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Travel

A Round Up of the Best Baby-Friendly Vacations

NEW MODERN MOM

1/08/24

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Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

Why Travel with Your Baby?

Embarking on a journey with your baby may seem overwhelming the first time, from organizing the necessary baby essentials to confirming the availability of a crib at your destination – it can be a lot to manage! However, traveling with your baby can be one of the easiest opportunities to explore the world with a little one in tow. In fact, I put together a step-by-step guide on how to bring your baby on an international adventure. 

These early-life adventures play a crucial part in their cognitive development as they engage with unfamiliar surroundings, people, and scenes. The stimulation of your baby's curiosity and observational skills not only fosters growth but also creates shared experiences that deepen your family bond.

Choosing the best vacation spots with your baby begins with considering their age, and your family’s overall comfort. Some families may prefer tranquil beach locations, while others might be drawn to bustling city breaks, sightseeing, or specific amenities. This guide to the best baby-friendly vacations will provide you with a range of options to suit your unique family dynamic.

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The Benefits of Introducing Your Baby to Travel Early

Traveling with your little one can have some pretty awesome perks. Not only does it expose them to different cultures, places, and experiences, but it also plays a big role in their cognitive and emotional development. Here are a few additional benefits:

  1. Boosts adaptability: Being in new environments can help your baby become adaptable and comfortable with change, which is a valuable life skill.
  2. Promotes language skills: Exposure to different languages, even if your baby can't understand them yet, can enhance their future language learning potential.
  3. Builds stronger family bonds: Traveling together as a family creates shared memories and experiences that can strengthen your bond.
  4. Better sleep: Believe it or not, babies sometimes sleep better when they've had a stimulating day, and what could be more stimulating than exploring a new location? Sleep is often one of the biggest reasons parents are hesitant to travel with their little ones, so here is a resource on how to adjust your baby to time change.
Text image listing the benefits of introducing your baby to travel early

When Can You Start Traveling with a Baby?

Figure out the ideal dates for your trip based on when you expect your baby to be no less than 8 weeks old. Most pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is at least 2 to 3 months old since your baby’s immune system is still developing. Check with your pediatrician for additional guidance before traveling.

We took Willow abroad to Italy at 8 weeks old… and she proceeded to fly every month by the time she was 1 year old, stacking up 26 flights in total! Caden, however, hadn’t traveled until 13 months because of COVID.

Selecting the Perfect Destination for Your Baby's First Trip

When it comes to choosing the perfect destination for your first trip with your baby, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

Considering Climate and Safety

First, take into account the climate of your chosen destination. You don't want to travel during monsoon season or potential winter storms. Always check the expected weather conditions and ensure you pack suitable clothing and supplies to keep your baby comfortable.

Safety is another crucial aspect that shouldn't be overlooked. Consider factors such as the country's healthcare system, proximity to medical facilities, and availability of baby essentials. For example, a remote vacation spot could be idyllic, but it may not be practical if it's miles away from the nearest hospital or store to buy baby food.

Distance and Travel Time

Travel distances and time have a big impact on how comfortable and enjoyable vacations with babies can be. Long and tiring journeys can be really stressful for both babies and parents. Before choosing your destination, consider the duration of the travel. Is it a short-haul road trip or a long international flight away? Will there be a time-zone change that might disrupt your baby’s routine?

Importance of Baby Facilities

Not all accommodations are created equal. Look for places that offer baby gear such as a crib, a kitchenette for preparing baby food, and a bathtub suitable for babies. Some places go the extra mile to ensure your baby's comfort by providing baby monitors, bottle warmers, high chairs, and even babysitting services.

Accessibility to Healthcare

When planning vacations with babies, it's super important to consider the accessibility to healthcare facilities. No matter how much you prepare, emergencies can happen, and having quick access to reliable healthcare services can make all the difference. Research the proximity of your planned accommodation to local hospitals, clinics, or healthcare centers. Also, if your baby has specific health needs, ensure that there are nearby pharmacies that stock any necessary medication.

9 Baby-Friendly Vacation Spots

Vacation Spots

The Beaches & Breweries of San Diego, California

Where to Stay: Beach Terrance

Beach Terrace was originally developed as an apartment building, which explains its oversized room accomodations. It’s beachfront views and location can’t be beat in Carlsbad, a more low-key less populated area of San Diego. It’s very close to legoland if you have an older toddler or younger child. The outdoor pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean is the perfect place to post-up and snuggle with your baby for a relaxing afternoon. Your stay includes a light complimentary breakfast, perfect for a quick bite and big cup of coffee by the ocean.

When to Go

San Diego is a delightful destination to visit year-round, but for a vacation with your baby, you might want to consider the Spring (March to May) or Fall (September to November) seasons. During these periods, the weather is agreeably mild and perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Why We Love It

In addition to the year-round sunny climate, San Diego offers many interactive, safe activities to do as a family. Public facilities are also well-equipped with baby-changing stations, nursing rooms, plus San Diego’s dining scene is family-friendly too. San Diego’s laid-back atmosphere is ideal for families that prefer a slower pace, providing ample opportunities for leisurely stroller strolls, relaxed picnics in the park, or peaceful beach days.

Barbara and Jason with their son in Olympic National Park

The Natural Beauty of Olympic National Park, Washington

Where to Stay: Kalaloch Lodge

Nestled on the edge of Olympic National Park, Kalaloch Lodge has stunning ocean views and is surrounded by nature. It’s definitely a more rustic vibe than I usually recommend, but that’s the trade-off you make for being surrounded by nature in the actual national park. The lodge offers a variety of family-friendly amenities such as easy-access hiking, birdwatching, and nature trails. There's ample space for stroller walks and the calming and soothing atmosphere is perfect for those much-needed afternoon naps!

When to Go

The best time to visit Olympic National Park is during the summer months, typically from June to September when the weather is warm and sunny. This is the time when the park's main attractions, such as the Hoh Rain Forest and Hurricane Ridge, are fully accessible and the extended daylight hours provide more time for exploration.

Why We Love It

Olympic National Park is an ideal spot for a baby-friendly vacation. It offers a serene setting, endless options for gentle stroller walks, and is more affordable for families compared to other destinations. National parks provide opportunities to connect with nature, engage in meaningful activities, and create lasting memories in an awe-inspiring and educational environment.

Barbara and Jason with their son in Oregon

The Quaint Resort Town of Sunriver, Oregon

Where to Stay: The Sunriver Resort

We took Caden here at 10 weeks old. It was our first big adventure as a family, and our first real outing during COVID. The Sunriver Resort is an all-encompassing resort that offers suites complete with kitchens, cozy fireplaces, comfy patios amongst the woods and other amenities that are perfect for accommodating you and your baby's needs. Not only do they provide cribs upon request, but the resort also offers a range of family-friendly activities. There's an aquatic center, bike and stroller-friendly walking path, and family-friendly dining options.

When to Go

The best time to visit would be during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather is warm, and all of the resort's outdoor activities are in full swing. We went middle of August and it was perfect.

Why We Love It

Sunriver, Oregon, stands out as a top baby-friendly destination because it's a place where a family can truly unwind. Beyond its scenic beauty, this resort town is a haven of convenience for parents and their little ones. The town's pedestrian-friendly design guarantees secure strolls with your baby, and numerous parks and green areas offer abundant opportunities for outdoor play.

Barbara holding daughter Willow

The Cultural Richness of Tuscany, Italy

Where to Stay: Okay there are SO MANY options since the region of Tuscany is absolutely massive.

Option 1: If you are looking for a more full-service hotel-like experience –  Castelfalfi

Castelfalfi offers various accommodations, including rooms, suites, and apartments and also has family rooms specifically designed for guests with children. For older babies and toddlers, the resort provides organized children's programs and activities, such as a supervised kids' club with games, arts and crafts, and age-appropriate entertainment. Castelfalfi is situated on a large estate with many areas to explore with a stroller. Location wise, its very very north Tuscany, perfect if you are looking for a short drive to do day trips to Florence, Siena and Pisa.

Option 2: If you are looking for a more traditional agriturismo experience – Agriturismo La Bruciata

We booked a 3 bedroom apartment on our trip to Tuscany when we traveled with our 2 year old, 2 month old and au pair. We loved the family vibes of this agriturismo, from the luscious lawn for all the children to gather and play games, to the family style dinners and breakfasts, to the on-site garden ready for tomato picking to the little playgrounds and multiple pools for just enough privacy. The location right outside of Montepulciano couldn’t be more perfect or central to explore all the Tuscany countryside.

When to Go

The best time to visit Tuscany, particularly when you're vacationing with babies, is during the months of April to June and September to October. During these months, the weather is typically mild and pleasant. That said, we went in the hottest month of August and still had an enjoyable time.

Why We Love It

Tuscany reserves such a special place in my heart since we traveled there while on parental leave for a few weeks after Willow was born. The region boasts a myriad of child-friendly attractions such as outdoor playgrounds, farmsteads and delightful ice-cream shops. What sets Tuscany apart is its warm and welcoming local community that values family and children and the temperate weather, making it an ideal family vacation spot.

Barbara, Jason and their son in California

The Laid Back Wine Country of Paso Robles, California

Where to Stay: The Allegretto Vineyard Resort

This beautiful hotel embraces family life and caters to the needs of the littlest guests. Spacious rooms and suites with kitchenettes make settling in a breeze, and the resort offers a range of amenities to keep your baby comfortable, such as cribs, high chairs, and babysitting services upon request. The resort's sprawling grounds offer plenty of space for stroller walks, and there's a heated pool that's perfect for a fun family splash.

When to Go

Consider Spring (April to June) or Fall (September to November) because these periods offer milder temperatures, ideal for outdoor activities and vineyard visits with your little one. We took Caden when he was 4 months old at the end of September and the weather was perfect. Bonus: both seasons provide a more relaxed atmosphere since they're less crowded than the busier summer months.

Why We Love It

Paso Robles is known for its welcoming atmosphere and plenty of family-friendly attractions, such as beautiful parks perfect for picnics and a large selection of child-friendly restaurants and cafes. The city is also home to several farms that offer interactive animal encounters, a unique way of keeping your baby entertained.

The Vibrant Life of Lisbon, Portugal

Where to Stay: Martinhal Chiado Family Suites

Martinhal Chiado offers a luxury travel experience for families, ensuring it is well-suited for those with children of all ages. The hotel provides baby concierge services, which means you can request necessary baby items such as cribs, baby bathtubs, strollers, bottle sterilizers, and safety gates in advance. It also offers a kids' club and family playroom that operates late into the night, allowing parents to enjoy a romantic dinner or explore the city's nightlife. 

When to Go

The best time to visit Lisbon is during Spring (March to May) or Fall (September to October) when the weather is typically mild and comfortable. The city is less crowded compared to the peak summer months, allowing for a more relaxed pace and easier navigation with strollers or carriers. You're also likely to get better deals on accommodations and flights during off-peak seasons! That said, we are planning to live in Sintra, about 30 minutes outside of Lisbon for 2 months in July and August and have no reservations about the weather! So really, anytime in the Spring, Summer or Fall is desirable.

Why We Love It

Lisbon has pedestrian-friendly streets and an efficient and accessible public transportation system, making it easier to navigate the city with a stroller. Lisbon has numerous parks and botanical gardens where your baby can enjoy some fresh air and new sights and smells.

Barbara, Jason and their son in Hawaii

The Calm Vibes of Kauai, Hawaii

Where to Stay: Waipouli Beach Resort 

We visited Kauai when Caden was 16 months old. We liked this resort because it has ocean views, a full kitchen, and a separate space for Caden to sleep. Plus, it's a short walk to the beautiful beach! Some other benefits include:

  1. Large walk-in sand-bottomed baby pool (I didn’t realize how amazing this would be!)
  2. Onsite bar/restaurant with great reviews
  3. Directly across from Safeway Supermarket
  4. 5 min walk to the Kapaa Bike Path

When to Go

The months from September to November or from April to June are generally considered the most ideal. The weather is pleasant and the tourist crowds are thinner, making it a great time for families with babies to enjoy a more relaxed beach scene. Keep in mind that Kauai is known for its tropical climate, meaning rainfall can be expected year-round. While the rain showers are brief, it may be a good idea to bring light rain jackets and waterproof stroller covers. 

Why We Love It

Kauai has many walkable beaches that make it easy to throw on a baby carrier and enjoy the scenic views (and a little exercise!) with a baby. There are tons of family-friendly eateries and local shops to explore with a stroller in tow.

The Walkable City of Vancouver, Canada

Where to Stay: Fairmont Waterfront

This hotel is renowned for its exceptional service, spacious rooms, and child-friendly amenities. For families vacationing with babies, the hotel provides cribs upon request, sockets with child safety covers, babysitting services, and rooms with a separate living area to comfortably accommodate a sleeping baby while parents relax.

When to Go

If you prefer milder weather, consider visiting between April and October but if you're into festive activities and don't mind colder weather, the November and December holiday season is a magical experience, with city-wide decorations and festive events.

Why We Love It

Vancouver is teeming with engaging activities, stunning sights, and comfortable amenities that cater to both parents and their little ones. With a host of child-friendly restaurants offering high chairs and kid-specific menus, meal times become an enjoyable experience rather than a stress-filled event. The city's public transportation system is well-equipped to accommodate strollers, and many of Vancouver's attractions feature interactive exhibits and baby-friendly facilities.

Barbara and her family on the beach in Mexico

This Gourmet All-Inclusive Resort in Cancun, Mexico

Where to Stay: Moon Palace The Grand Cancun

We're obsessed with Moon Palace and have visited it three times with our kids! This all-inclusive beachfront resort pairs luxurious comfort and warm-weather activities with thoughtful amenities for young families, all while serving up 5 star dining and drink experiences.

When to Go

The optimal time to visit Cancun with your baby is during late fall, winter and early spring, particularly between November and April. During these months, the weather is warm and inviting, perfect for beach outings and outdoor activities.

Why We Love It

The Playroom, an exclusive kids' club, is equipped with various age-specific activities and games to keep your little ones entertained – and if you have a child 4 years old or older, you can leave them there to enjoy a calm peaceful dinner with just you and your sleepy baby. They also offer babysitting services if you’re looking to ditch your children all together, all restaurants but one are baby-friendly, and the resort offers crib and baby-proofing accessories upon request. The waterpark has a large splash pad perfect for kids younger than 2 years old, and has a toddler-friendly aquatic playground as well as lazy river for all ages to enjoy. Unlike most all-inclusive resorts, the food and beverage scene is stellar… and we are food snobs that can confidently recommend the dinner experiences.

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Preparing for Your Baby's First Trip

What Should You Know Before Taking Your Baby on a Vacation?

Here are some handy tips and tricks to keep in mind when planning your baby's first vacation:

  1. Pack Smartly: Carry essentials such as diapers, baby wipes, baby food, a change of clothes, medicine, and pacifiers. It may be a hassle to shop for these things once you've arrived. You also may want to pack a few familiar toys or comfort objects to help your baby adjust to the new surroundings.
  2. Plan Your Itinerary: Consider your baby's schedule when planning the day. Factor in nap times and regular feeding times.
  3. Consider Transportation: For air travel, check the airline's policy on baby equipment like strollers and car seats. If you're renting a car, ensure the car rental company offers various car seat sizes, if you decide to leave yours at home. You may also want to consider a baby equipment rental service too.
  4. Health: Ensure your baby is up-to-date with vaccinations and always carry a small first-aid kit with you.
  5. Practice Patience: Vacations with babies won’t go as planned. Be prepared for unexpected tantrums or changes in routine, and remember that your baby is experiencing a lot of new things. Patience and flexibility will make the journey smoother. And remember, travel days are tough, but the frustrating moments are temporary!
  6. Capture the Moments: Don't forget to capture the special moments. They will make for wonderful memories and stories in the future.

If you’re choosing to travel with an infant, I want to celebrate with you! It’s a big undertaking, but it’s so worth it. You’ll figure out your routine, these additional strategies can help, and all those memories will be more valuable than the little sleep you lost. Trust me – you got this, mama!

For more travel tips, head over to the travel section of my blog. I discuss traveling with infants and toddlers frequently there! You’ll find advice, packing lists, and some of my favorite travel essentials to help make family travel easier. Have a great trip!

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