Ryan's 3rd Birthday & Traveling Tips for Toddlers

Ryan's 3rd Birthday & Traveling Tips for Toddlers


If you follow me on Instagram at all, you’ve probably seen a few happy snapshots of our recent trip to Rancho Mirage.

After Leo's big 1st birthday party earlier this year, and Ryan having had two big parties for his first and second, we decided to plan a family trip instead. We wanted to celebrate together and simply enjoy each other's company... especially after Happy Mom Conference taking over a lot of my life for the last few months. What a perfect way to reconnect by celebrating with family in a more intimate setting.

It was so special to be able to celebrate Ryan's third birthday and Mother's Day together this year. It took me back to when we were expecting him and wondering when he’d make an appearance. With a due date of May 15, we had wondered if he'd be born on Mother's Day. And today, he was here, turning 3 on Mother’s Day. 

We love the desert, and were Palm Springs regulars for some time, so we picked Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage as our celebration destination as we'd never been and always wanted to go.


The resort was so beautiful and, just as important, kid friendly—without interrupting the fun for adults. When we arrived, I was immediately impressed by the beautiful and dreamy candy station for guests to enjoy in the lobby. (We later learned this is a daily treat at the resort!) It was tough to keep the boys away from the sweets, but they never get this stuff at home so we made it fun and allowed them to indulge a bit while on vacation.

We basically spent our days by the pool soaking up the sun and enjoying the water. Leo was surprisingly not having it with the pool, so I'd often walk around the resort with him or we’d have playtime in the mini golf area with a killer view.

We kept it simple on our first day with a lot of swim time and yummy food by the pool... the poke bowl was to die for! We went back to the room just in time for bed and bath. 


The first evening, Art and I had a hilarious, yet memorable, dinner in our suite's bathroom! The boys had a tough night adjusting to our new home for the weekend, and it was difficult to get them down to sleep. We made the best of it and ordered in... and because we didn't want to chance waking them up with the lights or noise from our eating, we ate in the bathroom. Super romantic, huh?

So on Sunday, Mother's Day and day of Ryan's actual birthday, the day started perfectly! A nice lady working at the gift shop gave Ryan the sweetest stuffed iguana after she learned it was his birthday... a sweet keepsake for him to remember his big 3 by!

We enjoyed the breakfast buffet and then headed back to the pool for some more fun times. Mama had to leave though...

Because in true Mom fashion (and yes even on vacation) I had to run out to Target to prepare for Ryan's big celebration.

A little bit of a back story here: I had a bunch of fun gifts ready for Ryan back home... but he found them all in Daddy's office the night before we took off for our trip. So he cried and cried for his presents, and I couldn't say no... it was his birthday weeekend after all!

Because of that, I had to get him some more gifts so he'd have fun presents to unwrap at his little party. I couldn’t let him open nothing on his birthday!

Back to the story... I ran out to Target scrambling to look for toys he didn't already own—tough at the moment because his grandparents had already spoiled him the week before with his favorite Paw Patrol toys! I finally found some fun gifts plus the perfect gold foil 3 balloon and ran back to the resort. At this point it was past lunchtime and I had until 2:30 to get gifts wrapped, balloons blown, and everything set for our reservation at the hotel's restaurant.

This is where the awesome staff at the Ritz came through big time! They were able to set aside a birthday cake for Ryan which I had them decorate with his favorite surprise chocolate eggs. He just loves opening those, and I knew being away from home and my favorite bakers, this would be the best way to personalize his cake!

The concierge staff helped blow up his balloons and wrap his gifts and had everything set on a turn table so Ryan would have a big birthday surprise when we arrived at 2:30. I used this time saved to get myself together and ready before I scooped up the kids from the pool to dress and clean up.

Loved the styling of the boys with their sun-kissed, sunscreen faces and hair. They just looked so summer fresh! 


Ryan was so happy when we arrived at his celebration! He had the biggest smile on his face! He had such a blast opening gifts, surrounded by his family.. We ate, had cake, and went to get them ready for some afternoon pool time before bed.

Ryan and Daddy hit up the pool and jacuzzi while Leo and I played around the property, making fun videos and snuggling with the most killer mountain view behind us.


We went up to the room for bath time and rented Disney’s Coco for the perfect end to Ryan's birthday. Coco is Ryan's first (and only) movie in the theater, so it was pretty special for him to to watch it again this time with Daddy and Leo too. It was so cute to see him remember certain scenes and call out his favorite ones!

I honestly almost forgot it was Mother's Day, and I didn't care much either, since my entire focus was on Ryan and making the day special for him. His daddy kept reminding him it was Mother's Day too and it was the sweetest when he'd say “happy Mother's Day!”, but I think it's what makes us mamas, right? Our babies always come first! So, if we happen to share a holiday with them, their’s  definitely trumps ours... at least in my book. It was the happiest Mother's Day for me spending it with my three favorite people and seeing them happy!

The next morning, we got up for breakfast on the terrace where we celebrated Ryan's birthday the day before. We made friends with a family with a little boy about Ryan's age and it was fun to chit chat and then hang with the boys for a bit before we hit the road back home.

Here are some of my favorite tips and tools for traveling with toddlers: 

Remember what it was like to travel alone or with just your spouse? You could just throw a few things in your bag and you’re ready to go! It was far less logistical planning and prepping for trips pre-kiddos. 

Traveling with kids is pretty much just like motherhood, the more your plan and prep, the better things can be. But you also need to be prepared for things to go awry and don’t stress too much if things go exactly the opposite as planned.  Being flexible is key, and my first tip!

bring lots of spare clothes

Try to pack one suitcase for you and hubs and a separate one for the baby and kids. It makes it easier to find what you need and things tend to stay more organized that way.

I suggest having a bag with a spare change of clothes and a pair of pajamas for each kiddo. This way you can grab it and know that you don’t need to dig out the suitcase from the trunk or worry about a plane ride with a toddler with a yogurt covered shirt. 

I also suggest having a bag just for diapers, wipes, and cream. This will make it easy to grab when you’re at a rest stop. My #happymom tote has been my go to for trips to the zoo, Disneyland, road trips, and the pool!

Even if you're going somewhere warm, always pack a light cardigan and something warm to wear in the car or after the sun sets. You never know with the weather and last thing you want is to bring home a sick baby.

And don’t forget the sunscreen! 


pack snacks... and more snacks

Food and snacks are a must for any traveler, whether you're 9 months old or 39 years old! Having favorite snacks on hand helped when we went to Hawaii twice with Ryan. It even saved us from a couple of meltdowns on this car trip to the desert!

Veggie sticks, Pirate’s Bootie, cheerios, and apple sauce or veggie pouches are all great easy to eat snacks for kiddos. (If you're traveling by plane, you'll need to put those pouches in your liquid bag, FYI!) I also bring our refillable water bottles and sippy cups everywhere we go, so we never get caught without a drink.

If you’re traveling by car you can also pack a small cooler and keep things like string cheese for the kiddos to munch on. The less food you have to buy at a rest stop or restaurant the better! 

Get your  Happy Mom gear  for road tripping plus more!

Get your Happy Mom gear for road tripping plus more!

bedtime gear

If you’re road tripping to see family or just to explore a new area be sure to pack your pack’n’play. This is one less thing you’ll need to worry about when you check-in to a hotel or arrive at your in-laws house.

If you’re traveling by plane, call your hotel ahead of time and see what they offer for crib and pack'n'play setups. You don't want any surprises, especially if you have a difficult sleeper! (Ritz not only had a crib but they also had a lovely welcome package with baby care items like shampoo and lotion for us!)

If they don't have one and you still need to bring a pack’n’play, the Lotus Travel Crib folds up super small and also has straps to be carried as a backpack. 



With a toddler and an infant bringing a light-weight stroller is a must for us. We love our UPPAbaby G-LINK to stroll both boys in. It’s easy to use, sturdy, light and can hold up against accidental pool splashes and food spills. It also has lots of storage to be able to pack snacks, pool toys, and whatever else you'll need.

If you’re traveling by plane you can bring your stroller through the airport and gate check it. You can check your car seat with your luggage if you need to bring a carseat. There are lots of great car seat bags you can order on amazon to protect your car seats. The stroller can take up a lot of room in the car, this is a great item to put in your car top carrier of you have one. Traveling with kiddos is never light! {If you’re traveling by plane curbside check-in is worth the tip you give the people checking you in!}

A baby carrier is a MUST for all airport adventures. Depending on the age and size of your baby a Moby wrap or a Tula baby carrier are both great options. Whether you’re traveling with a one baby or a baby and a toddler having a baby carrier is going to free up your hands. Some airlines require you to have baby out of the carrier and on your lap for takeoff, but as soon as you’re up in the air you can snuggle up with baby again. A carrier is a great item to pack for your road trip adventure too. You never know when you’ll need to be hands free. 


Travel toys are a must!

Again, whether you’re road tripping or flying, you’re going to need to occupy your kiddos. Saving things like tablets or a new toy they've been asking for is great because it will be such a treat for your kiddos. They will be so focused on watching or playing with their new toy that they won’t be paying attention to how long they are in their car seat.

If you can, try to take some of their favorite toys with you, too, for the hotel. It helps ease them into their new surroundings for the vacation. 


other things to consider packing when traveling with little kids

If you’re going on a family trip that includes water fun like a trip to the lake, river, ocean, bay, or pool—bring your own life vests. This is one less things you’ll stress over if they don’t have one when you arrive.

If you're in the middle of potty training, or your kiddo has recently mastered it, I highly recommend the Potette Potty. You can use it on the side of the road or in a parking lot with their disposable liners or use it with a regular toilet at a rest stop and your final destination. 

If you do forget something there is always Target, Walmart, and Amazon Now. 


finally, my #1 tip for vacationing with babies...

allow the parents to vacation!

Our rule is we each get at least an hour a day to ourselves where the other parent takes care of the littles solo. It is so necessary when you are going so fast... without a break, you will burn out! Trust me.

It's OK to need some alone time... because that's the only way you will feel like you've had any sort of vacation for yourself when you've brought the kids along.

Not gonna lie, even with all of these tips, Mom and Dad definitely needed a recovery day or two after the trip. It's true when they say you need to plan a vacation after your vacation when you bring little ones!

It can be so tiring, and I know parents who forgo vacation altogether because of how much effort it is... but I'm big on memories and living and not waiting to live. Tomorrow is never guaranteed so enjoy today. These tiring times are their childhood memories and it is our job to make their memories great! It's what molds them into who they will become in the future and that in itself is worth it to me.

More travels with my babies is on my bucket list for sure! We're looking for our next big vacation spot considering Turks and Caicos... have you brought your kids there? How was it? 

I'd love to hear from you, mamas. How do you feel about vacationing with your littles? What are your favorite places that you've traveled to with your babies? Share in the comments or come over to the Happy Mom Tribe on Facebook!

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