25 Must Bring Items For Caribbean Travel With Kids
My family and I love to travel to the Caribbean with our children, these are all of the things you absolutely need when you travel to the Caribbean with kids. Our daughter is 2 years old and our son is 5 years old and we have taken them on loads of beach and tropical vacations. The Caribbean presents some unique properties that you really need to be aware about before you bring your kids here. Some islands in the Caribbean are right on the equator so you really have to make sure your children are protected against the sun, it would really suck if you had to hide in your room because of sun burns. Other factors to consider are how hot it is, the Caribbean is hot all of the time and it is easy for a child to get dehydrated. The last thing you need is a trip to the hospital while you are away.
All of the items on this list are for a very specific reason and you will need some form of each item for safety reasons and for convenience. I hate being unprepared for anything when it comes to the the kids, and unlike many large countries like the US, Canada and Australia there is not a Walmart or CVS at every street corner. This makes finding the things you need fast virtually impossible. I know many of you reading this article may even be travelling by cruise to the Caribbean, so you time is very limited on each Caribbean island you will be visiting. Just make sure you are prepared!
25 Things You Must Bring When You Travel To The Caribbean With Kids
Reef safe water resistant sun screen
I didn’t know about this until I got to a beach in Hawaii, where they explained what this stuff is. Sun screens have chemicals in them that can damage the Caribbean reefs if you get the wrong type. So for sustainable long term tourism, many Caribbean countries have rules about using the reef safe sun screens. Even if the country you are going to does not have the rule in place yet, it is our duty as humans to respect and protect the reefs anywhere we go. It is also important to use sun screens that are waterproof on your kids, so that you can feel comfortable that they are protected from the blazing Caribbean sun! We always re-apply the sunscreen every hour or 2, just to make sure the kids are safe. This twin pack is the best deal we could find and it has free shipping.
Life Jackets or life vests
Tourists sometimes take dumb risks when they travel, and this is an area you definitely should not. The Atlantic ocean and the Caribbean sea surrounding the Caribbean islands can have heavy waves and undertow on some days. Undertow is when there is an undercurrent in the water that pushes anything in its path down and pulls it out to sea. Don’t freak out, read our safety guide about beach safety before you go. Your kids need to have life jackets when they enter the ocean, and then you can gauge your comfort level in the water. Life jackets will still allow them to swim and snorkel while protecting them. Further to this if they are floating it will save them from stepping on coral and rocks that could cut them. I just found this one, it is sooo cute.
Snorkel sets or goggles
We always bring our own snorkel sets for our kids. The ones they rent on the beach may not have been cleaned properly, and you have no idea who used it last. Further to this, the rentals are usually low end and sometime in rough shape. I have found with kids if their first experience trying something is not great, it is hard to get them to do it again. Most snorkel sets also come with flippers that will protect their little feet and help them to swim faster! When you are looking at snorkel sets for your kids to use in the Caribbean, try finding ones with purge valves to remove water from the snorkel and a close valve so that water does not come into the snorkel. Here are some great options I found for you. Here is a link to a good quality set. There is a lot of garbage out there, this one is awesome, and will last for years.
Bugs spray is essential if you are travelling to the Caribbean with kids, especially if you areas on the islands in forested areas. You will find that some of the most beautiful places away from the beach are in these areas. They will often have waterfalls and cool caves to explore. These shaded areas will have mosquitos and other bugs. Keep your kids safe by applying bug repellant to their clothing, their skin and their hair!
Swim Diapers for infants
I really hate seeing kids on the beach with regular diapers on. Swim diapers are made for the water and should always be used for the safety of the ocean and for the comfort of your child. Regular diapers soak up the ocean water and get huge and heavy, if they are not on tight they will fall off. They also will start to degrade in the ocean and can be a type of pollutant. Swim diapers will keep their form and fit nicely under bathing suits. Swimming pools have rules around the type of diaper you can use in their facilities and the same should be for the ocean. Most Caribbean islands will not enforce this, and you will not be able to buy these on the beach. Purchase your swim diapers ahead of time. We use a washable swim diaper, it is adjustable and can be hand washed. Here is a picture of a similar reusable swim diaper.
Hard sole water shoes
You can buy these on Amazon or at Walmart, they are cheap. When you are in the Carribean, you never know what type of texture the beach will be. Sand is made from crushed coral or rock and it can sometimes be coarse or jagged. We need to protect their little feet, so I recommend buying hard soled water shoes for Caribbean travel. Our kids wear these when they are swimming in the ocean and it protects their feet from potentially poisonous coral, sharp rocks ad even glass in the sand. Getting cut anywhere in your feet is a disaster when you travel to hot countries as you will not be able to wear sandals while your foot is cut or you could get it infected. A big part of our bodies cooling is through the feet and you need all the help you can get in these hot Caribbean climates.
I always have my kids in sun shirts when we are at the beach for an extra layer of protection from the sun. When you are at the beach the reflection of the sun on the water amplifies the suns rays. That is why beach days will be your best tan days. Your child’s skin is a lot different than yours in that it is thinner and more delicate. They burn faster than you. A thin swim shirt gives them some extra protection in some of the most delicate areas of their bodies.
This one is very obvious, when I think of Caribbean I think instantly of beautiful beaches. If you are travelling to the Caribbean with kids, you must bring swimming suits for your children. When they see all of the other kids in the water, they will not be able to resist. Even if you don’t swim, your kids are likely going to want to go in the water. When we take our kids to Caribbean beaches, we put their swimming suits under their shorts so that it is a quick change when you get to the beach.
A few years ago when my son was a baby, I bought a collapsible, foldable tent for beach days. It was awesome… These things are super light in your suitcase and fold up flat, so they take no room. Every time we were at the beach on this trip, my son was so comfortable in this thing he would nap in it. I set it up in a shady area, flatten the sand underneath it and it is as comfy as a bed! Now that the kids are older 2 and 5, they still use it when they are taking a break to eat snacks in and hangout. Here is a link to some beach tents so that you know what I mean.
A beach umbrella is a large umbrella that has a screw type mechanism at the end so that you can screw it into the sand. This prevents the umbrella from flying away with gusts of wind. I bought one of these on a trip once because the rental was the same price as buying one. It came with a case and also came in pieces that you can quickly put together. Since then I brought it over 10 trips, it is a life saver and helps us stay shaded on every beach we go to. Not every beach in the Caribbean will have shaded areas for your kids, so you need to plan for no shade.
When you travel to the Caribbean with kids you will have limited room in the bags you bring out for day trips. I usually only bring 1 or 2 beach towels because they take up so much room. If you use you beach towel to lie on, you will get sand all over it and it is impossible to get the sand out of the fine texture of a towel. Beach matts are lightweight, foldable and easy to clean. They sell these things all over the place in the Caribbean, but I would just buy one before you go.
As a parent you should have this everywhere you go, not just the Caribbean. Before my kids eat, I always clean it with hand sanitizer when there is not a bathroom close by. Cruise ships in particular can be a cesspool of bacteria and kids love to touch everything. The cleanliness standard at some places in the Caribbean may not be to American standard and your kids can pick up bugs if you are not careful. Use hand sanitizer often when you are in the Caribbean.
If your kids scratch their bug bites too much when they are in the Caribbean, it will sting a bit when they go into the salty ocean water. After bight is great for soothing bug bights and stings.
Wet one wipes
We use this to sterilize tables, chairs, and toilet seats when we are in the Caribbean with our kids. I also use these wipes to clean our seat, table and windows in the plane. We all know our kids are going to touch every part of these things when you are not looking.
This is a must when you go to any beach destination. In the Caribbean, most markets will sell these inexpensively usually around $5 USD. If you are taking a Caribbean cruise, the ships include beach towels for your day trips. We use a beach towel that cover our child’s head when we go to the beach because usually when they get out of the water they like to stay cozy in their towel and have a snack in the shade. Here is a link to an awesome, cheap beach towel for kids.
I promise you as soon as your kids see another kid using a floaty on the beach, they are going to want one. If you go to buy one right on the beach, as they conveniently will sell them here. You will get ripped off. It is way cheaper to buy this ahead of time. Floaties are light weight and fold up pretty small, so they are easy to pack. Here is a link to some floaties my kids like.
Just like the floaties, all kids love to play with sand toys. If you buy them on a cruise ship or the beach you will overpay. You can buy sets on Amazon or Walmart really cheap. When I buy these things, I make sure everything fits pretty small in my luggage. Here are some that we recommend for their portability. An insider tip with this is if you are bringing car seats, you can shove these in the car seat and check it in. I found this cool foldable sand toy set, that is perfect for travelling with.
The sun in the Caribbean is very strong so we make sure our kids are using sunglasses most of the time. Our daughter hated wearing them until we made it a family affair and all put on sunglasses to show her “how cool” it was. Kids outgrow these things fast, so i would not spend a lot on them. If you want them to have the best of the best get polarized sunglasses for kids. If they are wearing them in or near the water I would get a strap so that if a wave hits them the sunglasses won’t fall off and disappear into the ocean. You won’t believe how many sunglasses I find when I am out snorkelling. Last year I found a pair of $400 maui Jims. The year before my wife was in the water with her expensive brand new sunglasses and a wave hit her and we never saw them again.
On hot days in the Caribbean, we put our kids in sun hats to shade their face and neck. Even when they are in the water they can wear these because they have velcro straps under the neck. I believe this is one of the reasons why we have never had a burn incident on beach days. The areas that burn first on most people are protected by the sun hats like the noses, and ears.
This is one of my favourite things to bring when I travel to the Caribbean with kids, and it saves me a lot of money! One time I bought a 24 pack of beer in my home city and they threw in a 24 pack backpack cooler. It is very light old fold up really small in my suitcase, I also sneak this into my child check in items most of the time. It has 2 straps like a backpack and a zipper at the top, and it is water tight. Whenever I am on resort, I put my kids milk and drinks in this so that we are not buying expensive resort drinks. I also put beer or anything else I want to drink in it. The Caribbean will be hot so it is important that everyone stay hydrated, a cold drink is much better than a hot one in this scorching weather.
You’re probably thinking, “why is this guy telling me to bring vinegar on a Caribbean vacation with kids”? The reason for this is sometime beaches have jellyfish in the water or washed up on the sand. Their tentacles can sting you or your children and the best way to stop the pain and the sting cells are by putting a little vinegar on it. You can also pee on it, but that is gross. I would only bring a small amount, as when you travel the less weight the better.
If you are travelling to a Caribbean country that has Malaria with your kids, you need to make sure you have these pills. You can check you local travel hospital for details on this and they can prescribe the malaria pills for your children right there.
Formula for infants
If you are on an island that has weird tasting milk, your infant will probably not want to drink it. It is a good idea to bring some formula with you so that you don’t have a grumpy baby.
For cuts and bruises there is children’s polysporin. This stuff will help sterilize the area and help you heal faster. This is an important item to bring for Caribbean travel with kids.
Travellers Diarrhea pills
This is essential on any vacation. These countries have bacteria’s that your bodies may not be used to and if your kids get travellers diarrhea from something they touched or ate, you are going to want them to get rid of the bug asap. I remember a time that my son got sick on a cruise form a bug, he was puking and we were quarantined by the cruise line until he got better
These are some of the things we use when we travel with our kids everywhere. As one of our readers you will receive the lowest price on these item that you can get anywhere. Click on the link to order and you will also get free shipping!