Long-haul travel with a family should not be a disastrous affair. If anything, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and for first-timers, a renewed confidence in your parenting skills! My own experience of long-haul travel has given our family such wonderful memories. There is nothing more magical than watching your children experience the wonders of travel for the first time.
We set off to the airport with our precious 11-week-old baby girl, about to embark on a 12-hour flight to Mauritius from London Gatwick. I’ll admit it was a daunting experience at first, but once we were through security and snuggled into our seats on the plane, any tension I had felt vanished.
Gatwick is well equipped for travelling with small children, with facilities such as pre-paying for baby formula to collect air-side, baby changing facilities and a toddler soft play zone. Going through security is straightforward too, with a dedicated family lane to fast track you through.
After the well-timed night flight (enabling 12 hours of precious sleep for both baby and parents alike), we arrived on the stunning island of Mauritius and made our way to the Heritage Awali Golf and Spa Resort. It was a straightforward 45-minute journey from the airport – we brought along our own infant car seat, so the transfer went swimmingly.
Along the way, we admired the turquoise, navy and blue hues of the Indian Ocean and the popping green of the endless sugar cane fields. As we arrived at the hotel, the sweet smell of tropical flowers and fruits filled the air, and the warmth of the sun really made an impact. I caught my husband beaming a broad smile, making me feel relieved – I’d had to convince him that travelling for 12 hours with an infant would be completely worth it, and it certainly was!
When we arrived, it was lovely to find a basket full of Johnson & Johnson products in our room. We travelled with our stroller, but it was nice to the hotel could provide one as well, should we have needed it. The Awali provided us with a cot and bedding, and were incredibly amenable for any requests we had, such as asking the chef to prepare fresh vegetables and poultry in a pureed form for Lolly to have during her stay. A handy hint is to carry Milton sterilising travel tablets to help keep bottles and bibs nice and clean and sterile.
We stayed in a deluxe beachfront room, which had ample space for the three of us. The views of the stunning Indian Ocean from our room were breathtaking and provided a romantic backdrop for my husband and me once the little one was asleep in the evenings.
We were very impressed with the free baby crèche the hotel provided, which was dedicated for infant travellers. It was open seven days a week from 8.30am-4pm and there were six trained baby nurses qualified in first aid and childcare. You can book the crèche 12 hours in advance, as well as evening babysitting services, which you pay for locally. The hotel also offers The Timomo and Friends Kids’ Club for children aged between two and 11, which is good to know for families with older children as well as infants.
We felt totally relaxed halfway through our holiday, so decided to hire a car for two days. This gave us the freedom to explore the island as we wished. We visited the bustling markets of Port Louis, Pamplemousses botanical gardens and Casela wildlife centre. All were great fun and easily accessible with a pushchair, but for me the most wonderful experience of all was simply driving with my family along the coast, stopping every now and then to pick fresh lychees off the trees!
With all Lolly’s needs met there was nothing more to do except bask in all the sunshine, indulge in the wonderful food and relax (when the chance arose) in the fantastic Seven Colours Spa.
We had a fantastic 10-night stay in Mauritius and I would highly recommend families to take the leap and experience the adventures long-haul holidays can bring. On a personal level, with hindsight, the confidence this trip gave me has been invaluable. We have since taken family holidays to Dubai, been back to Mauritius several times, and with the arrival of our baby boy in 2015 we ventured off as a family of four to Barbados this past summer! Travelling with an infant AND a toddler, now that’s an entirely different blog to tell…!
If you’d like to speak to Reshmi about planning your family holiday, you can call her on 01293 765 468*.
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