Your Beach Bum will provide 3 top recommendations based on your wants and needs. You will want to look at your options based on their quality, value, inclusions, experiences they offer, and then of course, budget. Do not just look at the number, as you may not be comparing apples with apples. All- inclusive resorts are not created equal. Many resorts offer so many amenities: Sesame Street characters, surf simulators, water slides, game rooms, catamaran cruises, toys, teen clubs, kids clubs, monitors, 24 hour room service, changing tables, and more! It is so much fun to look through this information and think of the possibilities! I know when I chose the resort for my personal family vacation, we made sure to think about our kids’ ages AND what we, as parents, wanted. This is a vacation for the entire family, not just the kids.
Look for quality inclusions. The resort may offer an amenity, but is it good? Look for trusted brands such as: Fisher Price, Crayola, National Geographic, Sesame Street, Golf pros, Nike, Xbox, and the list goes on! For younger kids meeting the Sesame Street characters is an incredible experience. My kids are super pumped for our next vacation to Beaches Resorts, because Super Grover is going to be there!
If you have three children, be prepared that not all hotels will accommodate you in one room. I know this can be quite frustrating. However, trust your Beach Bum to recommend the best resort/room scenario for your family. You may have to book at least two rooms or you may have to get a higher room category. Note that even if you book two rooms, you can reconfigure your sleeping arrangements however you would like while are on property. You’ve heard it before- size does matter. Take a close look at the room size. A common mistake families make is thinking they won’t spend any time in the room. YES YOU WILL! So unless you want to be living on top of each other, pay attention to size and what your Beach Bum recommends. The extra money is worth its weight in gold.
Budget-wise, all inclusive is the way to go. All inclusive resorts have so many activities and amenities included that make it the best value. My best advice is to spend your money where your priorities are. If you want to do a lot of activities; pick a resort that has a lot of inclusions and is located in an area where you can easily get off the resort and experience local culture, tours and excursions. If you know your kids will be spending their time at the beach; pick the hotel with the great beach and the other amenities will just be bonuses.
Step 6 – Booking your vacation
Your Beach Bum will walk you through the stress-free process and send over a secure reservation link for you to submit. Your Beach Bum Travel Concierge will receive the information, put a reservation on hold, and then call or email you to get your approval on the itinerary/price before a deposit is charged. A low deposit is required upfront, making it easy to secure your vacation, and final payment is usually duel 45 days prior to departure! Beats paying everything up front!
Step 7 – Preparing for the trip
This is equally as exciting as planning, but can be stressful as well. Refer to Part 1 for ideas on ways to prepare for the trip with little ones. Plan when you are going to tell the kids if you haven’t already. This is like Christmas for you. I was so anxious to tell my kids; I could barely sleep the night before.
The best advice for preparing to travel is to plan with the same philosophy as any other trip: anything can happen. Flexibility is key. Moms probably know what I’m talking about. Should you take pajamas for every night? Probably not, but you need more than one. Should you take more than 1 swim suit? Yes, as one will inevitably end up destroyed somehow. Ladies, on a family vacation try not to bring a ton of shoes. These will weigh you down, and your kids will do that enough! Make sure to check airline websites for baggage fees. This is the place to check for most up-to-date information. Rolling clothes helps save space as opposed to folding them. Younger kids often like to travel with their own bag. I encourage you to let them do this as it is exciting to have your own bag. Make sure they know up front though that the bag is their responsibility. Do you need a medicine cabinet in your suitcase? No, but some helps. What is your favorite tip when preparing for a family vacation? Leave a comment below and be entered to win a Cheeseburger in Paradise gift card. We will randomly select a winner on April 5th!
Step 8: Traveling
Relax and enjoy! Let go of strict rules and normal inhibitions and just go with it! If you are going to the Caribbean and/or Mexico, this is the mecca for ultimate chill so take advantage! Beach Bum Lisa tip: I do recommend keeping routines for little ones though. If they normally take an afternoon nap, try to stick with it. But don’t force it to be at the same time and be prepared for them not to sleep. That quiet time still helps. Younger children do better with routine, especially on vacation when things are already different. Part 1 has some great tips to refer back on. Prepare your kids about what’s to come. Let your kids know that after you land at the airport, you will have to be transferred to the hotel. Otherwise they will expect the pool to be outside the airport.
This vacation is an opportunity to reconnect as a family. Don’t just go to the pool every day. Converse with each other and enjoy activities together. Create memories! I can guarantee that teens will remember climbing a waterfall or swimming with dolphins but they may not remember lying out by the pool. Don’t get me wrong, make time to get your Vitamin D on! Don’t be afraid to send your kids to the kids’ club. They have wonderful activities and staff for all ages: little ones on up to teens, and it will give parents a chance to be together. Take pictures. Have your kids take pictures. It’s so fun to look at the world through their eyes. We bought our kids digital cameras before we left. My son’s camera was full of pictures of the room and the view from the room. He still talks about sleeping in the bed that folded up (pull out sofa). I’m so excited for you! Family vacations are so much fun! Now I’m ready for my own! We’re going to Beaches Turks & Caicos next, and I can’t wait!! Super Grover, here we come!
Now you’re fully prepared to plan your Beach Bum Vacation, and we’re here to guide you all the way to the beach! Get in contact with your favorite Beach Bum today! Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win! What is your favorite tip when preparing for a family vacation?
In December 2011, volunteers with Beach Bum CARES set out on a journey to Jamaica to make a difference, change lives, and walk a small path to greater things; and I was lucky enough to be a part of this experience. 14 volunteers headed to Faith Academy, and in just a 48 hour period we became different people. We grew stronger, more capable, and INSPIRED. Faith Academy is located in the hills of St. Mary Parish an hour inland from Ocho Rios, in the mountains. It was opened by Kenroy and Simone Euter, who have spent several years working to build this school to provide primary, secondary, and adult education for people in this region. The closest school is 45 minutes one way and the students often drop out or never attend due to the distance. It has always been Kenroy and Simone’s dream to open this school and make a difference in their community through education. They wish to one day have a university and hopefully, with Beach Bum CARES behind them, that dream will come true!
In December, the Beach Bum CARES volunteers helped by donating funds and time to construct a cement floor and shell of the school building. Together, with two wheelbarrows, three shovels and seven buckets, we mixed, poured, laid, and smoothed out the concrete to accommodate five classrooms! In two short days, the amount we accomplished inspired us so much, we cried. We did something that Kenroy and Simone have been dreaming about for five years ….having a school floor! Such a small thing made such a difference in their lives, and we were so proud and honored to be a part of making that happen! They have been able to host adult education classes and expand the building since then, and we have helped make their dream of having a school come alive. Each improvement meets more requirements to attain government funding, and they are closer to their goal of cutting the ribbon! It was an incredible experience to make a difference in their lives, and we were all humbled by our own capability.
In February I was blessed to go back to take additional supplies and see the additional progress that has been made at Faith Academy. My husband, Erich, and I took hard hats, safety glasses, and work gloves donated by Indianapolis based Messer Construction and school supplies. New additions included an entryway and a small area for additional classrooms. Seeing how much they have accomplished in the last 3 months since we were there was truly awe-inspiring. We are truly excited about what is yet to come with Faith Academy!
Beach Bum CARES (BBC) is planning to return in the future with more funds and labor to finish more of the school. Currently BBC is seeking donations for supplies that can be taken via air and more importantly money to purchase building supplies in Jamaica. Most of what is needed cannot be transported. You may make a donation here. Beach Bum CARES also seeks volunteers to help with this project. BBC is not set up to sponsor airfare and/or hotel stay but would be honored and humbled if anyone would like to join us. It truly is a life changing experience and equally important, your help and generosity will forever change the lives of people in this community. This school has the potential to change the entire economy of this region!! If you are at all interested, please email email@example.com to be added to the list of potential volunteers. We will keep you posted on dates and details. Thank you so much for your support!
The beautiful, lush island of Jamaica holds a very special place in our Beach Bum hearts. Whether you are traveling for romance, relaxation, or adventure, Jamaica has something for everyone. The island is home to warm people with bright smiles, stunning beaches, turquoise water, and luxurious resorts. Even more though, they have some amazing must-see spots and thrilling adventures that you have to experience firsthand! Take note of Beach Bum Vacation’s Top 5 Jamaican Adventures. Ya mon!
Don’t worry we have personally experienced these adventures and they are very safe and tons of fun. You’ll make memories that last a lifetime! For all organized tours and excursions Beach Bum Vacation recommends Island Routes as they are the #1 Caribbean Adventure Tour company. Your favorite Beach Bum can even pre-book these tours and excursions for you when you plan your vacation! We make it stress-free for you, so you can spend more time enjoying your vacation!
Dunn’s River Falls - Located just outside of Ocho Rios on the northern side of Jamaica. With a tour guide you can climb up this 600 ft. high Jamaican attraction. There are some great locations for photos and options to swim while climbing up Dunn’s River Falls. Trivia: This location was used in the 1988 Tom Cruise Film “Cocktail” and the first James Bond Film in 1962.
Y.S. Falls - Offers multiple activities in one location, such as natural spring pools, climbing waterfalls and tubing down the Black River. Located on the south side of Jamaica this natural attraction is an all day experience. This waterfall is less “touristy” than Dunn’s and offers a more one-on-one experience with the tour guide.
Zipline Canopy - Gliding through the mountains at up to 35 mph over the trees propelled hundreds of feet in the air… Now that is an adventure! One you can’t afford to miss! Zip lining or Canopy tours are located in various areas of the island. The Beach Bums are experts at Zip lining and love the adrenaline rush! It’s exhilarating!
Rick’s Café : Located in Negril for more than 30 years people have come to Negril for the magnificent 7 mile beach and sunsets but they don’t expect to fall in love with Rick’s Café. This is a place to do it all… eat, drink, cliff dive, take in a beautiful sunset, listen to live music…it’s a Jamaican Tradition. They have jumps up to 35 feet for the ultimate thrill seeker! You have to check it out if you are staying in the Negril area.
Border Jerk: Jamaican people are warm and friendly, the beaches and the Rum are truly out of this world, but you can’t travel to this flavorful island and not enjoy Jerk Chicken. Border Jerk is Beach Bum Vacation’s favorite spot on the island for authentic Jamaican cuisine. Located through the mountains between Montego Bay and Westmoreland, we frequent this food stand as often as possible! I am sure they know us by name! If you don’t come across Border Jerk during your travels make sure to experience another local stand of Jerk Chicken & Pork… you won’t be sorry!
As these 5 adventures and must-see spots are spread throughout the island you might not be able to experience all 5 in one visit, but no worries, mon, just another reason to return to the spectacular island of Jamaica! Contact your favorite Beach Bum and they’ll hook you up! Once You Go, You Know!
Over the last 12 years, the Beach Bums have flown to multiple countries and cleared customs and immigration more times than we can count. Navigating the airport can often times be the most challenging part of travel, and we believe that being prepared is half the battle! Take our advice and armor yourself before you depart on your next Beach Bum Vacation! Spring Breaks are about to start across the nation, so airports will be busier than ever!
Check in early! 24 hours before your flight, confirm the times and always arrive 2 hours before even if you are on a domestic connection. Lines can be long and cumbersome, especially in busier airports like O’hare, JFK and LAX.
Pack light! Airlines charge an overweight fee for baggage over 50 lbs. Weigh your luggage at home and leave room to bring home souvenirs.
Keep Carry On Luggage small and simple. This does two things – allows you to board the plane, sit down and get out of the way quickly. Also you’ll be able to fit your bag under the seat in front of you, allowing you to have full access to your stuff while you are in-flight. (Don’t you just hate it when you see that person clogging the aisle and trying every which way to shove their over-sized luggage in the overhead bin?) A regular sized backpack should be all you need and it fits a lot of items…and under the seat.
Wear easy to remove shoes. Talk about making it through security in a breeze… this will speed up clearing security by minutes. Ideal footwear – slip on shoes, tennis shoes or flip flops depending on season.
Less is more! When you go through security you will have to strip down practically, so dress light on your travel day. Leave the belt at home, minimize your layers of clothing, travel with minimal jewelry (this also reduces your risk of losing something irreplaceable). And when traveling with kids, packing a light, easy to fold stroller is best!
Move out of the way. Once all your personal belongings have gone through the X-ray machine, be prepared to grab your items and move out of the way. They’ll have a bench or area in which you can “redress” to avoid causing a back up in the line.
Reveal your electronics. Your laptop must come out of its case (this includes the Ipad, any oversized reading device, larger camera, etc.). Remove these items before approaching security and be prepared to put them in their own bin.
Leave room for liquor. Make sure you have room for liquor in your checked luggage if you buy Duty Free on an international trip. You will not be able to carry it onto your connecting domestic flight, you will be required to put it in your checked luggage after clearing customs.
Follow the 3-1-1 Rule or be prepared to part ways with your liquids. Any liquids in your carry-on luggage must be 3 oz or smaller and fit in a quart size Ziploc bag. This includes but is not limited to: hair spray, liquid make-up, nail polish and more.
A few last tips:
Baby Formula must be in its original container – they will test it but it can come through.
It’s important to turn off your phone while going through Immigration and Customs.
On the last leg of your international flight you will fill out an Immigration Form. Here are the rules to follow: 1 form for each person, fill out completely with a blue/black pen, have all flight information and passports handy, fill in return flight info as well. Be prepared and travel with your own pen.
When you embark on your next Beach Bum Vacation you’ll be the savvy traveler fully prepared and knowing what to do! Safe travels!
Beach Bum Carey’s clients just returned from an amazing family getaway in sunny Negril! The Gookins reached out to Beach Bum Vacation after becoming certified SCUBA divers. Since they’re landlocked in the Midwest, they were very excited to head down to the Caribbean and into the open water to put their diving skills to the test!
After conducting their own research and consulting with Carey, the family decided the very best fit for their first diving experience was the tropical island of Jamaica, on the beautiful west coast. The Gookins stayed on Negril’s 7 Mile Beach at Beaches Sandy Bay, a perfect resort for a family vacation with great bang-for-your-buck. The main attraction to Beaches Resorts was the amazing inclusions — certified divers can enjoy SCUBA every day from state-of-the-art Newton dive boats at no additional cost. Since diving can be a very expensive hobby, with a dive costing around $100 per person or more, this definitely gave the family more for their money! Check out some of the family’s photos from their adventures under the sea, where they encountered ship wrecks, a variety of fish, wild dolphins, turtles and moray eels.
When they weren’t diving, Brad, Cassandra, Donavin & Alex enjoyed the other watersports included at Beaches, like snorkeling, kayaking & glass bottom boat rides. The family also visited nearby Beaches Negril to enjoy the resort’s awesome waterpark and delicious dining options!
Next year, the family is upping the ante, traveling to a world-renowned diving locale, Turks & Caicos! Again, they’ll get to enjoy diving in crystal clear Caribbean waters at no additional cost while staying at Beaches Turks & Caicos. Plus, as past guests of Beaches Resorts, they are now members of Sandals Select and get some great added perks! We can’t wait to hear all about their next Beach Bum Vacation!