Miami & St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) with a 10 mth old

Living in Asia, the thought of flying over 16 hours with the kids to Florida is sadly not on my radar.  Note – this will change once my kids are at Disney World age!  If you’re living in Europe then Florida is an easy destination to grab some winter sun.  Nicola and her husband took their 10 month old cutie Elyssa on her first US adventure:

We flew in to Miami Airport just after Hurricane Isaac.  Despite being in the US, it feels like a 3rd world airport with grumpy staff who spoke poor English, illegible signs, nobody to help skip through ridiculous queues despite having a baby and a sea of people battling to get through the luggage check point with lots of shouting.

Stayed at Casa Grandview in West Palm Beach.  We chose the acommodation over staying in town as we wanted a self-catering place with a separate lounge and bedroom that didn’t look like it hadn’t seen a refurbishment since the ’50s (lots of self-catering places seem to be like this in Florida).  Amazingly hospitable staff – we received a free upgrade upon arrival because it was low season and managed to get a 2 bed house.

The jetlag wasn’t too bad.  It took about 3 days for us all to get onto local time.  Elyssa woke up at 4am on the first night, 5am on the second then gradually later and later.  As we were also jetlagged and awake it wasn’t too difficult to deal with!

West Palm Beach ahs a nice outdoor restaurant/all area called CityPlace.  We also spent lots of time in Delray Beach where some friends of ours were staying.  This town had lots more atmosphere /less sterile than West Palm Beach but was mainly made up of restaurants and bars which you can’t really enjoy to the same extent when travelling with a baby.  The beach at Delray was really nice – pretty vast, white sand, sea was quite rough though so not great for little ones.  Our friends stayed at the Seagate Hotel – gorgeous hotel with a bathroom big enough for a cot 🙂  Great beach club too (free access to hotel guests)

For daytrips in Florida we went to Lion Country Safari – a good trip if you have a rainy day.  The kids loved looking out the window at the passing giraffes and rhinos.  The best mall in the area was at Boca Raton.

We spent 1 night in Miami at the end of our trip, staying at an airport hotel.  A visit to Ocean Drive is a must / Miami beach is a must.

The heat in Florida wasn’t as bad as we expected with a baby (serious humidity / temp in mid 30s).  Everywhere has aircon and we just went to the pool / beach / playground first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Contrary to all the weather reports for late Aug/early Sep, we had sunshine the whole 2 weeks and only a few light showers of rain on one day.  Mosquitoes not too bad either.  We used a deet free Jungle Formula spray on our baby and also used these citronella patches (stuck onto baby’s clothes).  She didn’t get one bite.

Elyssa in FloridaFood / eating out was super easy with a baby.  US store Target stocks Plum Baby and Ellas pouches.  Gerber is a local brand which is quite good.

St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands)

The 2.5 hour internal flight from Miami to St. Thomas (American Airlines) was quite difficult with a baby as the flight time didn’t coincide with a nap time and the flight was pretty cramped.  We got through lots of snacks.

In St. Thomas we stayed with friends at the Marriott Vacation Club (time share / self catering apartment).  http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/sttuv-marriotts-frenchmans-cove/

It was a 2 bed, 2 bath apartment and travel cots were supplied and conveniently fitted into the large bathrooms!

Pre-baby we weren’t really into big resort hotels but this was perfect with a baby.  We hired a car (super expensive but worth it) so that we could explore the island and leave the resort every day.  Benefits of being in a resort – variety or beaches/pools within walking distance, small shop, variety of restaurants (family friendly & adults only), babysitting, take-away food, kids club (no creche for little ones though) and daily rum bingo!

Elyssa in St ThomasFor day trips we visited loads of stunningly beautiful beaches, drove up to view points, and took a ferry over to the neighbouring island St. John.  Our daughter and our friend’s son (18 mths) loved swimming in the sea – clear blue and really warm.  We tended to get to beaches at around 9/10am and stay for an hour or two, which worked out perfectly as we invariably had the beaches to ourselves and avoided the bus loads of tourists who used to arrive at midday.  Loads of great lunch spots round the island.  We timed lunch around babies naps and therefore got to relax with some rum punches for a couple of hours each day!

The food was generally American style and lots of fresh fish.

Return Flight BA Miami – London Heathrow

This was hideous!  It was a night flight and our daughter was over tired and refused to sleep in the bassinet.  We were in Club Class and she really irritated the customers who had probably paid £3,000 for their seats and cried on and off for 4 hours out of 7.  This flight did put us off doing another long-haul flight until she’s capable of watching several consecutive hours of Peppa Pig on the iPad.

Club Class Elyssa

1 comment

  1. Jack Martin

    Yeah the long haul flights are of course the toughest. Sounds like you do a great job preparing for them, to make them go as smooth for the kids as possible, but it’s always a game time decision how the young ones will go with it.

    Glad you made it out to St. Thomas. Absolutely stunning scenery – hanging out on the beach is glorious.

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