3-night trip, it was exactly what we needed.
And Kyle loved it. He spent no less than 6 hours a day in the pool, making countless trips down the waterslide, playing in the fountains or just floating around with mom or dad. He was in heaven. He was also quick to climb up to the poolside bar and request a strawberry daiquiri from the bartender – the apple doesn’t roll far…
When he wasn’t in the pool, he was on the beach. It was the first time he’s seen a beach where sand stretches as far as the eye can see, and he loved it. We played in the waves (and were careful not to go too far out – that’s where the sharks are!), built sandcastles and even took a sunset walk on the beach to wind down at the end of the day.
All that sun and sand meant we were all exhausted, and without a nap, Kyle had hit a level of exhaustion I don’t think I’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever been around a 3-year-old who has hit the delirious stage of tiredness, you can imagine some of the moments we had as it got dark out. Fortunately, they were brief. And even better, he slept well.
As with any vacation, it is hard to pack up and go home, especially after such a short amount of time. I’d say that our trip was a resounding success, which makes me look forward to more family trips as the kids get older. Even though it was hard to leave the warm weather, it was a welcome sight to see Ryan’s smiling face waiting for us when we got home.