Last year big James started traveling for work a ton due to his new job. His initial explanation to little James went as follows:
James: Daddy will have to travel a lot more for work for a few months.
Pooh: Why? I don’t want you to be gone every week.
James: It’s just for a few months. Don’t you like being able to afford the things you like to do? Daddy has to work so you can keep doing those things!
Pooh: Well, can your new job afford my dream vacation?!
James: Where is that?
Pooh: Atlantis, Bahamas
Me: *laughs hysterically* … you putting your money where your mouth is or nah?!
Fast forward to April 2018 (yes, I’m crazy late in sharing) and we were off to the Bahamas for a much some much needed spring break fun with the kiddos. I want to share some of the tips we used to make our trip more affordable and enjoyable.
Pre Trave Tipsl:
1. Make sure everyone has their passports prior to booking. Most flights require that you enter passport information when you book the flight. It was the kid’s first international trip and their passport process is a bit more detailed so make sure you give yourself enough leeway. Child applications are available online like ours but both parents have to be available at the passport appointment to give their consent. If not, you’ll need to have a notarized statement of consent from the parent who isn’t present if you do not have sole custody. Once the application was complete their passports arrived in about 2 weeks and that was with standard processing.
2. Know your travel dates and what works for your family. We knew that actual spring break dates didn’t work for us because the flights were astronomical. We opted for an alternate week and a Wed-Tue trip. Not only were we flexible with our travel dates we were also semi flexible with our flight times. We flew into Miami had a short 45 min layover then flew to Bahamas. For some a layover is a no go, for us it was well worth what we saved across 4 plane tickets. This flexibility made our tickets about $360/person instead of $700. I didn’t use any special tricks to book we simply used google flights.
3. Withdraw cash in advance. As often as you can order foreign currency or get cash from your home bank prior to your trip. I am not a fan of international atm fees or exchange rates; you typically get the best deal from your local bank. The USD works just fine in the Bahamas even though they have their own currency so we just withdrew cash prior to leaving.
Must Pack Items:
1. Umbrella Stroller: there is a lot of walking; think Las Vegas strip but with a beach and for kids.
2. Sun Screen/Aloe: We reapplied sun screen every 2 hours as instructed and still ended up with a few nose and shoulder burns.
3. Medicine Cabinet: Tylenol, Benedryl, Neosporin, Hydrocortisone, Band-Aids you name it.
4. Baby Power: it helps get the sand off at the end of a beach day.
5. Hair Conditioner and Small Comb: Sand trapped in 4b/c hair is NO laughing matter. It took a whole bottle of conditioner and a lot of patience to get the sand out of Poohs mow-hawk. A whole bottle!
6. Goggles: Salt water burns badly. It’ll save you from hearing them whine about their eyes hurting.
7. Pool Floats or Noodles: no explanation needed.
8. Life vest: for non-swimmers and ensure proper fit.
9. Swim shoes: the ground at Aquaventure water park was hot. Too hot for little sensitive feet to walk on barefoot.
10. Sunglasses: we made sure the kids had at least two pairs.
11. Everything that you’d pack for yourself: Swim suits, clothes, socks, undies, pjs, extra shoes.
Surviving The Airport with Kids:
Each of my kids had a mini suit case with their favorite things: hand held video games, iPads loaded with movies (so they still play in airplane mode), snacks, coloring books/crayons, change of clothes and drinks (purchased after TSA check). I also purchased a wrist harness for Zoe girl because she just loves walking like a big girl; yes, I leash my kids; judge your mom! Oh and TSA Pre-check saves lives and edges. Spend the extra money!
Where We Stayed:
We opted for a rental house via AirBnb instead of one of the Atlantis hotel. The hotels can cost a pretty penny and due to my parents in love joining us, it meant we would’ve needed 2 rooms. Going this route saved us about $2k and the condo was on the same beautiful beach as Atlantis. The also had a nice pool that’s right outside of the back door. It had a full kitchen and a grill which was nice. We went to the local grocery store as actually did breakfast and dinner at the house few nights.
When booking with AirBnb we try to stick to super hosts but if one isn’t available I’m okay with trusting 5 or more recent reviews (within last 6 months). If you have questions, ask. Any good host is trying to get their property booked, so they will be more than happy to answer any questions to help minimize confusion.
How We Got Around:
We did not prearrange shuttle service from the airport; we just hopped on one after we arrived at the airport. Once we were at our condo most things were in walking distance. If we were ever tired walking or wanted to venture into Nassau for dinner we just hopped in a taxi. The drivers were super professional, friendly and the rates didn’t seem inflated. One night we left Zoes backpack in the taxi and I was pretty bummed about it. To my surprise the driver left it at the condo management office for us the next day! The people we encountered there were so kind.
The Kiddie Turn Up:
Both James and Zoe are “water babies” so unless we were eating they were in swim mode. We spent our first four days going to the beach in the morning followed by the pool in the afternoon, after a nap of course! LOL
We spent our last two days at Aquaventure Water Park. Which was little James’ sole motivation in wanting to go. I mean it’s a water park, at the beach …but he had a blast! He rode all eight of those slides all day long. Zoe lived her best life at the Mayan splash pad.
There’s a catch though. Access to Aquaventure is only included with official Atlantis hotels and we stayed at an Airbnb. So how did we get in? I have a plug in the Bahamas, message me for his info. Kidding! LOL We booked one night at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island. A one night stay gives 2 days of access to Aquaventure. Sure you have to check in and all that jazz but for the size of our group, it was well worth the money that we saved. If you have a family of 3 or 4 then booking an Atlantis hotel may be the cheaper route for you.
Where We Ate:
1. McKenzies (under the bridge): it’s a local restaurant on a restaurant strip at the foot of the Atlantis bridge. It not actually under the bridge but that’s how locals referred to the location. Mention it to a local or a taxi driver and they should get you there without any issues.
2. Twin Brothers: Located in “Fish Fry Area” , which is also a strip of restaurants on the Nassau side of town. The food was phenomenal! I’m pretty sure I conch’d myself to death with fresh fritters and conch salad during our stay. They had the best conch salad I’ve ever tried in my life.
3. Le Petite Gourmet: Super awesome for brunch but you will likely need a taxi.
4. Violas Bar and Grill: Convenient because it was at the front of our airbnb.
5. Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville: Ummmmm underwhelming af and they had an awful moth situation that made you feel like you were being attacked.
I think that pretty much sums up our trip. We felt so blessed to be able to take the kids on trip like this. I found myself crying almost everyday because some days it just hit me that we are living a life far better than anything that I could’ve dreamed of (and pregnancy hormones lol). I’m so glad I had written this out a while ago because I am struggle to remember details almost a year later. We aren’t traveling for spring break this year but we are planning two big trips for the summer, I am completing Lukey Bears passport application this month. Have you and your family been the the Bahamas before? Do you have any special spring break plans? Let me know in the comments!