NiQi Travel Guide: Packing for Maldives

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When did we travel: Mid-August 2017
Duration of trip: 5 nights/6 days
Season: ‘Wet’ Season, occasional showers.
Weather: One afternoon of light drizzle. Still warm and no need to wear a jacket or coverup. Overcast for 2 days but still suitable to swim.

What luggage did we take:
I needed to pack for 2 adults and 4 children aged 4.5 + 4.5 + 6.5 + 8.5 years. We traveled with 3 pieces of Samsonite luggage (Shop here: https://www.houseofsamsonite.co.za/product/samsonite/scure-dlx-spinner-75cm/ and receive 10% off with online purchases), 4 Samsonite S’Cure cabin bags (Shop here: https://www.houseofsamsonite.co.za/product/samsonite/scure-spinner-55cm/), and 1 backpack. Our weight limitation was 25kg per person because we opted to take the Seaplane to our resort.

Remember to check that every piece of luggage is under 20kg or 25kg (your resort will advise you on the restriction). Your luggage is weighed at check-in and a tag with the weights are given to you. I’ve heard from other travelers that they needed to pay extra for over-weight luggage. The same applies to your hand luggage. This is all meant to be a safety precaution so don’t try to con the system 😉

How to pack your children’s luggage:
I began packing for the kids a little over a week in advance. I find the easiest thing to begin with is sleepwear and underwear. Instead of my usual packing method, I packed the kids clothing differently. Instead of packing their clothing into separate bags, I packed them by day (not in the literal sense, but rather packed for a day, e.g. One large Ziploc bag with all 4 pajamas and undies for the evening. In this way, all I needed to do was to pull out any packet, and it would have all 4 pajamas and undies ready for the evening. I packed extras into another Ziploc bag. Even though they had 1 set for every evening that we were away, all the dirty undies could get washed and used if I ran short later on in the trip. This was the best thing that I could have done. Towards the end of the trip, the kids knew exactly where to find the pajama packs and would take out their own clothes. I will definitely repeat this for all future trips.

I repeated the same for their costumes and other clothing. I preempted that they would be spending more time in cossies than actual clothing so I didn’t pack much casual clothing. For the 6 days that we were in Maldives, I packed 5 sets of swimwear per child. It might appear as if I over-packed when essentially they could have passed by on just 3 sets (We had last seasons cossies still in good shape so I figured that they could still get some wear from them for a while longer). Each set had a t-shirt for the boys and a sundress for my daughter.

For each child, I packed 3 pairs of slippers/flops. One would be reserved completely for use in the Villa, one for going out to dinner/breakfast and one for the poolside. I didn’t spend too much on flops, and got them all on promotion at Cotton On Kids (2 for R120 – August 2017). They also barely wore sandals so one pair wasn’t used at all.

I packed 1 sunhat/cap for each child.

The majority of their luggage was packed with cossies and sleepwear. The t-shirts and cossies were washed daily and we had a little line in the back to hang our clothes up on. I was happier to not over pack and reuse t-shirts for the boys as we needed to. They were mostly out of clothes so the minimal packing helped.

How to pack your luggage:

Choice of Footwear and Foot Care

The most important point that you will read on every blog about the Maldives and yet still NOT TAKE THE ADVICE and only realise that you should have when you return is – There Is No Need For Shoes! It took me half a day to figure out that I was just fighting a battle with myself worrying about wearing shoes. There is sand EVERYWHERE. It’s more tiresome trying to figure out how to walk through the sand so take 1 pair of flip flops with and one pair of nice-ish sandals if you must. I saw a few people wearing plastic shoes that fit on like a glove. It seemed/s like a great idea if you really can’t stand the feel of sand on your feet. I think they looked hideous but it’s a personal preference, I’m sure you could find them online or at dive shops etc before you travel.

Because your feet are constantly in the sand, I found my skin drying out considerably by the end of the day. I had to really start taking care of my feet daily so don’t forget to pack a foot file and really rich moisturizing cream for your feet.

Sun Care

Another really important point to discuss is sun care. We really take how we take care of our skin for granted. In reality, I should have packed at least 2 different sun screens and more after-sun products. My kids were so burnt after the first full day and with all the sunscreen that they used, they still were incredibly tanned. We needed to buy a skin soother in Dubai which we could have taken from home. Look online or in Dischem which might be the best sun care products for you and especially your children’s skin. Invest in an After Sun balm to nourish your skin overnight and something to soothe skin from long exposure in the sun.

Clothing

To be honest, I packed more than what I actually needed or wore. All those wonderful images that you see online with kaftans with matching swimwear and matching sandals and matching little tote bags are all very unnecessary. Only pack swimwear that you can actually swim in. It gets quite warm, and the water looks so inviting that it’s actually impossible to not want to swim. If you dress modestly, there are lots of options for modest swimwear available online. This also protects your skin against the sun. Because we traveled during a South African Winter, I didn’t manage to purchase any new swimwear, so remember to factor that in when you start to plan on traveling.

On the topic of modest swimwear; because the hotels are not so over-booked (writing from experience of the month that we traveled in), there aren’t always people on the beach right outside your Villa. If you are shy about wearing swimwear or in hijab, don’t be. There are mostly couples and families minding their own business and no one actually even looks at you! The only time you might get looked at is by the pool (because it’s a small area and the loungers are right next to each other).

Maldives is not really a singles, party-all-night and wear-your-bikini’s-around-the-pool-all-day kind of destination (even though Instagram makes it look that way). It’s a destination where lovers go to enjoy the first few days of marriage, families with children get lots of sand and beach time, and couples go to reconnect. Skimpy bikinis are likely to be seen, but rarely. Because the locals are mostly Muslim, they discourage the use of very revealing clothing or swimwear. Besides, depending on what watersports you are planning on doing, wearing one pieces or properly fitted bikinis is necessary; you really don’t want it all riding up or flying off on a jetski!

I was so happy being comfortable. I loved the little Sundresses that I took with, my shorts and vests. I embraced air-dried hair and minimal makeup. In fact, it did wonders for my skin just putting on sunblock daily with no makeup. For meal times, I would lightly dust translucent powder on with some blush and lipstick.

For the duration of our stay, I packed 3 pairs of shorts (denims, a black and an olive green set from Woolworths), buttoned down short sleeve shirts from Poetry and light-weight t-shirts from Woolworths. They were all able to be matched across each other in the event of having run out of clothes. I packed one hat with which I hardly wore, and grateful for not packing one of the huge sunhats because transporting those can be awful on overseas trips. My favourite standout piece that I wore over my shorts was this Kaftan which I had sewn in SA. It’s pure linen which together with the embroidery might be too heavy for very warm climates, but it worked really well when it was cooler on some evenings.

I packed 3 sets of swimwear with coverups so I could lay around sleeping for most parts!

All my husband wore daily were his swim shorts with t-shirts or collared polo-style tops. I packed a pair of jeans for him for Jummah salaah at the masjid on the island (Friday prayer for Muslims) and other shorts which he barely wore. In fact, he mostly wore his sleep shorts when watching the kids out at the beach in the mornings! There really is no need to over-pack for men.

One of the most important things to remember is that most resorts in Maldives are on their own separate islands. This would mean that you aren’t able to travel into town if you had forgotten something. The only place that you might be able to purchase essential items, with any luck, would be from the souvenir/curio store at the Resort.

Here is our list of Must-Pack items for the Maldives.

Female: The Pill (if you know you will be off your menstrual cycle then there’s no need). Take your second pack along and skip the inactive pills. Consult with your Doctor before starting or taking any medication. If you plan on stopping your period altogether, then Primulot is another option. Do not purchase without getting a medical practioners advice. (It doesn’t seem like it’s the most important point right now, but who wants to spend 6 days in Maldives and not be able to get into water?).

A Ziploc packet with medication. I don’t think the airport is strict with requesting a script for medication brought into the country, however we suggest that you pack your medication into a clear bag that is easily accessible in your checked-in luggage. For a full list consult my earlier packing guide here: http://www.niqi.co.za/tickets-booked-time-to-pack-like-a-pro-planning-for-a-holiday-abroad-the-niqi-guide/

A suitcase filled with snacks: If you have children traveling with you, it’s advisable to pack snacks with. Consider their eating patterns to avoid over-packing. I packed tubes of Pringles crisps (those are always a better option compared to bags), bags of popcorn, packs of bite-sized chocolates (Think mini Kit-Kat, Tex, Quality Street, etc), small packs of sweets, biscuits (preferably ones that come in boxes to avoid damage) and if you are particular like me when you travel, tea bags!

Mini cereal boxes, disposable bowls and disposable spoons: In order to have a proper sleep-in and avoid having to go out early for breakfast, pack cereal along with disposable bowls and spoons for your kids. When they wake up, they can help themselves to a light breakfast (which helps buy you some extra time in bed!) until you are ready to go out. This is also a clever way to turn breakfast into brunch so you don’t need to go out earlier than you need to. For mini cereal boxes, purchase from Yummy, Mayfair (or Spars countrywide). Although we took 250ml milk cartons with, the resort gave us milk daily.

Drinks: We purchased a case of soft-drinks (in the extra small size) and packed it into one small bag. We left it unopened in the case to avoid any damage to the plastic bottles which could result in spilling and messing all our other luggage. We popped these into the fridge in the room and took them with us to the beach or had them in the room. One can of Soda is $7! At first I thought that people were being ridiculous telling us to pack drinks, and then I felt cheap to do so! But when you calculate what it would cost normally per meal just for drinks, it just made sense to take some with and buy at the restaurant when we needed to.

Go through your daily routine and pack your toiletries: Because I am traveling with my children, I packed a full size, new bottle of all my/our bath and body products (as opposed to taking separate products for them). In this way, we could share and finish it all up by the end of our trip. I purchased everything at least 2 weeks in advance and I packed it all into my toiletry bag. I placed that bag into a Ziploc bag to avoid any spillage. Remember to pack the last minute items like toothbrushes just before you leave (or if you are like me, you will likely have a travel set ready just for trips!). Remember to also take enough/extra facial products too. We stayed at a resort that supplied all of the necessary toiletries which I regret actually packing. We landed up all using the complimentary full size wash, bath foam, shampoo and conditioner and lotion daily. We hardly used our products so we went on to travel to Dubai with most of what we had taken with. If you are fussy about what products you use, or you might be nervous about not having proper portions, then take your own with. Also bear in mind that if you are split across 2 rooms, packing one showergel, etc between you might not necessarily be the best idea.

Beach and Pool toys: I made inquiries with the Hotel prior to arriving whether they would supply any complimentary beach and pool toys for the kids. Sadly, I didn’t receive a response and decide t0 take a few things with and not get ‘caught’ buying a R60 bucket and spade set for $60! I purchased really cool water guns from Toysrus (it’s their own imported brand so they are pretty reasonable) and a few other beach toys. In fact, I was petrified of carrying the toy guns and was nervous about being asked to open my luggage! Thankfully, all worked out and the kids loved playing with them in the pool. So much so, that other parents asked where we got them and there were a few disappointed kids all around.

Washing detergent: I always empty washing powder into small sealable bags when I travel. I know it might be the most frustrating thing to do on holiday but when you have 4 children (and you’re maximising luggage space for shopping!) it becomes an essential packing item, especially for overseas trips. I also prefer to soak their swimwear to properly rinse out the pool/beach water. It can often be forgotten and if you do, simply use the shampoo that is supplied in the room to wash out cossies.

Reading material: If reading material is important to you, then don’t forget to pack magazines and books. There were 2 or 3 magazines in the room, but nothing enough to keep me occupied during a full trip.

Waterproof pouch for the beach/pool: Buy a waterproof pouch or a pouch suitable for taking to the beach. Even though you might not necessarily use your phone in the water, it avoids sand getting into the small slots in your phone or getting damaged from water splashes on the beach. The Dive shop at the Resort sells this but it was quite expensive as opposed to getting it from Takealot. Also, some readers expressed that the ‘waterproof’ pouches aren’t quite waterproof as they advertise, so exercise caution when using.

Beach bag: You might not need to take a beach bag with as there are bags provided in the rooms at Conrad Maldives for you to use during your stay. All hotels differ, but the likeyhood is that if you’re staying at a fairly nice-ish resort, they are likely to supply one to you for usage during your stay. I was gifted a bag so I took it with which was super cute and large enough to store kids toys and snacks.

Sunglasses: One of the most important things that I packed was my pair of sunglasses! Don’t take a pair that has metal or is very delicate. I really loved my pair of Celines from Interoptika because it is made of acetate and holds firm on my face. I wore it on the beach, when I swam and even on the paddle boats. It’s lightweight but also very large for coverage. I also preferred that it wasn’t a very expensive pair (in the event of it falling into the water!). I took 2 other pairs that I wore mostly when sitting around but my Celine gave me much more use that the others.

Scuba/Snorkel gear: If you already know how to scuba-dive and have your own gear, we would recommend taking it with you. The hiring fee is rather substantial and it makes no sense paying the rate if you already own your own set. If you are keen on scuba diving, perhaps consider doing a few lessons in SA first. This helps in familiarising yourself with learning how to control your descents and ascents, hand signals and regulators. There are lessons to teach you how to do this, but it would be a shame to waste time learning the basics on holiday.

The snorkeling gear at the Conrad Maldives is complimentary during your stay. You need to pick it up from the dive center and return it when you leave. My boys are 4 and a half and they managed to get a size that fit them perfectly.

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