Travelling with a baby for the first time
Pulse recently booked a holiday for Nikki and her family and they kindly shared their thoughts on their experience.
Our first family holiday with a one year old! Can it be done and where do we go?
It took us a while to pluck up the courage and really start planning our very first overseas holiday with our 1 year old Jack. In general, he is an easy going baby but as of recent, he had become very particular where he wanted to sleep, and if it wasn’t his own bed… he wasn’t going to be too impressed about it. Was our first big trip going to be a success? Was he going to adjust so we could enjoy some family time together?
My husband and I tossed up many ideas, Queenstown, Thailand, Maldives but after a discussion with our Travel Agent Sue from Pulse Travel we loved the idea of Fiji. Sue helped us plan out the perfect hotel, room and day tours. We chose Westin Fiji Resort and Spa based on its location to Nadi Airport (only 20min as we didn’t want a long drive) and a Ground Level Ocean Front room so that we didn’t have to lug the pram up and down the stairs. Her tips and tricks were invaluable as coming from a team who had experienced it first hand gave us the peace of mind we were making the right decision.
As the holiday came closer and closer, my Packing List got larger and larger. I like to be prepared for the worst case scenario so our first big family holiday wasn’t going to be any different. We were set! I packed all of our bags and it felt like Jack was packing the most. We had an al-cheapo light Kmart Pram, nappies, baby wipes, sunscreen, medication, toys, Ergo baby carrier, his formula, food, bottlebrush (not having one is a nightmare when travelling) sleepsack and his Shusher! We were picked up and taken to the airport and made sure I had all the essentials to keep him happy. Flying with Fiji Airways, we lined up to check in and then ushered to a different que because he had a baby… WOW who would have thought having a baby would come with perks like jumping the que! #WINNING. No bassinets were available, so we were lucky enough to have been placed where two seats were spare so jack could lie down.
I am one of those people that likes to be at the airport 3 hours early (get a bit anxious about getting stuck in traffic etc) and having access to the Qantas lounge helps pass time, have breakfast, glass of champagne and feed Jack so he was full and happy before getting on the plane. It was an easy flight with great entertainment and jack was asleep for the first part, so we were off to a great start. 3 and a bit hours later we arrived!
Fiji came highly recommended for the kindness and gentleness of the Fijian people and how much they adore kids. Right from the moment we got off the plane and landed we were approached by a lovely lady greeting us as Mr and Mrs Kennedy and Baby Jack – we were standing in a sea of people and she managed pick us out and placed a ring of shells around our neck and welcomed us to Fiji, I asked her how she knew it was us and she said because I saw your little baby. It’s like jack was our little beacon – once again thanks Jack! another little win!
On arrival to the Westin you are greeted with traditional Fijian “BULA!” and a glass of champagne (and a beer for my husband who’s eyes just lit up). Opening the door to our room and it was set up with a comfortable cot for jack, high chair and flowers on our bed. I knew it was the start of the perfect holiday. The following morning Jack quickly made friends with all the wait staff at breakfast who showered him with kisses and attention. The smiles kept coming as they all started to call his name and tickle him, I have never seen such genuine warmth. Jack was in his element.
The pools are endless at the Westin and the sun was shining so we got our swimmers on, blew up Jack’s giant yellow duck and headed poolside. Jack looooved the water and being in his duck – I think there was a bit of duck envy from the other kids lol.
The Westin offers a nanny service for children who aren’t old enough to play in the kids club and at $20 Fijian for three hours it’s so cheap! After meeting so many lovely staff the day prior, we knew Jack would be in great hands and have lots of fun. Elanor came to our room with a big smile and open arms and Jack was delighted! Perfect for us, now was our chance to have some quality husband and wife time since Jack was born. We jumped in taxi and headed to the Port and enjoyed lunch and cocktails by the harbor. A spot of shopping and three hours later we came back to our room where Jack was sleeping peacefully after endless play with Elanor.
Most of our time was spent by the pool and the benefits of staying at the Westin was that you had the ability to use the facilities of the Sheraton and Radisson Next door! Such a great variety but get to the pool early as we made the mistake one day of arriving at lunch and there were no seats with shade and it made it hard with Jack. Always make sure you carry your baby sunscreen everywhere as coming in and out of the pool it doesn’t seem to last as long and even in the shade we got burnt.
We had pre booked a day trip to Malamala Beach Club which included pickup, transfers and beach club access. Keep in mind that if you want to reserve a seat – make sure you do it before you get there otherwise you might not have your first choice or ideal spot. I did overhear some disappointed people missed out on sitting where they wanted as other people had booked them out and they were not aware.
We wanted to take Jack with us and make sure he had a place to sleep out of the sun so we reserved a beach facing cabana. We were lucky enough to score number 1 cabana – I thought this was the best one as it was close to the toilets, walking path, jetty and easy access to the pool. If you land either 3 or 4 you may have to walk a little to get to where you need to go. The private cabanas come with your own butler, mobile phone to call you butler, towels and a little afternoon delight and vary in size depending on how many people you have. The only downside is that you don’t hear the club music very well and if you want to swim in the infinity pool you have to walk up there. It worked for us as we wanted to snorkel (equipment supplied by club) and have some quiet time but when we did want to go to the pool we took Jack and his duck and went for a swim. It really depends on what you like. Words can’t describe how beautiful this place was -the water was crystal clear, the staff were lovely and the cocktails and food were delish!
One thing to note as wasn’t aware is that we purchased a 7 day pass but it only included one return trip on the boat …not 7 days. Its only the beach club you get 7 day access to and you will need to pay for another return boat trip to get there.
Over our last remaining days, we restaurant jumped between the hotels and enjoyed meals over at the Golf Club which was across the road. The Heineken House is a great change from the resort restaurant if you are looking for a relaxed atmosphere and prices are very reasonable. If you are looking to watch the sport, the variety is very limited which was disappointing to many sport fans there. But if you are looking for a game of golf and good food – it’s recommended!
Transport between the resorts and golf club is easy with free use of the ‘Bula Bus’ and for $8 Fijian you get a day pass if you wish to travel further but in in the instance of two people going to the port for lunch its only $7 Fijian from the Westin in a cab and much, much quick than the Bula Bus as it stop alt multiple resorts which takes longer.
One thing to bring with you for your baby is warm cloths as one of the issues we found is that the air-conditioning wasn’t working and it was either off (which was too hot) or FREEZING. As adults we could deal with the cold, but as we don’t use blankets for Jack we needed to rug him up otherwise he doesn’t sleep well. I was lucky I packed him some long shirts and pants in addition to his sleep sack which made him more comfortable until the aircon was fixed. Also bring some Areoguard for babies and adults as there were mozzies.
Our last day was very relaxing and as we had a late flight (8:30pm) we had the advantage of late check out and enjoying the last of the Fiji sun with Jack spending time with Elenor we hit the Adult pool. Divine!
We had pre booked our transfer and left at 5pm. With our flight departing later on we prepared to feed Jack before we went through security so we stopped at one of the restaurants before hitting security and much to our surprise it was probably one of the best meals from the whole trip. Not to mention they had happy hour from 1pm – 8pm.. which is our kind of hour.. or hours lol.
Several Beers and cocktails later (it was buy one get one free) and I had the giggles. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a big drinker and these cocktails were pretty strong and definitely stronger than that softdrink like cocktails I had at the resorts! I was having the time of my life talking to the security staff and laughing my way through screening. Duty free was my best friend and after a couple… I filled up my basket with Pure Fiji and was on my way! Very satisfied traveller! Thank yooooou Fiji!
We boarded our 8:30pm flight and once Jack settled he slept the whole way home. Arriving at 11pm Brisbane time wasn’t ideal but having one last full day in Fiji made it worthwhile.
Overall, our first family trip with a baby was a HUGE success and we came home feeling revived, refreshed and relaxed and discovered our little boy loved to swim and loved travelling. He was easy going, loved hanging out with the Fijian ladies and with the 2 hour time difference quickly settled into his sleep routine which made our life easy. I highly recommend Fiji for your next family holiday and we are already planning to book again with Pulse!
HERE is my top packing list for travelling with a baby!