We just got back from a family trip to Turks and Caicos. Rather than do a full trip report (for reasons that should quickly become apparent), I thought I’d just do some random thoughts spread over a couple posts.
This was our first family trip with two grandkids in tow – we took up seven seats on the plane – grandparents, two sets of parents, M in her own seat, and her little nephew in lap. Amusingly enough, we found out the day we left that Providenciales just topped Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice list – great timing by us!
This post is mostly the boring logistical stuff, mostly parent related – but I’ve tried to include pictures foreshadowing what’s yet to come!
Disclosure: Some links to products in this post earn me a small commission on Amazon if you buy through the links. I only linked products that we found useful and used ourselves, appreciate the support!
Booking Flights and Accommodations
It’s easy to brag about hacking travel costs, but a bit more embarrassing to admit spending a bunch of money. But the reality is, at one point the logistics of this trip just got too complicated and I bit the bullet and had all of us book everything in cash. If I hadn’t, I might have been on the receiving end of an actual bullet which is the excuse I will use to hide my embarrassment!
Anyway, nothing much to write home about here – we bought seven seats in economy for a direct flight from Newark to Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. Jess and I determined that we’d rather drive down to my parent’s house in NJ than deal with a connection – we haven’t been down to visit for awhile anyway. M was really into the idea of sharing a flight with her grandparents again so that factored in as well.
We spent about $500 per ticket – not cheap by any means but it would have cost $900 from Boston (with a connection). The only real money saving I did here was make sure two tickets were bought at the lowest fare bucket available before buying the other five. This saved us all about $80 overall.
If you’re not familiar with the concept – basically if you search for multiple seats, you’ll always be quoted the fare bucket that contains enough seats for your entire party. But if you’re looking for seven seats, the odds are there are at least 2-3 seats at a lower (cheaper) fare bucket, so if you buy those separately you can save some money.
The other plus was we booked the flights through my dad’s account so we all got Economy Plus for free thanks to his United Platinum status. Every inch counts!
For accommodations, we decided to stay at the Villa del Mar – we rented a couple of rooms for $800/night. I’ll talk about the pros and cons of the hotel throughout, but we essentially saved 50% by staying at a hotel across the street from a beach as opposed to direct beach access. 50% for 2 extra minutes of walking is not a bad deal.
If it’s not becoming readily apparent – Turks and Caicos is not a cheap place. If I had planned better, we could have cut down the costs for sure, but I didn’t so this is where we ended up. Hey at least I cleared a credit card bonus for the flights and my brother in law paid for the hotel with his Arrival Plus…
I generally find with a toddler these days that getting ready for a trip is more stressful than the trip itself. I’ve spoken a few times about the car seat dilemma. We decided to bring it in our huge canvas bag (affiliate link) again.
We’ve pretty much figured out our packing situation these days – one carry on roller and the huge car seat bag. The important stuff goes in the roller while unimportant stuff goes in the car seat bag (like extra diapers and my clothes – thanks Jess!). We check both in and board the plane with a backpack, diaper bag, and Jess’ purse. One of the benefits of traveling semi-regularly is getting a system that works down.
I will say that this time it might have been nice to have the car seat transporter since M fell asleep on the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel (and wanted to sleep at the airport on the way home). But hey, she got to rest through check in after some careful car seat maneuvering.
Though I should really trust M by now, I was a bit worried since we spent six hours driving down to NJ the night before. I opted to start the drive at M’s naptime which turned out to be good for her but bad for traffic since we hit rush hour in Connecticut.
Luckily, the flight down wasn’t a problem at all. It left at 915 AM and she just had a grand old time listening to her music, looking out the window, and stickering up everything. We did have to pay for food on the plane – $10 for an egg skillet – but at least it tasted decent and kept M happy.
The immigration line at Providenciales airport runs pretty slowly, so something to bear in mind – but at least there’s a festive band playing! It reminded me a bit of Bora Bora’s airport. After grabbing our bags we picked up a taxi – all the taxis seem to be vans taking multiple customers. It cost around $120 for the eight of us – babies and toddlers counted.
My dad later realized that you could rent a car for $60/day (actually it could be cheaper but he paid for insurance and stuff like that) so on the way back we ended up taking two trips with a rental car back to the airport.
Villa del Mar and many of the hotels are only about 15-20 minutes away from the airport so it’s pretty convenient and the roads are pretty empty all things considered. The only thing tough about driving is they drive on the British side of the road but a lot of the cars are American made so be prepared for that.
The flight on the way back was pretty smooth as well – again M entertained herself for the entire flight, though this time she skipped naptime to do so. But hey, no news is good news.
This wasn’t the cheapest trip ever but it was a great time for our family. Turks and Caicos is a beautiful, relaxing, though expensive destination. But more on that later.
Other Posts in this Series