Our trip to Jamaica with a baby and a toddler

Last year, we went on a wonderful long-distance journey with our baby and our toddler. At the time, our daughters were 5 months and 2 years old, respectively. The destination of our trip, from 30 October to 14 November, was Negril, in Jamaica.

Sun, sea and reggae

We love to travel, and Jamaica was on the bucket list of both of us. What attracted us in the Caribbean is sun, sea and the music of well-known reggae artists, such as Bob Marley. Family and friends told us that we were brave to dare to fly so far with 2 children at an age when they would in any event hardly remember anything of their holiday. We were not concerned about the long-distance flight, and we were convinced that our children would enjoy the trip, too. We decided to go on the journey, together as a team, and we are proud that we succeeded. We have previously been with our eldest already on long trips to the Maldives and Egypt.

The departure

On 30 October 2023, our alarm went off at 3:30 am in the night. We live in Zeeland, and it is about a 2-hour drive to Amsterdam, Schiphol. We got ready to leave: we threw a last few items into the suitcase, got the kids out of bed and had breakfast. By the time we had packed everything for departure, it was 5:15 am and we went to the parking lot where our car was parked. We had to be at the airport 3 hours in advance because we were taking an international flight.

Once at Schiphol, we checked in at TUI Fly for our flight to Montego Bay. Fortunately, we were able to pass quickly through security. At the airport, we carried our baby daughter in the baby carrier and pushed the eldest in the buggy. Carrying the baby meant that we didn’t have to carry a buggy and a stroller. We changed the girls’ diapers, had a cup of coffee at Starbucks and continued to the gate, because the flight was due to depart at 10:54 am.

Flying with two small children

We boarded and had to take the bus to the plane – taking a quick photo just before getting onto the plane. The cabin crew very kindly assisted us. The flight took 10 hours and 40 minutes. Our eldest had her own seat, and my partner and I took turns holding the baby on our laps. Our eldest had a great time during the flight. The flight attendant gave her a coloring sheet with colored pencils and some toys, such as a paper cap from TUI Fly. We also walked up and down the aisles during the flight. Our baby mostly slept, but in between naps, she looked observed everything quite keenly.

During the flight, she rested comfortably on Dad’s lap. She looked around and slept a lot, she was at just the right age for such a long flight. We had brought the favorite soft toys of both girls, which gave them a nice and safe feeling. However, changing diapers on the plane was a real challenge. There is a fold-down changing table in the toilet, but it is really quite small, and babies can easily roll off it. Moreover, the overall standing space is also rather small, which also makes it very tricky.

Are you also about to fly with your child? Then make sure in advance that you organize your bag with the baby items very well so that you won’t have to dig through everything to find a clean diaper, for example, while you are on the go. Also bring enough clothes, because you never know if a nappy will leak or if your baby will spill a cup over itself!

"Not sure if you want to go on a long trip with the family? We recommend that you do, because they are only so small once in their life, and the amazing culture/environment is fantastic!"

Arrival at Montego Bay

Once arrived in Jamaica, we landed at Sangster Airport. The girls were calm and relaxed during the landing. When the plane stopped, the door opened, and we were able to get out. We had to go through security and pass by the passport control desk. By that time, our eldest was quite fed up (naturally!) with the long journey and made sure to let the entire airport know about it. She started bawling and threw her soft toy around. We tried to distract her by picking her up and pointing to whatever we saw around us, such as the mountains. I had our youngest one fast asleep in the baby carrier, and fortunately she was not affected by any of the commotion.

We were greatly relieved when we headed out towards the bus. We took quite a bit of luggage on the trip, including 3 overstuffed suitcases, a foldable camping bed with a separate mattress, 2 pieces of hand luggage – and on top, we had to carry our 4 coats. And after the long flight, we had to sit in a small, packed bus for another 2.5 hours for the trip to Negril. My husband was sitting in front with the kids, because they had more space there. Fortunately, they both slept on the bus. In the meantime, we were totally enraptured by the beautiful scenery. The time difference to Jamaica is 7 hours.

Once at the hotel, our eldest daughter was totally wasted. We just had a quick dinner and then went to bed right away, we were all so exhausted!

Our stay in Jamaica

We stayed at the RIU Palace Tropical Bay hotel. When we arrived, we checked in at the counter. We got the key to our room and heard that we could still dine. Afterwards, we went to sleep right away. Our baby suffered most from the time lag. She woke up at night for a bottle feeding, which she hadn’t been doing at home anymore.

For the first few days, we enjoyed the sun, sea, swimming pool and the “rum punch” cocktail, a Jamaican drink. On the beach, our baby sat on my lap. A Jamaican came along and sang “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley, accompanying himself on the on his guitar. Our little one laughed from ear to ear, and tears welled up in my eyes. What a gorgeous day!

Later, we went out to take some photos. We also booked several excursions with a person at the hotel, who works for TUI.

Black River and the YS Falls

On the day of the excursion, we were picked up early from the hotel. Our van arrived, and the guide called us up. The guide was a lovely, entertaining woman, who knew a lot about Jamaica and told us funny stories. We first went to the natural park with the waterfalls, which was about 2 hours away. On the bus ride, we each sat with a child, so that we could divide the task of looking after them. Our eldest was very impressed and couldn’t stop looking around. But in between, she had a quick nap, just like our baby.

We had brought food and boiled water for the ride so we could prepare a bottle. However, the ride was still a challenge given the bumpy state of the roads in Jamaica. We also had to change nappies on the bus. When we arrived at the park, we drove to the top with a tractor. We were dropped at a certain spot and were free to roam around. We climbed all the way up to the waterfall and then dipped into the spring water.

Later we went to the pool. Eventually, it was time to leave, and we continued with the tour group for some food. We had some rice, chicken and vegetables at a local place. Afterwards, we went to the Black River. We crossed the river on a boat and even saw crocodiles. How amazing! We later returned to the bus for the trip back to the hotel.

Hotel

On the days that we didn’t go out on an excursion, we stayed at the hotel. The staff at the hotel was very friendly and sweet. The girls loved them. We had booked all-inclusive and could eat and drink whatever we wanted.

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Waterfall Duns River Falls and Bob Marley’s house

As the ride would be quite long, we had to be ready for an early pickup at the hotel in a van. We first went to collect other people at their hotel, then we continued on to a shop where we could buy things. We bought a mug and water shoes. Then we drove on towards the waterfalls. We had to walk for a while and once we were down at the beach, you could climb up through the waterfall. We decided not to climb up and remained instead at the waterfall. Later we had some food at a local place. Here we enjoyed rice, chicken and raw vegetables. After lunch, we drove high up through the mountain range to admire the beautiful scenery of Jamaica. When we arrived at Bob Marley’s house, we first went to a local shop selling pure weed – and smelling like it, too! Smoking weed is legal in Jamaica.

We went to Bob Marley’s house. We had to climb some stairs, and once we were at the top there was a bar where we could have a drink and take pictures. The guide from Bob Marley’s house came and we first went to check out Bob’s grandparents’ house. There were pictures of his family and the house they lived in. Then we went to a room where all of Bob’s gold records were on show and we listened to a show presenting Bob Marley’s songs. Afterwards, we walked up the hill passing by the resting place of Bob’s grandparents on the right. Once up at the top, we visited Bob’s house and the stone on which he loved to sit. We also went to a church because Bob was a devout Christian. There is also another church with the resting place of Bob and his brother. Eventually, we returned to our hotel. The bus ride back took 3.5 hours.

Bottle feeding

We realized that we hadn’t brought enough baby formula. So, we asked at the hotel where we could buy formula. The staff couldn’t even tell us if it was available at the shops. So we took a taxi to the supermarket and fortunately discovered baby formula there. The formula is imported from the USA. Formula costs $100 there. Converted to euros, this is about 85 to 90 euros!

Return flight

Eventually, the last day of our holiday arrived and we were picked up by a bus to take us to Sangster airport. Halfway through the ride, we had to stop because the bus broke down. We later changed to another bus from the hotel to take us to the airport.

At the airport, we checked in and passed through security. The airport was very nice – it features images of Bob Marley everywhere. Our flight was delayed, so we had to wait. We got a coupon from TUI to get some food. We went for a bite to eat and whiled away the time, and suddenly, it was time to board the plane. The flight left at 18:20. We first flew to Cancun Mexico, picked up more passengers and then continued on to the Netherlands. On our return, we were on a night flight. We mostly slept.

Back at Schiphol, we collected our suitcases and headed home in our car. The holiday destination is fantastic and child-friendly. We and the children enjoyed it immensely. It was a bit hectic at times with the children, because you have to take nap time into account and they’re on a different schedule than at home, but all in all it was really worthwhile. We will treasure and appreciate this memory forever.

Tips for taking your children on a faraway trip

  • Bring something your child is attached to so your child won’t miss its accustomed environment.
  • We had a blanket from home for the plane because it can be a bit chilly on the plane, and it is also nice for kids to have a blanket with their own smell while sleeping.
  • Bring enough food for the flight … and lots of favorite snacks!
  • If you are bottle-feeding your child, remember to pack enough formula. It may not be readily available in every country, … or extremely expensive!
  • Bring a buggy in which your child can lie/sleep while walking or eating.
  • Are you going to a very hot country? Then it may be too warm to carry your baby around in a baby carrier.
  • Rather choose an airy stroller or buggy.
  • Try to enjoy this experience, kids will notice when you are stressed.