My husband and I haven’t gone down south in a while, last time we went I was pregnant with my now 6-year-old. We decided the girls are getting a bit older and are ready to escape the cold of winter for a week of fun in the sun. We decided on Cuba as Sunwing offers direct flights from Fredericton. Winter weather is so unpredictable on the East Coast so the direct flight appealed to us as you only have to worry about the weather here, not in Toronto (or where ever your connecting airport is).
Before you even start looking at trips, make sure passports are in order. If your children don’t have passports, the first thing you need before applying is to make sure you have your children’s long form birth certificate, as this is required for the application. You can order online here and the service fee in NB is $30 .
Once all the paperwork is taken care of comes the fun part. Being someone who LOVES lists, I’ve started a list of things I’ll need to bring, starting with personal care items. I’ve always been careful to bring extra medication as sometimes these items can be hard to find, and if you can find them, they are outrageously priced. Better to bring extra and not need it than to be hunting for Tylenol in the middle of the night, especially if it’s for your children.
I also called our local pharmacist to see if they recommended any special vaccinations before going. Both my husband and I already have the Twinrix® Vaccine which covers Hepatitis A&B but they recommended the girls get the Hep A shot (2 doses 6 months apart) The Hep B Vaccine is already included in the regular immunization schedule in Canada. Call your Dr. or Pharmacist for advice.
Here goes the lists 🙂
Personal Care Items
• Advil and/or Tylenol
• Benedryl – in case of an allergic reaction
• Benedryl stick for bug bites or stings
• Bug spray
• Pepto or Tums – in case anyone gets an upset tummy
• Shampoo & Conditioner – I prefer a 2 in 1 so I only have to pack 1 bottle
• Toothpaste and toothbrushes
• Extra hair ties
• 2 Bottles of your favorite sunscreen
• Body wash and bath pouf
• Body lotion
• Bandaids and Polysporin
• Feminine products (just in case)
• Small bottle of laundry detergent for rinsing out swimsuits
• Twine and a few clothespins – to tie on your balcony so those swimsuits don’t blow away when drying.
• Facecloths – surprising a lot of resorts do not provide face cloths.
• Package of baby wipes – even if you don’t have kids in diapers – wipes have so many uses and will be packed in my carry on along with hand sanitizer.
• If you have a little one in diapers or Pull-ups be sure to pack extra as these items are expensive. I’d also recommend packing a few swim diapers. You’ll likely go through more than you expect.
Pool / Beach
• Snorkel sets if you have them. My absolute favourite part of the tropics is the snorkelling – Costco is currently carrying awesome sets, both for children and adults.
• An underwater camera is a lot of fun, and it saves you the stress from worrying about getting your phone or camera wet. Amazon has some great cameras at an affordable price.
• Puddle jumpers in case your children are not strong swimmers. The ocean can get rough at times.
• Large beach towels – sometimes towels are hard to find if the resort is busy.
• A bucket and shovel can keep the little ones entertained for hours, not all resorts have available beach toys so it’s a good idea to bring a few sand and water toys. Something simple like a beach ball or pool inflatables that can be blown up when you get there to save room in your luggage.
• Diving rings are also fun and don’t take a lot of luggage space.
The beach toys you bring can be left upon your departure as I’m sure the workers may have some little ones at home that could put them to good use.
Food – to an all-inclusive?
If your kids (or you) have certain favorite snacks it’s a good idea to bring a few, snack food can be hard to find. I also pack a little beach bag as sometimes your room can be far from the pool or beach and you may not want to leave the perfect spot to go looking for snacks. An insulated water bottle is handy for the kids and for parents 😉 If you’re a chip fan like I am, bring them with you (in your carry on of course) Lays and Ruffles chips don’t exist down south. Another item that often comes up that people can’t get is Peanut Butter and Ketchup, so if you can’t go without, bring some with you.
The bonus of summer style clothing is that they don’t take up a lot of luggage space.
• Swimsuits – I tend to pack at least 1 for every day, they can be washed and hung to dry so no big deal if you don’t have that many.
• Sundresses – a few casual ones and a dressier outfit for the restaurants.
• Dress-shirt and dress pants for men as à la cartes usually have a dress code.
• Undergarments – pack at least a fresh pair for every day.
• Shorts and T-shirts – few pairs of each as I find you change a lot going from one activity to the next. I like the quick dry shorts instead of heavier shorts like jean shorts. This way if you throw it over a wet bathing suit, you don’t look like you peed your pants.
• Two or three pairs of summer pajamas.
• Flip flops and water shoes for the beach.
• Sneakers and socks for any walking excursions and travelling to and from your destination.Sports style closed toe sandals are great for the little ones and not as clumsy as flip-flops. Something that doesn’t matter if they get wet but are also comfortable for longer walks.
• Sunhats and sunglasses are important for the little ones, especially if they don’t have a lot of hair.
Check the weather before you go as it can still cool off at night time.
• 2 pairs of pants and 2 sweaters should be sufficient.
• Rain jacket – when it rains it pours. When you get to your tropical destination you don’t want to be wearing your Canadian winter gear, so I would wear this item over a T-shirt and sweater so you can take off layers as needed. Walking off that plane into the balmy weather is delightful unless you’re wearing a fleece sweater and down fill jacket.
To keep all the dirty laundry in one place, just pack a large plastic or reusable bag.
Cash For tipping, it’s best to bring the local currency or do a little research on what’s accepted where you are travelling. Once you know the proper currency I’d recommend calling ahead to your local bank to see if they offer that currency. Calling ahead provides time for your bank to order in as they do not stock all currencies at all times. Some resorts take US$ but not all. The exchange rate and fee from your local bank will be better than the airport currency exchange kiosks.
Carry on You never know if your luggage is going to make it to your destination the same time as you, so it’s important to pack any essential medication and a change of clothes in case it’s delayed. If you arrive prior to your room being ready you can quickly access a change of clothes instead of digging through your suitcase in the middle of the lobby. If it’s a long flight and you’re concerned about keeping the little ones occupies it’s been recommended to buy a few dollar store toys, and wrap them up and hand out when boredom strikes.
Final Note And the last but thing to pack is your patience. It may be a bit chaotic to get out the door to ensure you arrive at the airport on time. Travelling can be stressful but try not to stress out if things go wrong, it’s all part of the experience of travelling with children. As Bob Marley says “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Enjoy your trip!
Michelle Lefrancois was born and raised in the small town of Grand Bay-Westfield, NB. She graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Business Degree in 2004. After graduation, she worked in the Finance and Banking world for 10 years before deciding to be a stay at home mom to her two young daughters. She’s the founder of Network of Moms and loves helping other moms connect. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying the great outdoors with her husband, 2 children and 2 Boxers.