Have you ever traveled with your kid alone?
I never did until my husband planned another hunting trip with his dad. I am an active person, and staying home waiting for my husband to come back from the woods doesn’t fit my character very well. We are not in 1911 anymore!
I’ve also been wanting to travel alone with our little girl for a long time. Traveling one on one with someone makes the whole experience a lot more meaningful. This is why so many parents want to have romantic weekends once in a while: it is the perfect moment to bond, connect with your spouse.
Two weeks before my husband’s hunting trip, I decided to bring my little 4-year old adventuress to Cuba again, a safe, fun and gorgeous country, to create unforgettable memories and share very special moments together.
I choose to stay at the Iberostar Laguna Azul, a top all-inclusive resort in Varadero. How did it really go? Let me tell you in details what went super well and the mistakes I made, so you won’t repeat them!
Flying with a Toddler
Flying with a baby or a toddler is what scares people the most. It never scared me, and I didn’t even get the chance to really put our characters to the test on our flights to and from Cuba because we were flying with Sunwing, Emma-Kate was sitting next to an amazing woman and she’s taken the plane almost a hundred times.
Honestly, flying with Sunwing makes it so easy when you are alone with a kid. The flight attendants were very friendly, they have those cute little lunch and snack boxes, like the Kidcation box, that my little girl loves so much. They also give kids a gift bag with a book full of activities to keep them occupied and quiet for a while, and a colorful beach ball as well, which comes handy at the beach later!
The Iberostar Laguna Azul, Top All-Inclusive in Cuba
The first thing I did right is my choice of a top all-inclusive in Cuba. Located right on one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the world, the 5-star all-inclusive Iberostar Laguna Azul resort is designed to please everyone from babies to grownups.
I couldn’t have picked a better resort. I didn’t want to complicate my life by going on a city getaway with my toddler, or a road trip. I choose the easy way, and it paid off. For the first experience of a mother-daughter trip, keeping it simple was a very good idea. So choosing a family all-inclusive resort was an easy choice. We had been to Varadero before, so I wasn’t taking anything from Clinton as in discovering a new destination without him. And honestly, the super friendly staff at the Iberostar Laguna Azul almost acted as a caring husband and father.
A fun and beautiful beach is a must for a family vacation, you will definitely agree. The Iberostar Laguna Azul has a seafront location. So I didn’t have to carry everything, by myself, on a long distance. I had a stroller and filled it with the towels, floats, sand buckets, sunscreens, and everything in between. The white sand beach is perfect to build sandcastles, and the shallow waters make swimming safe and fun for little ones. It was just perfect! On top of that, on our way to the beach was the ice cream place… seriously – how can it be better than that?
The truth is, the beach was gorgeous and fun, but Emma-Kate preferred to play all day long in the pool. Want to know why?
The 2nd most important thing for a family vacation is the pool. The Iberostar Laguna Azul has 6 of them, which is more than enough. It is the settings of the main pool that makes it so appealing to young ones and actually everyone. A lot of different areas with different depth, a fun waterfall, shade areas and more than enough lounge chairs make it for all-day play. Emma-Kate had the most fun constantly jumping in the pool and swimming under the waterfall.
There’s always a lot of action in front of the pool bar, the Ronda Bar: the animation crew is super entertaining. We had a blast dancing Zumba in the water!
Our comfortable haven for nights, our spacious room was clean and had the best view of the pool and the sea. The sun rises, every morning, were a delight to watch. Emma-Kate was always excited to come back to our room before dinner, impatient to see that towel sculpture was waiting for her on her bed.
The en-suite bathroom was so big and the bath perfect to bathe infants and toddlers.
We felt very safe in our room and we slept like babies every night, thanks to the quiet surroundings.
The Iberostar Laguna Azul actually has 814 of the top rooms in Varadero and guests can choose from standard guest rooms, including 8 handicap-accessible rooms for disabled visitors, or 24 suites. All of the guest rooms are equipped with all the amenities to make you feel just like at home.
We ate delicious meals at the Iberostar Laguna Azul! From the à la carte gourmet restaurants to the amazing buffet, eating has been a highlight of our mom-daughter vacation in Varadero.
Honestly, the delicious and beautiful Cuban and international dishes offered at the Argenta Restaurant, which is a buffet, were most often our favorites. What made us choose this venue for our lunches and dinners were the best welcomes we had when we came through the doors: a line of smiling and cheering service staff, clapping at the entering guests. Can you imagine how my little princess felt each time? She enjoyed being clapped to so much that I think her modesty (which hasn’t yet developed much) totally went down the drain. She loved it so much that one night, we went to the exquisite Japanese restaurant for dinner, but we had to leave after ordering so Emma-Kate could be clapped to at the buffet, and then went back to eat our Asian meal. Yes, it was that intense!
The Massager Restaurant is serving delicious Japanese food, and the cook and service staff were the kindest to Emma-Kate even though at times she was a little bit difficult (hello 4-year old tantrums!).
The Los Mármoles was my favorite restaurant, serving the finest Italian food. This dinner was our “romantic” dinner for Emma-Kate and me. Being one on one with a kid was fun and we had a good conversation!
We even had à la carte breakfast on the beach!
By the way, you think traveling with a young kid will be boring for an adult? It is a lot more fun than some couples I saw eating their whole meal without even exchanging a look!
The Activities and Entertainment
We had the chance to go on an excursion with Nexus Tours and sail a huge catamaran during our all-inclusive in Cuba, and we had the best time of our lives. Emma-Kate loved to watch the sea, lying on the catamaran’s net. Our trip to Cayo Blanco, playing on its pristine flour-like sand beaches, and swimming in the calm, shallow and picture-perfect waters was the ultimate mother-daughter day. We even had the opportunity to watch up close and have a friendly encounter with dolphins! It was such a fun day!
At the Iberostar Laguna Azul’s beach, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing are also offered. And there are tons of sports we could try, such as aerobics, billiards, table tennis, chess, bowling, beach volleyball, darts, archery, tennis, paddleball, shuffleboard, fitness center, and water polo. There’s also an impressive golf course nearby.
Finally, there is spectacular shows and entertainment organized every night.
The Kids’ Club
The kids’ club was Emma-Kate’s 2nd favorite place to be at the Iberostar Laguna Azul. The super friendly and caring staff always had tons of activities and games to do. Open from 10 AM to 5 PM (closed for lunch), they welcome all children aged 4 to 12 years old, and they even organize mini-nightclubs at 8 PM for the kids that like to dance!
We went to the kids’ club every day! I was staying there with her and had my phone to play with while she was busy with other kids!
My Final Thoughts
I have to admit I was a little scared to travel alone with my little girl, even though I am used to traveling all around the world with her and my husband. Like I said before, I made it easy for us to have a great mother-daughter vacation by going to an all-inclusive in Cuba. Why make things more difficult than they need to be?
We really had an awesome time, and I discovered that I can take care and mostly entertain our little girl to a greater extent that I was giving myself credit for. Nonetheless, next time I don’t think I’ll need 7 days alone with her: I felt a little bit bored after a couple of days not to have a grown-up to talk to! So maybe next time a long weekend will be perfect!
I also didn’t let myself have my moments. I was doing pretty much everything Emma-Kate wanted to do, so I came back feeling left out, and it’s all because of me! I have to stop doing everything for everyone and I have to start saying more no. I need to be more balanced! I want Emma-Kate to have fun, but I also want to have fun myself. Happy mom, happy life!
There’s a learning curve here. Next time I’ll do better!
Have you ever been on a trip alone with your kid? What would you do differently?