Eek! I’m so excited (and nervous) to be planning our first family vacation to the beach!
My husband and I both grew up in the Philadelphia area with grandparents who lived “down the shore.” Going to the Jersey Shore was a huge part of both of our childhoods. After we started dating we continued to spend as much of our summers as possible at the shore, alternating between my family in North Wildwood and his in Sea Isle City. In fact, going “down the shore” was so important to us that even after we moved to Florida and lived less than an hour away from the white sandy beaches and clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, we continued to fly north every summer to spend at least a couple of days soaking up the sun and nostalgia of the Mid-Atlantic Coast. These beaches equal summer to us and we can’t wait to share the experience with E.
Last year we managed to make a day trip to visit Jonathan’s grandmother in Sea Isle in the spring. E got to have his first glimpse of the ocean, but it was too cold and dreary to really experience the beach. We had hoped to make it back in the summer for a real visit. But, alas, it never happened, due to multiple reasons, not the least of which is that we were still getting used to being parents and dealing with E’s food allergies.
This summer is different. We are definitely getting the hang of the whole parenting thing and have a pretty good handle on living with FPIES. And I am soooo ready for a vacation! I also think E is at a great age to have his first beach trip. He is such a little explorer and is very into digging. (I wonder if digging on the beach will be as much fun as digging in my gardens.) He is also very into swimming and splashing in our baby pool. He’s going to have a blast!
Unfortunately our options for free places to stay in New Jersey are pretty much nonexistent this year. We considered renting a house for a week but that’s just not in the budget right now. However, one of the perks to all of Jonathan’s traveling is that he has racked up a ton of hotel loyalty points. We figured this would be a great solution but then remembered that one of the things that makes the shore so charming is that there aren’t any large chain hotels. So, after much debate, we decided to extend our search outside of New Jersey and found a hotel on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland! Perfect! We are still within a reasonable driving distance from home, will get to experience all of the things that make up a trip to “the shore” and will have the perks of a beach front location, complete with room service and maid service! (No, it is not lost on me that we will be taking our first family vacation to a state who’s most famous fare is also the cause of E’s most recent reaction, but what can you do?)
While part of me is a little sad that E’s first beach experience won’t be in New Jersey, the change of venue means we have no expectations. There is nothing we will feel like we have to do, no traditions to uphold. We get to start with a perfectly clean slate and create our own family traditions and tons of memories. This is important because this vacation will be different from any other vacation we have ever taken!
Not only is this our first vacation with a toddler in tow, but we also have to figure out how to avoid allergens while relying on restaurant meals. I think we can pull it off (I am holding my breath and crossing my fingers as I type this).
Our hotel room advertises a microwave and refrigerator so with a bit (who am I kidding – a ton) of preplanning I think I can bring enough safe food for E for the three days and two nights we’ll be gone. I’m already thinking about what this will entail and feeling pretty good about it. Luckily E is pretty easy-going and will eat pretty much whatever we give him, as long as he is eating 🙂 He doesn’t seem to get to tired of eating the same things every day, he’s never had much of choice because his diet has always been so limited. That being said, I think we can get away with our typical cereal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch and maybe some salmon/avocado salad for dinner. With a bunch of fruit and our two safe processed snack foods, it might not even be that bad.
On the bright side, I think we may not spend as much money or eat as much unhealthy food on this vacation, compared to every other vacation we’ve ever taken together. (I seriously gained 10 pounds on our honeymoon.) We’ll probably try to avoid restaurants as much as possible so we’ll likely eat breakfast and lunch in the hotel room. We’ll definitely be skipping the ice cream parlors and funnel cakes on the boardwalk and dinners will probably not result in the bar bills that we are used to. There are some positive aspects of FPIES.
Jonathan and I consider ourselves foodies and so food and fine dining have always been a significant part of our vacations, so it seems to weird to plan our trip around avoiding the food. But vacations aren’t really about food but about spending time together as a family. I’m so excited to see my little guy on the beach, swimming at the hotel pool, and checking out the boardwalk. FPIES will make the trip a little more difficult and packing a little more stressful but we are getting pretty good at managing outings and restaurants and I’m determined to not let FPIES get in the way of my son (as well as my husband and myself) having an awesome summer.
I’ll keep you posted as the vacation plans progress, but right now I’d love to hear your thoughts. Can you give me any advice for vacationing with a toddler? Vacationing with food allergies? Any ideas for foods that travel well (we have enough time to do a couple of trials between now and then so I’m open to anything that isn’t on the official allergens list)? What is there to do in Ocean City, Maryland?