1. Think all-inclusive
I know--you never would have considered an all-inclusive before the baby. But consider it now. Club Med does a particularly good job. The baby corner in the buffet offers baby foods in jars with utensils required to prepare the meals. Open 24 hours a day, the baby corner contains the necessary facilities for preparing meals: blender, sterilizer (provided on request), microwave and refrigerator, The playgrounds are separate from the supervised children's facilities and accessible to young children accompanied by their parents. The Baby Welcome package for children from 4 months to 2 years includes amenities to help make traveling with infants and toddlers easier—including bottle warmers, a stroller to use during your vacation and even a baby bathtub.
When Judy Antell, Vegetarian TravelingMom, took her 2½-year old daughter to Club Med Port St. Lucie, she “loved the program so much she asked if we could get rid of her nanny and put her in day care.“
2. Try a cruise
Carrie Finley-Bajak, CruizeBuzz TravelingMom, is a huge fan of cruise lines that will take children in diapers (Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships offering the Royal Babies program.). Cruises also are great options for families with kids of different ages, right up to and through the teen years. There are so many activities and so many kid-friendly options that everyone ought to be able to find something they want to do.
3. Consider international
I never would have tried this when my kids were babies, but every time I have run into young families traveling abroad with babies, they say the same thing: International travel with babies is easy.
For one thing, babies sleep anywhere and any time. So no worries about jet lag. For another, many cultures are family-focused and baby-centric (Mexico and Italy, in particular) and welcome babies at hotels, restaurants and attractions. If you’re still nursing, there are no food worries. And babies used to sleeping in strollers or baby carriers can do that in Paris as easily as Peoria. So baby naps while you walk around to see the sites.
When Katrina Nusum, Texas TravelingMom, took her 10-month-old son to Florence, Italy, she and her husband reveled in preferential treatment everywhere they went. “Restaurants seated us first and brought out our food quickly. Waiters held our son while we ate. In the busier areas of Florence, our son was captivated by the sounds, movement and sight. When we took day trips to wineries, he enjoyed wandering through the wineries with us and there were usually children who played with him. We abandoned his carriage early into the trip and instead carried him in a forward facing harness. He loved it.”
4. Rent a bigger place.
Hotel rooms can get really crowded once you move in the crib, stroller, car seat, diaper bag and all the other equipment that comes with a baby these days. Opt for a condo, apartment or house instead. They come complete with kitchens, so there’s a fridge and microwave for preparing the baby’s food and they have a separate bedroom with a door that closes so parents can stay up and get to know one another after the baby goes to sleep. The benefits of having access to a kitchen usually is a cheaper way to travel with a family, regardless of the kids’ ages, just because you can save so much on restaurant meals.
5. Go to the beach.
The beach is a great laid-back destination for kids of all ages, but it’s particularly good for babies and toddlers. Just remember to bring or rent a good beach umbrella to protect that fragile baby skin from the sun. Sarah Burns, Ohana TravelingMom, recommends Baby Beach on the west side of Maui in Lahaina. “It’s the absolute perfect spot for children under three to enjoy the warm Hawaii waters. They can play in the very calm, warm water, spot fish during low tide and ooh and ahh over the yellow submarine that travels in front of the beach multiple times a day.”
6. Take a train
Kids under 3 are fascinated by trains and when my kids were babies, they fell asleep almost immediately, lulled by the gentle rocking. As they got a little older, the freedom to toddle up and down the aisles as needed to burn off a little energy was a precious gift. It takes a little longer to get there, but just being on the train can make getting there the highlight of the trip.