In a word, Barbados is beautiful. Our stay there was our last trip before our daughter was conceived, and not only do we want to return, we’ve actually somewhat seriously thought about moving there. In terms of an easy family vacation in the sun, Barbados has is all: it’s safe, it’s clean, and it has a wide variety of accommodation options for families. Unfortunately, one thing it’s not is inexpensive. However, there are certainly ways to visit Barbados on a budget if that’s your goal.
Health care in Barbados is excellent and accessible, with two main hospitals on the island that are supported by two medical centres, dozens of private and public clinics, and over 100 doctors in private practice.
Aside from having your routine vaccination schedule up-to-date, no additional shots are required to visit Barbados. Some choose to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A & B. The CDC reports no known risk for malaria in Barbados, but since it is a tropical Caribbean country, there is a very small risk of dengue. Protection from mosquito and insect bites is recommended.
The water in Barbados is safe to drink, in fact it is some of the purest water in the world that’s fine straight from the tap. During our stay there we simply refilled from the faucet the large bottles of water that we initially purchased. The tap water tasted better than the bottled – no joke.
The crime rate in Barbados is relatively low, although there are occasional reports of crimes against tourists. In Bridgetown, The Gap, and other busy places, take your usual precautions against pickpocketing, purse snatching, etc. Use your hotel room safe or safety deposit box for valuables. (If it costs extra, it’s still worth it.) You’ll probably get asked to buy drugs, although this is usually less likely when you’ve got kids with you.
There is a concern that crimes against tourists are on the rise, and the Canadian government advises that “visitors are cautioned to avoid unattended or isolated areas, including beaches, at any time.” In all likelihood, with your kids with you, you wouldn’t be engaging in any risky behaviour and for the record, in the two times I’ve been there I’ve didn’t once feel uncomfortable.
You can’t beat Barbados for the range of accommodation available – there are high-end resorts, mid-range hotels, smaller beach motels AND more villas, condos and other holiday rentals than you can shake a stick at. The range of prices is just as vast as the selection available, but prices do tend to start higher than other Caribbean islands. That said, we found an excellent self-catering hotel across the street from one of Barbados’ nicest beaches for a very reasonable price.
Getting around Barbados is very easy, as the public buses are new, large & clean. There are bus schedules for the various routes island-wide on the Barbados Transport Board website, but few maps, route numbers or timetables are shown at bus stops. There are also zillions of “taxi-buses” that blast reggae and follow the same routes as the public bus. These are great fun and the fare is the same as well, but they might not be the best option when traveling with little ones. They tend to get quite crowded, and they stop and start a lot.
Taxis are on the pricey side but they are all new and very well-maintained - you should have no problems installing a car seat. Most taxi firms can negotiate a day or half-day rate if you’d like to tour the island at your own pace. This is a great way to do it with little ones in tow. Car rentals are also quite expensive and keep in mind that driving is on the left side of the road (and you’re on the right side of the car!) The roads are quite narrow and windy, there were a few instances where I was definitely gripping the seat. Keep in mind too that renting a deluxe, luxury car on Barbados is more like a compact car in North America, and availability is limited (book ahead!).
Availability of Baby/Toddler stuff:
Buying baby and toddler supplies in Barbados could not be easier – you can even order online! All major US and UK brands are available but – and here’s that word again – pricey. Diapers are almost double the price, although local brands are a little less. If your baby has a sensitive tummy or you’re picky about specific brands, you may feel more comfortable bringing enough formula from home. Many of the supermarkets offer shuttle service to and from hotels, which can save the cost of a cab.
Other Important Information:
The voltage on Barbados is 110 volts. Adapters for electrical equipment are not necessary if you are traveling from North America, although British and European visitors are advised to double-check their plugs and voltage requirements.
The currency on Barbados is the Barbados or Bajan dollar, but US dollars are widely accepted, as are British pounds and occasionally Canadian dollars. Although with Euros, CDN dollars and even Pounds Sterling you are better off exchanging to Bajan to get the best rate. The conversion between US and Bajan is fixed. Credit cards are widely accepted, and even traveler’s cheques if you’re old school like that. Lots of international banks have branches on Barbados.
More Useful Articles:
Planning Your Vacation: Keep Your Family Safe & Healthy On Holiday!
Where To Stay When Traveling With Babies & Small Children: You Have Lots Of Options!
Feeding Your Baby On Holiday: It’s Not So Tough, Honestly!