Blue Ivy Dress

Dear Diary,

I definitely need a vacation after I pack a suitcase for my daughter. To be such a little person, her belongings take up a lot of space, and the packing process takes up a lot of time.  So when I decided to take her on a Norwegian cruise to Bermuda, I started to make a list of what had to come with us. I mean, it’s not life or death, but if I forgot some of things below, my vacation would quickly go down hill, and I would likely  jump overboard. As a first time mom, I’ve learned that I that I can’t wait until the eleventh hour to throw something into a bag and hit the road. I take that back–I waited to the last minute to pack my part of the suitcase.  Caitlynn’s clothes however were laid out and accessorized weeks in advance. Heck, she even wore the same dress Beyoncé’s baby rocked! While away, I discovered that there were five must pack items when taking a toddler on a cruise.

Umbrella Stroller

This is the most important item to pack, unless you plan on working off the midnight buffets and overindulgent desserts by toting your toddler around the Norwegian Breakaway—which is a town in itself. Although my daughter spent most of her time walking, or shall I say running around, the stroller came in handy when her little legs ran out of gas. Off the ship, the umbrella helped protect her from dangerous UV rays. When we cut it close spending every second we could at the bus.  The stroller was compact, lightweight and folded in seconds, unlike a travel system. Plus, it’s inexpensive, so if you leave it behind, you don’t have to beat yourself up.

Ride on Suitcase

Since we took the Megabus to and from Manhattan, we had to arrive early to the bus stop early.  It’s first come first serve seat selection, and we wanted to sit up top for a panoramic view. I entertained Caitlynn while my family waited in line by taking her on a little ride down the sidewalk. The pink motorcycle also kept her happy in the US Customs line.

Pillow Pet

Like American Express, my daughter doesn’t leave home without it—her Pillow Pet that is! Although she got a new Dora pillow Pet for the trip (Norwegian Breakaway has a Dora the Explorer morning story hour), she insisted on bringing her pink one—I think it’s a hippo. Whatever animal it is, it came to the rescue on several occasions, especially when Caitlynn cut up in the restaurant. Other guests probably wondered why my child was eating dinner at 8 p.m., but before they could whisper about her behavior and her climbing behind the curtain, Pillow Pet swooped in and put her to sleep in her chair.

Sand Bucket

I totally forgot to bring something to make sand castles, so I spent $5 on what I could have picked up at the dollar store. It wasn’t the highest quality, so I tossed it at the end of the trip. But it was money well-spent, since it kept Caitlynn busy for hours. We made a sandcastle with a moat, and then dug a baby pool.  Caitlynn jumped in, and my nephews filled it with water. The sand bucket also scored points with the little ladies—my nephew met a girl who he later asked to feed the birds with him.


Most cruise ships, like Norwegian Breakaway, require children to be potty trained to play in their pools, Caitlynn got a lot of wear out of Little Swimmers or Splashers at the beach where restrooms are few and far between. She was really excited about the fact that Dora and Diego decorated the pairs I purchased. But warning: The disposable swim diapers are not absorbent. If your child isn’t in the water, well, let’s just say the water will run through him!

Protective Eczema Clothing

Caitlynn suffers from eczema; something I thought went away until we went on vacation. The chlorinated pools and the hot summer sun caused her condition to flare up. Since I thought this may occur, I packed hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing. I also picked up a jar of CeraVe Cream and an SPF 50 sunscreen.  Looking back, I do wish I packed some Aloe Vera—borrowed that off of my sister. I would also take a spray bottle to cool her down while walking on the island of Bermuda.

Hey DFTM Fam–What other items should you pack when taking a trip with a toddler?

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.