Sure, you’ll need some extra travel gear (and some extra patience), but there’s no reason to store the suitcase until your child grows up. While traveling with a baby for the first time can be a bit overwhelming, it can also be rather easy — especially if you pick the right type of trip. From cruise vacations to all-inclusive resorts, these are the best vacations with a baby.
If you want a vacation but aren’t ready to hit the road with a baby in tow, start with a staycation at a local hotel. It’s one of the best ways to dip your (baby) toes into vacationing with a baby. You won’t have to worry about air travel with baby, a long road trip or the amount of gear to pack up, and, if it’s a complete disaster, you can just scrap it and go home!
Consider a high-end hotel that caters to families with a swimming pool, kids’ club, onsite restaurant(s), and spa, plus guestrooms with mini-fridges (for storage of milk, baby food and snacks) and enough space for a Pack ‘N Play. Kimpton Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts are an easy choice since they provide all of the above, making them great places to vacation with a baby in your own city.
2. Visit Family or Friends
If you’re up for an adventure farther from home, plan a trip to visit friends or family for your vacation with baby. Being able to travel somewhere, yet stay with relatives alleviates some of the stress. If you’re flying, choose a family-friendly airline, and see if you can borrow a car seat, stroller, and Pack ‘N Play at your destination. Once there, consider visiting a local attraction or two, knowing you’ll be close to “home.”
Friends and family are often more than willing to babysit, too, so not only can you get away, but you might be able to enjoy a night to yourself even on a vacation with a baby. That’s a win for everyone!
Related: 10 Tips for Multigenerational Travel
3. All-Inclusive Resorts
If you want something a bit more exotic—without much planning—an all-inclusive resort makes things easy when vacationing with a baby. You can stay in one place the whole time, having paid for everything upfront, and know what to expect. Some resorts may even have baby gear included in rates or available for rent, allowing you to travel lighter.
Additionally, look for all-inclusive resorts that offer nursery care and other baby-friendly programs; at some resorts, these are included, while others require an additional charge. Beaches Resorts, located in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, offer an infant program for newborns through 24 months (kids’ clubs for older kids). At many Club Med Resorts, babies 4 months to under 2 years old can be enrolled at Baby Club Med, where they enjoy stimulating games; Club Med also offers Pajamas Club, a nighttime babysitting service for parents who want some alone time. Many resorts cater to the food needs of babies, too; IBEROSTAR Paraiso Maya in Mexico, for example, has a separate Babies Kitchen, offering pureed baby food. Some Club Med Resorts also offer a Baby Restaurant. Looking for more ideas? Check out the Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Infants.
A cruise has many of the same benefits as an all-inclusive resort, just on the water! Be sure to do your research, though—cruise lines vary in the minimum age allowed to sail, as well as the fare price for infants. Disney, Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines tend to have the best reputation for family travel, so those are a good place to start. MSC Cruises also offers great options for babies onboard, with baby care services and free baby essentials such as bottle warmers, strollers and a mini-fridge delivered to your stateroom.
Even among the four lines, however, there’s still a vast difference in how they handle infants. Disney Cruise Line offers an online service that allows parents to order baby supplies in advance of their trip and have them delivered to their stateroom. Additionally, its ships offer the It’s a Small World Nursery (for ages 6 months to 3 years), allowing parents some free time to enjoy the spa or a port adventure. Carnival has a minimum age requirement of six months, and offers smaller windows of time for infant care (8 to 10 a.m. on Sea Days, for example).
Related: Cruise Lines That Let Kids Sail Free
5. Beach Trip
If you live within a few hours of a beach, grab the beach essentials, such as a beach umbrella and protective clothing for baby, and head for the sand and surf for one of the best vacations with a baby. For many, this is an easy, affordable option to get away, yet still be close to home (though a family-friendly beach hotel is also a nice option if you’re willing to stay a night or two). When choosing a beach, look for specific amenities such as restrooms (preferably with changing facilities), showers, and nearby eats (or choose a beachfront hotel that offers all of the above). Also look for easy accessibility to the sand, such as a hard-cover path, or plan to buy a beach stroller with sand tires.
Related: Best Baby Beach Tents