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To go or not to go: the Caribbean with kids

[ 0 ] April 25, 2013 |

If you’re planning a family getaway this year, the Caribbean might not be the first place that springs to mind. As a destination, it has all the mountain forests, amazing marine life and picture-perfect beaches you could wish for, but the reality of taking the kids on such a long-haul holiday may not match up. Though parents may have heard that price, travel and facilities in the islands are less than ideal, it’s worth examining some of the real pros and cons before discounting this wonderful part of the world.

Potential challenges

The main points that count against taking the family to the Caribbean are interconnected: distance and cost. A nine or 10-hour flight with a four-hour time difference on arrival is not the recipe for the most pleasant family trip, especially if you have younger ones in tow.

Aside from the actual journey, there’s the money involved; with flights alone eating up a large portion of the holiday budget. Moreover, to make the travel worthwhile, it often seems necessary to book at least a two-week stint, which does not come cheap in a hotel or villa.

While you could easily take the holiday during the off-peak season, it’s often easier to go away during the school summer holidays. Unfortunately, in the Caribbean this works out as the most expensive time of year, not to mention the hottest and often most crowded. Add to this the potentially cheaper and more convenient holidays in European camps or holiday apartments everywhere from southern Spain to Croatia, and it’s understandable that some have their reservations.

The positive side

On the other hand, the Caribbean might come with a luxury reputation, but there are ways around this. Pick an island like Cuba or Monserrat and you’ll be able to stretch the dollars that bit further. Independent travel and locally-owned rentals may also help reduce the price tag compared with an all-inclusive.

This said, if you weigh up enough package deals, you can find discounted accommodation, free plane seats and low-cost meals for the kids. This means that some holidays in Europe may turn out more expensive for the same amount of time, and with much of the Caribbean English-speaking, you don’t need to worry about kids not settling in because of the language difference.

Another bonus is the childcare facilities. Plenty of resorts in Jamaica have free daycentres for under-tens, while Meads Bay in Anguilla offers a supervised playground and waterslides. And while some parents worry that there won’t be enough variety in the entertainment, it’s easy to dispel this myth: kids can spot dolphins and whales on Grenada, learn to sail on Antigua and try the hot springs on St Lucia.

It seems that, like many locations across the world, the Caribbean may have earned itself a slightly misleading reputation when it comes to being family-friendly. It’s fair to say that many of the quieter spots on places like St Kitts or Tortula are best-reserved for honeymooning couples and the heady street parties of Puerto Rico are not the safest for travelling families. But Barbados and St Lucia are consistently well-rated for kids’ activities and diversions for the grown-ups as well. There are plenty of good kids’ holidays which are closer to home and easier on the pocket, but choose carefully and the Caribbean might just defy expectations.

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About onurwaytravel: Colin has been travelling the world with his young family for the past 2 and half years. He runs a couple of websites all revolve around travel, family travel and digital nomadism. His websites include http://ourtravellifestyle.com, http://vagabondfamily.org, http://nunomad.com and now http://on-our-way-travel.com. View author profile.

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