In honor of (almost) booking our next European trip with Mark, we are throwing it back and reminiscing about our first trip as a family of three. Our little mister was only 12 weeks old and we enjoyed a lovely long weekend in Monte Carlo! Not many people can say their first vacation as a 12 week old was to Monaco, but this little world traveler can! We learned a lot on this trip & had such a memorable time on our first family vacation!
We stayed at The Meridien Beach Plaza in Monte Carlo. Unlike our Amalfi Coast trip (read more about that here), we booked this super last minute and hotel options were limited. The Meridien checked our main boxes of having a kid-friendly pool, a beach, a room with a balcony, and being ballpark in budget. We unfortunately had a poor experience our first night (nothing like paying for a balcony & being assigned to a room without one) but, things were sorted the next day and we didn’t let it ruin our trip. Ultimately, I probably wouldn’t recommend staying here, but it was very family friendly which was a bonus, particularly in Monte Carlo.
Relax. Explore. Sunbathe. And gamble, a little. As this was our first trip, we knew we needed to be flexible. We made a list of things we wanted to do but set no formal plans (so unlike us!). We spent our first day on a self-guided walking tour of the city exploring the marina, Formula 1 Hairpin Turn, and hiked up to the Prince’s Palace to spend some time on “The Rock”. We made a spur of the moment decision to head into the Monaco Aquarium which turned out to be exceptional. It was an excellent break from the heat and Mark loved watching the fish. We spent our second day enjoying the beach and dipping Mark’s toes in the ocean for the first time (he was NOT a fan lol). We then all got dressed up for fancy family date night at Nobu followed by a tiny bit of gambling for Brett. Sadly, he did not win anything lol.
A few things we learned about traveling with babies!
- You’ll learn a lot on your first trip. The number one thing I remember about our trip is how much we learned. I planned so much, but actually making the decision to go was the best learning experience. Of course we made mistakes, but experiencing them has made us much better travelers today.
- Pack in large checked suitcases. We stupidly packed in carry-ons as that was how we traveled “pre-Mark”. We had what felt like a zillion carry on bags once we added the diaper bag, stroller, and car seat to the mix. It was so challenging maneuvering through the airport. Since then, we always check one large suitcase and minimize the carry ons we take. It is so much more enjoyable!
- If you have a Sleepyhead / Dockatot Deluxe bring it when you travel. Despite staying at what I would consider a high end hotel, the crib they provided was borderline unsafe. I was so thankful we brought our Dockatot and Mark could safely sleep in it.
- Babywear. I wore Mark everywhere. It made it so easy to pop in and out of stores and walk wherever we wanted to. Monaco has a lot of steps, so if you take a stroller be sure to double check your wandering route!
A few favorites…
- The aquarium was spectacular. Brett and I typically stick to outdoor wandering, but it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip – even for us adults!
- We enjoyed such a fun dinner at Nobu. We were nervous about brining Mark to a “fancy” restaurant but everyone was so friendly and we had a superb meal! It didn’t hurt that Mark was on his best behavior too 🙂
- If you enjoy Starbucks, be sure to pop over to the Starbucks Monte Carlo. It’s a rooftop outdoor cafe with amazing views of the city and Mediterranean! We went every. single. day lol.