Traveling with Toddlers: What I learned in Curaçao

I am on a mission to remind parents with little ones that they CAN travel abroad, go to far flung destinations, and not regret it once they board that airplane with childless passengers with the “oh my God, children!” look on their faces. Does it take a shit load of planning? Yes. Do you have to create an airplane survival kit? Yes. Will your kids drive you crazy? Probably, don’t they at home? So what’s it worth? Laughter, quality time, great photos, a glass of wine at night with your partner while you listen to the ocean waves from your balcony after the kids are in bed, and amazing moments you wouldn’t have if you stayed at home. I’ve been doing a series of posts on my Curaçao trip, and this one is for the moms and dads who think they can’t go anywhere sophisticated because they have kids:

Random Find: Ella playing at a kids park in Willemstad, Curaçao

Random Find: Ella playing at a kids park in Willemstad, Curaçao

Car seats, boosters, and taxi rides: Flying out of JFK at 9 am meant we were taking a car service to the airport at 5 am–driving half asleep was not an option! I hired Harrington Limo to transport us using our own car seats for Ella and Luke. At no charge, they held on to them and put them in the car that picked us up from the airport upon our return. When we were in Curaçao, the taxi company, Lulu’s, provided a toddler and infant car seat for us when they picked us up. Later we learned car seat laws are fairly lax so when we took a taxi 5 min down the road to downtown Willemstad from our condo, we just put them in our laps. Call LuLu’s taxi company for pick ups: +5999 6902797

Surviving the flight: Two words for you: television and snacks. If it weren’t for Jet Blue, there was no way I would have gone to Curaçao because it’s the only airline with direct flights. My two year old LOVED the plane. I bought her kid headphones and also loaded up our iPad with Sesame and Curious George which can be downloaded on Amazon Prime in advanced and streamed without wi-fi now! Luke was a different story. Although he sucked on the pacifier the plane elevation still bothered him–a passenger later gave me a great idea to give him Tylenol before the flight–it worked. Both flights were during potential nap times, so Luke slept for a good 1-2 hours each way. Even though Luke cried a bit off and on, we were surrounded by other babies and toddlers, so we didn’t feel too guilty–plus everyone had headphones on. We also bought a Curious George magnet game that kept Luke occupied and I let him walk around. Because I am anal, I brought our own snacks, juice, and sandwiches just in case we had picky eaters. Chris and I were pros on our flight home and even had a glass of wine each to celebrate a successful trip!

TheStrand_Curacao_EncounterswithNubia

A week in paradise at The Strand of Curaçao

Apartments with amenities vs Hotels: If we didn’t have the option to stay in a condo, it would have made our Caribbean vacation unsatisfactory. We needed a kitchen and a separate room for the kids (at The Strand they each had their own room and a pack & play was included!). Staying in a luxury hotel would have been nice, but there were no options to book a two-bedroom suite and being stuck in ONE room is limiting when your kids go to bed at 7 pm. Enter the luxury apartment rental. It’s the best way to go. Our apartment offered grocery delivery service, housekeeping, and other amenities like private pool and beach. We even had our diapers delivered which freed up space in my suitcase for other things like beach toys! Another family-friendly apartment option is La Maya Beach Curaçao on Spanish Water, which also has grocery delivery, kitchen, private pool and beach. I wanted to be closer to downtown Willemstad for my art scene research, so I opted not to stay there, but it looks lovely.

Eating out: I was told restaurants in Curaçao are generally family friendly, but I was surprised that the restaurants we visited only had one high chair. Luckily my kids can go either way and Luke loves sitting in my lap while eating still. If your kids require some type of  seat support while eating,  I suggest traveling with an inflatable booster seat like this one from The First Years. I used it in our apartment rental and it was so convenient! It easily fit in my suitcase when deflated.

Keep going: My kids loved the experience, and my husband and I were so satisfied that we had accomplished something that many of our friends and family had thought was “crazy” to do because of how difficult it might be. Being a parent isn’t easy, no matter if you are at home or on a white sand beach in the Caribbean, so why not make life more interesting with trips to fun places? I’m already planning our next escape!

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