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May 1, 2018

Second Go Family Travel to Aruba - Making Up The Experience

Second Go Family Travel to Aruba - Making Up The Experience

Our first trip to Aruba was not great. See our posts about it here: Aruba - First Family Trip South - Summer Continued and Aruba - Family Vacation - Gadgets and Accessories

A lot of people talked about and recommended Aruba saying they enjoyed it and it was great for family travel. We remembered from our experience small, almost non-existent, beach, rocks when entering the water, very humid and hot, and not great service.
Since our plans to travel to St. Marten were messed up due to the devastating storms that hit the islands, we had to update our plans. And Aruba was an easy one to one switch as our travel agent had a very similar package available for the location. So we decided for a redo of our Aruba experience

Before taking off for the vacation we came up with a countdown for our little one as she was asking daily if we are leaving. It is a stack of colorful images with a beach on it and amount of days left until departure. Every evening she would rip down the top one to reveal how many more days left. She was very excited when it was within 10 days as those are the numbers she easily recognized.
You can get this countdown calendar for yourself here: free printable countdown calendar

First beach family vacation not at an all-inclusive resort

For this trip, we decided to do an a la carte hotel. While we had apprehension about doing a beach vacation and having to pay for each meal for the three of us, it actually turned out great. We stayed at the Hyatt Aruba and it was located on a much better beach, Palm Beach. It is right next to the Eagle beach which is one of the top rated beaches.
The beach was large with a lot of shade provided by the palapas. More about the palapas below. The staff did a great job setting up the chairs and cleaning up the beach every day.
The water was also much better. There were very few waves and these were created by small boats from the water activities center. And those activity centers were both a positive and a negative. The good part was that we got to see some interesting things that they offer such as parasailing, speed boat riding, paddle boarding, and tube and banana boat riding. Due to the boats going by they created some fun waves. Though they also created a lot of noise, people were coming and going from the local beaches as well as from cruise ships.

Useful Tips for Aruba

» Money: Aruba’s currency is the Aruban Florin (AFL or AWG). The exchange rate for 1 USD is generally 1.75 AFL and if you buy USD, the exchange rate is usually AFL 1.80.
A great thing about Aruba is that you can pay with USD, you do not have to change in the local Aruban Florin. You may get Aruban money back as change.

» Book la palapa
The mushroom-like structure gives reprise from the hot sun and a place to cool down and relax. We thought we prebooked a palapa in the second row on the beach. And when we arrived, we checked in and insisted that we have that one. After going back and forth with the manager of the beach setup, it turned out that we actually booked it at Hilton. It has an identical website with the very similar setup. Well, all in all, we ended up with a palapa that day since they just assigned the same one to us, and on days going forward, we booked the palapa from the day before. It is a hassle and it does take 20 minutes from your vacation. While they tried to be more automated, the app was worthless for booking as it was opened for reservations at a later time than the in-person booth. By then, all of the good ones would be long gone. Booking every day instead of prebooking we did save some money.
If you do book palapas or anything else via an app, make sure that you are using the correct hotel's app. We found out the hard way that Hilton and Hyatt have identical looking apps for their properties.

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Needed one more under seat bag for the trip

We have been traveling with one large check-in bag, two carry on suitcases, and one personal item each. These are Lowepro camera bag that not only holds the camera but also most of our electronics and Brica By-My-Side backpack that comes with a safety harness that keeps your kid close. The other bag we have with us is the cooler bag. It used to be a diaper bag and these days holds snacks, water, and other things within easy reach.

While these bags have served us well in the past, we needed a bit more room for our warm clothes and a few other things. At the eleventh hour, we got the Ricardo Under Seat Rolling Tote, and it was perfect for our trip as it mounted easily on our carry on suitcases and stored well under the seat.
It was great as we were able to fit everything well. And it travels well as it is small

When we arrived in Aruba, one bag we checked in, we received back with one of the wheels broken. It was completely gone. We had to wobble through two checkpoints that they have in Aruba arrivals and then over to the service desk. There we were able to request a replacement suitcase that was about the same size as ours and also with spinners. While they promised us that the bag will arrive the next day at our hotel, it didn't arrive for several days. And we had to keep coming back to front desk to have them check and contact the airport services to have the bag sent over.

Aruba days
We worked out a vacation schedule that worked for us: small breakfast, go to the beach, swim, relax, snack, swim, lunch, nap/read, swim, pack up, shower, dress up and go out to dinner. The only things we really needed to decide on if we wanted to have lunch on the beach or go to the restaurant a few feet away and where to go for dinner (on none pre-booked days). Post with our impressions of the local restaurants is below. Stay connected.

Aruba Travel - Dutch Caribbean Island Restaurants Reviews

Travel accessories we packed for the trip:
Money belt
Waterproof wallet
Thin travel wallet
Foldable water bottles

What adapter do I need for Aruba?
Aruba has the same voltage standard as in North America (110 volts AC). Therefore, European appliances (that use 220 volts) generally cannot be used in Aruba (unless you have a converter).
On Aruba, the power sockets are of type A, B, and F. Most hotels do have standard/North America style plugs set up. Or as it was in our hotel room, they have a whole wall power strip set up with extra outlets and multiple USB outlets.

Difference Between Adapter Types
Plug Adapter- a connector that attaches between the American two-pronged plug and a specific European socket. The result is that the American appliance will be connected to European 220v 50 cycle electrical power.Power Converter - converts the European 220v to 110 volts so that American appliances will operate on European Current. Make sure that the power rating exceeds the rating of all appliances you expect to plug in at a time.

Travel Tech we took on the trip:
Selfie stick
Water camera
Digital scale (new)
Anker phone chargers
USB adapters
Belkin mini surge protector
Kids headphones

What else would you like to know about our trip?

Best Anti-Theft USB Charging Travel Gadget Backpack

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Shop All-new Kindle Travel Gear

Buy reliable VPN for desktop and mobile for travel and at home

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