Have you ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort? They are an interesting breed of vacation. It’s getting to experience the warmth and beauty of a Caribbean locale without really getting into the heart and culture of the place much at all.
As a traveler, I would love to visit Europe, South America, even Africa. Experience culture and lifestyles on a completely different continent. As part of a two working parent household with two busy daughters, we have to budget both our time and money.
Related: Tips for Surviving a Busy Family
Why an all-inclusive?
For the price, all-inclusive vacations are great. You don’t have to think much for yourself, your food is ready when you are, and there is lots to do for families.
For our vacation this year we took a trip to Cuba. Memories Resort in Holguin to be exact. It wasn’t our first time in Cuba, but it was a good time!
What do we do for a week?
This gave me the most stress in the beginning, travelling with my young kids. What would my picky eater eat?
It turns out the buffets have the same food over and over, so if your kids find something they like, they can eat it the entire time you’re there!
(That is not exactly appealing to me – I get tired of eating the same thing for a week. There are restaurant options but I don’t think my girls would find something to eat there – yet. We’re not keen on leaving the girls alone while my husband and I try out a reservation only restaurant for late dinner.)
Caribbean resorts are like hotels, only the rooms are in “houses” and spread out all around the resort. I don’t know if there’s a way to know where you’ll be before you get there, but we have never known ahead of time. That being said, we’ve never had a problem with our rooms, or been “too far” from the main area of the resort, or the beach.
You do have to be prepared to get a few steps in each day as you travel around the resort and beach areas. There are golf cart style transportation options, driven by resort staff. Usually you call and request this transport, but sometimes they are unavailable.
We always book resorts with a Kids Club. This past vacation the girls didn’t go at all during the day, but we did take in some of the evening entertainment the Kids Club put on.
Kids Clubs are like day care but at a resort. You drop your kids off, the staff plays with them, takes them to lunch, and you pick them up for dinner. Great in theory, but some resorts have odd hours for the Kids Club, and don’t you want to spend SOME time with your kids on vacation?
At Memories Holguin the Kids Club was far from the pool. (There was a pool at the Kids Club, but I didn’t want to traipse across the resort to get the kids there. It was at the opposite end of the resort from our room.)
Our favourite Kids Club was at a Riu resort in the Dominican Republic. The club was right next to the pool, the kids were allowed to come and go as they pleased, and they got their faces painted every day.
Visiting another country (or even another city) is a great reason to explore. On our last trip we visited a bat cave that was close to the resort. It had no extra fee attached and was a morning’s activity.
We don’t usually pay to take excursions when we go on holiday. We’re cheap, and often the weather is windy and some of the adventures are cancelled, or moved. But that doesn’t stop us from exploring.
I am a photographer at heart. We will take our cameras (I’m teaching the girls a bit about photography) and walk around the entire resort complex. Often we see birds and lizards, and on our last vacation there were hermit crabs galore!
Walking the beach in the early evening is something we make sure to do. We look for tide pools, interesting pathways, and neat sand creations other travellers have left behind. The Memories resort had a private beach, and we found some sea life and beautiful sunsets.
Travel mom thoughts
Parents often overthink during holidays: Are the kids having fun? What is there to eat? Have we been in the sun too long? This is completely normal (and important to avoid sunburn!) but try not to fixate on it.
Your kids will eat something, no doubt about it. If it’s just french fries and dessert, they will still survive the week. Mine ate pancakes and noodles with butter most of the week and they thought it was a great vacation!
We went to bed as a family (in the one room) usually by 9pm. And you know what? We all slept until at least 7am. My kids are old enough to no longer need naps. When we had to do that, one of us would go back with the child who needed the sleep, and we would nap together while the others were lounging at the beach or pool. It worked. And if it hadn’t worked we would have tried something else.
Something I can’t suggest highly enough – bring some cards and/or games. Oh, and wet weather gear. These kind of go hand-in-hand. It will rain on you at least once during a week in the Caribbean. Gather up your stuff and meet up with some friends in the hotel lobby or a covered snack bar area. We met a lovely family from Ottawa who had daughters the same age as ours. They had fun playing together, and we enjoyed some card games with other adults!
How often do you travel with your children? I never thought we would travel as much as we do. We didn’t take our first trip until our youngest was 3, but we’ve taken a trip almost every year since then!
Share your travel tips, or real life stories, with me in the comments. I love hearing other experiences – it gives me ideas for other great locations to visit!
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