Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Day 21: Travelling to Mauritius with children

Even the tortoise is posing!


The first time we went to Mauritius with our eldest son, he was 11 months. Overall, we have travelled over there three times with the kids.

To be honest, I was really apprehensive about that first trip, especially about the plane because the journey takes about 12 hours from Paris (or London). I also wondered how he would handle the heat, if he was going to be bitten by mosquitoes, how he would deal with time difference... Basically I was anxious about pretty much everything.

So, in case you are panicking as much as I was to  the idea of taking your baby  on vacation, let me try and reassure you:

The plane

Book a night flight if possible. If your child weighs less than 10 kg, a small cradle will be provided so he can sleep (and you too). For the way back, the best thing to do is to book a night flight also. But if it's not possible (The option on Air France and BA is a lot more expensive), do not panic too much. 12 hours can seem like an eternity, but in fact time goes quite quickly, and there is a good chance that your baby will recover from the jet lag easier and will catch up  the same night.

Time difference

It usually takes a week for our kids to get used to it. Mauritius is 3 hours ahead of Ireland in summer and 4 hours in winter, so it's not too bad. The great advantage is that normally your kids will wake up later in the morning (finally some long due lie-ins!). On the way back, it usually takes them a couple of days to recover (mainly due to the lack of sleep in the plane!)

Shopping

Everything you'll need in terms of baby essentials are available. You can buy nappies, wipes, milk, baby food in every supermarket and at pretty much the price than in Europe.

Food & drink

If you can, and if your child is old enough to eat solid, make him taste Mauritian fruits and vegetables. This is a chance he will not  have once back home. The markets are full of fruits and vegetables stalls so you will have a wide choice! We made our kids taste pineapple, mango, passion fruit.  They even tried traditional Mauritian dishes. Of course they didn't taste chilli, we're not that crazy...

In terms of infant milk, you will find the same brands than in France or Ireland. And if you can't find it, you can go to the pharmacy with your box and ask the pharmacist to find an equivalent.

***Practical advice***

Don't forget to close the milk box, or put it high on a shelf to avoid an ant invasion. I saw my almost full milk box become unusable because someone (I'm blaming my mother here!) didn't close it properly.

Make your child drink more than usual. Given the heat, you wouldn't want him to get dehydrated. And normally kids will eat a little more than usual because of the energy spent at the beach and on day trips.


What to do with the kids?

One thing for  sure, as you're on an island, go to the beach! Try putting baby in the sea with you, keep him on your lap if he's small, or you can use water wings. You can also go to the swimming-pool before your holidays so that he gets used to the water.
Strangely enough, our son was afraid of the sand! He didn't want to sit or walk on it. I think the texture was so unknown that he got scared.

In Mauritius there are a few natural parks that are worth visiting like Casela, the Vanilla Park or Pamplemousse Botanic gardens:
 
Casela is a park dedicated to birds and there are also monkeys, lemurs, tigers, peacocks, ducks, turtles etc.
The Vanilla Park is dedicated to crocodiles (don't worry, they are not let loose in the park!). There are also giant turtles not to be missed.
Finally, Pamplemousse garden is famous for its giant water lilies. It's a great place to have a family picnic

I would say that Mauritius is a very family friendly destination. If you stay in a hotel, there are always many animations for kids, or a mini-club. The beach is a great and cheap place to spend some afternoons, and why not try a sea excursion. 

Just make sure your kids are well protected (sunblock, sunglasses, hat), that they drink a lot and don't stay exposed for too long.

Most importantly, enjoy your well deserved family holiday in one of the most beautiful tropical island!