15 things that saved me on my first all-inclusive trip with kids — And one thing I wish I’d brought

Items any parent will want to pack the next time they bring the family to an all-inclusive resort. (Getty/File)

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Travelling with kids is stressful, even when you’re headed to a beautiful all-inclusive resort for a little family R&R. Even when the plane takes off on time (ours didn’t), the bus doesn’t break down on route to the hotel (ours did) and your kids aren’t picky eaters (like mine), there are thousands of things to worry about and plan for before you hit that jetway.

In other words, there’s a reason they call it a trip and not a vacation for parents travelling with kids. Thankfully, if you plan for all those moments and more, it can still be the relaxing and fun escape you need. My husband and I recently surprised our six and seven-year-old with a trip to Mexico, and here are the items that saved our mindset while dealing with long travel days and overstimulated kids at an all-inclusive resort.


Although my children had flown as babies, they had no recollection of takeoff. Therefore, I had no idea how they would do with popping ears as the air pressure on the plane changed. My daughter has a history of ear infections and is unable to have hard candy and gum because of her braces, so I wanted something to help avoid potential pain.

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Enter these kid-sized EarPlanes which are little earplugs that help regulate the pressure on a plane. I bought a three-pack, and they helped both kids remain as comfortable as possible during takeoff and landing.


A four- or five-hour flight can be long for a child whose feet don’t touch the ground in an airplane seat. So when I came across these convenient and portable foot hammocks, I grabbed a two-pack. They easily slipped over the table tray and adjusted to give both kids maximum comfort. As an added bonus, I now use one set at my own desk to help my ergonomic situation throughout the day.


Flying can be completely dehydrating — especially for kids who don’t always remember to drink enough throughout the day. On our flying days, I supplemented the kids’ waters with this electrolyte powder, which tastes like watered-down lemonade. I like that it’s low-sugar and designed for maximum electrolyte absorption. It also helped them stay hydrated without too many bathroom trips, which is always a bonus on an airplane.
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Beach ready

If you don’t bring a pool float, I guarantee your kids will beg you to buy one — especially if there’s a stand set up by the pool like there was at our hotel.


Our inflatable came with us to the pool every day, and it was cool to see how many games the kids came up with while using it. It also came in handy when the resort randomly had a pool foam party, and our kids wanted to participate without getting soap in their eyes.


We brought lifejackets for both kids, just in case. We didn’t do any boat trips or snorkeling, so my daughter didn’t use hers. My son, however, could barely touch the bottom of the pool, so his life jacket was a huge asset. With it, he was able to swim independently and confidently, and we had that extra peace of mind every time we went into the pool.
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Goggles are another necessity for my kids in the water, especially since they love diving and splashing. We actually brought their regular goggles and a snorkel set they’d received at Christmas. With all the chemicals they must put in those pools at night, we also felt better knowing the googles protected our kids’ eyes after a few hours in the water.



We brought a beach ball and used it once. It was too big and easily floated away, so we left it in the room after that. These Skip Balls, though? They were a big hit. I like how small and transportable they are, and the kids loved the way they skipped in the water. My husband was the biggest fan, so we played without the kids, too. It gave us something to do in the water while the kids played with their float.


Another pool toy we were happy to have brought was this diving set of gems. The gems are lightweight and come in a mesh bag, so they fit easily into the suitcase. We had a ton of fun making up games and diving for different colours and combos. You could do the same thing with other diving toys, but I liked that these also encouraged creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork during play.
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Family fun


This game was new to us, so it was extra fun when I busted it out after the pool one day. It ended up being a great family game because we were able to split into two teams. We played it in multiple places across the resort, including in the lobby when the adults needed coffee. The kids were interested in learning more about the animals, and the cards led to interesting conversations about habitats and diets, among other things. Plus, it gave us some friendly competition to look forward to.


Regular old playing cards are a staple on any trip but are especially handy with kids. During our trip, the kids learned how to play Go Fish and War and quickly got their own games going. That was awesome for us because it allowed us to chill and read or listen to music in the shade while they played.
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My son received these fidget sticks in his stocking at Christmas, and I threw a few of them into my carry-on before the flight. They were gold. Every time my kid started trying to climb a rope or jump on some barricade while we were waiting in a line (at the airports, for dinner, etc.) I yanked one out of my purse and gave it to him. It redirected his focus every single time.
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Quiet time

I didn’t want my kids on their screens during our entire vacation, but there were times when their tablets came in handy. Like when we had to spend seven hours at the airport the day we flew home. Or for 30 minutes before dinner while the adults had quick showers.

My kids have older versions of this tablet, and I like that they can use many of the Amazon Kids games offline. But, I can also connect the tablets to YouTube and other streaming services. That meant they could watch a show or movie in English when the TV in our room only offered old Law & Order SVU episodes.



I don’t know why kids love sleep masks so much, but boy, they came in handy during our vacation. All four of us shared a room, and the kids went to sleep earlier than the adults. So, while my husband and I hung out, the kids had enough darkness to sleep well. They also allowed us to leave a bathroom light on so that anyone who woke up in the middle of the night could still see.
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Snacks. Snacks. Snacks.

You know how you always see everyone eating Pringles while you’re away at an all-inclusive? That’s because they’re salty, they taste like home, and the tubes make them easily transportable.


Before we left, I grabbed a couple of family-sized tubes, and they saved me. I surprised my kids with the first one after we landed in Mexico and were waiting for our bags to arrive. The children were hangry and tired from the long travel day, and those chips gave me the sanity I needed while my husband waited by the baggage carousel.


Sometimes, there’s a lull between that last afternoon activity and dinner on vacation. That’s when the kids start to get hungry, but I don’t want them to fill up on snacks. Enter these gummy candies. The kids could snack on them for a little something sweet but not spoil their dinner. They also came in handy during the plane ride, when boredom set in midflight.
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Lesson learned…

My kids don’t use headphones for their tablets because they broke them. So, I wasn’t too concerned about bringing any on our trip, and I regretted it. I brought old earbuds for them to use on the plane, but they were too big for my kids’ ears.


Headphones would have been much, much better. They also would have come in handy on the bus ride (I busted the tablets out when our bus broke down on the side of the road, and we were stuck there for two hours), or while we were all hanging out in our tiny room. Next time, headphones are 100 per cent coming with us!


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