Air travel with children can be stressful with kids, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is to be very organized before and during the flight (see my previous blog post). Now let’s assume that you are well placed to get on a flight with your child and you are looking for a nice relaxing vacation far away from home. Where are the great family friendly spots to travel to?
Of course, the time to the destination is a factor and this goes hand in hand with jet lag. The rule of thumb is to assume that it takes your child one day to acclimate for every hour of time change. So if you are traveling to California from New York and there is a three hour time change, then assume that it takes three days for a baby or a young child to get over the time difference. And so on. This rule of thumb is actually quite useful for planning the length of time of your trip. A one-week trip to Thailand from New York is hardly relaxing when you are going to spend a lot of the time, up in the ‘wee hours of the night’ with an extremely alert child and then having to recuperate in the day when you should be out sightseeing or hanging out on the beach.
Using New York as my base, my first pick of the day would be Barbados. First, there are several 5-hour non-stop flights from New York to Bridgetown. The key word here is non-stop flight, which can really make a difference when you are traveling with kids. Second, there is no time change, so you can get going from the day you arrive. Just a note on the island, one can stay in Christ Church where there are several hotels or resorts that are reasonably priced. Also, Christ Church is near St. Lawrence Gap (which has loads of restaurants and bars to hang out in, check out Pisces for date night!) and Oistins which has great fish fry (a local favorite on Fridays) and karaoke. The downside is that the waves can be quite rough. The beaches in St. James have the calmest waves – which is an important factor for young kids. The high season in the Caribbean is between December and May; you can get great deals after that, but you cannot guarantee the weather.
If you are not staying in an all-inclusive resort, then you would definitely need to rent a car. There are so many places to see and things do in Barbados including:
Submarine tours (Atlantis Adventures);
Swimming with turtles (which you can do at most hotels);
Barbados Zoo – turtles, green monkeys, peacocks, Brocket deer, both small and large armadillos, and brightly colored parakeets that live in the Barbados Wildlife Reserve aviary and roam around freely. Really sweet for toddlers and up; the animals are so used to people that you can get very close to them!
Scuba diving for elder kids and snorkeling;
Graham Hall Sanctuary – if you like birds, this can be a very relaxing walk for toddlers and kids. Also there is an aviary which is quite exciting.
There are several places you can stay in Barbados depending on what you want to do and what you can afford.
Villa rentals come with a cook and cleaner and then have private or communal swimming pools. Most families tend to share a villa with another family. You can also hire a babysitter for the nights that you would like to go out. See the website below for a list of villas http://www.islandhideaways.com/barbados/villas. Nutmeg has been highly recommended (see picture below)
Hotels are abundant, for a ‘villa/hotel/resort type feel’, I recommend the Bourgainvillea Resort . You can rent a studio, one or two bedroom apartments which come with a kitchenette. There are two pools on site including a toddler pool. This is a perfectly reasonable hotel but you do have to book ahead of time, since it has a limited number of rooms and fills up quickly. The only downside of this resort is the food. There is a restaurant on site, but it is relatively pricey and the food is not the best.
All-inclusive resorts are very expensive, but the advantage is that you don’t ever have to leave the hotel with your kids and so there is no need to rent a car. It depends on what you are looking for…if you are looking to just relax and wind down from the city life, this is perfect.
Almond Beach Resort has over 10 swimming pools, a kids club (three different types depending on age (0-24); 2-5 and then 5 and up. I have known some families to wake up and eat breakfast with their kids and then to drop them off at the kids clubs all morning while they slept in or read, (see picture below for Almond Beach Resort). Other great ones are the Mango Bay in St. James and Crystal Cove Hotel .
Barbados has several luxury resorts including Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Colony Club and Tamarind Cove Hotel. The Sandy Lane is incredibly pricey but opulent (see picture).
Now that you are well prepped for a Barbados vacation, book your ticket on American Airlines, Air Jamaica or even Jet Blue and have a safe non stop flight!