Mommy Diaries: Traveling to El Nido with a Toddler

May 31, 2015


Initially, our El Nido trip was supposed to be just a couple's getaway because we thought Vania was already big enough to be left in the care of my parents. We thought that at 2 years old, she wouldn't notice that her parents were away for awhile. I, myself, was very confident that the presence of my siblings, especially that of my sister, would make do for the 6 days that I wont be home to take care of her. But as our scheduled trip drew near, the husband and i grew more and more weary because Vania would always look for me or her dad whenever we're out of sight. Even grocery shopping felt like a marathon because my sister would text me to say that Vania was already looking for us even though we were just gone for an hour or so. So 5 days before our trip, we decided to just tag her along and I thought, It wouldn't be that hard, right? I mean, her first plane ride experience was a breeze and there was just only me that time so Palawan shouldn't be so hard because my husband was there to help me manage.

We made last minute changes with our itinerary, our baggage allowance (because hello big tin can of milk!) and our hotel especially. i purposely allotted 6 days for this trip because our first day was purely travel- that 6-7hours drive to El Nido shouldn't count as Day 1 of vacation, right? Days 2-4 were the real deal (detailed itinerary on a separate post), Day 5 for our scheduled trip back to Puerto Princesa, overnight stay in the city and Day 6 for our flight back to Cebu.

along with the changes we made, we also bought and brought a few things that we thought would make the whole trip enjoyable for Vania. although some of these tips may or may not work for you and your toddler, sharing these still just to give you mommas a little idea of how it really is to travel to El Nido with a very active 2-year-old. 

TIP #1 Bring coloring materials.
TIP #2 Bring light snacks.
the night before our flight, i made sure to bring coloring pens and a notebook for Vania to doodle on. this proved equally useful especially when she got tired of staring out the window to look at the clouds and look for Tinkerbell. haha!
i bought a couple of cookie and chocolate bars for Vania but I wanted to give her something special (read something i dont make her eat :p) so we bought french fries which she sure loved (look at that face!) and brought with us a good serving of calamansi juice for the whole trip. if your little one is anything like Vania who doesn't like whatever dirt she thinks she has on her fingers or face or even shirt, make sure to bring an extra pack of baby wipes!

TIP #3 Never underestimate the convincing power of your tablet.
While i could say that Vania is a very well-behaved child, airports and plane rides can get pretty boring and when doodling no longer works, there is always that little tablet of awesomeness to help you deal with idle time. it helps you convince them to take a break from all the wandering and sit with you while waiting for boarding with her favorite disney videos on repeat. and for someone who loves to sing and/or study in between private karaoke sessions at the airport, her iPad was her bestfriend. next to..

her pillow.
TIP #4 Bring a security blanket
Vania doesn't have a specific favorite when it comes to huggies, plushies or pillows. this doesn't come as a surprise to me because i dont remember having one myself. well, save for Popo, a teddy bear that was like a crossbreed between a brown bear and a care bear, giving him green fluffy pigtails and a pink nose. but because i want Vania to feel a wee bit more relaxed throughout the whole trip, thought it best to just bring her baby pillow. and im glad we did because the 6-7hrs ride to El Nido from Puerto Princesa was no joke.

TIP #5 Pay for you toddler's seat
a realization that came a little too late when we were on the road to El Nido (photos taken on our way back to Puerto Princesa.) dont get me wrong, Vania was never fuzzy nor fidgety for the whole duration of the trip. from an hour or so plane ride, to our 6hr long land trip, 2 stopovers, 5-10min power naps hourly, not once did we hear her complain. she was singing nonstop, always hugging her pillow, and occasionally asking for water, calamansi juice or chocolate biscuits. but she was always sitting or reclined for a bit, making her daddy's tummy her makeshift bed. haha! if she wanted to lie down, she would have to lie on both our laps, something that isn't so good for her back. so the moment we arrived in El Nido, we arranged with our tour operator to reserve the first seats to us, paying for Vania's space so she can lie down and stretch whenever she wants. 

TIP #6 Bring an inflatable boat Seven Commandos Island

if you guys want to do the island tours, i suggest you bring with you an inflatable boat. while some bigger outrigger boats have kayaks, i still think it's safe for your toddler to be in an inflatable boat. we only did Tour A (because TYPHOON RUBY! boo!) and it proved really useful if you guys want to see the small lagoon. the short swim going there can be quite a task without a mini boat. a life vest is a must, too, but we had to wrestle with Vania before she would let us put it on her only to have it removed minutes after.


TIP #7 Water shoesthey're the next best thing to rash guards. invest in good ones so you're sure that your little ones feet are safe from unwanted boo-boos. i don't think i need to explain myself any further on this one :)

TIP #8 Bring lots of water
most for drinking, some for..
..RINSING. i got this from my parents who always made sure that we rinse with fresh water always after swimming. sea water makes me uncomfortable when it dries up on my skin. it feels sticky and heavy and that explains why hotels and beach resorts have showers near the beach. but of course, you wouldn't expect fresh water showers in the remote islands of El Nido, right? so it's best to bring lots of bottled water. the night before your scheduled island hopping tour, ask the hotel staff if you can have store a few bottles of water in their freezer. that way you're sure that you have a cold drink all throughout the day. wrap it in towel and use the towel cool off your face after every swimming.

TIP #9 Bring a waterproof camera and take lots of photos
no, take a bajillion photos. let your toddler explore and have fun and take beautiful snaps whenever you can. they're not this small forever and you will miss this crazy/beautiful phase of their tiny lives.

TIP #10 Relax and have fun
boy, someone's really, really happy. haha!
sure, it ain't always easy, but i always keep in mind that they're not this small forever and soon enough, they would want to skip a family get together for an out of town trip with friends. build memories together that way, they'd still want to travel with you when they get older. (clingy mummy talking! haha!) relax, have fun, teach them how to swim, swim together, PLAY, PLAY and PLAY. 

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