Club Mobay – Montego Bay

As you may know, I went to Montego Bay, Jamaica, with my 4 year old daughter, as a single parent. (You can read my open letter to Heidi here.  One of things that made me feel better about the travelling experience was the Club Mobay service both on arrival and departure that we had booked. As they are both different, I thought that I would break them down…

Arrivals

A Club Mobay member of staff meets you as you get into the terminal. They escort you through the entire passport/customs process through to where your transport is.

You do save plenty of time going through passport control as the queues can be long. This is because you get the next available passport control officer. Generally, getting through baggage reclaim and customs is generally a breeze anyway. The best bit is where they direct you to where you need to go once you clear customs.  In a strange airport in a new country, having that helping hand to make sure you’re in the right place really does help.

You can make use of the arrivals lounge if your transport isn’t ready and there are drinks, snacks and lovely cold towels! We did find that by saving time through passport control, you did end up waiting for other people who were going to be on your coach to the hotel. As such, you don’t really save much time in total.

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Very tired after a long day of travelling!!

However, you are looked after from start to end By the Club Mobay reps and it is a very friendly welcome into Jamaica.

Departures

The Departures service is a bit less personal as there is no meet and greet service. You get a separate lane through passport control and security, which is useful and you get a lounge with food and drinks before your flight. If you are going to have a meal before your flight, it might work out cheaper to do this option.

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Jamaican Beef Patties

As the food is a complimentary buffet, then you can eat as much or as little as you want. These is also a kids play room which is a good touch (not all airports have them!)

One thing I would recommend is to arrange for an earlier drop off at the airport. The check-in process was long when we departed and as a result, we didn’t have that much time in the lounge. As a result, I would make sure you get to the airport earlier to make best use of the service!!

All in all, it is a wonderful little service that is offered and one that I am sure that we would use again. It is perfect for families as it just takes a little bit of the stress out of travelling!!


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Our First Holiday – an open letter to Heidi

As you may or may not know, I just had our first holiday with my 4 year old. It was the one thing that kept me going during the dark times of stress and separation – it was the one thing I fought so hard for. And it was worth it, totally worth it.

I wrote this on the way home, whilst Heidi was asleep on me. I have to admit that I shed a tear whilst writing it, but it was a tear of happiness (and maybe a bit of fatigue!!). Anyway, enjoy….

———

Dear Heidi

I am writing this somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, on our way back from our first holiday with just the 2 of us.

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It could have been the most horrendous holiday ever full of stresses and strains and not at all enjoyable for either of us. There were times running up to it where I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was under so much pressure to cancel it.

However, my trust and faith in you was so strong, I didn’t give in and I didn’t give up. I have dreamt of this holiday for a couple of years and I have to admit almost every day of our holiday, there were tears of unbridled joy that we were free and enjoying new adventures.

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Heidi – you have been an absolute star. I always say that I can take you anywhere and you have proved it so much this holiday. We have had fun, made friends, done new things and been living in each other’s pockets for just over a week and we have never got bored or fed up of each other.

So many people have said how well behaved you are or how they think you’re 6 years of age or older because of the way you hold a conversation. You make strangers smile in your company and most importantly, you make me smile so, so much. There were times when you were tired when travelling, but so many people said that you were such a good traveller and they were right.

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I am proud to be your daddy. I am proud to be your travel buddy after our first holiday. We are best friends and I am proud of that.

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Matching T-Shirts!

As you lay asleep next to me, I know these adventures won’t last forever, nor these moments of childish joy. However, let’s enjoy them whilst we can and live life to the fullest.

Time to look for the next adventure….

I love you Heidi
Daddy
XxX


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Flying with a Toddler

“Flying with a Toddler” is the first of a series of posts telling the story of Heidi’s first “proper” holiday. This will hopefully give some hints and tips to those planning on taking a toddler away, as well as making you smile along the way.

The other parts of my mini-break review can be found here:

  • Oceanarium & Bournemouth – Part 2 – (here)
  • Paultons Park – Part 3 – (here)
  • Longdown Activity Farm – Part 4 – (here)

So the idea was to go on a short haul flight as a test for a longer trip in the near future. After hearing about Peppa Pig World near Southampton, the destination was set. It sounded quite simple, but it never is!

The night before

Flying Manchester to Southampton at 8.30am on a Friday meant that we decided to stay close to the airport the night before. We chose the Premier Inn South, which is a mile from the airport and relatively handy. You can never go too far wrong with a Premier Inn and the room was everything we really needed. However, the adjoining restaurant wasn’t….

I completely understand that some places are not meant to be child appropriate, and we made a wrong decision to go to that restaurant! The food took an age to come and when you’re finishing at 9pm, that isn’t the best start to a holiday! To be fair, the staff were great. Our waitress had a slight scouse accent and a hairband /bandana and was brilliant! The food was good, but it was all a bit drawn out. This meant that we had quite a late night…

Security/Airport Facilities

So an early start took us to Manchester Airport, Terminal 3 to check in and get through security with a tired toddler – great! It took us 40 minutes to get from going through to doors to get past all security so something to bear in mind.

The security staff were brilliantly understanding, given the job that they have to do. We were ushered to the priority security lane, probably because we looked a little stressed out and this definitely helped. At Terminal 3, there are lots of shops to pass the time with. There is also a small, basic children’s area, but is was a quiet part of the airport and allows children to be children for a bit!

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Given that Manchester Airport is one of the biggest in the country, the changing facilities were good. They also seemed to be cleaned at regular intervals, which is a must!!! If you have some time to kill, I would try and find a quiet part of the terminal. This means that you don’t feel rushed and everyone can relax a bit.

As Heidi is a good walker and aged 2 3/4, we decided not to take a pushchair. This would have taken an extra pair of hands and made getting through security a bit more difficult. I imagine if you have a small child who is happy to be in a pushchair, it would help to have one going through security . However, it would have been a nightmare for us!

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The Flight

So, now to the “exciting” bit – actually Flying with a Toddler! Having done my research (aircraft geek!) I knew the plane wouldn’t be the biggest and we would have to walk on the tarmac. With it being late February, we wore an extra layer of clothes! I also informed Flybe (our airline) that Heidi was a first time flyer, just so the flight crew were aware in case Heidi got freaked out!

This proved to be a masterstroke as the flight attendants were brilliant (Alex and Alice). Every time they walked past and the opportunity arose, they talked to Heidi, making sure that she was ok and keeping her entertained and engaged with the flight. This additional interaction really helped break up the flight (even though it was only 50 minutes!) and made sure we had trouble free flight.

Top Tips

Flybe do an excellent “Flying with a Toddler” guide here and this helped, but I would give the following advice as well:
– talk about the journey beforehand with your child (if possible) so they understand what is going to happen.

– plan your hand luggage very carefully. Know exactly where your wipes, nappies, changing pads, change of clothes etc are. As such, in case of an emergency change, you know without thinking.

– pack quiet entertainment. I packed thin paperback books to read to Heidi and that worked well, as did a teddy and other small toys.

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– plan for a delay. Carrying an extra pack of wipes or trousers isn’t going to cause any issues, but a 2 hour delay might.

– don’t forget the liquids! Unfortunately, security procedures mean that you can’t take more than 100mls of liquid past security. Make sure your hand luggage is packed accordingly and buy a bottle of water for your child after security. No chocolates, sweets or fizzy pop!)

I did try and take Heidi to the toilets on the plane, to see how she would react,. It’s safe to say that she didn’t like them! They are particularly small and I am not sure how you would go on changing a nappy.  This is one to ask for the help of the flight attendants, as there might be some spare seats that you could use.

The landing

The flight was so smooth, that Heidi was asleep for the last 10 minutes of it, including the landing!

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As a special treat, we were also granted access to the cockpit after taxiing to the terminal. However, the conversation was very limited with a groggy toddler!!

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And that was it. Heidi’s first flight and Flying with a Toddler went remarkably smoothly. Onto the car hire and then Bournemouth for a day at the seaside!

Continue reading Flying with a Toddler