May 11, 2010

Have baby, Will travel

Last year, on May 6, 2009, John & I finally made it official (after 7 wonderful years together) in paradise (We stayed at the beautiful Riu in Ocho Rios, Jamaica).

I call it my "Heaven on Earth" because it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen in real life and I got to have my fairy tale wedding on the beach. It was simple, gorgeous and perfect. It was like a dream.

Not many can say they've been to Jamaica TWICE before the ago of TWO! Gavin is definitely a very lucky little guy! He was only 9 months old the first time and we weren't sure what to expect, traveling with a baby. But he LOVED it! If we had have known he would be so content, we definitely would have stayed for another week. He slept better than he ever did at home, he loved being in the water and was such a good little traveler.

We had such an amazing time that we wanted to go back for our one year anniversary (May 6, 2010). There was no where else we would rather be. We also really wanted to bring Gavin again before he turned two (while he still travels for free!)

We tried to find the most "economical" option and ended up getting a great deal for a week at Breezes in Trelawny, Jamiaca. It was not as nice as the Riu, but also about half the price and VERY kid friendly. Gavin had the time of his life. It was so much more fun with him being a year older and independent enough to be able to wade around in the pool, run along the beach and socialize with other children. He spent HOURS in the pool every day and would usually pass out for the night right after dinner!

Gavin learned lots of new words in Jamaica but my favourite is hearing him say, "YA MON!" I still laugh every single time.

I really recommend traveling with your children while they are young. Take full advantage of the "free before 2" thing! I know it can seem a bit overwhelming to travel with a baby but its really not! We had an incredible time and it was exactly what we needed. We had the greatest first anniversary :)


- In Canada they DO need their own passport and photo! You can download the forms HERE. Apply for it ASAP! It costs $22 for children under 3 and $37 for 3-15 year olds.

- Children who have been issued a passport when they were less than a year old get one free replacement passport. You still need to submit a new application and new photos etc.

- Click HERE for frequently asked questions.

- Since they are free, they don't get a seat on the plane. They will be sitting on your lap (this was a lot easier with a 9 month old than an almost 2 year old, but still manageable!)

- Request a seat close to the front of the plane so you can be one of the first to get off (you will get to board first anyway)

- Nursing is a bonus because with them on your lap already, it is easy to nurse them while the plane takes off and lands (sucking helps their ears not to pop) Bottles or soothers work too and I'm sure the flight attendant would be happy to warm a bottle for you. I have found them to be very helpful.

- DON'T OVER PACK! I know its hard! You don't need everything you own.

- They aren't allowed their own luggage (unless you want to pay extra) so you have no choice but to PACK LIGHT (However you CAN bring a diaper bag, a stroller, and a play pen...those don't count) If you bring a play pen you can stuff a few extra things into it before you put it in the bag! I recommend bringing a play pen your baby is comfortable sleeping in instead of requesting a crib for the room.

- Make sure that if you need to bring any liquids, aerosols or gels in your carry-on that they are in small amounts! We had to leave a bottle of sunscreen and a tube of toothpaste at the screening checkpoint because they were over 100 ml. HERE is a great Canadian site for info on permitted/non-permitted items.

- If you are traveling with an infant under 2 years old, you can bring formula, baby food, milk or juice in your carry-on in containers over 100 ml (More info HERE).

- Figure out how many diapers you will need per day and remember that they will probably be in swim diapers most of the time (At least you won't have the diapers on the way back so you will have more room in your suitcase for souvenirs)

- Washable swim diapers are awesome and take up a lot less room. We usually travel with 3 and rinse them out and hang them to dry on the balcony.

- Limit the toys. We stick to a few small books and a bag of crayons and paper in the carry on and a few small sand toys in the suitcase. You don't have much room on the plane and don't want to be lugging around a bulky stuffed animal or toy.

- Bring a sun hat with a chin strap so it can't blow off or be pulled off

- Pack the necessities in your carry on just in case your luggage gets lost

- Bring a familiar item, like a stuffed animal or blanky to make it easier to fall asleep in a strange place

- Don't forget baby and adult sunscreen and bug spray and some medicine cabinet items in case baby gets sick (thermometer, pain relief, etc.)

- baby carriers are perfect for busy airports and day trips. Preferably one that's light & breathable and comfortable to wear for long periods.

- We also bring a large "wet bag" (like this one). We just hang it on a doorknob in the hotel room and can easily put all our wet or dirty clothes in there. Its easy to throw in the suitcase at the end of the week and throw in the laundry when you get home.

- bring a cheap, portable stroller that you will not be upset if it gets damaged. Preferably one that reclines so baby can sleep comfortably in it. Bonus if it has a sun shade and somewhere to stash your room key. Triple bonus points if it has a cup holder! ;) The stroller will be the last thing you check, right before you get on the plane.

- We brought teething toys and kept them in the fridge in our room to help him cool off. We also brought a sippy cup that we would fill with water and keep in the fridge. In Jamaica the drinking water is great so there were no worries there, but obviously you would want to make sure first or use bottled water. Bring a few snack sized bags of Cheerios, crackers or something for long bus rides from the airport to the resort. Sometimes we would bring a banana from the buffet to save for him for later but avoid bringing food back to the room because you will attract a lot of bugs.

- If they're eating solids you will be able to find lots of suitable things for them to eat from the buffet - fruits, breads, cereal, etc. You might want to introduce certain foods before you go to rule out allergies (for example, we made sure he was OK with mangoes before we went the first time)

- Breastfeeding is a bonus because you don't have to worry about cleaning bottles or heating them. Its always ready to go and the perfect temperature! ;)

- Request a room with a balcony that faces the stage if you want to be able to enjoy the night life from your balcony while your little one is sleeping in the room. Or you might prefer a nice quiet view to be able to relax and not hear the noise of the resort.

- Don't stress. Just go with a positive attitude and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!

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