Baby's First Vacation

Maybe you're a seasoned traveler looking to get back to taking regular vacations. Maybe you just need a break, a chance to get away from the everyday. Maybe you want baby to join you on a business trip. Either way, eventually, every new parent has to face one more stressful first: baby's first vacation.

Travel planning takes a lot of work in the best of times, but traveling with small children brings so many new concerns. Don't feel too overwhelmed, though - with a little time and some careful planning, you'll be traveling with baby like you've done it a hundred times. Use advice from the experts - other moms and dads - and learn from their experiences.

Schedule travel to coincide with baby's nap time.

While sleeping on an airplane or in a car can be hard for adults, little people stick to their regular routines more easily. If you travel when your baby would normally be sleeping, you can breathe a sigh of relief - baby won't need entertainment, and you can have a few hours of peace. Your baby will miss some of the least interesting and least fun parts of the trip. Plus, when you arrive, baby will be well-rested and in a better mood to face the new adventure of your new location.

Smile and be friendly.

Many new parents have horror stories about plane experiences and unfriendly passengers who make the trip a drag. But remember what it was like when you were one of those passengers, when the screaming child the next row up wasn't your own bundle of joy. Being trapped in a small space with so many strangers can be bad enough, and tempers are short. Try to get things off on the right foot by smiling at the people around you. Chances are, if you're friendly to them, they'll be friendly back - even if something inevitably goes wrong and baby gets sick, can't find a favorite toy, or has something very loud to say.

Don't expose baby to the risk of illnesses in exotic locations.

Foreign countries that require extra immunizations or have hazardous tap water are probably not the best choice for your first trip. Save those for when baby is older and more likely to understand and remember the experiences of a new country anyway. Instead, pick someplace safe that doesn't have a known malaria problem (soft baby skin is sensitive to mosquitoes) and where it will be easy for you to visit a local pediatrician in case something goes wrong. Make sure you talk to your doctor at home before you go, in case there's anything you need to know ahead of time.

Let finding a baby-friendly location be your top priority.

It might be tempting to go the sort of places you used to visit before you had a child, but keep baby's happiness in mind. That means the places have to be baby-friendly and won't make him or her uncomfortable. Find an air-conditioned place to stay if you're going to a hot climate. Look into babysitting options at your new location before you get there. If possible, look for a place that specifically caters to families and children. Many resorts, parks and museums offer special features just for tots. It should go without saying, but if you're bringing baby, it's more important that a beach have smooth sand than great surfing.

When possible, rent the necessities from companies that specialize in renting baby gear.

You don't have to bring everything you own with you. Some bulky items, like strollers, car seats, and playpens, are just too big to fit easily in your luggage. Fortunately, many popular destination locations have local services that will rent everything you need at a semi-reasonable fee. This can be cheaper than paying the overage fees on airplanes, and it's a lot less of a headache, too. You'll still want to bring toys (especially baby's favorite!), food, diapers, and the other necessities, but your life will be easier if you don't have to worry about bringing everything.

Make sure the place you stay is big enough for a crib.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but you should understand the situation you'll be walking into before you get there and find out that your room can't accommodate baby and baby's needs. Especially if you're staying in a vacation rental home, request information about the dimensions of the place as well as whether or not a crib can be provided (and, if so, what sort of crib it is - if you're not staying in the US, be aware that some other countries don't have the same standards).

Rethink going really far from home.

Babies don't necessarily travel well or sit still well, and if they're miserable, you will be too. If you're traveling by car, opt for a shorter trip than a longer one. Try to keep plane trips minimal, too. You'll have plenty of time for distant vacations once your little one is old enough to appreciate them - stick to simple plans for now!

Rent a place with a kitchen, like a vacation rental home.

Staying in a vacation rental has the advantage of giving you easy access to a kitchen. You may need to warm milk in a microwave, store your baby's food (if he or she has moved on to solids) in the fridge, or handle special food allergies by cooking for yourselves in your own kitchen. While this isn't as convenient as going to a restaurant for every meal, it has the added benefit of being cheaper, too - and that way you don't have to worry about rushing out of the restaurant if baby starts crying. Plus, staying in a rental means you'll have extra space to relax in once baby has gone to sleep.

Popular baby destinations include Florida (with plenty of Florida vacation rentals to choose from) and baby-friendly villas in the Caribbean.

If you have older kids too, check out our tips for traveling with kids to get ideas for kid-friendly rentals!

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