I used to base my travel on the weather. If it was cold where I lived, I went somewhere hot. If it was hot where I lived, I went somewhere cool (as in hip, not chilly). But once you start including diapers and bibs on your packing list, it’s time to put a tad more thought into where you’d like to go. Depending on your child – their age and temperament – you can start to develop a timeline for your must-visit list. Some types of trips are more suited to babies, and others are best saved until kiddo is bigger. You have a lifetime of family travel ahead of you, so it’s fun to start dreaming now!
As a first-time mom, I would never have believed that the younger the baby, the easier the trip. But it’s actually true and the world is practically wide open if you want to hit the road when your bundle of joy is still a bundle. Small and immobile babies who are still strictly on a liquid diet can go pretty much anywhere, so long as they are close to you. If they’re exclusively breastfeeding, it’s even easier. Yes, of course you are sleep-deprived, but why not be sleep deprived somewhere pleasant? Plus, being away from home and all the looming household chores means you actually could sleep when the baby does. Your only real concerns at this age are keeping baby safe from the sun (too little for sunscreen before 6mos.), and bug bites (use netting for over the stroller and crib and avoid the outdoors during dawn and dusk).
Once babies are older and mobile, your destination and surroundings require a little more thought. Baby has probably started solids, and might be leaning more toward a daytime routine. If you’re lucky, they’re probably going for longer stretches of sleep at night as well. Do give some thought to baby-proofing your accommodation – a roll of duct tape in the suitcase means you can cover outlets and keep drawers shut. Plan your outings around baby’s naps – it gives your day some structure. Most types of trips are still suitable at this age and city destinations are ideal, as baby is usually quite content to sit in a stroller or be toted around in a carrier. Meals can be messy when starting solids, so be sure to have an arsenal of bibs & wipes handy.
It’s a whole new ballgame once your cherubic baby becomes a busy toddler. Pick places that you know will provide the room your tot needs to move. These days you may want to rethink that museum or art gallery, although beach and outdoor activities are ideal, and so much fun. Again, be vigilant with regard to shoring up things in your room. If staying at a resort, your life will be easier if you choose one that markets itself to families. Not only will they have amenities for your child, which will be useful should you encounter bad weather, but your fellow guests will probably have children with them – or at least be anticipating having kids around them. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of stink eye you receive if your angel decides to act like a devil – especially at meal time.
Get out and enjoy the world with your little one in tow! You don’t have to fly for hours to have a memorable trip, a night away in the country (or city) still counts. The great part about getting your kids used to travel at a young age is by the time they’re a preschooler and older, they’re great little travelers who enjoy going places with you.