Read these 13 Baby Friendly Vacations Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Baby Travel tips and hundreds of other topics.
Have you been dreaming of relaxing on the sandy shores of Ixtapa, Mexico? Or perhaps exploring the terrain around Saint Ambroggio in France is more your style. Sound impossible with an infant? Not quite. With an all inclusive vacation, you can visit exotic locales, take baby with you, and be able to enjoy some much needed couple time.
All-inclusive vacations are self-contained resort areas. The complete package generally includes accommodations, food, beverages, and activities. In the case of family-friendly all inclusive vacations, you get the added bonus of available childcare and programs for babies, children and teens.
According to Staci Blunt, owner of Family Friendly According to Staci Blunt, owner of Family Friendly Vacations, the best all inclusive vacation resorts are those run by Beaches and Club Med simply because they do have programs that cater to families. In fact, Club Med provides pre-screened childcare for infants as young as 4 months old. Beaches has certified nannies for babies of all ages – even newborns. On that note, we'd be pretty surprised to find a mother ready to vacation with her newborn.
Everyone knows what a honeymoon is, but now there's the babymoon. What exactly is a babymoon, you might wonder? It's a word coined due to the increasing number of couples who decide to take a vacation right before baby arrives – as sort of a last “hurrah” before parenthood. Babymoons typically refer to trips taken in the second and third trimester of a couple's pregnancy. And it's not necessarily a marketing gimmick from the travel industry. According to a research study done by Liberty Travel, nearly 60% of expectant couples surveyed took a planned trip before baby's arrival. So if you're thinking about planning that last getaway before baby's arrival, you're in good company.
There are a number of different all inclusive resort locations you can try. But keep in mind not all of them have childcare and programs for children and infants. If you have your sights set on a tropical vacation, there are a number of locations throughout North and South America as well as Europe to choose from.
Club Med (www.clubmed.com) has several resorts especially geared towards families. These Club Med vacations have Baby Club Med programs, for infants from 4 to 23 months. For an extra daily fee of $40 per day, you can place your infant in childcare programs with CPR trained nannies. Parents have given us rave reviews on Club Meds in Ixtapa, Mexico, Cancun, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The Club Med Cancun has had a recent remodel and word is that it's quite nice!
Beaches (www.beaches.com) resorts are all geared towards families. They also provide nannies who are certified as child development specialists through accredited U.S. university programs. Their youngest program caters to newborns through toddlers up to 23 months old. Beaches has some well regarded locations in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Negril, and Turks and Caicos. If you're looking for a more upscale setting, some folks find the Beaches resorts to be a bit more luxurious in general.
Planned activities, meals, lodging, childcare, and a family atmosphere in an outdoor setting. Sound like something you'd be up for? You can have all this if you decide to take your vacation at a family camp. Family camps are sort of like summer camp for the whole family. If you're looking for a vacation where you can enjoy the outdoors and have a program in place for all your children, family camps might be one vacation you should start planning. We found two spots that you can bring even the littlest of babes:
Shady Creek Family Camp & Conference Center – It's in the foothills of the sierra mountains in California near Yuba River. You'll find access to a host of outdoor activities like archery, boating, and hiking. If you're really daring, try the “Leap of Faith” rope course; you'll climb over 55 feet high in the trees, walk onto a plank, and take a 10-foot leap to catch a trapeze bar. Accommodations aren't too shabby, either. Take your pick from mountain cabins with a view, unique dome shaped cabins modeled after Native American Dwellings, or stay at their Crescent Lodge. And yes, there are programs for infants and individual babysitting as well.
Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center – Located on the University of Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus, this family camp is great for the sports-minded family. Choose from activities like biking, surfing, golfing, and kayaking. If you want lessons, they offer those as well. In the evening, there's activities like Casino night or the opportunity for a night out on the town in Santa Barbara. At night, retire to one of UCSB's campus accommodations. You can choose from one of their two to four bedroom suites. Infants as young as a month old have childcare and can stay in their own room during naptime.
For more locations throughout the country, check out some of the YMCA family camps.
How does a trip out to an all-inclusive resort where you can bike, canoe, or windsurf while trained childcare staff tends to baby sound? Such a place does exist in the U.S. – at the Tyler Place Family Resort. Set amidst 165 acres of land in Highgate Springs, Vermont, the Tyler Place Family Resort is a family owned facility that has been around since 1933. In addition to the numerous sports offerings like volleyball, soccer, basketball, yoga, and racquetball, parents have the option for evenings out with live music, bonfires, and organized social events. For those who enjoy water activities, take the whole gang out on a leisurely paddleboat road or take a sailing lesson.
There's something for kids and the littlest of babies as well. They have programs for newborns through teens. Programs for babies up to 18 months of age include the availability of a parent's helper, age appropriate play activities, and developmental toys. You can leave the portable crib and high chairs at home as well because they have just about every item and piece of equipment you could need at your stay.
Families are so enamored with the Tyler Place Family Resort, they tend to come back year after year, so if you want to go, you'll have to book far in advance. For more information on rates and when you can stay, check out their Website at www.tylerplace.com.
Some places claim to be family friendly. But there's more to offering accommodations that are receptive to folks with babies and kids than merely allowing them to stay. We've found a few places you'll have a hard time leaving because the establishment really goes out of its way to make folks with kids feel taken care of. Here they are:
The Bed and Breakfast: Not every bread and breakfast is family friendly, but for those who like the intimate service and character, it's a perfect choice if the owners welcome children with open arms. Try the Holly Tree Inn, located in Point Reyes, California. Book one of their child-friendly cottages and then switch off childcare with your spouse for an appointment with the masseuse. Take a Pilate's lesson or request a wine and cheese basket custom made for two.
The Upscale Hotel – Going to an upscale hotel immediately conjure images of upturned noses at children running afoot and babies having a meltdown. But there are some high-end hotels which do embrace children. The Four Seasons Hotel New York has great perks like free stays for kids under 18, childproofing upon request, and the use of free cribs, strollers, and bottle warmers. They even offer toys, games, and coloring books.
The Resort – Having a baby doesn't mean staying at a resort is out of the question – especially when it's a resort catering to families. Woodloch Pine Resort in Hawley, Pennsylvania, offers just about something for everyone in the family. Think of it as a resort with the activities that a full-scale outdoor camp would offer. Choose your stay at a standard room or splurge with guest home accommodations. Kids under 3 stay free as long as they're rooming with two adults.
When you're traveling with an infant, you want to stay at accommodations that are family friendly. Read on to find out just what to look for and where you can find some great places to stay for your next family vacation. Family friendly accommodations include hotels which have some or all of offer the following:
Traveling in a personal vehicle is typically preferred to traveling on airplanes, by bus or on trains when you have an infant in tow. Take advantage of the conveniences of road tripping by stopping often to give your baby a break from a car seat. Rest areas and truck stops dot highways, and they provide everything you need from scenery at rest areas to showers at truck stops.
When road tripping with babies, plan to drive when the baby is sleeping. If this is not possible, say because you are driving solo, tack on an extra 8 hours of driving time for every 24 on the road. In addition to sleep for yourself, you will need to stop every hour at a minimum for diaper changes, feedings and play time.
Plan ahead with packing as you will need lots of things just for your baby. If you have made plans to stop along the way at friends' houses or hotels, ask if they have larger items that you can use while there, such as cribs and playpens. Bring along toys that are new to the baby, as well as a couple of favorites, such as stuffed animals or security blankets. Dress your infant in comfortable clothing and in layers, so you can peel off layers or change diapers with ease.
Keep a copy of the baby's birth certificate and Social Security card to provide identification in case of an accident. If you are crossing borders, research the passport requirements for babies. Also, if you are traveling as a single parent you will most likely need a document of permission from the baby's other parent stating you have permission to take the child into another country.
Just because you have an infant doesn't mean you have to kiss your snow trips goodbye. In fact, if you go to a family friendly resort with childcare in place, both Mom and Dad will be able to hit the slopes. Not sure where to go? Try Whistler Blackcomb (www.whistlerblackcomb.com) in British Columbia, Canada. Besides the opportunity to ski or snowboard on over 8,000 acres of snow on a renowned ski resort, you also have access to a vast array of restaurants from pizzerias to French cuisine.
Families can choose from just about every type of accommodation available – large hotels, bread and breakfasts, condos, and vacation homes are abundant in the area. Many of them are within walking distance to shops, places to eat, and skiing gondolas.
The best part? CPR certified early childhood educators will watch your kids who are anywhere from three months to four years old. Because of the popularity of the childcare program, parents do have to reserve a spot early, so it's best to plan your trip as far in advance as possible.
Sometimes a vacation idea comes to mind that might sound appealing, but just isn't a good choice when it comes to bringing baby along. Though we trust you all have keen sense of judgment when it comes to deciding what trip would and wouldn't be appropriate for your infant, we thought we'd throw in our list of four otherwise great vacations that aren't family friendly – just in case.
Maybe you've always been the adventurous type and you just loathe to give up the high adrenaline lifestyle. More power to you! However, if your vacation involves scaling sheer cliffs, trekking sub freezing temperatures, and approaching arctic wildlife, it's not a family friendly vacation.
We think beach vacations and the bustle of travelers coming together to celebrate a new season is a terrific ritual. Cancun is a resort town with stunning beaches and an active nightlife. However, travel out to the town during spring break with an infant in tow when the area is teeming with partygoers – not a good family vacation.
A trip out to China to see 11 cities in 14 days complete with 10 planned daytrips sounds like a culture enriching once in a lifetime experience. However, it's hard enough for grown-ups to make it through such a whirlwind adventure, let alone an infant who as round the clock feeding and sleeping needs.
A car road trip from coast to coast through deserts, mountains, small towns, farm lands, and urban cities in a week can be a blast – if you don't have to worry about stopping for feedings, changing diapers, setting aside naptimes, and other baby care needs.
Warm waters. Tropical breezes. And all the modern conveniences to make your trip much more comfortable. If it sounds as good to you as it does to us, plan a trip with your baby to Hawaii. But don't just pick any island or location. There are a few that are perfect for bringing little ones in tow.
Ka'anapali Beach – Located on the western part of Maui, it's a great place for families with a baby. You can have access to white, sandy beaches, and gentle waves – perfect for taking little ones. Not only that, you'll be visiting a resort area wtih renowned snorkeling opportunities. Ka'anapali Beach topped the list during 2003 as America's Best Beach, according to Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman. Stay at one of the luxury hotels or make your home away from home at family friendly condo rental.
Baby Beach – This area is another great find on the western shores of the island of Maui. The calm waters on Baby Beach make it a popular area for families with little ones. A protected area keeps waves from crashing in and the flat stretch of sandy area makes it ideal for tots. Parents can choose vacation home rentals or resort hotel accommodations and everything in between.
If you're considering family travel, you're in good company. According to a nationwide poll across the U.S., nearly 80% of travel agents cited family travel as the fastest climbing travel trend. Though we know those of you who are interested in taking baby with you on a trip probably aren't thinking about exposing your child to different cultures and customs – other parents are. Travel agents cited that travel was on the rise because parents wanted to teach their kids about the lifestyles in other countries. Of course, the bonding experience that comes along with travel is a strong point for going on a trip as well.
So what does that mean for you, as the parent of an infant? It means that for 2007 and beyond, if you're thinking about booking at popular locations or during the summer months, book early! Staci Blunt of Family Friendly Travel recommends you plan six months in advance whenever possible. For the holidays, you might want to consider planning even farther ahead if you can. If you're traveling in the off-season, that's when you don't have to plan as far ahead. In that case, Ms. Blunt feels planning three months ahead of time is a safe bet.
The travel industry says couples are packing their bags and going on a trip – before baby arrives. This may be as simple as an overnight getaway to week-long resort stay. We think it's a good idea, too. Couples can spend some quality time together, getting away from it all before the arrival of baby. We've got a few sample ideas for those of you contemplating one last getaway.
Some hotels have offered packages specifically geared toward the babymooning couple. For instance, the St. Regis Hotel has offered a “Last Hurrah” package complete with themed DVDs, his and hers massages, and a “cravings menu” for those late night snacks. To locate such a package near you, contact your travel agent.
Another route to take is to create your own sample package. Book your own romantic getaway to a place like Carmel By The Sea. Stay at the historic Cypress Inn, book reservations at the charming Casanova Restaurant, and spend your days visiting the shops and relaxing on the beach.
Go tropical to a Caribbean vacation. The Peter Island Resort in the Caribbean can offer both parents to be spa treatments, a beachfront suite, and miles of sand. Enjoy a picnic outside and enjoy the relaxing tranquility of turquoise waters, shady palm trees, and white beaches.