There were a couple of reasons why we chose the Turks and Caicos as our first international trip with Joaquín. The first, you can read all about here. The second, we wanted something fairly easy, since this was our first time traveling out of the country with a child. There is a direct flight from Charlotte, North Carolina (less than three hours) and we had been there twice before, so we knew the ins and the outs of the island chain. The third, we also knew just how utterly beautiful of a place it is. Thus, with all that in mind, my husband and I spent a Sunday on our laptops trying to find the perfect place to call home during our week stay. I am aware of the raging debate going on right now about the ethics of staying in an AirBnB, however, staying at a hotel for us with a toddler was not an option. There are some families than can all pile up in a bed and be happily refreshed the next day — we are not one of them. We needed a lot of space, a second bedroom, and definitely a kitchen. Pretty quickly, we found Rockspray Villa and it stole our hearts immediately. The following picture, in particular, sold me.
Before we knew it a month had passed by and we were en route to paradise! Here are a couple of things that helped us make the flight with Joaquín extremely smooth:
- We did not arrive to the airport with hours to spare. Yes, we made sure we had time for any unexpected delays, but we also did not want to have to sit at the gate endlessly with a curious toddler.
- While Joaquín is potty trained, we put him in a diaper to make life easier for all of us.
- We gate checked our stroller. Keeping Joaquín contained in the stroller until the very last minute gave us peace of mind.
- These headphones are a game changer.
- We built up the excitement of this trip for weeks beforehand. Every day we would ask him how many days until the beach?
- We had a backpack for him to use, so that he felt like he was helping carry stuff. Inside were toys to entertain him during the flight.
No matter the airport you are flying out of, make sure you get a window seat, as the view when landing in the Turks and Caicos is extraordinary.
We rented a car from Grace Bay Rental. It had the best reviews online, although the reality did not match expectations. To get the car, once you exit the airport, you have to walk up a hill. With a tired kid, luggage, and intense heat this is not fun. The service was lackluster and the car even more so. I was about to protest, when I realized when traveling there are battles you can pick and choose and this was not one of them I wanted to engage in. The positives? The price was great and they had a carseat in the car waiting for us, which meant we did not have to lug one with us. If you are American, be prepared to drive on the opposite side of the road. Street signs are limited, so grab a map before you exit the airport. Of course, we had not even been driving two minutes when Joaquín passed out.
Renting from AirBnB can sometimes be a hit or miss. We all know photos are edited. So, when we pulled up to Rockspray and I saw it for the first time truly my breath was taken away. There are no words to describe the color of water that surrounded the villa.
While we wanted to luxuriate in our new surroundings, we were on a mission to find a grocery store. We threw our stuff inside the villa and headed towards Grace Bay. There we found the largest and most inexpensive grocery store on the island, however be aware prices are outstandingly expensive due to importation no matter where you shop.
Back at the villa, we got up close and personal with our “backyard.” We were so isolated that we let Joaquín run around nude.
As we watched our first sunset of the trip, even though I was exhausted from traveling, I felt a familiar bliss wash over me. I could not believe that I had waited four years to reconnect with my passion for exploration, however, I am big believer in letting the past stay in the past and appreciating the fact that I overcame some incredible hardships in order to experience this beautiful adventure the three of us were about to have.