Close your eyes and imagine the enchanting Barbados: white sand, coconut palms and… a 13 months old toddler who crawls around! Here the story of Michela, who visited the Caribbean pearl with her globetrotter son Meltemi.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going: we were such full of energy after the first great family trip (see my post about Red Sea here) that we thought “It’s time for a transoceanic flight!”. So, why don’t have a break from winter and enjoy the sun on a tropical island?
Ready, steady, go! As quick as a wink we found the perfect destination for 2 parents needing a lasting tan and a toddler longing for new games on the beach. Barbados, we’re coming!!!!!
Me and my husband are actually in love with Asia and Indian Ocean, but with such a young traveler we thought that the Caribbean could be an easy and relaxing idea… and unexpectedly affordable too! I know, the flight is quite long (2 hours from Italy to UK and then 9 hours from London to Barbados), but the journey went off smoothly.
BARBADOS WITH CHILDREN: THE FLIGHT
I have to say one thing: God save British Airways and its baby seat!!!!! We flew with BA (Venice-London + London-Barbados + Barbados-London + London-Verona) and we couldn’t be happier about its family policy: family lane, priority boarding for parents travelling with kids, special seats reservation, activities packs and so on. Last but not least, BA supplies free of charge the very best friend for a parent who flies with a toddler: the child seat!!!!!! It can save your flight, especially if your adorable kid weights more than 10 kg and he’s taller than 70 cm. Lots of airlines usually provide a carrycot for babies… but if your child is too big for the cot and, at the same time, too young for having his own seat, what can you lucky parent do in order to save yourself from a very hard flight? BA has the answer: book a child seat and enjoy unbelievable experiences while your kid is taking a nap. Watching a movie? Yes, you can do it! Going to the toilet to pee? Yes, you can do it! (I know, it’s not very romantic but you have to do a wee during a 9 hours flight). Avoiding to have both your arms broken by the lovely weight of your beautiful but heavy kid? Oh yes buddy, you definitely can do it!
The trip was better than we had imagined: I have no problem to confess that, beyond enthusiasm, the idea of having a 11hours-flight to manage was quite frightening. But then we boarded, we took off and everything went smoothly. I have to say that we have some “thrilling” moments, especially after the third time that Memi was completely soaked with pee for unknown causes (effect of pressurization? Who knows!). The fact is that in spite of I changed his diaper every 2 hours, the baby was constantly wet from the neck to the socks: I had put in the luggage 3 changes, I thought they were enough, but when after a 5 hour flight I realized that we had finished clean clothes I began to sweat (my dismayed expression probably convinced my son to turn off his tap and thank goodness we managed to arrive at our destination dry).
We had another small moment of panic at snack time: I had some fruit baby food and I kindly asked for a teaspoon. But the hostess, with the seraphic British aplomb, told me “Sorry ma’am, no spoons” … Are you killing me? No spoons on board?? Nada de nada, I obtained only a stick to turn sugar into the coffee: oh my God, I’m Italian and I have in my DNA the “do it yourself” gene, but feeding my son with a stick (during a flight with a lot of turbulences) is really a mission a bit ‘too complex for me too. Luckily Memi at that time was already able to munch a little bit and we saved the situation with crackers and cookies.
Generally, it was absolutely a magnificent flight, and the return one even better: the baby slept 7 hours… God save the British Airways!
BARBADOS WITH CHILDREN: THE ACCOMODATION
After a resort experience during the last holiday, we opted for our usual holiday “do it yourself”. No hotel this time, but a delightful and simple apartment located at 3 meters from the rocks of Silver Sands. A friend gave us the right tip for the accommodation: a low cost but super functional flat. The apartment was small (self-catering studio) but it was perfect for us, with a wonderful porch close to the sea where we enjoyed suggestive breakfast at sunrise and great dinners in a very calm atmosphere. Even the location was very strategic: a few kilometers from a village very lively and characteristic (Oistins), near one of the most beautiful beaches of Barbados (Miami Beach) and good starting point to discover the island.
The choice of an independent accommodation also gave us the opportunity to move freely and without timetables, and especially to be able to manage with great comfort Memi’s meals: the morning I used to cook lunch and put it in the thermos (so we always enjoyed the entire day at sea) and in the evening we had dinner comfortably at home. We had to put only a couple of things in the suitcase: thermos and a baby seat to use like an high chair. Everything else was already available in the apartment.
OUR TIPYCAL DAY OUT
We spent 99.99% of our time at sea. Despite there were other things to do (guided tours to the plantations of sugar cane, rum distilleries, colonial houses, etc.), we couldn’t resist to the call of beaches. We just had half a day between the Flower Forest (cute) and Bridgetown (no big deal) because we found few hours of bad weather, the rest of the holiday was….sun sun sun at all hours.
We went every day to a different beach: on the west side there were the quietest ones, bathed by the Caribbean Sea, on the east coast instead the more wild and wavy ones
The 15 days we spent in Barbados were relaxing and Memi (who at the time was still crawling explored the nature by jumping into the water every 3 minutes and dunking biscuits in the sand (yum yum). In short, we enjoyed a really freak vacation! The baby took great naps in the shade of coconut palms, and we used those moments of peace for working on our suntan and plunging into crystal clear waters. Our days usually closed with a rum punch aperitif, a quick pass to the fish market for buying our dinner and at 6.30 we went home (you have to consider that in January the sun rose at 6.30am and it was already dark at 6.00 pm).
Barbados is a super simple destination also about food: there are many supermarkets (with lot of baby products such as baby food, dry milk and all you can need for an infant) and – if you like – several fast food in case of desperation.
My husband and I really love fish and, as I said before, every night we had a stop at the harbor market to stock up fillets of tuna, shark, marlin and so on, then we cooked them at home. Baby gourmet instead ate pasta and large portions of baby food: I had brought a huge amount of things from Italy but I could easily avoid all those extra pounds of food and buy everything on site with no problems at all!
What else could I say about Barbados? Charming, friendly, not expensive (if you avoid the mass tourism accommodation) and totally baby-friendly. If you have young children and want to experience the Caribbean in a really simple way, well, it is the ideal destination!
[text and photos by Michela Toffali]