Caribbean with Kids

For many in North America, the Caribbean is like a tofu burger in that it provides for most of the allure of international travel while still being close to home and not too foreign.

(For those who I just lost in my opening sentence, the tofu burger gets you all of the health benefits of tofu without you feeling like you're eating goop)

Caribbean with Kids does a great job of helping you sort out a trip to the Caribbean, and doing it with your kids along. It does this in two parts: info that applies to traveling in the Caribbean in general, followed by very specific island-by-island chapters.

Read both sections and then pick a place for you and your family to dive in. The water is delightful.

The Basics

To begin, this guidebook takes you through some of the basics of how to get passports for you and your kids, and includes a special section on what to do when traveling without both birth parents; in answer to concerns over parental kidnapping, you might need to take a few extra steps to travel without your spouse, and the book tells you how to prepare.

There is also a recommended reading section, with books for little kids, junior high school age kids and for adults. In keeping with the publisher's motto “Be a traveler, not a tourist”, many of the suggested books tell local legends, island myths and the like, preparing your kids to bring back a memory or two in addition to all that sand stuck in the folds of your suitcase.

The opening chapters also include lists of island tourist boards with phone numbers, web sites and all the rest, saving you some on-line research time.

Where to Stay

Throughout the area, families have more options available than just hotels: the guidebook describes the pluses and minuses of resorts, self-contained “communities”, condos, smaller hotels and of course, the big chain hotel options, Recognizing that many travelers with families find resort vacations a good way to go, the book includes a number of pages detailing places known to be kid-friendly.

Price ranges, contact info and detailed explanations of the various kid programs available at each place make this a very useful chapter to scour clean before making any reservations based only on travel agency brochures. This section is of most use to a family that wants a Caribbean vacation somewhere without beginning with a specific island in mind.

Health, Nude Beaches and Safety

Health and safety from a parent's point of view are also covered, with specifics such as what to do around Fire Coral, Manchineel trees and other local hazards. Food safety is mentioned as well as some common-sense cautions abut crime and, sadly, illegal drugs.

While not really a safety issue, nude beaches are glanced at, as some parents may not find such things right for their children.

Common foods of the Caribbean are listed, along with descriptions that can save you money and hassle if you are traveling with picky eaters (most interesting to me is a Jamaican fruit named ackee, described as poisonous if picked too soon and tasting like scrambled eggs once properly prepared).

Tips on keeping the children happy while you wait for the sometimes s-l-o-w service in island restaurants is also handy.

Island-by-Island

With all that as prelude, the second half of the book is aimed at families traveling to particular islands. Each chapter includes locale-specific details on how to get there, where to stay, what to do, where to eat, what to shop for and of course, addresses, phone numbers and web sites of interest.

Islands covered are:

  • Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba
  • Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin islands
  • Cayman islands (Little Cayman and Cayman Brac), Curacao
  • Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
  • St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin
  • Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and
  • U.S. Virgin Islands. Whew!

If you've never been to the Caribbean, or had a great time there before having the kids and want to go back now with a family, this guidebook will do for you. The book is especially helpful for families fairly new to international travel in general, thanks to its opening chapters on how to prepare for your trip. A worthy guidebook.

Caribbean with Kids is available for on-line purchase from Amazon.com.

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