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From the moment you find out there are two babies in there instead of just one, you might hear from a LOT of people that breastfeeding twins is just not possible. You may even be having your own doubts that it’ll be possible. But, the truth is, many twin moms breastfeed! For me, breastfeeding definitely didn’t start OUT easy. But once my babies and I got the hang of it, it was the EASIEST thing.

After nursing my twins for 2 years, struggling, and learning, I have a few tips and tricks that might just help you as well.

And just a note, if you don’t actually WANT to breastfeed, or you just aren’t making milk, babies aren’t growing or WHATEVER, there is absolutely no shame in feeding your twins formula.

Preparing for Breastfeeding your Twins

Your breastfeeding journey CAN start the first day your babies are born. But here’s an important truth. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO! Sure you want to do what you can, pumping and attempting to breastfeed if your babies are able. But even if you can’t breastfeed day one, you might be able to eventually.

I was lucky to be able to PARTIALLY breastfeed from the beginning. One baby was strong enough to attempt breastfeeding most of the time, and the other was trying just once or twice a day.

1. Nipple Confusion is not (really) Real

There I said it. As a new mom, you are constantly being bombarded with this nipple confusion business. But studies show that early pacifier and bottle use don’t cause early breastfeeding problems. So if your babies need to be tube fed, or bottle-fed in the early days, and you WANT to breastfeed, don’t panic.

In fact, as a working mom that NEEDED my babies to bottle feed, I think giving bottles early is a huge benefit for baby and mom. If anything, I wish I’d given my babies more bottles early on. I NEEDED them to take a bottle. I did not need them to nurse. My kiddos hated bottles the first few weeks I was at work. They seemed to be always holding out for the breast. They’d only take a tiny amount at a time from their bottle.

Also, pacifier use is shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. As a parent of premature twins, you will probably want to do everything you can do to reduce that risk. So rest assured knowing that pacifiers are ok, and won’t disrupt your breastfeeding journey.

2. Ask for a Pump at the Hospital, or Rent a Hospital Grade Pump for Home

Not all pumps are created equal. Hospital-grade pumps are great for establishing milk in the early days. They can help you get set up for breastfeeding, even if your baby isn’t yet able to nurse right away. So if a lactation specialist hasn’t come to you at the hospital, ask for one. Ask for a hospital-grade pump there at the hospital. These things are typically covered by insurance, and can make a world of difference in getting you set up long term to breastfeed.

If you weren’t able to get a hospital-grade pump at the hospital, look into hospital-grade pump rentals. Insurance will often cover the costs, or there may be a reasonable out-of-pocket rental fee for a shorter term rental. If everything goes well, you’ll only need the hospital-grade pump for a few days or weeks, depending on the situation.

3. Get early help if you can

A great lactation specialist can assure you that you are on the right track (even if it doesn’t FEEL like it), help you start supplementing with formula, or even switch to formula. They are experts in breastfeeding and can help SO much.

I was lucky enough to have a fantastic lactation specialist in the hospital. If one doesn’t come to you, ask! Typically, the hospital employs one or more. So make sure and use this service if you can. It’s a great head start in your breastfeeding journey.

In the hospital, my lactation specialist taught me SO much. She let me know that I needed to be pumping from the beginning since my babies were small. She recommended we try nursing for just a few minutes each session. That way, the babies would build up the strength to eventually be able to breastfeed, but would not get overtired. And she set up a schedule for supplementing my smaller twin to make sure he got enough to eat.

A lactation specialist will give you recommendations specific to you and your babies, and can get you on track for a successful breastfeeding journey.

3. Get the Right Gear

Breastfeeding twins is hard work! Don’t be afraid to use any tools that might make your job a little bit easier. These are my favorite breastfeeding necessities.

Breast Pads

Once you HAVE milk, it’s probably going to be squirting like a volcano at random and inconvenient times. Breast pads keep your bra and top dry, at least some of the time. I love these reusable breast pads because they are WAY more comfortable than disposable pads, easy to toss in with the rest of the laundry, and I never had to worry about running out. I found the stickers on the disposable pads never stuck where I wanted them, and always stuck everywhere I didn’t want them.

A Breast Pump

A breast pump is super important to keep supply going whenever you can’t breastfeed. If one or more babies are not yet strong enough to breastfeed, or if you are lucky enough to have babies that sleep longer than 3 hours early on, pumping is so important to keep your supply from disappearing. I had the Medela Pump, provided by my insurance company, and it worked great. But the Spectra is the number 1 pump I see recommended in mom groups.

A Twin Breastfeeding Pillow

A great twin breastfeeding pillow is a total game-changer when it comes to tandem feeding. MyBreastFriend twin nursing pillow was my number 1 breastfeeding tool, and an absolute necessity for months (and I continued to use it most of the time for 2 YEARS). MyBreastFriend has a firm foam pillow, with a stable spot for baby to lie. It positions them in the right spot, and keeps them in place. So if you need to adjust baby A a little bit, baby A won’t get jerked off the breast. The surface is flat, with a lip around the edge, reducing the chance of a baby rolling off the edge. It even has a little pocket on the front for chapstick or a burp cloth. I LOVED that thing!

The Twin Z is another great breastfeeding pillow. The biggest plus of the Twin Z is that it opens up and can be used as a sit-up assist pillow, or for tummy time for babies who hate tummy time. As a breastfeeding pillow, I’d say it’s adequate, but for me, it didn’t compete with MyBreastFriend. Twin Z positions babies correctly, but the rounded top means you really need to work to keep them in the right spot. But, because it functions in a few ways, I think it’s still worth considering purchasing.

A Water Bottle You Love

A great water bottle is so important to help you stay hydrated when you are nursing twins. Also, I was always so hot, and always sweating, so a water bottle that actually keeps your water super cold makes a big difference. I love this humongous Hydroflask water bottle because it holds enough water to last for more than 10 minutes, and it keeps the water icy cold for hours and hours! It’s nice to not need to whisper-shout at your spouse in the middle of the night (trying to wake up your spouse without waking up the babies) because you are so thirsty and trapped!

This insulated straw cup is another excellent option. I loved my big water bottle, but I was always a little concerned that I’d drop it on one of the babies, and it was HEAVY. The straw cup is small enough to comfortably hold in your hand, and the straw makes it easy to hold. You might need a helpful spouse available to refill it for you when you are stuck, since it’s not huge.

4. Make a great breastfeeding spot for yourself

Here’s the truth – you are going to spend a LOT of time breastfeeding, especially with twins. And with twins, it’s extra important to have a breastfeeding station where you are comfortable and you have everything you need within reach.

Breastfeeding twins means spending a lot of time essentially topless, especially in the beginning when you and babies are still learning. For me, that was uncomfortable, and I felt much more comfortable being in a more private spot in the house. Then I could be away from visiting guests, and wouldn’t be seen from the window. 

Set up a table that you can easily reach (even while nursing or nap trapped). You’ll want a spot for water, snacks, breast pads, nipple shields, clean burp cloths, chapstick, a phone charger, nipple cream, and anything else you might want. 

It’s also really nice to have a TV within view from your spot. My babies spent so much time dozing, and I didn’t want to move them. They sleep through everything when they are tiny, so why not catch up on your favorite show while you are nap trapped.

Other tips

5. Breastfeeding Twins is a Marathon not a Sprint

Breastfeeding twins has a lot of extra complications over breastfeeding a singleton. First, MANY many twins are born premature and may not be ready to breastfeed from day one. The time to feed two before you get the hang of it is a lot, making it feel pretty overwhelming. But tandem feeding adds another layer of complexity.

My twins were born at 36 weeks, and one was strong enough to breastfeed, but one was not. Plus, my nipples are less than ideal for breastfeeding. For close to 6 weeks, we struggled. They latch and unlatch 100 times, so I’d end up with milk spraying all over the place. There was a lot of spit up, and a lot of frustration.

But then suddenly, it was easy. SO easy. I could pick up both babies, pop them on, and get them fed in less than 10 minutes. I could do it easily, without help, and I didn’t need to wash any bottles, or do any prep. It FINALLY paid off.

So if you are a couple of weeks in, frustrated, crying because it takes so long, don’t give up! Any day now, the switch will flip and suddenly it’ll be easy! Learning from my lactation specialist that it is totally normal to take over a month to really get the hang of breastfeeding really gave me some perspective.

6. Keep Working with a Lactation Specialist

Because learning to breastfeed does take time, but you don’t want to keep going down the path if something really is wrong, keep working with lactation specialist. They are the expert and are just extremely helpful. You might need a few sessions with a specialist, or maybe just one more to get things on track. But it’s not a huge time or financial commitment, most of the time.

When I was still frustrated and just not getting it a couple weeks in, I was able to hire another one to come TO MY HOUSE! I did have to pay a bit extra to have someone come to the house. BUT it meant I didn’t have to pack up infant twins and get out of the house.

If the extra cost of having a lactation specialist come to you is not an option, don’t give up hope. My insurance covered a visit to the lactation specialist’s office 100%. Some lactation centers set up times for nursing moms to go in and breastfeed with an expert watching. They may have a station to do weighted feed, and more. Ask for pricing, because even if your insurance doesn’t cover, there may be low cost or free services to support you.

7. Focus on hydration and getting enough to eat

Even when I’m not nursing, I drink a LOT of water. Like 2-3 liters a day. While nursing twins, I drank even more. Obviously drinking enough water isn’t going to be the magic bullet for everyone, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Plus, being properly hydrated is always beneficial and it’s a great time to focus on healthy habits.

Those first few weeks (or even months) is not the time to put yourself on a super restrictive diet. Your body needs a TON of extra calories to support breastfeeding twins, approximately 1000 calories per day above what you’d need if you weren’t breastfeeding. So let yourself eat! I kept a bowl of the super delicious and extremely high-calorie trail mix at my little nursing station, ate about 6 meals a day, and as many snacks as I wanted. My body craved lot of protein, and lots of fruit and vegetables. Salads have never tasted so good! But I ate plenty of high calorie, not so healthy foods as well. And even with all of that extra eating, the baby weight came off in 4-5 months. Obviously not everyone will have the same results as me, but the point is to remember that you are burning calories like crazy!

8. Try Nipple Shields

My letdown was so powerful it could probably spray milk across the room. It was a bit too powerful for my tiny babies. The flow would overwhelm them, and even choke them a little bit. Nipple shields can help regulate the flow making it so babies won’t be frustrated by the massive amount of flow they get right away.

Nipple shields can also help with latch if your nipple isn’t absolutely perfect for your babies’ mouths. However, they can also add one more frustration to the process. Trying to get them positioned just right is tough . Then once you get it, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your baby to latch before it falls off again. But, for me, they were only needed until my babies got the hang of breastfeeding. It helped them learn, but they were not necessary long term.

Because they are just one more thing you have to wash, I’d recommend buying at least 6 so you can make it through the night without washing. 

9. Pump when needed, but realize that it’s not as effective as nursing

A regular double electric pump is great for keeping supply going when you can’t be there to nurse your baby, or when they decide to skip a nursing session in the night (if you are ever that lucky- I was never that lucky). And you’ll definitely want to stick with the pumping.

But, for me, a pump was just not as effective at completely emptying the breast. I had to go back to work at 12 weeks, but was able to work only half time. So while I did have to pump a LOT, I also had the flexibility to squeeze in some extra nursing sessions if ever my supply seemed to be dwindling.

10. Eat Lactation Cookies

Truth told, I have no idea if lactation cookies actually work. But I do know that these lactation cookies taste delicious, and that nursing twins is really hard so moms who do it deserve a cookie. Or a hundred cookies. Also, my husband was afraid to eat them so they were all MINE!

11. Don’t be afraid to quit if it’s not working for you anymore

I breastfed my twins for 2 years, and by the end, I was DONE! Like done done. I had such bad nursing aversion that I literally could not stand it another second. But I was so afraid that if I stopped, the boys would never sleep again, or they would scream until the end of time, or would suddenly start getting sick all the time, or SOMETHING. But none of that happened. They were totally fine.

And putting myself through that anguish was totally not worth it. If you don’t want to breastfeed anymore, YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

These are the things that worked for me, and helped me have a successful breastfeeding journey with my late preterm twins. But I really hope some of the things I learned will help you as well!

Also check out some of our other infant twins tips here.

We live a short car ride away from Seattle, and love heading down for a small dose of big city life and all the amazing attractions that come with it. And Seattle has a ton! What I love about Seattle is that this city is truly unique. There are so many great attractions in Seattle that you simply cannot experience elsewhere.

The Seattle Center is a great example, with the Space Needle, and the beautiful, sprawling, park-city area of Seattle Center. Also, unlike downtown Seattle, which is bustling and can feel a bit overwhelming for families with kids, the Seattle Center is truly relaxing, with lots of space for kids to explore and run around. Plus, you can get away with not driving, which is a HUGE benefit when you have two kiddos in car seats.

The Seattle Center is our favorite place to stay when we visit Seattle with our kids. Here our some of our favorite activities while we are there.

Where to stay

What makes Seattle Center great is that you can do SO MUCH without driving. So when we want to hang out at the Seattle Center, we prefer to stay within walking distance. And there really is no better place for families than the Hyatt House. The Hyatt hotel chain is a favorite of ours, with reliably great rooms, QUIET rooms and excellent service.

Hyatt House Seattle Center

Hyatt House Seattle Center 1 bedroom suite, kitchen
The kitchen in the 1 bedroom suite

The Hyatt House at Seattle Center is extra amazing for a few reasons. First, it’s RIGHT there- overlooking the Space Needle, and right in the action. Secondly, the rooms are much more spacious than a ‘standard’ room in most hotels. And for a surprisingly reasonable price, you can upgrade to a suite! Suites are either studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom, and all have a beautiful kitchen. They are roomy with a sleeping area and a separate living room area, nicely updated, and comfortable. And even if you don’t plan on cooking in your room, it’s so nice to have a space to eat take out, or a fridge to store leftovers or snacks.

Hyatt House Seattle Center 1 bedroom suite
Living space in the 1 bedroom suite

What to do

Explore

One of the reasons I love the Seattle Center is that it’s just a beautifully designed area. Simply strolling around the area, taking in the views, enjoying the public art, the open grassy areas, and, if you are lucky, the amazing Seattle sunshine (trust us – Seattle summers are EPIC – perfect weather and almost NO rain). So take your time getting your bearings at the Seattle Center.

Space Needle

At the center of the Seattle Center – the main attraction – maybe the reason you came to Seattle – the SPACE NEEDLE! By the time you’ve made it to the bottom of the Space Needle, you’ve probably been checking it out from every view on your way over. And as you get closer, there are all kinds of great photo ops that you will certainly enjoy.

Space Needle

Now I’m probably going to get a little controversial here. Going up to the top of the Space Needle IS cool. But it’s not mandatory. The lines are long, the ticket price is high, and it just might be a disappointment, especially if you are traveling with young children who are just not going to care. So, if it’s on your bucket list, go for it. But if you just aren’t excited to pay that ticket price, skip it. Looking at it from the ground is good enough!

Pacific Science Center

Outside exhibit a the Pacific Science Center

Do NOT miss the Pacific Science Center if you are traveling with kids. Absolutely do not miss it. It’s an amazing hands-on museum with tons of really fun activities for toddlers through adults. The museum is divided up into sections by topic. Exhibits include some very cool water play, human body, butterflies and other insects, the Earth, space, dinosaurs and more. Every exhibit is literally packed full of hands-on activities, and they are all really engaging and fun.

Space Exhibit at Pacific Science Center

International Fountain

The International Fountain is ENORMOUS and quite a sight to see. You can easily just sit on the edge and enjoy the views for quite some time. It has 5 water and music synchronized shows and and dazzles in the sunlight. The mist cools you off on hot summer days, but is totally avoidable on chillier days.

If you and your kids are a bit more adventurous (and the weather allows), climb right down and play in the bowl of the fountain. You can get soaked, or just a gentle mist and will have tons of fun running around down in this beautiful fountain.

The Seattle Children’s Museum

My kids and I LOVE children’s museums and make sure to visit one everywhere we go. Of course Seattle is no exception. This one has a great, HUGE construction area complete with kids construction hats and gear, a Global village where you can ‘visit’ three cities, a large and well-stocked market complete with grocery carts and cash registers and more.

This museum is on the smallish side, and you probably won’t spend an entire day here, but the space is well used so every space feels large enough to explore, and exhibits are obviously well thought out and will be enjoyed!

“Artists at Play” Playground

Artists at play playground, Seattle Center

This playground might just be the most amazing playground I’ve ever seen. That said, it’s really only for older children and even adults. In order to get up to the HUGE swirly slide, you must first climb up a tall, and extremely complex net ladder. It’s probably 20 feet up before you get into any kind of structure, so it’s possible (though unlikely) for younger, smaller kids to fall quite far. The slide is also perhaps a bit TOO epic for younger children.

Daring and athletic kids will absolutely adore this playground. It’ll probably be the most challenging and fun playground they’ll ever play on. Plus, the playground is just stunning. They’ll be dying to get out and climb on it.

Artists at Play Playground, Seattle Center

For younger families, there are a couple of smaller playground pieces off to the side. One is sort of a miniature version of the main playground. While we appreciated the effort of the park to include all ages, my kids know that they aren’t at the ‘main attraction’, and aren’t as interested. Even for my littles, the playground is fun to check out, and test their growing skills.

Things we Skip with Younger Kids

Chihuly Garden and Glass

CHihuly Museum from the outside
The amazing views from outside of the Chihuly museum

There are some really great Chihuly pieces that can be enjoyed from outside the museum, sparkling in the sunshine. And we recommend just enjoying those pieces with your kiddos. The colors and the pieces are truly amazing, but my kids just really don’t enjoy checking out museums where you can’t touch anything.

The Museum of Pop Culture

MoPop has some great kid-friendly exhibits for sure, but MOST of it is designed for more mature visitors. There is a lot of history of rock music stuff, movie making, and more that kids, especially younger kids, just aren’t going to care about.

Star Wars costumes, MoPop
A great Costumes of Star Wars Exhibit at MoPop. Our kids do love Star Wars, but seeing original costumes just isn’t that exciting for them.

Where to Eat

Another huge plus of the Seattle Center is the numerous super convenient food options. During busy summer days, the Seattle Center is filled with food trucks and carts offering treats and snacks. Restaurants from quick to fine-dining are within walking distance, and so many of them are simply delicious.

The Armory

Right in the middle of the Seattle Center, the Armory provides an elevated food court style experience. Everyone in your family will find what they are looking for at the Armory with choices ranging from sweet treats, to burgers, meat pies to vegan specialties.

The area can get pretty crowded and a bit loud. So we recommend grabbing your food, then heading outside to the wonderful grass area right out the door for a picnic. The wide-open spaces at the Seattle Center means you easily find yourself a nice area to stretch out and relax.

Other Dining Options On-Site

For more upscale tastes, and parents who aren’t afraid to take their kids to nicer restaurants, there are a couple of amazing options. At the Chihuly Museum, the Collections Cafe offers casual dining with a more local, Pacific northwestern feel.

At MoPop, Culture Kitchen by Wolfgant Puck offers another mouth-watering option. Again the meals are casual, but with an upscale ambiance and truly delicious food. They do have a children’s menu, which is always comforting to me- indicates they are at least somewhat OK with me bringing my kids.

At both Culture Kitchen and the Collections Cafe, you’ll want to plan ahead and make reservations if you’d like to visit.

Off-site But Close By

If you are willing to take a bit of a walk, check out Coba on the northwest side of the Seattle Center for excellent Vietnamese dishes, with takeout offered (since eating out with kids isn’t the MOST fun).

Closer to the Hyatt House, we love Mantra Thai and Zeeks Pizza. Both have really great, kid-friendly food, that you can take to go. If you are staying at the Hyatt House, you’ll be able to spread out and eat in comfort in your hotel room.

Other Things to do

Another reason that the Seattle Center is a great place to stay – the monorail. You can take the monorail from the Seattle Center to downtown Seattle, just a couple of blocks from Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Waterfront Park, Seattle Wheel, and more. This gives you easy access to many of the major attractions in Seattle withOUT driving!

Pike Place Market Sign

The monorail is easy to ride, and fun for kids. In fact, for my family, it’s a bit of an attraction on its own! Plus it’s stroller-friendly. And because the area near Pike Place is full of big hills, and it’s a bit of a walk down to the Aquarium, you will probably want that stroller.

If you are heading to Seattle, check out some of our other Seattle posts, including perhaps our FAVORITE Seattle attraction.

Before you head out on your next family vacation you might consider booking something a little bit different than your standard hotel room. Renting out a vacation rental, on VRBO, AirBnB, or other similar sites can give you another option if hotel rooms just aren’t working for you and your family or traveling group. However, because vacation rentals are so different from hotels, there are a few important tips you’ll need to ensure your stay is just as wonderful as you imagine it will be!

Vacation rental on the beach
Relaxing at our beach house

Comparing Vacation Rentals to Hotels

First, you’ll want to understand that vacation rentals are completely different from hotels in so many ways. Check out these pros and cons of vacation rentals, when compared to hotels.

Pros:

  • Typically more space
  • Kitchen for meal flexibility and to save on food costs
  • Families can get a place with bedrooms, and bedroom doors, making early bedtimes, and sleeping in general, much easier
  • Often more affordable
  • Just more options when it comes to types of stays.  You can find large houses, smaller condos, places with yards, and more.  Hotel rooms are all essentially the same, when it comes to space and layout.  
  • May be able to find a vacation rental in areas that do not have hotels
  • More private (is this a pro or a con?)
  • Can be a more unique, personal experience.  Vacation rentals can feel like you are visiting a friend’s home.  Often, hosts are thrilled to have you stay and share their amazing home
  • Many places are pet-friendly, with adequate space for pets to be comfortable
  • Better for group stays, or family reunions, in my opinion

Cons

  • No daily cleaning service.  
  • More limited services compared to a hotel.  For example, a vacation rental will obviously not have an onsite restaurant or bar, or a fitness center, typically toiletries are not provided, and no 24-hour front desk service if you discover you need something
  • Cancellation policies vary, but typically,  you will not be able to cancel within 30 days.  Even early cancellations can mean a loss of up to 50% of the total cost.  
  • Rates can be difficult to understand. Owners fees, cleaning fees, service fees can add up, and for short stays, even exceed the nightly rate.
  • Maintenance issues may not be taken care of as quickly as compared to a hotel.  Smaller hosts just don’t have the capacity to take on maintenance issues as quickly as a hotel with staff dedicated to the maintenance of the property
  • No way to accrue loyalty points, travel with points or get any kind of upgrades because of brand loyalty.  

Comparing vacation rental services

When looking at a vacation rental to rent, there are several websites that can help you through the process. They each are a little bit different, with pros and cons for each. 

AirBnb

Airbnb does have a huge variety of rental properties, but if you are looking for a small place, a campsite, or any kind of unique stay (they even have treehouses!), Airbnb is often going to be the best option.  To aid in choosing a rental, AirBnb offers reviews on both the host and the property.  Hosts with great reviews can be assigned ‘Superhosts’, which is a great assurance.  Airbnb also really focuses on safety, with confirmation that hosts have had background checks and been verified by Airbnb.  They highlight anything missing from properties (such as smoke detectors) to ensure guests are at least aware.  Booking is quick and easy, and we’ve had great experiences with AirBnb. Note that for AirBnb, and VRBO, cancellation policies are set by the individual host, so read policies carefully before booking.  

VRBO

VRBO and Homeaway are now just one company, and we look there first for larger vacation rentals, including budget stays.  Like AirBnB, VRBO identifies its best hosts as ‘Premier Partners’, and verifies all hosts for safety.  VRBO is owned by Expedia, and it shows – searches and booking through VRBO are quick and easy.

Vacasa

In our experience, Vacasa offers more high-end properties, both large and small.  But be sure to check out Vacasa even if your budget isn’t huge – you never know what you’ll find there.  Vacasa is a bit different than VRBO or AirBnb in that you are interfacing with Vacasa, and never with the host directly.  Vacasa functions as the property manager for all it’s properties.  That means cancellation policies are set by Vacasa instead of the host, and you’ll find more consistency in the quality of photos and information for each rental property.  During Covid-19, Vacasa is allowing guests to cancel until 24 hours before check-in for full credit to be used on any Vacasa property (maybe not as great as cash, but much better than most vacation rentals).  However, they are a bit less likely to be flexible on any of their properties, since you are dealing with a larger company rather than just a person, as in some of the other vacation rentals.  

Local Companies

Many great vacation locations have smaller independent vacation rental companies or short term rental managers.  Often these companies have been around a long time, and have a number of properties all grouped together.  These companies of course vary, but they can be another great option.  They are a bit harder to find, since they only exist in certain localities – just do a quick search for vacation rentals in the area you want to visit to find a local company a bit further down on the page. These types of places can be REALLY great for larger groups, like a family reunion, who need more than one house closer together.  Or perhaps if they are more established, they might just have the best location.  

While each vacation rental company SORT of has a specialty, the differences are really pretty minimal, and there is a TON of overlap. So, just check them all out, if you can.

Tips for choosing a great rental and having a great stay!

Truth be told, choosing a great vacation rental is just not as easy as picking a great hotel. But with a few helpful tips, you’ll be well on your way to choosing YOUR perfect vacation rental!

Be prepared to spend some extra time choosing a vacation rental

Choosing a rental can be a bit tedious (especially if you are an over-planner like me).  Listings are often not categorized correctly (for example, clicking beachfront will pull up many properties that are not beachfront, and many that ARE beachfront will not be included).  This is just the nature of the service.  Hosts will click the wrong button, intentionally or unintentionally, and it’s impossible to keep everything accurate.  Listings don’t always include all of the information you need, and you may need to message the host.  Also, when you choose a price range, that will not account for any owner’s fees, cleaning fees, etc.  And on vacation rentals, those fees can be HUGE, and can easily move a rental out of your price range.  

Riverfront view from our vacation rental
Remote location with a prime view – tough to find when you are just looking at hotels!

Read reviews carefully

When it comes to picking a vacation rental, you, of course, can’t just pick a brand that you trust and go with it. So your only insight is the reviews. Just like anywhere, not all reviewers are created equal so take each individual review with a grain of salt.  Just look for patterns.  I’ve seen not so great reviews because the guest didn’t like, for example, the furniture.  The furniture might be just fine for you – and you’ll likely be able to check out a photo to see for sure. But, keep an eye out for reviews mentioning poor customer service, or an unclean rental.  

Not all vacation rentals have reviews, or have a lot of reviews.  It’s a bit of a gamble to not have any insights from others who have booked the same place, but don’t be afraid to ask the host any questions you can think up.  And, you just might get a deal on a new vacation rental BECAUSE there are no reviews yet.  

Read the Rules Carefully

Vacation rentals are typically pretty strict on the maximum guest count, and many do not allow any kind of party, or gathering or whatever. Some vacation rentals are listed as ‘not suitable for children’ (it is quite rare however), and many list a minimum age for the primary renter. You may also encounter quiet hours, and if you are traveling with pets, typically pre-approval (and often fees) are required even though the listing SAYS pet-friendly.

You’ll likely find that most of the rules are just fine, or maybe even preferable for you as a guest. But it’s good to read and understand these rules before you book. You’d hate to have a misunderstanding, and wind up in a place with rules that just won’t work for you. Or worse, end up getting kicked out because you were not complying with the rules

Question the listing

I don’t believe that most hosts are trying to trick you, but sometimes a vacation rental listing will imply something that isn’t exactly true (perhaps not intentionally).  For example, a listing might be categorized as ‘beachfront’, and show a picture of the beach.  But the fact is, it’s a 2 block walk to the beach.  Maybe that’s ok, but if you are EXPECTING to be right on the beach, you might be disappointed.  

Layout of the house can be also difficult to understand from photos. The house may end up looking and feeling much more crowded than expected. Bedroom layout also might be different than expected.  We often find beds in a loft area.  That might work great for your family, but it also might not and it’s nice to know and understand ahead of time.

One more thing we’ve encountered is that beaches on lakes or rivers can be seasonal.   In spring or summer, they may still be underwater. 

If there is anything you aren’t sure about, or just want to confirm, be sure to reach out to your host.  Hosts are typically happy to answer any of your questions – they want you to have a great stay.  

lots of vacation rentals have bunk rooms
Bunk rooms are kid approved!

Map it

Typically, exact locations aren’t given in VRBO or whichever company you are using.  But, using the description, the map on the listing given the APPROXIMATE location, and google maps, you can often figure it out.  Google street view and/or google satellite are great tools to narrow it down, and at least get you close the exact location.  It’s just one more confirmation that you are getting exactly what you think you are getting when you rent.

Look for bonuses

Some rentals will provide a few extras to make your stay a little bit EXTRA special. For example, some homes include a pool table, an air hockey table, or just a collection of kids’ toys A beach rental may provide some beach chairs, or a kayak free for you to use. These items are definitely nice to have and can even cut down on your packing volume. So don’t forget to look for these items, and consider the benefits of these little bonuses when choosing your perfect rental.

Choosing the right vacation rental can be a long and tedious process, but you might just end up with an amazing place that is SO much more than a hotel. We absolutely love staying in a vacation rental, and find out vacations at a vacation rental to be much more relaxing, carefree, and just fun!

So I hope you find a perfect place for your next stay. Let us know if you have in the comments.

Now that more and more families live farther apart, family reunions are more important than ever! We have no family nearby, so planning family reunions, or just ANY trips, with our extended family, is the only way we can ensure our kids get to know their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Plus, add in great-grandparents, second cousins, and more, and we have a LOT of trips with extended families that need to make it on to our calendar.

And planning trips with a larger group, especially a multi-generational group, is tricky! With so many age groups, interests, budgets, energy levels, and schedules, it can feel impossible to get everyone in the same place at the same time. But, it can be done. And it can be memorable and amazing! With these great tips, you’ll be sure to plan an unforgettable family trip!

Budget

Perhaps the first consideration when planning your family reunion is budget. Before you even begin planning, it’s best to at least get SOME idea what the budget will be.

We like to err on the side of a lower budget when it comes to family reunion trips. It’s impossible for you to know the financial position of EVERYone in your group.  Unless you are planning to pay the bill, asking family members to stay at a 5-star resort may end up putting a ton of pressure on them to spend more than they can really afford.  If you can, get an idea of what everyone’s budget is, and be respectful of that number.

While we think you can plan a trip that everyone in your family is going to love, some members might feel like larger group trips mean a compromise on how they’d PREFER to spend their vacation. Since you can’t possibly plan a trip that will be the ideal vacation for every member of your family, some members might feel like they are spending a lot of money on something they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen (by the time the vacation is over, I bet they’ll be singing a different tune, but we’ll get to that later).

Family reunions mean great moments with family!

Location

Choosing a location for your family reunion is going to be impacted by the budget BIG TIME. But there are a lot of other considerations as well.

Travelling limitations?

Think about any travel limitations family members might have. For example, my sister has 4 kids, and flying is painfully expensive for her, so they prefer not to. BUT they are great road trippers. My family – we hate road trips. Anything over 6 hours, we’ll definitely fly. So picking somewhere close to us isn’t that important. And, my 94-year-old grandmother – she’s simply too old to travel very far at all. So if we want to see her, we need to go to her.

Time of year

When you are traveling with a bigger group, finding a free week for EVERYONE is likely going to be next to impossible. You might end up with one or two weeks in the YEAR that works for everyone. So you you’ll just have to work with whatever you’ve got and make the most of it.

Since we live pretty far north, by the time spring break rolls around, we are DEFINITELY ready to seek out some warmer weather. And sometimes, mid-winter, we start craving some serious snow (since we barely get snow). In the summer, we are pretty much happy to go anywhere- near, or far since we are getting sun at home. So think about the time of year you’ll be traveling, and what type of experience you’ll be craving.

We love the beach!

What is available

Sometimes, I plan a trip just based on which location has exactly what I’m looking for. Maybe it’s a fantastic resort. Maybe a cruise port. Maybe the coolest rental house I’ve ever seen. And it’s just as good a reason to go somewhere as any.

Interests 

Another major consideration when planning your family reunion are the interests and kind of the overall personality of the group. And the tough part is you are likely going to have major differences in interests, vacation style, and activity level. Without careful planning, you might find that your family group ends up taking completely separate vacations at the same physical location.  With everyone heading out to do their favorite thing, you might end up only see the entire group a few minutes a day!

But if you plan carefully, you’ll truly get the time to connect and enjoy your family, while still getting out to do the things you love. When it comes to planning for a great trip for everyone, it’s bound to be a bit of an iterative process.

My process is to pick a starting point for a location, then scan through each family member, and think through some of the things they might enjoy. Are there any? Are there activities that will work well with a group? For example, are you going to be staying next to a great hiking area where your nephew will love going out for 12-mile hikes every day, but no one else will be able to keep up with him? Maybe not a great choice. But maybe there are a number of great short hikes, that are more well suited to younger, or older, family members.

Find a couple of great group activities that EVERYONE in your group can enjoy. Sometimes it’ll bump you out of your comfort zone a little bit and you might just end up having the time of your life!

We had no idea just how FUN our UTV ride would be!

Where to stay

Where you choose to stay has a huge impact on the success of your vacation!  I don’t mean that you need it to be in a super luxurious place – you just want something that is perfectly laid out for your group. There are a few things you’ll want to consider while planning your next family reunion:

  1. Can you comfortably dine together? For my family, mealtimes, especially dinners are important. So when we all travel to see each other, we want to make sure we can eat at least one meal a day together.
  2. Is there ENOUGH space? Let’s face it – 12 adults just do not want to be sharing one bathroom. We don’t mind squeezing in a little bit, but not having enough space, getting quality sleep, and always worrying about bathroom availability is not going to make your trip great.
  3. Are there things to do nearby? With a variety of ages, some members of your group are going to opt-out of some activities. It’s nice if the activities are close so you don’t end up completely isolating members of your group. Staying on a beach or near a pool is fantastic because anyone who needs to head in for a break will be able to come out and rejoin the group whenever he or she is ready.

Specifics

Vacation Rentals – One Big House

Booking a big house for your group on VRBO, Vacasa, or AirBnB is a really wonderful option for your family reunion. For groups up to about 15, you’ll find plenty of fantastic rental house options with 5 or more bedrooms. Larger groups of 20 or more might have a more difficult time, but it never hurts to take a look. Larger vacation rentals often have big, spacious kitchens, bunk rooms for the kids, and lots of space to comfortably relax.

With a single large house, you’ll have tons of space to chat, have meals together, and, if you have younger kids and you are very lucky – you might even get some free babysitting (and a minute of free time!) thanks to grandparents or aunts or uncles.  The great thing about this option is that, even if everyone’s daily plan doesn’t always match up, you are sure to be constantly bumping into everyone in your group!

Pros

  • large spaces to hang out as a group
  • large vacation rentals often have more amenities (you might find a rental with a private pool, sports equipment free to use such as kayaks, paddleboards, bikes, and more, game room, large chef’s kitchens, etc.)
  • Cooking is easy, so you’ll save money on eating out
  • Typically laundry facilities are available so you can pack lighter

Cons

  • May not have a lot of privacy with the potential for shared bathrooms, and shared common areas
  • Can be difficult to find houses large enough for larger groups
  • Can be noisy, making early bedtimes and early wakeups for little ones a bit difficult for the group
  • Communal food can be a little bit tricky
  • no daily cleaning service or hotel amenities

Vacation Rentals – Multiple smaller condos

On the other hand, if you are the type of family that needs a bit more privacy (even from your extended family), you might find the larger shared home to be a bit overwhelming.  While there may be plenty of SHARED space, you are not likely to have much private space at all.  If this describes your family, you might consider multiple units in a condo complex. 

Renting several units at the same property might feel KIND of like staying at a hotel.  But, condos typically have kitchens, and a bit more living space.  Though each living space is not likely to be HUGE, you will have enough space to invite others over.  If you choose, one individual family can choose to host the entire group, or a subgroup for dinner one evening.  Then the next night, a different individual family can host, and rotate through.  That way, you’ll still be getting lots of family time without cramping anyone’s style. 

Pros

  • Privacy for each individual family unit
  • Condo units are typically easy to find
  • Can work for extremely large families or groups
  • Easier for individual families to maintain their own sleep and activity schedule
  • Quiet
  • Kitchen means saving money on eating out

Cons

  • No large group space
  • Units may not be right next to each other
  • Units may be all the same size, so they may not work for each individual family unit
  • no daily cleaning service or hotel amenities

Resorts/Cruises

Staying at a mega-resort for your family reunion can be so great because there is a little bit for everyone. Maybe golfing for grandpa, a great swimming pool for the kids, and some amazing restaurants for their foodie aunt.  And when you are ready to get together, a quick loop around the resort will usually be enough to round up the group.  

Cruises obviously have some very BIG differences compared to resorts, but the basic idea is the same.  Everyone in your group can spend their time getting out to do whatever excites them on the ship, or on an excursion, with plenty of opportunities to hang out during the day as well. Additionally, each evening, you can have dinner together as a group.  Just make sure everyone in your party has their reservations linked so that you can all be seated together.  

Pros

  • Daily cleaning service
  • Meals are all prepared for you, so no one needs to spend time cooking or washing dishes
  • Tons of activities and things to do for everyone

Cons

  • The convenience fee for having EVERYTHING in one spot can be pretty high.  So staying at these amazing resorts can easily bust the budget for many families
  • With larger crowds, it can be difficult to find a comfortable space for a larger group to gather
  • Even if you are able to find a space, it won’t be private (and probably not quiet either).  

Our pick?

After doing quite a few larger family vacations, I have to say our absolute FAVORITE type of family vacation is at a large vacation rental house on the lake, as long as there is a great beach!  

Reasons a lake house is amazing for a family reunion (or group trip of any kind)

The Large house is fantastic for a bigger group. Perhaps you’ll be a bit crowded, but with family (or close friends), we don’t mind giving up a bit of privacy in favor of some extra time together. Big, shared kitchens are perfect for preparing big meals together. We divide up the work, with everyone taking one night to make a great meal for the group. Then no one feels overwhelmed by all the cooking and cleaning.

A big house also means lots of built in babysitters. My husband and I can go for a little kayak ride together and we have tons of people that will happily watch our kids for a bit, and no advanced planning required! Or, if I need to run in and go to the bathroom or something, I don’t have to force my kids to leave the beach, or panic that something could happen since there are tons of eyes watching out for them.

My kids go to bed early, so in a big shared house, I get to actually talk to family without interruption after the kids go to bed. It’s nice not to be trapped in a hotel room after bedtime at 7:30 pm.

A lake is a really great family destination because it’s low cost, relaxing, but with still SO much to do. No strong current, big waves, or fast-moving water make it easy for young kids to sit and play on the beach or wade or swim in shallow water. Older kids and adults can go out kayaking, paddleboarding, or fishing. And those who just like to relax in the sun are free to do that as well.

I love that even when everyone is going in different directions, and doing whatever it is that they love the most, we all see each other constantly. And the quiet of the lake is so relaxing for everyone – the outside time has SUCH a positive impact on my kids’ happiness and behavior, so we are all happy and calm.

Whatever type of vacation you choose for your family, you are bound to have an amazing trip. As a parent, especially a parent with no family close by, these family reunions, or extended family trips, are something we’ve really grown to cherish. These are experiences you’ll never regret having, and photos you’ll be framing and hanging up on the wall. I hope this helps you get out there and plan your trip!

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If you are planning a trip to Disneyland and/or California Adventure with your preschooler, you are in for a treat! Disneyland is amazing for 3-year-olds, and amazing for the parents of 3-year-olds as well.  Kids in the 3-4 year range are big enough for most everything in the resort, will be familiar with many of the characters or at least will BECOME familiar with them, and will have the stamina to handle the excitement that is Disneyland.  

On a recent trip, we got to explore Disneyland with not one, not two, but THREE 3 year olds.  All three kids had an unforgettable time, and were truly a joy to be with the entire time. Having that third – 3 year old there really gave us some great insights into the overall experience of having a 3 year old (not just OUR 3 year olds) at Disneyland. 

So here are our top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with your 3 year old, or preschool aged child!

 1. Use a stroller! 

I know, I know.  It seems ridiculous for your wild and full of energy preschooler to be riding around in a stroller, but trust us on this one.  On a recent trip to Disneyland, we walked nearly 12 miles in one day. We NEVER use our stroller, and my kids are generally full of energy and able to walk quite far, but there is absolutely no way they could have walked 12 miles. Plus, it allowed us to stay out at the resort later, knowing that if the kids got tired, they would fall asleep in the stroller.  I feel like we will be using the stroller at Disneyland for a WHILE longer (like definitely YEARS).

Strollers are a great idea at DIsneyland
strollers really are mandatory!

The stroller is an easy place for kids to snack while on the move, and can hold an extra jacket, water bottle, or anything really.  Plus Disneyland is MADE for strollers. There are tons of areas designed for stroller parking, and stroller theft is very uncommon.  

Looking for a great Disneyland stroller? We LOVE Maclaren- the Twin Triumph (double) and Triumph (single) are both extremely lightweight with fully reclinable seats, a full sunshade, plenty of extra storage, and no compromise on ease of pushing.  

 2. Go on off season, if you can

If you are taking your trip to Disneyland with just a 3-year-old, or withOUT any school-aged kids, take advantage of the date flexibility.  Disney parks are busier whenever school is out, so going during school months, and/or mid-week can mean a quiet park with short lines.  It’s just easier for your preschooler to miss school than it will be once he or she is a bit older.  

If you aren’t a football fanatic, Superbowl Sunday is typically quite quiet, especially for a weekend. In fact, the last week in January up until the week before Presidents Day are typically the quietest days at Disneyland. Also, after spring break crowds disappear, mid to late April, there is typically quiet until the graduation crowds start to show up the second week of May. As an added bonus, the weather is likely going to be fantastic by late spring. Check out this fantastic Disneyland crowd forecast for specifics.

Of course, park hours are shorter on less busy times of the year, but your preschool-aged kid won’t want to stay out until midnight anyway, so it’s hardly a con. And even on the shortest Disneyland days, you’ll have 11-12 hours to enjoy the park.    

 3. Know how tall your child is, and be aware of ride height requirements

Disneyland is great for small children because most of the rides do not have height requirements.  But as your child gets a little bit older, they might start noticing rides that appeal to them. And some of those rides might have height requirements that you’ll want to be prepared for. Check out this helpful Disneyland height requirement here and keep in mind, MOST rides are not listed because they have no limits at all. 

Most 3-year-olds are in the 35-40 inch range, so shorter 3-year-olds may find some fun rides that they are not yet tall enough to ride.  That’s ok- Disneyland will not be a disappointment, I promise.  Be prepared and don’t hype up a ride until you are sure they are tall enough to ride.  There are so many options, and 3-year-olds can be amazingly agreeable at Disneyland.  BUT if you need an emergency out, tell them the line is very long. Kids learn quickly that they do NOT want to be standing in line forever, so they will happily find a ride with a shorter line.  They might remember later, but you can continue with your little fib as needed.  

4. Know the rides, and your children’s fears

If you are new to Disneyland, take some ahead of time to do a little research on rides. There are a million great ride videos out there, plus the Disneyland website attraction guide tells you if there are drops, darkness, etc.  

And of course, not all three-year-olds have the same fears.  My twins have no fear when it comes to physical rides- drops, spinning, fast movement, etc.  However, darkness and loud noises, or something jumping out at them freaks them out. On a recent visit with friends and their 3-year-old, we found her fears are basically the opposite; darkness, monsters, or any kind of psychological scary factors don’t impact her at all, but drops and spinning can be pretty scary for her.  

Toy Story Midway Mania was a hit!
Loving every ride!

Perhaps you know what scares your child.  Perhaps you don’t. Either way, the ride videos, and a discussion ahead of time can help you understand what might freak them out.  But don’t worry, kids are resilient. One scary ride isn’t enough to ruin the trip for them. Live and learn, and pick a better ride for your child on the next one.

But, once you arrive, you might push your child just the TINIEST bit if you think it won’t be traumatic.  They might find that any fears are nothing compared to the FUN! Plus, part of the fear is the unknown, so repeating a ride makes it less and less scary. For many young kids, a ride that is a bit scary the first time becomes a favorite ride the second and third time.  And don’t forget, many Disneyland rides are designed JUST for young kids. Those rides are not intended to be scary and are really enjoyable for toddlers.  

Toddlers at the Millennium Falcon ride
Brave kiddos ready to drive the Millennium Falcon!

 5. Use the Disneyland app

It doesn’t matter if you are going to Disneyland with 3-year-olds or 33-year-olds, you need the app.  Using the app, you have a great interactive map, you check wait times on every single ride, check height requirements, check-in with MaxPass, and even order food! Download it before you get there and maybe even get familiar with it.  You don’t want to be another phone zombie at the Happiest Place on Earth! 

And speaking of MaxPass, you’ll definitely want to strongly consider adding it to your ticket.  Yes, it’s an extra cost, but it will allow you to check into FastPass rides on mobile. If you have a ParkHopper pass, you can even FastPass rides in the opposite park, as long as you are inside ONE park and eligible to check-in.  It is a huge time saver and overall worthwhile, in my opinion.  

And I will say, having everything under control will really make your child’s experience that much greater.  Short lines, no waiting for meals, no confusion on which rides the child can and cannot do means much less frustration and a happy happy happy kiddo.  And let’s be honest- we are spending a lot of money for this trip to Disneyland because we want our kids to have the most amazing time ever! 

 6. Remember, 3-year-olds DO NOT care about the coolest/biggest/newest ride at Disneyland

Hey, you are the parents and you probably paid for this trip, so if you want to go to Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, you should get to! But don’t feel bad for your kids if you/they miss it.  The truth is, they don’t care which ride just opened up, or which ride is supposed to be AMAZING. Basically every ride is amazing for a 3 year old.  

Tow Mater Junkyard Jamboree at Disneyland
The Tow Mater ride is possibly my kids’ favorite at Disneyland!

And honestly, I’m pretty sure that in the mind of a 3-year-old, a ride that you have done 500 times and have memorized every twist and turn is the BEST kind of ride.  I bet if you picked 3 rides, and did those 3 rides over and over for your whole trip, your 3-year-old would be thrilled.  

(I can’t blame you if you don’t want to do that- I know I don’t want to ride the same silly ride all day long at Disney. And honestly, I won’t do that but it’s nice to know there is absolutely no pressure on Maxpassing, or waiting in line for the most EPIC Disneyland ride, or at least no pressure coming from your 3-year-old).  

 7. Bring carefully selected snacks

As you probably already know, Disneyland food prices are HIGH.  But the other important thing to consider is that most of the readily available snacks or meals are … not healthy.   Sure if you are paying attention, or if you are able to stop at a real restaurant, healthier options are certainly available.  However, many younger kids end up so distracted and having so much fun at Disneyland that they likely won’t know they are hungry, or even be able to focus on eating until they are HANGRY.  And when that moment hits, you may find that the closest options are popcorn or a churro. Maybe it’ll stop the hangry, but they certainly won’t be feeling their best, and if you carry on that pattern for a couple of days, they can end up feeling pretty rotten.  

It’s nice to have some snacks that will fuel them up without the stomachache.  We prefer snacks that won’t get smashed or have to be kept cold, like z bars (or any kind of protein bar) or dried fruit and nuts. If you are willing to put up with the hassle of packing a full lunch, you’ll be even better off, but we prefer to just bring emergency food supplies. 

And when it comes to meals, it’s honestly easy for EVERYONE to forget about real food.  Making a plan for one real meal (at a sit down restaurant) a day can help keep everyone on track, and give you a bit of forced downtime to relax a little bit (if you can ever relax at a restaurant with a younger child).  

8.  Come up with a plan ahead of time on what you will buy your child at Disneyland

With gift shops at the exit of every ride, and around every corner, temptation is HUGE.  You can expect your child to ask for a toy or a treat about every 8 minutes. And we all get swept up in the fun and excitement of it, so you’ll want to buy them everything.  But, to stick with your budget, and manage your sanity, you’ll want to have a plan you feel confident in. We all know that if you hesitate in the gift shop, or you show any sign that you are buying the toy, and then don’t buy the toy, you are asking for a tantrum. 

Carefully selected toy at Disneyland
A carefully selected toy, after hours of thinking about what they really wanted!

Perhaps you decide that your child doesn’t need any toys at Disneyland.  Perhaps they are allowed one, or one per day, or whatever. Tell them what the rule is, and it’ll be easier to stick with it. In my experience, setting dollar limits just doesn’t work for younger kids. They will spend hours trying to understand the pricing of every single item, and everyone will end up frustrated.

One thing that might work is to have them pick out their toy at the end.  That way, they will have seen every toy and only one or two will stick out in their memories as something they REALLY want.  It does mean you could end up walking across the park at the end of a long day, but your chances are better of not ending up with some dumb impulse purchase. 

 9. Familiarize your kids with the characters and scenes

It’s so fun for your younger child to recognize a familiar character.  So if you child is not already familiar with many of the Disney and Pixar characters, have your child spend their screen time on the days or weeks before your trip catching up a bit!

For example, Cars Land is super fun for Cars-loving kids. The entire area is identical to Radiator Springs, and will be immediately recognizable if you child has seen Cars a time or two.  If they haven’t, they are missing out on some of the fun!  

Cars Land Disneyland
Cars Land- just as magical as you imagine!

The same is true for Star Wars Land- the sight when you walk into the area is awe-inspiring and so much fun.  Star Wars might be a tougher one for your 3-year-old to get into, but we wound up picking a few fun (non-scary) clips of the movies to show them. You gotta know who Chewy is! Plus we found some YouTube videos of Star Wars Land that they were pretty excited about. Or maybe they just wanted to be like daddy who is the ULTIMATE Star Wars nerd! Either way, they loved seeing it in real life.  

And it’s not just the scenes.  There are TONS of Disney characters out there your kids might not be familiar with.  Many of the classics characters, even Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, may not be in the forefront for your child. And for young kids, recognizing the characters and sights seems to be half of the magic!

 10. Their Disneyland Stamina May Surprise you

Typically, for my kids, they will tell me when they are done with a thing.  Even with things that are super fun and amazing, the kids will just let me know when they are ready to go.  So I expected that at Disneyland, they’d be pretty exhausted around 5 pm. I thought they’d be telling me they were ready to go.  But as it turns out, that does not happen at Disneyland- ever.  

Exhausted kids after a full day at DIsneyland
Exhausted, way past bedtime, but so happy!

There is just nothing quite like Disneyland! My kids never stop having fun, and never seem to feel overwhelmed (much to my surprise).  They just keep going, super happy, until they fall asleep (and I’m typically not at all relaxed about sleep and nearly always stay strict on sleep routine, but we were all just happy as clams at Disneyland and can’t make ourselves leave). 

So be prepared to stay a bit later.  Bring warm clothes for the evening, and maybe even a blanket for cooler months.  Don’t make plans to be back at the hotel at 5 pm because you just might not WANT to. 

Of course, visiting Disneyland with your 3-year-old has its tricky moments, but with these few great tips, you are bound to have an amazing time!  For more tips on travel with preschoolers, check out our post here.

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