Our author goes all Bahama Mama when traveling to Atlantis with her son

By Jae-Ha Kim
Photos by Denton Morris
New York Post
October 25, 2010

For more than two decades, I waited patiently in airports, watching couples with screaming children board ahead of me. Some day, I thought, it’ll be my turn.

So when I took my two-year-old son, Kyle, on his first vacation, I showed up for the flight anticipating the royal treatment.

Not that day, apparently. Not on that airline (United).

“God,” I thought. “What’s the point in having kids?”

Hours later, watching him paddle around in a shallow pool at the kid-friendly Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, I kind of had my answer.

The point was to sit and take pictures of your kid doing cute things in swimming pools, all around the world.

Like most new parents, I had been stressed at the prospect of my first long-distance trip with a toddler. I don’t think it’s cute when he cries or screams in public; I want him to pipe down just as much as you do, trust me.

Nervous about the prospect of premiering my parental act on the road, I rang up family-travel expert Eileen Ogintz, who writes the syndicated column “Taking the Kids.”

She was reassuring, but she also wanted to make sure we weren’t setting ourselves up for disaster.

“Families tend to plan too much,” she said. “Cut your itinerary in half.”

Relax, she advised me. “Embrace the experience. Enjoy all the conversations you will have because of your adorable child.”

I’d already made sure we didn’t overplan — we were literally going to sit at the resort and do nothing the entire time — but I wasn’t prepared for her other words of wisdom.

As it turns out, having a cute toddler with a penchant for high-fiving strangers is like toting around catnip. Apparently, Kyle saves his worst for when it’s just us, in private. In public, he was like a well-behaved movie star. He went straight to work at the airport, charming the sort of shop girls I had always assumed were beyond human emotion.

Put him on a plane, I learned, and suddenly he’s the flight attendants’ favorite passenger. I’m not ashamed to say that we used him as a means to reel in extra snacks.

Somewhere along the line — around the same time that he learned to high-five — Kyle learned how to fist bump as well. Most likely thanks to Dad. Arriving at Atlantis, after a half-day of travel, he had fist bumps for everyone from the concierge (always a good one to have on your side) to several traveling NBA basketball players whose names I cannot remember.

From moment one, he was completely in his element.

This is understandable; while Atlantis has taken major steps in recent years to appeal to adults, a major priority here seems to be ensuring that children are completely in charge of their parents, dragging them from one attraction to the next.

Kyle was far too young for many of the organized kid activities the resort had scheduled but he still had a blast.

His daily schedule included playing in the sand, swimming in the ocean and eyeballing the resort’s resident dolphins.

He especially loved checking out all the fish in the aquariums. He had been to an aquarium back home — the Shedd, in Chicago — but the floor-to-ceiling exhibits at the Atlantis were more kid-friendly.

He could get up-close and personal with the fish without having to be hoisted on our shoulders.

Kyle was so busy having fun he barely ate anything, and ended up coming home one pound lighter.

His parents, I can report, did not lose any pounds. But we had plenty of fun, too.

INFO For more information, visit atlantis.com

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Traveling with children doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Sure, changes of environment can be tough, but bringing the comforts of home with you can make a tremendous difference.

1) While a 2-year-old clearly knows when they’re not home, keeping the daily routine intact makes trips more pleasant.

2) Make sure your child naps at the same time they would at home and bring their favorite blanket or toy to sleep with.

3) Here’s a good one — bring the soap you normally would use in the bath at home.

4) Also make sure to bring their favorite snacks.

5) Most importantly, when you’re traveling with toddlers, they’re in charge. You may want to cram in a few more sights or events, but after a certain point, they will have reached their limit, and you’ll just be pushing your luck.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/lifestyle/travel/mom_travel_survival_guide_ergponlbzqBt53nHRmUcIJ#ixzz13Qp2zlCk