Last weekend we went on a family vacation to Eilat, hubby, myself and our two little ones, with hubby's workplace. Now, that we survived it (JK) I can tell you all about it. Organizing a family vacation is like conducting extremely chaotic orchestra, especially when traveling with kids.
When planning a family vacation, you need to take care of everyone's needs individually, at all ages. For us it’s about a 7 mo baby, almost 4 yo girl and a couple of parents. While at the same time you have to think about activities that will suit all together. Like any family vacation you need to prepare for it – to study your way, stock up properly and also prepare yourself mentally.
So for the benefit of those of you who are planning a family vacation in Eilat, during the holiday or whenever, here is everything you should know about it –
The way to Eilat (and back)
I have to admit, right up to the last moment I tried to convince hubby to prefer a flight to Eilat over driving. Unfortunately, my attempts failed, since he needed the car for work purposes. Since there was no chance I'll fly alone with both little ones, we tried to plan our way, hoping it will pass as smooth as possible.
We equipped the car with toys for the kids, snacks, a laden laptop, mobile phone with VOD, while carefully planned our stops along the way. These and the fact both little ones took turns on napping in the car, helped us and made our way relatively easy. The bottom line, we survived to tell.
* Tip: Let your kids choose 2-3 loved toys, and pack them in a special bag or a small trolley suitcase dedicated only for that purpose. On the one hand it will give them the feeling they too have their own suitcase. On the other hand it will be easy for you to pull out their favorite toys when needed.
So, where to stop?
As I mentioned before, our little ones took turns on napping in the car, so we stopped only for freshening up and snacks and skipped most of the attractions planned along the way, rumor has it that there are many of them. These are the attractions we planned/executed –
1. Mitzpe Ramon – a look out on Ramon Crater. If you travel midweek, you can also visit the visitor center of Mitzpe Ramon. We stopped at Mitzpe Ramon only on our way back (Saturday), so the visitor center was closed. We used the stop for some freshening up, look out and search for ibex (that we did not find).
2. The sawmill – a sandstone hill in Ramon Crater (near Highway 40 inside the crater), which got its name thanks to the resemblance of its rocks fragments to logs of wood and bricks. You can travel up the hill, from which there is a panoramic view of the crater.
3. Colored Sand – also on Highway 40, about 200 meters south of the mill, there is an old quarry. Its rehabilitation program has made it a colored sands site. This is the only place in the Ramon Crater, where you can gather colored sand.
* Tip: Bring a clear glass/plastic bottle and a funnel for the kids.
4. Neot Smadar – Kibbutz near Highway 40, whose members are making their living from organic produce. The Cafe located at Shizafon intersection is a restaurant, shop and factory. We stopped there for some freshening up, lunch and local juice. Yum!
What is there to do in Eilat?
Our time in Eilat was divided between the time in the hotel and time in the city:
Regarding the hotel, obviously it depends on the budget and family composition. Since we stayed at the Royal Garden hotel, it will be the one which I refer to. Overall it is an excellent hotel and we had a great time. I have stayed (and even worked) in many hotels in Israel and can honestly say, there are not too many like this one.
The staff was welcoming and pleasant, starts with the guys at the reception and goes all the way to the staff at the dining room. Every one of them made sure to talk and play with the little ones each day (and night). Some even offered to babysit (if only our schedule was less intense we might even agree).
* Tip: If you're traveling with a baby who just started eating, ask the dining room staff for baby food options. Usually they will be happy to provide you with mashed fruit and disposable aprons.
Our room was an enormous suite with a bedroom, living room, kitchenette, bathroom and a huge sun terrace (which we did not use). Big little one enjoyed sleeping in a double sofa bed and small little one got a cot and stayed with us.
* Tip: If your kids is use to sleep in a bed with a safety rail, and you are scared that they might roll off the bed, you can use a chair with backrest or a coffee table as improvised safety rail to prevent them from falling.
As mentioned, our schedule was intense with the hubby's workplace events – an evening event with an excellent Shlomi Shabat’s show and a beach party. That had left us with only one evening and one morning "free" before returning home. Although we did managed to squeeze some shopping time and some pool time, at the beach-like hotel pool.
* Tip: Bring sand toys for the kids (rake, shovel, bucket etc.) and a small inflatable pool, which you can fill with seawater. This will enable the kids to paddle in the water next to you, and under your supervision (especially for little babies).
Friday evening after showers and dinner, we went for a walk along the beach, enjoying Eilat’s breeze. We walked until the little ones tired up and returned to our hotel for a good night's sleep. The next morning, we made our way to the Underwater Observatory Marine Park. For us it is a MUST stop during a family vacation in Eilat.
Eighteen months ago we visited the Underwater Observatory with the big little one, for the first time. Since that visit BLO kept asking us "when are we going back?” between once a month to twice a week, so obviously we could not skip another visit. A magical trip to a world of sea creatures.
During three hours of visit (we almost didn’t notice the time fly) BLO managed to – run around the aquarium, chasing big fish from window to window, watch the sharks getting fed, to hear explanations about sea turtles, fall in love with the exotic alligators and search for Nemo and Dory below sea level.
* Tip: the Underwater Observatory can be a day long attraction. If you don’t want to buy at site, prepper a light meal (especially for the kids) and some water. In addition, although most of the site is shaded, the walk between the different attractions isn’t, therefor you should bring hats and sunblock.
What to bring?
Last but not least – our list. Most of you already know I love order and lists, so here is our list of equipment for our family vacation –
* Bathing suits + bathing diapers
* Shoes + Slippers
* Hats + Sunglasses
* First aid
* Diapering Kit
* Games for the road and beach
* Cooler with snacks
* Phones + chargers
* Laptop / Tablet + Charger
And most importantly –
* Good Mood!!!
Planning a family vacation or a trip with toddlers or babies? Read more – here