New parents are sometimes hesitant to vacation with an infant and, admittedly, it can be daunting. Will she sleep in a strange place? Will she throw a fit on the plane? Will I be able to breastfeed in a crowded airport? But the right kind of trip may be just what's needed to recharge your batteries, bond with your family and create cherished memories. The twist is that traveling with a baby requires meeting her needs. Here are the best tips for planning your first family vacation.
Staycation, All I Ever Wanted
For your first overnight outing with baby, think about renting a hotel room in your own town. Here's why:
Home is Where Everything Is: It's easy to pop home if you forgot her favorite blanket or zoom to your own pediatrician if she spikes a fever. You may even be able to hire a familiar babysitter if you want to head out for a grown-up dinner. Or you can make a break for it if your getaway goes south.
On the Cheep: Travel costs are no more than the cost of gas for a trip to the mall and perhaps a parking fee.
Can You Say Spa?: With the money you save on travel, you may be able to splurge on a massage and facial while your partner takes the baby to the pool for a few hours.
What's for Dinner?: Not your problem.
Low-Hassle: Packing is easy, just throw what you want to take in the car; plus, no airport security and no fussy infant on a four-hour flight.
Keep in Mind:
- Check out unlikely places to stay. “Some large hotel chains that cater to business travelers during the week have been ramping up promotions to hook family travelers on weekends,” says Shelly Rivoli, author of Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children. Chains like Marriott offer great weekend rates and baby-friendly extras like play yards and childproofing kits.
- Try your luck on a discount site such as priceline.com, where you may be able to get a three- or four-star property for half-price. The nicer the hotel and amenities, the more you'll enjoy your time away. For this trip, the hotel is your destination.
- Consider a suite. For an upcharge (in some cases not much) you can get adjoining rooms; set up the monitor and close the door for some adults-only time after baby goes to bed.
- Have access to a time share? Trade a week for a hometown location.
- By exploring nearby with your baby, you may see familiar places with fresh eyes and notice places you'll want to come back to and explore when she's a toddler.