If you are someone who has a smidge of wander lust, the need to explore doesn’t go away just because you become a parent.
Traveling with kids does complicate things though doesn’t it?
If you are budget conscious like us, the last thing you want to do is spend your limited extra dollars on traveling to an exotic location, only to be restricted on activities due to your child’s nap schedule.
We recently went to Exuma Bahamas for an entire week for only $600 dollars. That included flight, accommodations, and a rental car.
We were able to enjoy many incredible family experiences that week that didn’t cost anything other than the food to feed our bellies. (Which we would have paid for anyway!)
I wanted to share how we managed this Bahamas family vacation for cheap, along with some of the things we did to keep ourselves and our one year old entertained.
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Why We Chose a Bahamas Family Vacation
It is truly rare that we get enough time off to travel without going to visit our extended family, so we jumped on the opportunity to plan a trip.
We chose to travel to the Bahamas in the middle of winter to escape the cold weather.
We figured, if you have to travel with a toddler, you might as well go somewhere it is warm enough to be outside.
The Island of Exuma is filled with incredible white sandy beaches and plenty of palm trees to hang up a hammock. You can sit back, relax, keep the kiddos out of the sun for at least part of the day!
Pro tip: Definitely bring a portable hammock like the Eno when traveling to the island with kids!
It really doesn’t matter where you stay on Exuma because a picturesque beach is around every corner.
I do recommend renting a car if you have kids so you are free to explore the island on your own time but can get back for naps as quickly as possible.
The locals in Exuma are super friendly but they are definitely on island time so don’t expect anyone to rush to take you anywhere!
One of the best parts about Exuma is the many beach bars that are scattered throughout the Island.
Like always, going to the beach with young kids requires a lot of planning ahead. You have to make sure you bring enough snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy but if you post up near a local beach bar and grill, food becomes one less thing you have to worry about.
Some of our favorite beach bars were the Chat n Chill on Stocking Island, Big D’s, and Shirley’s Fish Fry. Just be careful ordering the Long Island Iced teas. Your parenting skills might go out the window a little bit!
Let me just say I am glad there were two of us!
How to Travel on a Bahamian Family Vacation for Super Cheap
Ok, let’s get down to the nitty gritty on how we afforded our week-long family vacation for only $600.
Sign up for Travel Credit Cards
Travel rewards are the key to success for any family vacation with toddlers. You want to go places, but deep down inside, toddlers aren’t the best at thriving outside of their normal environment and routine.
Well, at least mine isn’t. Maybe your child is a travel warrior!
Either way, traveling with toddlers can limit you so you don’t want to spend all your hard earned dollars, only to have spend half of the vacation inside with a tired baby.
Related: Tips for flying with a baby
Which is why using travel rewards is so great for young families! You can go wherever you would like without worrying about wasting your money.
We signed my husband up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card so we could participate in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program. You have to spend 4,000 dollars in three months but you get 50,000 points upon completion. That will pay for more than one plane ticket.
You have an entire year to use these points without paying an annual fee and then you can close or downgrade the card.
I recommend signing up for this card at least 7 months in advance of your trip so you have time to accumulate all the points before you book.
Put every purchase possible on this card until you spend the 4,000 dollars. We shared the card in our day to day lives. Depending on who needed to spend money that day, that person took the card with them.
Repeat this process and you should have 110,000 points available.
That’s 50,000 per card, plus the 10,000 points you get for referring a friend. We also sent our refer-a-friend link to as many people as we could. We managed to get another 50,000 points this way.
The nice thing about the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program is they partner with a lot of other programs so you can transfer your points for larger purchases.
You can also use this card when you travel out of country because there is no foreign transaction fees!
We ended up using a total of 97,000 points for our two round trip plane tickets from Virginia down to Exuma Bahamas.
Stay in an Airbnb
Whenever we travel with our son, we like to stay in a place that has a kitchen. It is a lot easier to feed little people around the clock when you have the option to cook some meals at home.
We find that Airbnb is so much cheaper than resorts and often they offer a full kitchen.
For this trip, we knew we would be spending the majority of our time on the beach so we opted for the cheapest option that was still conveniently located.
We chose to visit Exuma for seven full days because our host offered us a 15% weekly discount.
The price for this came out to $950 dollars for the week.
We paid for this using our Chase Sapphire card and then used our points to erase the purchase. We had enough points left to cover two-thirds of our stay so we only ended up paying $300 dollars out of pocket for the week.
Here is a picture of our little kitchen.
Skip the expensive tours
One of the main attractions that brings tourists to Exuma is the swimming pigs. They were featured on The Bachelor and we were interested in seeing them too.
We booked a tour for $600 dollars and figured that we might as well see them since we came all the way down here. I kinda cringed when I pushed the purchase button.
I was also worried about spending all day on a boat in the sun with a toddler.
The morning of our tour, we arrived at the pickup location and they informed us they didn’t allow children younger than five to participate.
At first we were bummed but at least they fully refunded our money. We changed plans for the day and didn’t allow it to disappoint us too much.
After all, I have seen pigs before and the ocean, just never together at the same time. You can’t stay too upset when you are in paradise!
We ended up going to a local beach bar where we met some other tourists who gave us the scoop on some great FREE things to do around the island.
While we were there, some massive sting rays came to the shore and we got to pet and feed them conch out of our hands!
The following day we checked out the small bay that the tourist had mentioned to us.
We set up on the beach with cheese, crackers, and champagne.
As if that wasn’t enough to make for a wonderful vacation day, we swam with wild sea turtles all by ourselves! Not another soul swimming with us!
Why spend $600 dollars on touristy adventures when you can feed sting rays and swim with turtles for free right?!
Rent a car
We rented a car for the week from Thompson’s car rental. It was only $300 dollars to have a Honda Fit for the whole week with a trunk big enough to fit our Bob stroller.
It was super convenient to pick up a rental car from Thompson’s because they are right next to the airport.
FYI their website is super low quality but the phone number is good. We reserved ahead of time through the number but didn’t pay until we got to the island.
I recommend bringing a stroller with a good suspension system like the Bob when coming to the islands because you can use it to load up all your snacks and gear for the beach.
It’s like bringing a versatile beach buggy that you are allowed to check at the gate of your flight!
Renting a car is a must-have to see Exuma if you have kids even if you are on a budget.
The taxi system is super expensive and everything is spread out so you won’t be able to walk to the grocery story even if you stay close to the main city Georgetown.
Bring Dry Goods from your Home Country
My last recommendation to save money when traveling to the Bahamas is to bring as much dry food as you can.
We brought snack bars, rice, seasonings, coconut oil, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, honey, trail mix, ground coffee, and a bottle of champagne.
If I would have known how expensive groceries are on the islands I would have brought even more.
It was so nice to have a few things from home so we didn’t have to buy everything on the island.
Sun Essentials for a Beach Family Vacation
If your children aren’t used to the sun be prepared to bring some extra sun essentials to keep them protected.
There is nothing like a bad sunburn on the first day of vacation to ruin your trip.
My son is a straight up WHITE BOY!
He looks like a porcelain doll and I could kiss his white cheeks all day long!
One of the best things we did before our trip was buy a full body bathing suit for him.
It was super cheap and you will actually save money and headaches on applying sunscreen.
We also made sure to bring a brand new bottle of sunscreen with us for the week. We went through the whole thing!
Make sure your sunscreen is the kind that won’t damage coral reefs!
It also helps to have a sun stick handy so you can easily reapply to exposed places like hands, feet, and noses!
You want your grandchildren to continue to enjoy them too!
There are a few beaches that don’t have a lot of cover. We brought our Neso tent with us because it is lightweight, easy to pack in a suitcase, and offers 50 SPF protection.
Overall this trip was absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it for a cheap family vacation.
You can obviously go anywhere with your travel rewards too! I hope you enjoy your Bahamian family vacation as much as we did!