Sun, sand, sea, and...kids?
Our first family vacation was a trip to Grenada, West Indies. Our entire family, including my mother in law, sister in law, aunts, uncles, and cousins from England, spent a week in the Spice Isle for a wedding. Our boys, at ages 3 and 5, were finally able to meet and play with their cousins from across the pond while exploring all that Grenada had to offer. Our group ranged in age--my 3 year old was the youngest, with other family members up in their seventies--but we all had a great time. You really can take (and enjoy!) a Caribbean vacation with your kids. Here are my tips for how to do it:
Despite my meticulous packing, my mother in law, sister in law, and I stayed up the night before the flight, arranging and rearranging our stuff into suitcases.
Although I failed (majorly) to fit all of our clothing into a single carry on, my LeSportsac carry on came in handy for last minute items, like the boys' sunscreen, bug spray, and ALL of my shoes. I put our tablets, snacks, sunglasses, and passports aside for easy access at the airport.
Divide and conquer.
We arrived at JFK, ready for our sunny Caribbean vacation adventure. My husband and I each took a boy by the hand and headed to the JetBlue kiosks to check in to our flight.
Available at over 100 airports, the TSA Pre-Check line helps passengers speed through security without removing their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. In June of 2016, Pre Check members waited in a line of 5 minutes or less. Sounds convenient, right? It was. For everyone but me. Everyone else in the family-- even the kids!--was "randomly selected" and got the okay to go through the short Pre Check line, while I headed to the regular security check in by myself. Once we met at our departure gate, we let the boys pull out their tablets for Speakaboos, an interactive reading app where they can learn languages (ask my oldest about six tranches de fromage), interact with stories, read by themselves, or be read (and sang to), until it was time to board.
Arm yourself with distractions.
The boys were excited to hand over their boarding passes, and immediately wanted to dig into their activity kits. I wanted to dig into the latest issue of Essence magazine. Magnetic games, coloring books, and snacks kept the boys busy during the 4-hour trip. Aside from one small meltdown, they did pretty well on their first flight.
Enjoy the sights from a child's view.
With the help of the communication app WhatsApp, everyone knew when and where to meet to take a tour of the island, visit the Douglaston Spice Estate, shop in Market Square, and take pictures at Leaper's Hill.
Although the boys enjoyed riding in a Grenada taxi and seeing the sights, their favorite parts of the trip were spotting crabs during our walks to the Grand Anse beach and watching the lizards dart around during breakfast on the front porch of our hotel room.
Bring in reinforcements!
While the adults sampled the local rum at the River Antoine Distillery, the children explored the grounds with their grandmothers. When we trekked through Grand Etang National Park to see the 1st of Grenada's Seven Sisters Falls, cousins pitched in to carry the boys over the hills, rocks, and mud. If you aren't traveling with family, ask if your hotel or resort offers babysitting or children's activities.
Since we were on vacation, everyone tried new things, like nutmeg balls and mangoes straight from the trees. We got to see cashew nuts and tiny avocados growing. We jumped from the waterfalls and hiked through the forest. Sure, we laid out on Grand Anse beach, but we also accepted every opportunity for adventure.
So, you can actually take a Caribbean vacation with your kids--your entire family, even--and survive. Use this tips to make the most of the sun and fun!