How to Enjoy Paradise When You Have Babies: Barbados with Littles

DSC_0028We recently vacationed on the beautiful island of Barbados – a place known for the bluest waters, the friendly people, and their rum industry. One of the best parts of our vacation was that we were able to take our daughters along with us.
When I was researching the island, there was a lot of info for honeymooners or couples, but not a ton of advice for children, especially young ones like ours (under three). So here are some reasons why Barbados is one of the best places to vacation with children.

  1. Friendly locals – the Bajan locals were amazingly accepting of tourists. We had so many comments and friendly gestures from locals and other tourists alike. Maggie made friends everywhere, but played the most with a local girl on the beach who was with her father. Maggie hung out with them for most of the morning; enjoying running in and out of the waves with the slightly older girl. The father was very helpful as he would stand by the girls in the water and spent time conversing with us. We didn’t meet anyone who left us with a bad impression!

2. Low crime rate – there may be different opinions on this, but have the perspective that there is no habitable place in the world with zero crime. Wherever you go, be smart and alert. The biggest issue we had was peddlers approaching us, but my sister-in-law said it was so mild compared to Jamaica. The sellers are pretty polite and will take a kind “no” very well, as far as we saw. One day we were exploring a new remote beach area and were approached by police to make sure we were safe and to give us advice about staying in safe areas. I’m sure if you go looking for danger, it’s there. The general rule is to follow the same safety guidelines we have here in America.

3. Many kid-friendly activities – even though the island is thought of as a paradise for lovers, I found it quite easy to bring the girls along on whatever activity we had planned. We did bring our own car seats and rented a car. That simplified our adventures and allowed us the flexibility of driving right to the hotel if someone was  crabby. We took the girls on a catamaran cruise for five hours and had a blast! The cruise lines are outfitted with toddler life jackets, but we brought an infant one from home. We cruised with El Tigre and had an absolute blast. The crew was so considerate and fun; the director of the cruise hung out with Maggie for a while, gave us ALL of the towels to make a bed for Juliet, and made us feel like family. Maggie got to swim in the ocean while we snorkled for a bit, so we say she swam with sea turtles even though they were hiding at the bottom. Overall, we loved everything we did with the girls and are glad that they got to experience it with us.

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As with everything in life, there is a learning curve and this trip definitely taught us a couple things.

Don’t bother with a stroller through security. We found out quickly that it is way easier to put both kids in carriers so we could be as hands-fee as possible. Maggie escaping from the stroller and throwing everything on the ground while trying to get through security was not fun. Honestly, if we did it again, we would not bring the stroller and probably bring a utility wagon that would work well in the sand. There aren’t many sidewalks in Barbados and even where there are, I would prefer my kids close to me.

Prepare to have your kids nap on the go. Our kids napped all places – the car, the beach, a boat…I hate wasting vacation time inside a dark hotel room waiting for my kids to wake up, so our kids were forced to nap wherever they dropped.  Bring their blanket or lovey wherever you go and they will be so tired from the water and sun, they will sleep well. Believe me, it’s worth it. They’ll get back to their regular nap schedule when you get home.

Relax. Things aren’t going to go perfectly. Kids are going to have meltdowns. Just do your best and don’t expect too much of your kids. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant one night with our friends and Maggie was screaming and trying to run away, so I took her for a short walk and distracted her. There’s only so much a toddler can handle. Bring a bag of small toys or drawing tools to occupy them during waiting periods.

Pack as little as possible. We packed four of us into two carry-ons and a backpack. We spent $10 on laundry one time at the hotel and it worked pretty well. You could also just wash your clothes in the sink. It’s hot and you’re going to be in the water most of the days anyways, so you won’t need a lot of clothes. It’s worth it to not have to lug around a ton of bags to and from the airport.

DO YOUR RESEARCH. As you should do before you travel anywhere; Barbados has some rules that aren’t common. One is that one must wear a cover-up while out in public (no walking the streets in a bikini) and another is no camouflage (I don’t know why, Ii just know it’s on a big sign in the airport). Things that may not be in the front of your mind as your thinking about vacation, but you should always be aware and respectful of the culture you’re visiting.

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That’s all I have to say about beautiful Barbados! I hope I get to visit again soon.