This post is Part 1 of our Where to Travel with Kids series. Watch for more articles about traveling with kids at every age.
With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start planning family vacations. If you’re a parent with young kids, you’re probably starting to wonder where to travel with babies and toddlers. The hardest part of vacationing with young children is not the vacation itself, but getting there. And back. And to all those points in-between. Save the road trips and multi-city or country itineraries for when the kids are older, and opt for:
1. A single destination resort where you can unpack, settle in, and relax, without having to strap kids into car seats, strollers, and backpacks every day.
2. Accommodations with kitchens, laundry facilities, and room to spread out (and fit all that baby gear), such as a home rental, home exchange, or family suite.
3. Nearby points-of-interest with low-key outings you can experience at your own pace, such as nature walks, beaches, and self-guided tours.
But where, exactly, to go? Read on to learn where to travel with babies and toddlers. We asked five of the top family travel bloggers for their picks and here’s what they told us. Each of these destinations will make a vacations with a baby seem like… well, a vacation.
The Puerto Vallarta resort area of Mexico is very safe for traveling families, and Velas Vallarta is perfectly appointed for babies and toddlers. Rooms are all suite-style, making it easy to prepare food and bottles in the full kitchen, and the in-suite fridge is always stocked with complimentary bottled water, fruit juice, kid-friendly snacks, and cereal and milk, which makes inconvenient trips to a grocery store unnecessary. Since Velas Vallarta is an all-inclusive resort, your toddler can eat whenever he’s like, and whatever he’d like: the resort’s three on-site full restaurants, poolside service, and snack areas all cater to young kids. The resort features a beautiful beach, but since waves are present, babies and toddlers (and their parents) will feel more comfortable at one of the three free-form pools and lazy river (one pool has a zero depth entry area). The town of Puerto Vallarta is only five minutes away (and easily accessible by taxi…no need to rent a car), and families can walk miles along the beach in each direction for a relaxed tour of the colorful local tourist scene.
Smuggler’s Notch, located in the heart of scenic Vermont, isn’t just a winter vacation destination (though even in snow, Smuggs is great for babies and toddlers!). Families stay in spacious condos at Smuggs, allowing parents to spread out from little ones — and hopefully allowing everyone to get a good night’s sleep. There’s so much to do right within the resort, there’s no need for long drives (at least after you’ve arrived), and toddlers will love having the pick of eight pools and hot tubs. There’s lots of hiking and nature trails, and Smuggs’ programming for babies and toddlers is the best Pit Stops for Kids writer Kate Lepore has ever seen.
Family travel blogger Debbie Dubrow of Delicious Baby recommends Sandpearl Resort for babies and young kids because it’s small enough to navigate easily, but has several restaurant options on-site, including a takeaway coffee shop and a lovely spa. The zero depth-entry pool never gets so deep that an adult (or an adult carrying a toddler) can’t stand and there are lots of young kids to play with. Families won’t need a car once they’ve arrived at the resort since there are several good restaurants in easy walking distance. A public trolly connects the hotel with Clearwater’s boardwalk and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin. Tip: For more ideas about what to see and do in Clearwater Beach with a toddler or young child, check out Delicious Baby’s guide to Clearwater Beach with Kids.
For families seeking sun, sand, and sea in the Caribbean, Corinne McDermott of Have Baby Will Travel recommends Jamaica because it’s safe, clean, and easy to get to from so many points throughout North America. Perhaps the most difficult decision parents will have to make is which family-friendly resort at which to stay! Corinne loved the Franklyn D. Resort and Spa in Runaway Bay. Their attentive vacation nannies (yes, vacation nannies) care for the wee ones should the adults need some grown up time, and offer that extra pair of hands parents always wish they had. Within two minutes of her arrival, both Corinne’s kids were sun-screened, swim-suited, and at the beach, meaning she could unpack in peace. They enjoyed five star service in a resort so casual they rarely wore shoes. Lush vegetation, a calm baby-friendly beach, awesome jerk chicken, and symphonic tree frogs added to the appeal.
5. Wherever YOU Want to Go
The best part of traveling with babies is their portability. Coming in second is their lack of an opinion on the day’s itinerary. An eight-month-old won’t care whether he’s at home or at the Louvre, so long as he’s comfortable, fed, and stimulated. This will all change soon, so before you’re required to (temporarily) adjust your travel style to cater to your young kids, hit the cafes, museums, and historical sights they’ll be too squirmy for in a matter of years — or months. If you can’t decide where to travel with babies and toddlers, consider going somewhere you would have gone in your pre-parenting days. Cities are especially conducive to baby and toddler travel, as they’re stroller-friendly and visually stimulating. WalkingOn Travels blogger Keryn Means recommends Victoria, B.C., where she entertains her toddler at Butchart Gardens, especially at Christmas time, when the entire place is prettily lit. If you hit the city with your baby or toddler, just be sure to stay somewhere central to your daily destinations to keep travel time to a minimum.
Do you have family travel plans with babies and toddlers? Where are you headed? What recommendations would you offer?