Most airlines cut off the free age at 24 months or two years of age.
We had that realization recently, because our daughter is 21 months old. Which means that we need to get on booking our last free trip with her like yesterday.
Okay, but even if your little one is older than 2, you still shouldn’t shy away from travelling with him if you enjoy it. Parenthood should enhance your life, not detract from it.
So, based on experience, tons of research, and far too many cautionary tales, we’ve compiled a list of destinations to visit with your child.
What to Look for In a Vacation With Your Baby
Travel with a baby is different from solo adult travel, romantic couples trips, or getaways with the girlfriends. Keep an eye out for these factors.
1. Childcare options. This may not apply to you, but we love to have childcare on whatever trip we end up going on, even if that just means a hotel-vetted babysitter to watch TV in our hotel room while Poppy sleeps so we can go out on our own.
2. Safety. Perceived safety of any country or city is obviously important; most destinations are perfectly safe for tourists, but for your first trip with your little one you probably don’t want to visit somewhere like South Africa or even some Southeast Asian countries.
3. Toddler/baby-friendly amenities. Is the destination you’re thinking of going to baby-friendly? For example, do they have baby gear rental options? Are there resorts, hotels, or guesthouses that have some of the pieces you might need? Keep your eyes open for a play center, kid-friendly restaurants, etc.
4. Flight length. This will depend on your baby’s age. Newborns do exceptionally well on flights because you can throw them into a baby carrier and they’ll sleep through most of it. As your baby gets a bit older and approaches toddlerhood, it’ll become more challenging. Toddlers don’t like sitting still, and it’s difficult to get them to fall asleep anywhere (mostly because they’re too big to wrap up in a Boba wrap). I wouldn’t the scared of 10+ hour long flights when Poppy was under a year old but now I’m nervous to go for longer than 5-6 hours.
We’re all for trying out new and adventurous places, but if this is your first trip with your baby then I definitely recommend electing a familiar option. There’s plenty of time to travel with your kids and expose them to new cultures but as you’re getting used to
City vs Beach Destination with a Baby
Some people prefer to go on vacation to the beach. Others prefer to explore new cities. But maybe you’re like me, and love them both for different things.
|City Destinations Offer…||Beach Destinations Offer…|
|More for your family to see and do (parents don’t get bored)||Sand, sun, and relaxation|
|Better food||More play-in-the-sand time for your baby|
|A lot more stroller time for your baby||Better Instagram photos!|
I wish we had done more city trip when our baby was a newborn because she would have been fine napping in the stroller as we walked around all day.
Now that she’s a toddler and wants to get her hands into every single little thing, we can’t justify bringing her to NYC, Paris, London, or Athens. She’d want to walk around and explore herself, and it would both slow us down from seeing all the sites we’d want to see, and also probably not be as safe.
So, if you have a:
- Baby: Take advantage of stroller naps and visit the city destinations now, before it’s too late!
- Toddler: Beach it up, all the way.
Keeping these factors in mind…
Hawaii has to take the #1 spot for bringing your baby or toddler on vacation. It steals the #1 spot even for adult-only travel, but it rates extremely high on the safety, convenience and familiarity scale.
There are plenty of family-friendly things to do no matter which Island you end up on, and if you’re coming up short there’s always relaxing at the beach (which is one of the best things to do with a kiddo anyway).
There are plenty of baby gear rental companies so you don’t have to worry about packing up your entire nursery just to get away.
2. The ABC Islands (Netherlands Antilles)
The ABC Islands stands for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, which is an archipelago in the Caribbean. Aruba is a popular cruise destination, Bonaire is one of the best dive spots in the world, and the island of Curacao is where the liquor of the same name comes from.
The most common island to visit is easily Aruba, and depending on where you’re flying from, the flight can be a touch long (longer from the West Coast, of course, because we always get the short end of the stick).
However, the beaches are stunning, the islands aren’t overrun with obnoxious tourists and there is so much to see and do.
Plus, you can hop between the three islands pretty quickly and inexpensively. We visited Aruba and Bonaire with our 8 month old and managed to do a few days in Bonaire, which is the perfect little dive island.
The ABC Islands takes the #2 spot because they’re safe, English speaking, and accessible — and, mostly, beautiful.
Mexico checks many boxes. It’s nearby (if you’re coming from the US or Canada), which means shorter flights, and the weather is almost always perfect.
If you stay at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, you can almost definitely find a family-friendly option that has babysitting services, kids amenities, and all the supplies you need (so you don’t have to worry about packing for every scenario).
If you choose to go to Mexico with your baby, consider staying in the Cancun region so you don’t have to take a long bus ride to and from the airport. There are tons of things to do in the area so you won't' get bored, whether you're with your kids or you get to steal away.
4. Key West, Florida
If you want to enjoy the sun in Florida, but are not quite ready for the hustle and bustle of Disney World, Key West is a good choice.
If you’re on the East Coast, your flight time will be short, so that’s a definite plus, and it’s in the continental US, so it’s comfortable to travel within.
The best time to visit is between March and May when the weather and the prices are at their best.
There are some family-friendly luxury hotels, but you shouldn’t rule out more budget-friendly options that offer plenty of amenities and great views as well.
Since Key West is only about seven square miles, you don’t have to worry about the added stress (or expense) of renting a car. Walk to explore the city (with your little one in a stroller) or hop on the little train that goes through the area and makes plenty of popular stops. Key West also has an aquarium, butterfly & nature conservancy and other indoor activities to keep the family busy should Mother Nature give you a rainy day.
5. Algarve, Portugal
A family-friendly atmosphere coupled with beautiful beaches and great food, makes the Algarve, Portugal a wonderful vacation if you have a baby.
Portugal is still an under-appreciated country to visit, but since it’s so beautiful, affordable and accessible, it likely won’t stay that way for long.
While the flight will be a little on the long side depending on where you’re traveling from, it will be well worth it.
Since your baby isn’t in school yet, you can take advantage of going anytime from April to June or September and October when the weather is still good, but not oppressively hot, and the prices are better.
Planning a stay at a resort or hotel along the beach is your best bet as many are family-friendly and even offer baby concierge service. You can take advantage of things like door protectors and baby baths to make your vacation as safe as your home is, just with a better view!
6. Beaches Resorts, The Caribbean
Photo courtesy: beachesresorts.com
Whichever you choose, you’ll have access to certified nannies if you want to take some time away, even it’s just for a romantic dinner.
Beaches also offers “Sesame Street” programs including daily shows and meet and greet with the characters. “V” is definitely for vacation here while “R” is for relaxing. Or… rum on the beach. No judging.
Beautiful beaches and massages are available right at the resort, so you and your partner can take turns going for a massage or you can take advantage of the nanny service and book a couples massage.
Another perk at staying at one of these resorts is that everything you need is there. Restaurants, activities, sports…you name it and you’ve got right where you’re staying, so need to worry about renting a car if that’s not your style.
7. Tyler Place Family Resort, Highgate Springs, VT
Photo Courtesy: yelp.com/ Tyler Place Family Resort
While it’s not a tropical beach location, you shouldn’t rule out Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs, Vermont.
Depending on where you live, this may classify as a road trip (and yes, you can roadtrip with a baby), or you could fly in and save yourself the drive. .
The biggest bonus about this place is that when you visit Tyler Place Family Resort with a baby you’ll have access to a parents’ helper. Think of this person has your right hand for the duration of your stay. You’ll still have plenty of family time together, but you’ll also have the option of having a few hours off if you want some alone time with your partner.
Tyler Place has become a family favorite because activities are divided according to age groups.
Even babies are separated according to age so they can… have long conversations with like-minded individuals. .
For adults, there are yoga classes, rock climbing, kayaking, and even winery tours (see that helper will come in handy).
8. London, England
If you like to vacation in cities, then London should be at the top of your list if you’re bringing along your baby.
While your flight may be long depending on your departure city, once you land, you’ll see how family-friendly London is. It’s easy to get around with a stroller and on foot, but if you’re planning on visiting places that are not within walking distance you can book your taxi online and even opt to have a car seat ready for your little one.
London is also home to many family-friendly restaurants and parks. Traveling to London in the spring or fall will give you the best the city has to offer without the super large crowds.
Vacationing with baby doesn’t have to be an Olympic sport as long as you know the right places to go. It just takes a little more planning and thinking ahead than your pre-baby trips.