I recently took an 11-day Babymoon at 23 weeks pregnant on a cruise to Alaska with my husband and two toddlers. After traveling to Ireland, Scotland, UK, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France and many other countries with my toddlers, I have to say this has been by far one of my top vacations as a family.
I am an extreme planner and it’s not unusual for this Mama to prepare for a 16 hour flight with her toddlers and nail it! I’m not kidding! My husband loves soaking up all those compliments he gets as we exit the plane. Strangers will comment on how well-behaved our kids are but it really has to do with a lot preparation. I spend a great deal of time researching on Pinterest or other sites for ideas, preparing and strategizing what to pack in our luggage and our carry-ons. You can read more about how I travel with my kiddos by reading my post: Traveling Internationally With Toddlers or see my posts on Pinterest here. I also find it extremely helpful to follow other traveling moms like A Traveling Bond and Wonderoak, who inspire others and share great tips when traveling with kids. Whether you have one little one or more than six, and you have a desire to see the world, don’t let anything stop you. All things are achievable with some planning and prayer!
Now for the 5 reasons why this was such a great trip with my energizer bunnies…
- Alaska has Excursions Everyone Will Love. From ziplining to museums, there’s something for everyone to love and enjoy in Alaska. In fact, at Icy Strait Point (on Chichagof Island) you can easily double up on excursions. We could’ve taken a whale watching excursion in the morning, nature hike or bus ride to Hoonah (a nearby town) in the afternoon and still would’ve had time to zip line in the evening. We took the following excursions based on what best suited my family: Rainforest Sanctuary Raptor Center and Totems (Ketchikan, Alaska)– we hiked through a temparate forest and past a salmon hatchery, spotted bald eagles, hawks, owls and seals, & visited the Raptor Center (and learned about the creation of totem poles; Sled Dog Discovery & Musher’s Camp (Juneau, Alaska)-we observed mushers train their personal sled dogs for the winter, we sled through the Tongass Rainforest with our team of huskies, talked with dog handlers and mushers who participate in the Iditarod and cuddled with huskies’ puppies; White Pass Scenic Railway (Skagway, Alaska)-a scenic and historic train journey to the summit of White pass, a 2,865 ft elevation, with a fully narrated tour, and Whale & Marine Mammals Cruise (Icy Strait Point, Alaska)-a 2.5 hr tour on the waters of Icy Strait spotting otters, seal lions and humpback whales. You can find more pictures and videos of excursions on my Instagram account or on Facebook.
- Most of the Excursions are Close to the Port. This is so important for the families that have little ones. In the past, we’ve taken up to 3.5 hours on bus rides just to arrive at our excursion destination and that was just one way! I had to do some serious planning to keep my babies entertained on a bus ride that was essentially equivalent to a full day and then be ready to repeat it the next day. It was exhausting! Thankfully Alaska’s excursions are close to the cruiseline ports making the most of your day spent on enjoying your adventure!
- Alaska Leaves an Unforgettable Impression. Every where we turned we saw flying bald eagles, seals and otters playing in the water and beautiful Western Hemlocks. The Humpback whales were literally swimming right off the shore. We could see them from our stateroom, on our tours or while we dined. Alaska is rich with History and their native culture is intriguing. Not to mention, the magnificent glaciers you can see as you sail through Glacier Bay. Alaska will make learning fun for your kids, with science, history and ethnic study lessons that will last a lifetime.
- It’s the One Destination Where There’s No Such Thing as Overpacking. This may not mean much to some people, but since I’m a bit of a Diva and would never leave my stateroom without make-up, I tend to generally overpack . In Alaska, layers are your best friend! You’ll want to bring that extra pair of jeans, sweater or scarf. One day it may be warm and you’ll want to strip down to your shirt but other days your sweater can get damp from the steady drizzle. And if you’re bringing your toddlers with you, you will more than likely need the extra outfit because of how they inevitably spill something on you.
- Flights were Incredibly Manageable from California. As I mentioned before, we’re used to lengthy flights, so you can imagine our delight to know how short our flights were and cheap too! We were able to splurge a bit more in the local towns and on our vacations.
For those that are interested, our packing list is shown below. Please keep in mind, we traveled to Alaska, Canada and Seattle in May for 11 days. The weather was pretty cold for this California girl. It was very windy around the port and rainy most days, although it was completely tolerable. My kids didn’t mind the weather because they were covered up well. To all my fashionistas, it’s best to embrace your natural hair and leave the curling irons/straighteners at home! Don’t worry, you’ll still be gorgeous!
- Thick, long socks
- Tennis shoes, rain boats (or waterproof shoes) and slippers
- Raincoat, light jacket and fleece jacket (yes all 3!)
- Several sweatshirts
- Long-sleeved shirts and/or turtlenecks
- Gloves, scarves and waterproof beanies
- Undergarments: undies or diapers and wipes
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
- Hair Bands/Bows
- Tylenol, Vitamins, Thermometer and first aid kit
- Santizer, Sunscreen & Insect Repellent
- Water bottle
- ziploc bags (accidents or dirty diapers)
- Camera (cheap or disposable one)
- favorite stuffed animal
- travel games, books, crayons and toys
- ipad, Leap frong or electronic device with charger
You can find a Women’s and Man’s packing list at AlaskaCruises.com here. Although I did not book my cruise through them, I found their packing list helpful.
In regards to umbrellas, we had them but we didn’t use them too much. The the rain was consistent but light and our heads were well covered. Plus it always nice to be “hands free” when traveling with little ones.
Also, I’d highly recommend a baby/child carrier. You can get around with a stroller
however it will limit your accessibility. In our past trips, we use both strollers and carriers. In all honesty, if you’re babies are able to run, you’ll end up towing your stroller with frustration. More than likely they’ll want to run around exploring and you’ll be pushing an empty stroller on bumpy terrain (depending on your excursion choice). For this trip, we used the Deuter, Kid Comfort 3 for my four-year-old and the Kinderpack, Preschooler for my two-year old. The Kinderpack was a little too big for my two-year-old but we were borrowing it from a friend and it did the job. Both child carriers are wonderful but meet different needs. The Kinderpack enabled me to nurse my daughter if I needed to and provide a more personal, comfortable, cozy connection during our excursions. The Deuter was extremely ergonomically designed. My husband never complained about my son’s weight or carrying him around all day. The carrier in itself is light weight, it has several compartments which is amazing! We had a place for two waterbottles, diaper bag essentials, camera, collapsible tripod, passports, snacks, and so much more! My son and daughter both napped in the Deuter with no complaints (my daughter is the worst with naps so we were shocked to find her asleep in it during one of our hikes). The stirrups were so much fun for my son. He loved the ability to stand and sit as desired, especially near trees. Overall I find both carriers are worth the investment!
If you’ve traveled to Alaska before or have tips on traveling with kids, please share them with us. I love to learn new life hacks for traveling!