When an opportunity presents itself, do you rise to the challenge? Well, we certainly did when we decided to travel to Fiji in March for our first family overseas holiday. Tim had been offered some work through World Rugby, so we figured this was a trip we could easily join him on (he’s travelled all over the world, but I’ve always stayed at home). The only catch – I would have to fly to Fiji BY MYSELF with the three boys!!! Here is my blog on what I did and how I managed, plus some tips for visiting Fiji, and travelling with kids as a solo parent.
Day One: Travel Day
Well, this was the day I’d been counting down to. I’d packed for everyone, cleaned the house and the car and written instructions for our house/dog sitters. I’d packed the suitcases and pram in the car the afternoon before, so all I had to do was get the kids in the car and drive!
I’d opted for the early flight (there’s only two flight’s each day to Nadi, morning and afternoon) as I figured this would be the easiest way to keep the kids in their routine and settle them once we arrived – so I got up around 2:00 am, quickly showered and changed and popped my makeup case into the car. I got the elder boys up and dressed, then they hopped into the car while I got Tom up and into the car. We were on the road before 3 am, and got to the Sydney International Parking station at around 3:30 am. The boys each had a small bag to check-in, while I had Tom is a Mountain Buggy Nano pram (BEST THING EVER) and a large suitcase. I also had a backpack and a small across-the-body bag from Wanderer’s Travel Co. which made carrying and accessing our passports for check-in a sinch!
We got through check-in and customs, had some breakfast at Macca’s (the boys loved watching the conveyor belt) before heading to our gate. I packed the pram up before boarding and placed it in the overhead locker once onboard. I had packed our DVD Player for the boys to use, along with some new books. Once they were set up, I sat down with Tom and fed him just after take-off. He had some breakfast which I’d packed, then fell asleep about an hour-and-half into the trip. Lachlan and Will also had a nap, and were just FANTASTIC for the four-hour flight – what had I been so anxious about?!?
WE MADE IT!!!
We waited until everyone else had disembarked before getting off ourselves. One of the lovely Fijian Airport staff kindly helped me, by escorting us through the airport, helping collect our bags and taking us to our waiting transport. We then hopped on a bus and cruised through Nadi out to Denarau Island and on to the Sheraton Denarau Resort and Villas.
After a quick lunch at one of the beachfront cafes, we checked into our room – we were staying in one of the 2-bedroom Lagoon View rooms, and it was AMAZING!!! The boys had their own room, with a double bed each (and a cot for Tom), TV & DVD Player, Bathroom AND Balcony – our bedroom contained a King-size bed, and was off the kitchen and living area, and had a bathroom/laundry as well. The rooms and kitchen were well appointed and very comfortable. We chilled-out until Tim arrived, then he took Lachie & Will for a walk to check out the pools while Tom slept, and I unpacked.
We walked down to one of the neighbouring resorts and had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant – the food was delicious! We were back at our room by 7:30 pm and all the kids were asleep by 8 pm. Tim and I weren’t up much longer – it’s amazing how tiring travel is!
Day Two: Bula Bus, Food and Pools
We woke to the sound of rain on our second day, so we thought it was a good excuse to head to the Marina and stock up on some groceries. We bought a ticket for the Bula bus – the boys were beside themselves! Once we got to the Marina, we had a wonder – there’s not a great deal there, but we grabbed a bite from the bakery, then went to the ‘Yes’ Grocery store, which is very similar to an IGA here in Australia to grab a few essentials. We also stopped in one of the gift shops so Will could get something for his Year 5 buddy – so cute!
That afternoon we hit the pools in between the rain and went for a walk around the 3 resorts – the Westin, the Sheraton Villas and the Sheraton Resort. We had dinner in our room but then went back to the main pool at the Sheraton to check out the ‘Fire Show’.
Day Three: More rain and pools
Another overcast start, so we had a lazy morning in the room. We started the boys’ holiday diaries. We got them to write what had happened each day. Then we’d cut out some pictures from the magazines and brochures. We decided to check out the pools at the Westin. It has great views over Denarau harbour and the different depths allowed the kids to have a good play and swim. Tim and I chilled under an umbrella while Tom slept – perfection!
That night we had dinner in our room again, but Tim took the boys Frog and Gecko spotting – animal lover Will was beside himself when they caught one!
Day Four: South Sea Island
Tim had booked a day trip out to one of the islands. He decided on South Sea Island as it’s only a half-hours boat ride from Denarau Marina. So after a quick bus trip to the Marina, we boarded our boat. The boys were so excited.
Once we arrived at South Sea Island we had a wonderful lunch and were entertained by local singers and dancers. After a quick obligatory photo with the entertainers, I took the boys to get some snorkelling gear. We prepped them and practised breathing in the shallows before Tim took them out on the reef. I could hear their cries of excitement from the shore!!!
“We all live in a yellow submarine”
Well, we may not live in it, but we enjoyed our ride! The island has a glass-bottom submarine, that is great for checking out the outer reefs. The boys managed to spot some starfish, jellyfish and even a stingray! (Will still talks about it). Tommy thoroughly enjoyed himself too, jumping up and down and squealing with delight at the bubbles and fish that went past the windows.
Back on land, Tim took the boys for a ride in a Kayak, before I took them out for some more snorkelling. After a quick snack, Tim took them out for one last snorkel. I packed up our gear and readied Tom for the trip home. We boarded our boat, then our bus and were home in time to cook a quick dinner before everyone crashed in bed after a long day!
Day Five: The day the boys met Miti
While swimming at the boys’ favourite pool, they met Miti. A wonderful man and member of staff, he sat for hours and made the kids different items from Palm fronds. Watching him weave his magic (so to speak) was truly mesmerising. It is such a talent. He made hats, fish on fishing rods, rowboats and handbags – I should have put in an order!
The afternoon was spent – you guessed it – swimming! We enjoyed a couple of hours swimming and playing together, before enjoying a light meal in our room.
Day Six: Swimming and a Buffet
Another stunning day in paradise! Being surrounded by lush gardens, beautiful scenery and endless blue water does wonders for the mind, body and soul.
The morning and afternoon were spent in the pool – once again. While there are a few nearby activities, including a waterpark, golf course and putt-putt, our kids are happy swimming – so that’s what we do!
As we were coming to the end of our stay – and the end of our food supply – we decided to check out the Sheraton’s buffet dinner – and it didn’t disappoint! We gorged on dumplings, curries, pad thai and salads before ensuring that we tried everything the dessert bar had to offer! Lachlan had 3 bowls of ice cream, two chocolate mousse’s, a pannacotta and a piece of cake!!! (Luckily the boy works it all off being so active!)
Day Seven: Our last day in paradise
As it was our last full day we decided to head out for breakfast. We plonked ourselves down at Bulaccinno and enjoyed a hearty breakfast – perfect for another full day of swimming. We lathered on the suncream and headed back to the infinity pool – I finished off my second book for the week while the boys swam and played! After a nap (for me, the kids watched a DVD), I stayed back and packed up while Tim took the boys for one final swim and play.
Day Eight: Hometime
While I was sad to be leaving (and heading back to reality) seven days was plenty! An early morning transfer pickup and flight back home saw us back on terra firma around 3 pm! I’d ordered a Woolworths delivery, which arrived about an hour later and saw us having a nice home-cooked meal before hitting the hay in our own beds – is there no better feeling?
We struck some turbulence just out of Sydney, and poor Will didn’t fair too well – thank goodness for the sick bags and wet wipes!!!!
I was really impressed with the Sheraton Villas – it is a fantastic facility with great amenities which means you can easily just stay at the resort the whole time. And to make it even better, you have access to three resorts – The Sheraton, The Sheraton Villas and the Westin!
The villas offer the perfect mix of luxury and family-friendly accommodation. The villas allow you to set up a home-away-from-home – this is perfect if, like us, you have little ones or people with food intolerances/allergies. The kitchen is well equipped and there are quite a few local shops from which to purchase your groceries – just be prepared for higher prices for most items. And while the villas allow you to be self-sufficient, the resort also provides you with the opportunity to get dressed up and have a cocktail – or in my case, a mocktail!
Between the three resorts, you have access to every facility you could imagine – restaurants and cafes, shops and markets (run by local women), a gym, day spa, kids club, a playground and 4 pool areas! Our favourite was the infinity pool, as it was lagoon style so the boys could play games, but we could enjoy some laps. There’s also some ‘book swap’ shelves, so if you’ve got some old books, chuck them in and swap it for another one at the resort (don’t buy them as a latest release book can cost FD$60!!!!)
Travelling with Kids Tips!
After reading a plethora of blogs on travelling with kids, I can say with confidence that I’m no expert on this matter. However, I did learn some things that have made me realise it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Here are some of my takeaways:
- Be prepared and organised – make lists of what to pack, for each person. Don’t leave packing to the last minute. Talk to other people n your community and get advise from them. Also, use Packing Cubes to help keep suitcases and clothes organised – I got a different colour for each family member.
- Baby stuff – figure out how many nappies you’ll need for your trip and distribute these between suitcases and carry-on luggage. Pack an extra pack of wipes, plenty of nappy-cream, hand sanitizer and some small toys. I also used the Subo containers and made breakfast for both trips which meant we could keep to Tom’s routine.
- Medication – grab some neurofen, panadol, antihistamines, hydro-lite, immodium/gastro stop, as well as some inset repellent and some . Also pack in HEAPS of suncream and some alovera gel/cream (I love the Natio brand of suncream and after-sun cream). Don’t forget to add some bandaids and alcohol wipes.
- Plane travel – To help ease the pressure change when the plane is taking off and landing, give your baby a feed or dummy, and the kids a drink or lollipop – depending on their age you can also teach them how to pressurise their ears (block the nose and mouth and blow out, bite down at the back of the jaw). It’s also important to get your kids up and moving during longer flights, so just take them for a walk up and down the aisle, and visit the toilet. With a baby under 1, they’re usually on your lap – if you’re by yourself and someone offers to help, TAKE IT! Also, make use of the entertainment of walking up and down the plane and being stopped and talked to by strangers.
- On-flight Entertainment – Check with your airline as to what plane you’ll be flying on and what entertainment is available. On our flight over, we used our own DVD players, but on the flight home, we had individual entertainment screens, complete with kids movies and games! You could also download their fave shows on Netflix so they are able to watch it when the iPad or phone is on flight mode.
- Surprises – Purchase some new reading and activity books, and some new toys for bub.
- Routine – Try to book flights that will suit your family’s routine – our early morning flight to Fiji meant we were able to settle in for the afternoon and get back into our routine quickly. Try to keep their usual nap times while your away. Even if they won’t sleep pop on a DVD or read them a book so that they have some down time to rest. We still had dinner around 5 pm each night which meant we were able to keep Tom in his routine – happy baby, happy family!