1. Book Your Vaccinations Early
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends Hepatitis A and B shots and even malaria pills when travelling to the Dominican Republic. You can get jabbed up to one week before departure (with six weeks being ideal), if you’re too last-minute, the vaccine won’t have time to do its job. Check in with your primary health-care provider to discuss alternatives if you miss the cut-off; we took probiotics, crossed our fingers and made sure we never used or drank tap water.
2. Consider Bringing Baby’s Car Seat
There are no central car seat or stroller rentals in Punta Cana (though some resorts provide or rent strollers to guests), so take what you need with you and hang on for dear life if you’re in anything but an official shuttle. All of the resort-approved taxis we used had seatbelts and took us from A to B very safely. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable, but remember that if you have a child under the age of two and you take a car seat onboard a plane, you’ll pay for the extra seat.
3. Pack Plastic, Double-Walled Mugs
Take double-walled cups for every member of the family – it’ll keep your drinks colder longer and you won’t need to go back to the bar so often since your cup will inevitably be larger than whatever little plastic number the resort bars are serving.
4. Match Your Family’s Needs to Your Hotel
Evaluate what kind of vacation you’re looking for and book the right trip for your family. If you want a place that has programming for bigger kids, Club Med Punta Cana’s kids’ club is included in the price of your stay if your child is four or older. Drop your kiddos off in the morning for a day of archery, soccer and circus school and collect them when it suits you. Cots and strollers are automatically placed in your room if you arrive with kids two and under. You’ll also find gourmet food and a really calm section of ocean situated on a private beach at Club Med.
Pro Tips: If you’re determined to go during peak season, save money by staying in a smaller room; the staff at Club Med are ridiculously accommodating and even the smallest room can fit a family of four. (You’re only there to sleep, right?) Dinner doesn’t begin until 6:30 p.m., so bring some of your kids’ favourite snacks from home to tide them over. The kids’ shows at night are a blast. Read the complete Club Med Punta Cana review from MommyGearest.
5. Find Resorts Where Kids Stay and Eat – Free!
If you’re looking for the kind of resort that’s nailed activities for littles, is set on a spectacular beach and offers more choice than you ever knew you wanted, Hard Rock Punta Cana is for you. Oh, and kids under 12 stay and eat for free! The Little Big Club features many of your child’s favourite characters and activities, like Angelina Ballerina ballet class and Bob the Builder tools, and will keep them happily occupied for as little as an hour each day if you want to grab a bite or do some shopping sans kids.
Pro Tips: Since there are no reservations required at any of the nine restaurants, be sure to go by 6:30 p.m. to avoid waiting in lines with hungry children on your hands. Definitely make a point of going to Pirate Night on Tuesdays. Nab your poolside umbrella and loungers by 7 a.m., and don’t forget to bring kids’ life jackets for ocean play; the water here can be rough and unpredictable (oodles of fun for strong swimmers, wave-riders and boogie boarders). Read the complete Hard Rock Punta Cana review from MommyGearest.
6. Safe Family Fun Off-Resort
Get off the resort at least once. Go horseback riding. Walk around the shops among the locals in the Plaza. Or – if you can spare the extra money – day trips for the whole family, like catamaran trips to the island of Saona, abound in Punta Cana. Check out tour operators that aren’t resort-based; you may find a better deal or opportunities to negotiate. But be sure to look at minimum age requirements; before you promise your six year old a swim with the dolphins, you should know that most of the tour operators won’t let anyone younger than eight participate.
7. The Benefits of Traveling Off-Peak
If you miss out on or can’t manage last-minute travel, consider taking your vacation slightly off-peak or in the summer months. Rooms at many of the best resorts in Punta Cana can be had for 20 to 50 per cent less than the busier periods. Don’t balk at a summer vacation in another country’s sunshine; going away and having someone else cook and clean for you and wait on you hand and foot is amazing any time of year! You can also consider a shorter stay; five nights still feels like a getaway, especially if you can arrive early in the morning on your first day and leave late in the evening on your last.
8. But Avoid the Rainy Season
Remember that most Caribbean countries have rainy seasons. They don’t get lush without a few major downpours from time to time. Punta Cana’s rainiest months are May and November – book a vacation during these months at your discretion.
9. Got WiFi?
And for the love of Pete, if your resort or hotel doesn’t offer free WiFi and calls home like the Hard Rock does, be sure you get yourself a travel data plan for your phones or devices; otherwise, all those stunning Instagram pics and Facebook status updates could cost you another vacation.
10. Most of All, Have Fun
Take heaps of sunscreen, a great camera and some Canadian charm. Punta Cana’s beautiful weather, white-sand beaches and friendly people will be glad to welcome you.