I noticed Erika's travel pictures from Barbados on Instagram and they mesmerized me. Barbados is a coral island, pushed out of sea by volcanic activity in a far away time. It is an island that has fantastic beaches, fine powdery sand and brilliant turquoise bays. In the middle of deep Lithuanian winter, her pictures really caught my eyes. And Barbados is quite an exotic and rare destination, not often on the list of Lithuanian families traveling with children.
When I wrote to Erika to ask for their travel story, she did some quality check on Vincentsvoyage and quite kindly gave some advice on what could be improved. I am really grateful for that, Erika! :) And later I found out why - Erika is a communication specialist and manages her daughter's Instagram account,
https://www.instagram.com/ula.la.land/ or follow Erika herself: https://www.instagram.com/erika.paul/.
More than a year ago, when Erika was still expecting baby Ūla, the family made a choice to move from Vilnius to London. So Ūla started flying when she was only 2,5 months old and her first destination was London. When Ūla was 8 months old the family traveled to Barbados, an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America. They loved and will definitely come back one day.
We never dreamed about it, but that is why life is interesting, - says Erika. They simply wanted to run away somewhere nice and warm and Barbados appeared very last minute. They booked the tickets on Friday and already on Sunday morning the family was on the plane to the Caribbean. Even though they usually plan their trips by themselves, this time travel agency Tui took care of that. Airplane tickets from London, 7 nights at the hotel (without meals) and transfers from/to airport for the three of them costed £1260. This price is very much "last minute" price, because normally it is much higher for such a packaged deal to Barbados. The hotel was really simple, but the family was ok with that and did not expect more - when they travel, they do not spend much time in the hotel room.
Erika's family stayed at St. James, the west side of the island. After a day there, it was clear that in such heat (28-30°C) without any shadow and with a baby will be hard to survive. Therefore, they rented a car through Tui (100EUR per day). This made it much easier for the family, they explored a different part of the island every day. From the capital Bridgetown to nature: coastline views, beaches, parks and local villages. Their recommendations: - Best breakfast, good coffee and very friendly staff can be found at www.instagram.com/cafebarcarizma
- Bottom Bay - the most beautiful wild beach, which reminded the family of the legendary Bounty commercial.
- A lot of animals in one place, freely enjoying nature and winding jungle trail: www.barbadoswildlifereserve.com
The local people of Barbados left a good impression to the family. Their mother tongue is English, so it was no problem to communicate. Everybody they met, turned out to be helpful and really nice: they are interested, want to give advice, but never become too pushy. Which is a total opposite to Thai people in Thailand for example. Traveling with a child in Barbados was a pleasure - locals really love children, talk to them, tell compliments, takes care of the shadow, and if you come back to the same place, they remember your name and are happy to see you again. Local mothers even offered to look after Ūla so that we could enjoy a nice swim with my husband, but we kindly refused the offer, - said Erika.
Did you find it difficult to travel with a baby?
When we travel with Ūla, we think about her as an equivalent traveler, with her own needs, desires and mood changes, - said Erika. We all try to flexibly adapt to each other so that we feel good and avoid any unneeded stress.
Still, before the trip the family was wondering how will Ūla survive the 9 hours flight, how she will react to a different time zone and a much higher air temperature. In total, the family was traveling for 12 hours (metro, bus, train to the airport, plane and taxi), that is excluding the waiting time. There were practically no tears on the plane as Ūla slept through most of the flight. Erika prefers choosing one long flight rather than many short ones - the benefits of that is that you can take a walk on the plane, and sleep longer.
While in Barbados, Ūla slept really well. The sun rose at 6am and it was already dark at 6pm. Ūla would wake up at 7am and go to sleep at 9pm. When the family was back to London, it took them two weeks to come back to such a sleeping routine.
The family likes to travel light, without a baby stroller and too many luggages - this time they traveled with only one luggage. Erika enjoys using baby carriage (i.e. baby wrap) both for every day and while traveling. It is very comfortable as your hands remain free, baby feels safe and falls asleep easily. The only disadvantage of a baby carrier that it did become really hot in Barbados, but wearing thin, natural fiber clothes solved the problem.
Since Ūla was born, she never liked to be seated in a car's seat - therefore the biggest challenge was to distract her attention while traveling with a car, so she does not cry so much. The island is not very big, so the family could reach their destinations pretty fast, without spending too much time in the car. Bear in mind that traffic there is on the left side of the road, but it did not give too much stress since local drivers are very calm and polite.
Erika's family had to get used to the hot weather in Barbados and protect baby Ūla as much as possible. Even though they used sun protection, Ūla got tanned just from taking a few pictures of her in the sun. Family was renting beach umbrellas and later on went really basic by just using hotel's blanket to create a shadow for baby Ūla.
With regards to local food - since Ūla was still breast-fed, Erika did not experiment too much with local food, just gave her water and some local fruits for tasting.
Some tips if you are traveling to Barbados
When you travel to Barbados, make sure you bring all the necessary things for your baby and yourself. This is because Barbados is an island, where prices are a few times higher than in the States or in Europe.
For example, for biscuits, that family buys in London for £1, be prepared to £5 in Barbados (the same package, the same brand). So if suddenly you are in need of diapers or other hygiene products, you will regret for not adding extra of it to your luggage from home.
The only few things that were not too expensive were Coca-Cola ($1 per bottle) and rhum, - laughed Erika.
If you want to buy fruits from street vendors, be prepared to pay a lot extra too - the family paid $8 for a watermelon, that was not that tasty too...
All-inclusive packaged holidays are practically non existent in Barbados, therefore you have to take care of your meals there. If you want to have breakfast with coffee, be prepared to pay £15-20. Lunch costs from £20 and more.
Thank you to Erika for sharing her family's holidays tips and tricks!
Check her personal pictures of the trip below.