Traveling with a baby can be tricky. How do you manage to pack everything you need and find a place that welcomes babies properly for a vacation getaway? Vacation rentals are a popular option, as they provide a home away from home for you to create the right environment for your infant. Here are tips on renting a vacation home with a baby, from moms who have been there.
Bring electrical outlet protectors and corner bumpers.
Baby proofing isn’t typically offered in vacation rentals, so bring a bit of your own items to be prepared. Buy a package of plastic electrical outlet covers and bring corner bumpers, in case the house has a low coffee table or fireplace. “We brought a baby proofing kit with us and installed it immediately,” says Kim Martinez of Florida. “And we brought their favorite blankets, pillows, etc.”
For more ideas on what to pack, read 10 Packing Tips for Home Vacation Rentals.
Rent baby gear.
Says Megan Springer of Colorado, “Many companies will rent and drop off kid products for the week: strollers, portable cribs, beach toys, high chairs, and even diapers. It’s not worth towing extra and always easier to rent.” Adds Jennifer Lombardi of Pennsylvania, “We always had a company deliver [gear], including fans for white noise for the little ones in a busy house.”
Find rentals and special services in 6 Super Services for Vacation Rentals.
Make sure the rental has a washer and dryer.
Says Vanessa Paulman of Massachusetts, “We spent an entire week in Puerto Rico with an infant vomiting all over the apartment we rented. We used the washer and dryer several times a day, which we wouldn’t have had had we stayed in a hotel.”
Choose a one-story house without stairs.
This isn’t just a safety concern, says Eleonora Ferri of California, who specifically wants a master bedroom on the same floor as the additional bedrooms. “You know how it goes when you run in the darkness, half asleep down the stairs of a house you are not familiar with because your baby is screaming in the middle of the night.”
Choose a rental near the attractions you want to enjoy.
“Look for a property that is close to the attractions you’re visiting,” says Stacie Hanna of Georgia. “Whether it’s the beach, a theme park or city, being close by made all the difference for us. My husband and I would take turns going to the beach, for example, while the baby slept. Or, proximity in a city allows easy back and forth “back home” to accommodate nap schedules without spending too much time in transit. I also really liked to rent properties with nice decks or porches so the parent who is on duty during nap time (or both) can still kick back with a book or a cocktail and enjoy a beautiful setting.”
Then again, you may want to choose a rental away from the hustle and bustle.
“Don’t pick a vacation rental home in the center of where there are a lot of activities you would want to do as a couple before you had kids, like pulsing nightlife scene or on a golf course,” recommends Kit Bernardi of KitTravels.com, based in Illinois. “I say this because that could become frustrating when you have to walk or drive by those opportunities [and can’t go]. We wanted a rental that offered new family experiences and active travel opportunities but was just far enough removed from pre-parent entertainment temptations. It also makes sense to stay away from the busier areas, as they tend to be louder and could affect nap and evening schedules.
Keep it small.
Just because you’re traveling as a threesome (or more) doesn’t mean your baby needs his or her own room. Save money by renting smaller homes and utilizing a walk-in closest or extra-large bathroom as a room for baby’s sleep. “Sleeping in the same room with our kids has always been a challenge, and it’s especially the pits with an infant,” says Stacie Hanna of Georgia. “Our kids were accustomed to sleeping with blackout shades so a dark closet or bathroom was perfect for good sleep any time of day. It gave us great privacy and flexibility even when the baby slept. The other upside to the bathroom/closet approach is sometimes we could get away with a smaller rental property and save some money.”
Consider a home exchange.
Home exchanges are another option for families wanting to rent a home in a vacation destination. However, home exchanges allow families to swap houses with like families. “I try to find a family with children of similar ages to my own so I can find a crib or Pack ‘n Play, toys and books that are age-appropriate,” says Ferri, whose husband heads up HomeExchange.com.
Choose a pet-free house.
If you do not have pets at home and are unsure if your infant has any allergies to cat or dog dander, select a vacation rental that does not welcome pets to ensure you have a clean environment. “We did not know if our son had any allergies and we didn’t want to find out while away from his doctor,” says Bernardi.