After posting my 5 Tips for Traveling with an Infant, I wanted to offer trip reports on how my friends fared traveling with their infants.
Recently, I reported on Emily and Larry’s trip to Jamaica’s Round Hill resort with their 12-month-old son, Jackson. Now I’ve got a very different report from Marguerite and Phil Mankins who traveled with their 5-month-old daughter, Mimi (with the pilot at left), to the Zimbali eco-lodge 30 minutes outside of Negril, Jamaica (below).
The Mankins are adventurous and prefer off-the-beaten path vacation spots; pre-baby they traveled to Columbia, Panama, Morocco and South Africa. They’re not big beach-goers and always look to avoid all-inclusive and touristy spots. But… this time they might have made a misjudgment.
Their Plan: Since they don’t enjoy the beach or pool, they booked the trip with plans to hike in the mountains surrounding the resort each day.
The Incident: On their first hike (with Mimi in an ERGO baby carrier) the family was mugged by two locals wielding a machete. No joke. The incident was scary and the muggers young and stupid. Just $14 was taken and the scene ended with Phil grabbing the machete and chasing the would-be muggers away (go Phil!), but needless to say, it was a sour start to their vacation. They didn’t go on any other hikes, only venturing into the mountains later in the week with a guide. Instead they stuck to the organic farm where their lodge was set and spent time at the beachfront of another reciprocal resort down the road. Essentially the trip did not turn out as planned, but it’s worth noting that they quite liked Zimbali and appreciated the way the staff bent over backwards to make them feel safe.
What they learned: Not to be so adventurous with an infant in tow. Marguerite says they’ll stick to developed countries from now on (and joked about a Disney cruise in their future).
Their Advice: First off, in Jamaica, take advantage of your resort’s offers to be escorted on local hikes. In terms of infant travel gear, they suggest bringing a foldable playmat (like the one Mimi’s enjoying above) to lay out anywhere and a brand new toy for the plane. Two things they wish they had were a change of clothes for the plane ride (they had to buy one during a layover) and a small bottle of baby detergent for sink-washing some clothes. They brought a carseat and snap-n-go stroller frame but found they only used the stroller in the airport since the resort was hilly.
P.S. A shot from Marguerite and Phil’s lovely garden wedding.
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