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Travelling to the Maldives with a toddler – Our trip

If you haven’t caught up on the first part of this post then you can read about the flight here. Else you’ve come to the right place, here and now The Maldives. I’d love to say it was just the same as our trip back in 2013 for our honeymoon, it wasn’t – it was different but this time around it was for the family. Last time I felt utterly relaxed one hundred percent, I could spend all day just doing nothing, browsing the sky, the stars and watching the calm sea in which hidden under it was life.

This time around it was less self-indulgent and more about the whole family, it took us a little while to get Ariella used to eating out every night. It took a little while to adjust her and us to the jet lag, you can’t just sleep it off when you have a child to attend to. It was magnificent to go back and include her in our adventure, she sat on sand for the first time and what sand to sit on it was. Everything aspect of the Maldives is designed to look appealing on the eye, to be luxurious and accommodating. Largely their career prospects are naturally tourism, when you live in such a secluded paradise what else can you expect? They are good at it, excellent in fact.

The day we arrived was warm but a little cloudy, it rarely stays cloudy for long during the dry season (Dec – April) and we only had one real rain storm on our last full day before we flew home. It was ideal weather to ease Ariella into the change in temperature, as well as us! Ariella was knackered and so were we, we settled her down for a nap but she wouldn’t sleep so we ended up waiting until proper nap time (timing adjusted for the location) which worked out really well. We really didn’t struggled that much on the way there, it was much harder adjusting back. Ariella fit really well into the travel cot,  I was concerned that she might be too long for it but they had huge travel cots and I think she was as comfortable in it as she is at home.

On Friday evenings the Island lights up for a Maldivian themed event, cocktails, entertainment, food stations and live music. All the other restaurants close and everyone dines as one with lots of food being made up. It was a real welcome and was love to involve Ariella in, at this point she didn’t seem to mind staying up late – I guess for her being five hours ahead it didn’t feel that late. The island provided sarong’s for us all to wear and we fashioned Ariella one, as you do. We watched the bar staff perform and drank lots of Champagne, we were eased into the holiday with a bang. It was such a wonderful evening, I felt like we had returned – I had dreamt of returning for years and finally we were back! Ariella went down a hit with all the other guests who adored her.

The bar staff were juggling with wine, it was really cool to see! Then they knocked all these Jager bombs into the glasses with one hit.

It was wonderful to wake up the next day (and every day!) to our own lap pool, the first night I lapped the pool with the stars above and below me. Ariella enjoyed the pool too, the little swimming toys I had picked up were perfect fun. We even incorporated the flexible bucket for her to gather each of the swimming toys up in and collect them tidy. I highly rate the Jojomamanbebe sun protection swimwear and hats, it really was a life saver over there. Really easy to wash out and then dry in the sunshine, very light weight so you don’t need to worry that they were get too hot.
I think given that we had brought a small human with us to the Maldives we did pretty well to include her in as much as possible. When we went to the pool for snacks and cocktails we always grabbed a bed, this allowed her to use her iPad while we enjoyed our drinks and watched the horizon. If not the iPad then I would take along a mobile toy, her Grimms rainbow friends came with us. The island was actually at full capacity for a large portion of our stay but never felt crowded and there were always places to sit wherever you wanted.

We even did the excursions but were careful to pick things that we felt were child friendly enough. This is us on the Sunset dolphin cruise, I think if Ariella had been walking at this point we wouldn’t have but seeing as she wasn’t going to be running around on an open boat (without sides in places) it worked well.

Ariella’s having fun in the Kids playroom, thankfully air-conditioned

We ate as a family quite a lot in the evenings, but occasional to break up the holiday we decided to book a babysitter from the kids club. This worked really well as Ariella was familiar with the staff and we were able to enjoy the other restaurants on the island more which had considerably longer menus. We did attempt to take Ariella to the Chinese restaurant one evening which had a huge amount of different courses, she really didn’t cope well and I can’t blame her! We learnt our lesson after that. I think a lot of this is trial and error, eating later was tricky for Ariella – she was eating from 7pm in the Maldives whereas at home she eats around 5.15 – 5.30pm. I do wish they had a high tea style offering, usually the hotels we stay in the UK do an it’s really handy!

Our butler did a fantastic job scheduling our dining bookings for the holiday, I hadn’t really thought to do that before we arrived. But we were able to get 7pm bookings for all the restaurants which is prime time, Ariella dined in the Indian restaurant (Indocelyn) with us with a little star, the main buffet style restaurant (The Palms) as well as the fine dining Seafood underwater restaurant (M6M). We took her once to the Chinese restaurant (Peking) which turned out to be our very favourite.
Much time was spent enjoying the beach, as we opted for a beach villa we had direct access to the beach and Ariella while not initially liking the feeling of sand eventually came to accept it. It’s definitely still not her favourite but she didn’t mind sitting near it (and eating it).

The housekeeping staff would make up lots of interesting animals for Ariella out of towels or palm leaves. She was made to feel really welcome, it was lovely to see what animal would be waiting for us next – they kept us guessing though by not always doing it!
The underwater restaurant called M6M which we went to twice, once with Ariella during the day and then next for our wedding anniversary in the evening. The evening was a lot more relaxing, but I’m glad that I attempted it with Ariella in the day. She couldn’t manage to stay still for the full menu but she loved seeing all the fish.

Our anniversary cake, the lovely staff sang to us!

Holiday with Ariella was a compromise, the day we played and swam, we ate and we had good fun. During the evenings while Ariella slept were our own, we read books, we swam, we enjoyed drinks from the mini bar (best mini bar we’ve ever had!) and we watched the stars. I could by the end of the holiday have stayed here forever, all together

Building castles in the sky.

One of the rooms of the spa

Long before arriving I emailed the spa reception team to ask them to book our spa appointments for the holiday. I arranged for us to each have four treatments spread out so that one had one during one day then the next day the other had theirs. A few days gap between every now and then worked out really well. This meant that it felt fair and we had an hour’s pampering each session, during some of Jamie’s treatments I would call a buggy to take me and Ariella to the kids club and that would pass the time quickly. Last time we came to the Maldives the Island we stayed on did have a kids club but I confess I wouldn’t know where. It was nice to have access to an air-conditioned room with toys, I only took a few key toys with us.

Jamie also went fly boarding twice, it looked all very worrying for me from a distance – I watched from our Villa. But he seemed to enjoy it and on his first go lots of dolphins came to swim with him which he is told has never happened before. I can understand the attraction I suppose, ha!


A turkish delight sunset, there is nothing like the Maldivian sunsets.

We did have one big eventful stress while there which was when we realised one day before leaving that we had run out of nappies! It was early morning and I thought we had more stored in our luggage as it turned out we didn’t. Our butler sorted things out for us really quickly, someone fetched some more nappies from the main island Male and brought them back by boat. Surprisingly this didn’t cost a fortune as there were already sending the boat out for departures.

Flying home with Ariella

If you are wondering whether to take your toddler with you on a long haul flight, to a hot country, maybe one that generally more of an adult destination. I say do it! We would do it again, Ariella coped marvellously, she did bite both our faces during a tantrum about her high chair – that happened but I think she would have done that anyway. It was amazing, it was relaxing and it was beautiful – nothing is off-limits. If you can think of it there is always way to do it and I say you won’t know unless you try! For us we will have these memories of our holiday forever and that’s all you get folks.

Being Mum Featured Travel

Ariella’s first trip abroad, London to Dubai, Dubai to Malé

Preparing to be confined to a relatively small space with a wriggly demanding toddler and actually being confined to a relatively small space with a wriggly demanding toddler are two very different experiences. All in we prepare well, we had a whole manner of snacks of which had been separated down into two plastic bags written with a good old sharpie, “Out going flight snacks” and “In going flight snacks”. I laced these with all her favourites, chocolate, crisps, pom bears (why do they like them so much?). I also ordered online using Boots air side a collection of Hipp Organic toddler meals which conveniently can be eaten cold or hot, those went down a hit. We didn’t use them much on the flight on the way as it was pretty much a sleeper flight for Ariella. A chauffeur service with Emirates was scheduled to pick us up at what was to be a reasonable time of morning, car seat prepared (they called us the day before to confirm what type of seat) we sat down in a very overly large Mercedes as the driver began the journey towards Gatwick taking a scenic route to avoid the motorway – it was a week day morning and I was quite pleased to see green rather than the long and straight of the M25. We whizzed through security using the priority lanes and soon enough we were searching down somewhere to have lunch.  I realised a day before that they had a Wagamama’s airside in Gatwick’s North Terminal, a couple of hints and we were heading there for lunch rather than making use of the Business Class lounge which I think would have been okay too.

Monkey in Wagamamas

I think sticking with the known was best, given that we knew it would lead to Ariella starting the flight off with a full belly and I had hoped she might be inclined to take her afternoon nap while on board. After lunch we hung around the lounge enjoying the many beverages on offer while Ariella sat watching BBC News on the TV behind her and eventually turning to her iPad.

Before we knew it we were boarding the plane, Ariella enjoyed all the Hello’s and Good Afternoon’s – the novelty still very much there we headed up the stairs and found our seats. Immediately from this point onwards I was acutely aware of Ariella’s noise level, however we were pleasantly surprised with her ability to cope. She was soon hooked into the entertainment system and her iPad was hardly used on the trip out, with a variety of CBeebies, Disney films and other children TV shows for her to watch instead.

On board the A380

What she didn’t do a lot of was sleep, not on our way to Dubai anyway. She skipped her usual nap and it was difficult to prise her away from all the buttons and gadgets on offer. Even with the seat flat like a bed and “In the night garden” episodes on a constant loop she wouldn’t drift off. I couldn’t complain too much, we were able to get an extra empty seat nearby so while she was happy to just lie there watching TV we were somewhat happy (with cocktails in hand and a constant supply of caffeine). I found the huge expanse of time, watching the clock slowly tick by was a struggle even with the excellent flight information and cameras to watch the sky from. I should have packed a book for myself to read as I wasn’t able to fully concentrate on the flight entertainment myself while listening out for Ariella. We had picked great seats, I left Jamie to sort this out – on the A380 leg we had the middle seats of two together and with the middle screen down it felt like our own little space.

I hadn’t anticipated how we would navigate eating on the flight either with Ariella on one of our laps. It wasn’t until bedtime that we realised the flight wasn’t at full capacity and gained the extra seat which would have solved this issue. However on the flight back we rotated the meals, so the crew gave us our meals at slight intervals and we asked for the trays to be cleared as soon as possible so the next one could switch seats.

We kept the night-time routine as normal as we could, brushed her teeth, put her into her PJ’s and hoped she might fall asleep for a little before we hit Dubai (local time midnight). She didn’t, this was probably the most stressful part as she was tired and it was time for bed for her. For the last hour or so we had to keep her entertained with walks of the cabin, Jamie took her up to the bar for a while. Before we knew it we were making our descent down to Dubai ready to brave security again and to seek out the next lounge.

I popped Ariella into the Tula once we had landed, it was uncomfortable for a short duration as the outside temperature in Dubai was rather warm. But once in the air-conditioned airport it was perhaps the best option. Dubai Airport offer strollers which you can pickup and use all the way to boarding your plane. This is handy and while we didn’t make use of it on our way we did on the way back, I think it’s a great idea. Ariella wasn’t too happy at this point and the airport was heaving with traffic. I’ve never seen so many people, the lounge was rammed too I wouldn’t want to have been trying to find a seat outside. We found some snacks, water and more importantly seats and did our best to keep Ariella happy with her iPad while we waited for our connection flight. Luckily we rarely had to wait around long and after an hour or so we headed to our gate and boarded the plane straight away using the priority lanes.

Once on board I strapped Ariella in and she fell asleep in my arms immediately, Dubai to Male was around four hours she slept for three and a bit only waking once we started our descent down again. During which I decided to forgo my meal allowing Jamie to eat (I had dinner on the previous plane when he did not) and nursed my early morning champagne with my free hand wondering how long we would be waiting for our speed boat transfer.

Second leg, Dubai to Male

As it turns out not long, which was really welcoming given that we were all pretty tired by this point. Local time 8am, UK time 3am five hours difference in time but they do a pretty reasonable job on the flight to try to reset your clock. It had felt like we had sort of had an evening and night but also not. Staff assigned for the island resort were waiting for us once we had claimed our bags and gone through passport control, which came out first – Thank you Emirates! We waited in a little air-conditioned area while he gather up a few other guests whom were arriving shortly. We took this time to take Ariella to be changed into her dress, hat and applied suncream.
Before long we were on the speed boat, which was also air-conditioned and Ariella fell asleep in my arms again – it was only a forty minute transfer. The ride was choppy, I was amazed she managed to fall asleep but she did. Meanwhile I was trying not to throw up, still get sea sick – it had been years since I had been on a ferry at sea and lost my lunch to it. I’m glad to say I did not repeat this experience however clearly if I had then I wouldn’t be the first, they had provided bags, tissues and mints for the poor souls who might.

I was also expecting to have to wait quite a while for our Villa to be ready once we made it to the island. It was coming up to 9am by this point local time and for us 4am, I definitely felt that lack of sleep vibe. I also felt like I had been catapulted through the air at high speeds, which I replicated on the way back – does anyone else find this? Before long the boat had docked and we were taking steps off the boat onto the jetty. The weather was warm but a little cloudy, we headed to reception to check-in and find out how long the wait would be. A lovely member of staff greeted us with champagne in hand and we sat while taking in the views, hoping that Ariella would be happy enough for a little while longer now that she had slept even if just a little.

With delight we were told our Villa was ready! Before we knew it we were heading down to it on a golf buggy, sheer delight that we could put Ariella down to sleep in her own bed and that the journey was over with hit me and I finally felt like I could relax. Ariella fell asleep eventually and we let her. We decided to keep her up after the nap until after dinner and before long we had changed her over to the new time zone.

Next up I’ll be writing about all our fun while on the Island, stay tuned!

Our Holiday in the Maldives – Part 2