Travelling to Fiji with kids in tow

We just returned from our first holiday as a family of five to Fiji and while initially the very thought of it made me tired, travelling with kids can be done (and be enjoyable too)! I was definitely daunted and anxious by the thought of packing us up and getting us all five of us over there, but the lure of cocktails by the pool and kids club got me through.

Before we left I asked our travel agent, Richelle from Suncity Travel, for her top tips on travelling to Fiji with kids. Here’s the run-down:

 

Before you book:

  • Do your research and talk to your travel agent about what you’re looking for.  Make sure the resort suits your family; they all have kid’s clubs but some have restricted ages and activities. We stayed at Malolo Island Resort and they offered both a kids’ club for younger kids and a teenage lounge (as well as an adult’s only area for when the kids were enjoying the clubs!).
  • Try to get at least some of your meals included – eating at resorts in Fiji can quickly break the budget. A lot of resorts offer ‘kids eat free’ packages so consider this when booking. Consider staying on an island for part of your stay too – this was out first stay on an island and we’d definitely recommend it (although we’ve had equally enjoyable holidays on the mainland too). You can even break it up and do a little of both. 
  • If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, you’ll need to consider things like car seats and cots.  If you need a car seat, make sure your transfer company confirms they will provide one or to be 100% sure, bring your own – airlines allow you to bring car seats as part of your checked luggage. Same applies for cots, confirm that the resort can provide one (most can) before jetting off or invest in a nice, lightweight travel cot if needed.
  • We also invested in a cheaper travel pram, so we didn’t have to be concerned with our pram getting damaged in transit or ending up with sand all through the wheels as island resorts are very sandy. This was seriously the best thing we did! We also opted for a laydown version, as I knew it was going to be our go-to sleep aide for Josie and it definitely was.  For under $100, the Steelcraft Sprint was perfect for our needs and as an added bonus, Nanny now has a decent pram to keep at her house too.

 

Getting there:

  • As much as you need to travel light – or at least light enough for Mum and Dad to carry everything when your kids are as young as ours – there’s a few essentials you’ll want. Pack sunscreen and plenty of it - it’s pretty pricey to buy and hard to get some types, particularly if you have a preference. And make sure you take a first aid kit with a few basics (think kids Panadol, bandaids, antiseptic spray for cuts or grazes, etc).
  • Pack some snacks… you won’t have problems getting food through Fiji customs like in Australia and if you’re kids are anything like our boys, they’re probably asking for another snack while their still eating the last one you gave them! And if Mum or Dad has a sweet tooth, pack some chocolate too as this can be VERY expensive! This was the one thing I didn’t do and REALLY wish I has. So much so that there were a couple of FJ $15 chocolate purchases!
  • You might want to pop in your own snorkel set to save hiring them or missing out when they’re complimentary at the resort. Resort pools can also be overloaded with chlorine, so take some goggles and eye drops too. There’s bound to be plenty snorkelling and swimming so you wont regret these ones!
  • Otherwise, pack LIGHT! It’s Fiji… the kids will literally live in their swimmers. I really wish I knew how to pack light – we still ended up with so much more than we needed, so don’t be afraid to cull again before you zip up the suitcase.
  • Make airports easy… invest in some good quality luggage that is easy for younger kids to manage themselves – our new Samsonite Octolite cases did the trick and were so easy for the boys to manage. Pack some snacks for the flight and when you arrive at Fiji customs, look out for the fast track line for families with young kids.

  

While you’re there:

  • When you arrive, spend a bit of time looking through the activities and tours on offer at the resort and get your must-do’s booked in. Some tours are only offered once a week or may be cancelled due to weather, so this will give you more time to rebook if needed. We missed out on a couple of things I really wanted to do, due to a couple of days of super windy weather or tours being booked out.
  • If you want to explore the mainland, rather than hiring a car, book a driver – they are very affordable and you are supporting the local economy. The same applies for local woodcarvers or crafters – pick up a souvenir and support a local family.
  • Make sure you visit a Fijian Village – take a bag of your kid’s clothes and shoes that they have outgrown ...or footy boots/balls/stationary – the local kids LOVE to receive them. And it’s great for your kids to see how the Fijian kids live.
  • Treat yourself to a grown-ups dinner one night...a nanny is FJ $5-10 per hour and they will take the kids to dinner then back to your villa and have them tucked into bed for when you return. The boys loved having Josie with them in kids clubs one night and it was so good for us to have a break and adult conversation over dinner – about the kids, of course!
  • Make sure your kids don’t have the ability to charge expenses to the room; Richelle’s had clients with 5-7 year olds spending a fortune on milkshakes thanks to room-charge!!! Babysitters can also be easily persuaded by kids to add a drink or extra dessert, so make sure you let them know what is and isn’t acceptable.

 

Don’t get me wrong, travelling with kids is exhausting even though Fiji is one of the most relaxing places you can choose. Follow these tips and make it as easy as possible for yourself and you’ll have so many precious memories together as a family.

Elisa Reeves

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