The images of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma flashed across the TV. Waves rolled against deserted beaches under an ominous sky. Neighbors pulled one another through flooded streets in pontoon boats. Not that my two year old noticed, as immersed as she is lately in Paw Patrol. As I watched the Weather Channel, I wanted to wrap her in a protective bubble or lock her high up in a tower, far away from the horrifying stories of digging through rubble in Mexico City with bare hands.
Apart from another plea to donate to the American Red Cross, Mercy Corps, Unidos for Puerto Rico aid or the Texas Diaper Bank what else can we do? With winter holidays fast approaching, where can we go to enjoy a safe (ish) family vacation?
As of the writing of this post, Puerto Rico is still largely without power, the airports only just opened but there a long road to recovery lies ahead. Besides Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Barbuda, and St. Martin were among the hardest hit.
Fortunately the recent hurricanes spared much of the Caribbean, and plenty of islands would love to have your business.
- Cayman Islands: we have not been but read this review of Family Friendly Activities from Minitime
- Jamaica: we visited the island twice before we had kids, but we would love to see Negril. I’ve heard the Beaches resort chain offers special infant and toddler programs in their Kids’ Camps, supervised by certified Nannies. That means you can enjoy a Mai Tai and a massage before you get your sleepy kid back. It’s on my to-do list for sure.
- St Lucia: We visited St. Lucia pre-kids as well. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, seemed perfect for a kid-friendly vacation. Check out Windjammer Landing.
- Caribbean Travel Update: created by the Caribbean tourism industry, gives an up to date list of the islands open for business and gives an opportunity to donate to relief efforts.
Two Excellent New York Times articles about the Caribbean islands’ recovery following Irma and Maria:
You may have heard that the United States State Department recently issued a travel warning for many states in Mexico, including Guerrero (Acapulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo), Quintana Roo (Riviera Maya, Cancun, Cozumel) and Jalisco (Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara). This is in response to increased criminal activity including an increased homicide rate, kidnappings, etc.
Cheery thoughts for those of us still considering the toddler safety bubble.
In researching, most travelers limit non-essential travel to increase safety. Check with the resort for tours and reputable airport transfers.
I like Oyster.com for reviews of family friendly hotels because they give the pros and cons, but we have not personally been to these places.
Let’s not leave out the concerns related to Zika. Because of its impact on increasing the rates of babies with birth defects, it terrifies most women of child-bearing age. Several countries worldwide still suffer from Zika and its consequences, especially those in tropical climates. Keep in mind the mosquitos that carry and transmit the virus have the highest activity at night. Wear mosquito repellant, buy extra for your kids, and introduce your kids to the joys of a mosquito net.
The CDC maintains an up to date list of Zika travel information. Check often as several places have recently been cleared.
Take Away Points for Safe Family Vacation Planning
Guadeloupe, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and French Polynesia have now been noted to be Zika-free according to the CDC, and are all open for business according to Caribbean Travel Update.
- Canada–haven’t you always wanted to snuggle up with your little ones, sipping hot chocolate in a horse-drawn carriage and watching the Northern Lights dance above your heads? Me too.
- California: there’s always “another day of sun” and there are tons of family friendly places.
- Your own backyard. My husband and I have lived all over the United States. Some of our best (and most cost-effective) trips have been exploring the cities and towns around our home.
- Cruising: Why not just leave the worry to the cruise line? From personal experience, Disney Cruise Lines has amazing benefits for families traveling with small kids. They offer extra-large rooms, bathtubs, a nursery for non-potty-trained kids (for an extra fee), and several toddler-friendly activities like toddler play time, Disney Junior Dance Party, swim-diaper-friendly splash pads and first run movies. I have also heard good things about Carnival, though their services for kids under 2 seem to be lacking, and we have not sailed with them personally. The other benefit of cruising is that most cruises sail at night. Zika-carrying mosquitos are most active at night. By taking a cruise, you could possibly avoid exposure. In all honesty, I tend toward the overly-paranoid so I still slathered myself and my kid with repellant when we docked in the Bahamas.
- Hawaii: The Aloha State still delights with miles and miles of hiking trails, pineapple and other assorted deliciousness, and animals everywhere you turn. We took the little miss when she was 13 months old and I still think it may be the best trip we have ever taken.
I also highly recommend travel insurance in this day and age. Vacations for groups of people eat up a lot of your hard-earned money, and travel insurance does not cost not much extra in the grand scheme of things.
Tell me about your trouble planning trips in this day and age. Any great ideas? Have you been to any of the places above with your kids?