With the vibrant teal waters and lush climate, the Caribbean has long been a top travel destination. Among them great spot is the Turks and Caicos, a collection of 40 coral islands in the Atlantic ocean. Home to Grace Bay Beach, which was recently chosen as the world’s best beach, Turks and Caicos is filled with beauty both inside and out.
International travel has been on our travel bucket list for many years; we have always valued travel as a family and it gets easier and easier as our children get older. Last month we happily took care of this bucket list item when we traveled to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. This was not only our first international trip as a family, but also for my husband and I, and we learned some key tips along the way that I hope will make your travels a bit easier.
When booking your flight, look at how many flights leave each of the departing airport options on a daily basis. Then choose the airport that has more options. Our travel day was 15 hours long for us to get from Orange County to the Caribbean. I really didn’t pay attention to the fact that we could have connected through a different airport that had two more flights per day. This is important if you have to make more than one connection.
Last Flight of the Day
Be mindful of the time the last flight of the day leaves for the island and go into the trip with the mindset that it is OK if you miss it. The more connections you have, the more chances you have for delays. On our flight to Beaches Turks and Caicos , we were set to be on time.
American Airlines even boarded us early so we didn’t have time to grab lunch on our way to the gate. Once we were all boarded they told us we had no pilots and just had to wait a bit. A bit turned into two hours and despite tweeting with American Airlines while in flight to let them know we were coming, the final flight left 10 minutes early and we missed our final connection to Turks and Caicos.
That’s why I mentioned the importance of checking the number of departing flights each day. Because there were only a couple flights out of Miami, we had no options after 6:30 pm and could not fly out until noon the following day. I also recommend checking with your resort on policies if you cannot make the first night of our reservation.
Have each person in your party carry extra clothes and other bare essentials in in a carry on suitcase. Then, if you miss your connection or your luggage is lost, you can survive without your luggage.
Deter with Deet
The Caribbean has different strains of viruses, so pack Deet bug spray to keep you and your family protected. We had really good success with Sawyer Maxi-Deet and it comes in convenient small bottles that are great for traveling.
Did you know they drive on the opposite side of the street in Turks and Caicos? I did not and was SO thankful for our resort shuttle transportation to and from the airport.
Going Off Property
Many asked if I thought a rental car was needed on the island and my answer is no. One – you are in paradise with waters like you have never seen. If you have the luxury of all inclusive travel like we did at Beaches Resorts, you have all you need right on property. If you do go off property, just call a taxi for the one or two times you may want to leave the resort.
Locals love sharing their talents with you, so take advantage of it while traveling to Turks and Caicos. Calvin had a wonderful man make him a conch shell horn; it is a treasure he will always cherish. When I took a boat tour out to Iguana Island, our guides were so kind and shared such valuable expertise with us. If you stay at Beaches Resorts, there is a cultural village as well where locals showcase products. However you do it, show the locals your support as a tourist!
Focus on Photography
Travel is a gift of life so make sure you have an amazing camera to take photos you will remember forever. This is not the time to bring a cheap camera. If you carry it in a beach bag, your camera will stay protected from the sun and capture those lovely teal hues of the Caribbean. My personal favorite camera for traveling is the Panasonic Lumix ZS 40. The photos are spectacular, it is easy to use and it is small enough to carry in your handbag.
Do one thing that allows you to experience the open waters; they are just as teal as the movies make Caribbean waters look. Go snorkeling, take an island boat tour, or simply kayak out and take it all in. Turks and Caicos and the surrounding waters are breathtaking and deserve to be appreciated for the raw beauty.
This is where we got really lucky being a first time international traveler. It took us an hour to clear customs as we reentered the US, but for a friend of mine it took three hours. Be sure you allow plenty of time between your connections to clear customs when you return from Turks and Caicos; it will make the day much more relaxing and enjoyable for everyone in the family.