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Nine Questions to ask your travel consultant before booking a family holiday to the Pacific Islands.
1. What’s the flight time?
What you want to know: How long is the flight? Because flying with kids can be harder than hard work. Ask your consultant for options. Fiji is popular because it’s only 2 hours and 40 minutes from Auckland Airport; Norfolk Island is just a hop and skip via Brisbane, Tahiti is over five and if you're keen on Hawaii, you're looking at almost nine hours. If you have kids with a short attention span, a short flight’s going to be less traumatic.
2. What’s the time difference?
What you want to know: Are you crossing the date line? Which can make all the difference between being in the same time zone as New Zealand, or an entire 24 hours behind. Will it disrupt your children’s sleeping patterns (let alone your own) and overall likelihood of having a fatigue-induced tantrum?
3. Which airline should I fly with?
What you want to know: Which airlines are the most child-friendly? A simple colouring book works wonders when you’re 30,000 feet in the sky and flying with bored children. Even before that, check which airlines have a stress-free checking-in process, especially if you’re taking buggies and strollers etc. You’ll also want to ask what time your flight arrives. Late arrivals or very early arrivals mean a longer wait for your room - and less chance of finding anywhere to eat, drink and waste time.
Top 3 child-friendly airlines:
4. How convenient are transfers?
What you want to know: How to get from A to B and how quickly and easily can it be done? You’ll want to know the transfer time between the airport and your resort, as well as the distance and time from your accommodation to local attractions, dining establishments and if necessary, the ferry port.
5. When’s check-in and out?
What you want to know: What time can I check in and out? Pick the wrong flight and you might arrive far too early to check in and have nowhere to go. Equally, if check-out is 10am and you have a return night flight, that’s an entire day without access to showers, beds and proper respite from the sun. Ask your HOT consultant about late check outs and flights that accommodate your needs.
6. What can I expect from the resort’s nanny service?
What you want to know: Foremost you’ll want to know the staff to children ratio, times available and of course, hourly charges (some resorts do offer a complimentary nanny service). It’s common for nannies to work between 8am - 9pm but you can always ask if extended hours are available. On arrival, there’s no harm in asking for the child protection policy before using the resort’s nanny service and it’s also fine to ask about formal training and police checks etc.
7. Does the resort have a kids’ club?
What you want to know: What’s on offer, what will they be doing and does it cost extra? The islands themselves are a liquid playground, with numerous swimming spots, beaches and lagoons, but for many, a kids’ club is also a necessity. Some resorts are hard-out water obsessed, with classes in windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling, whereas other clubs offer art classes, face painting and hair braiding. You might like to know if the club’s mostly fun, educational or cultural – or all three, and while some resorts will charge, many boast complimentary kids’ clubs. Also check the minimum age for children attending kids' clubs and find out if younger children need a nanny to supervise.
8. Is an island holiday safe for my kids?
What you want to know: Can you fully relax knowing you’re children are safe and sound? Aside from kids’ clubs and nanny services, it makes sense to ask about child-safe play areas and playgrounds, as well as child safe furniture. Some resorts build separate kids’ sections that have been built entirely for children. And there's no harm in asking where the closest hospital is. Also, look into buying your insurance at the same time as booking - it's an easy one to forget later on.
9. What are the food options for my children?
What you want to know: Is there enough variety to avoid tears and tantrums at the dinner table? Most resorts offer specially designed children’s menus, some of which are complimentary. Others boast fun kids-style buffets. Depending on the resort, you may like to take snacks with you; ask what to avoid (meat, fruit and veggies are usually a no-no) but chips, cookies and crackers are good to have on-hand. Quarantine can have some funny rules too. In Fiji, for example, you can take almost everything as long as you declare it, but honey, KFC and McDonald’s packs are all forbidden. Best to check the peculiarities before you go!
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