Q: We’re hoping to take advantage of my lengthy maternity […]
Q: We’re hoping to take advantage of my lengthy maternity leave and go on a family vacation when our little one hits the 4-month mark. We’re open to both domestic and international travel but would love some tips on picking a destination that’s baby-friendly. (We’re new to this!)
A: My primary piece of advice: Set yourself up for success. Pick a destination you’re comfortable with, and don’t overschedule yourself—your daily routine will be much the same on a trip with an infant as it is at home. Travel days tend to evoke the most anxiety, so limit how much you’re jumping around, and try to plan a longer trip because it will take you a couple days to get set up.
Consider the weather. Although a beach destination might be what you crave, sun, sand and heat can be hard to manage with newborns. Plus, most pediatricians recommend limiting use of sunscreen until 6 months of age. Accommodations with kitchens are wonderful for those postbedtime meals or early-morning pajama breakfasts. Everyone will tell you to pack light, but I find that limiting the actual pieces of luggage you bring is the essential part. One huge suitcase that allows you a free hand is better than a couple smaller bags. Feeling prepared is important, so pack your necessities, and go easy on yourself if you brought twice the amount of diapers you needed. Travel with your little one will be a learning experience!
For international destinations, consult with a travel clinic as to what immunizations your little one might need. (A lot of illnesses are foodborne, so if you’re nursing, those won’t be an issue.) Look into getting a passport right away; both parents need to be present for the appointment, and it can take months to process (even when expedited). Consider planning your trip through a regional specialist with firsthand experience of the destination, so he or she can help create a baby-friendly itinerary as well as do the legwork of securing transport with car seats, requesting cribs in rooms, etc.
Above all, remember to bring the most rewarding aspect of travel—simply spending time together as a family—home with you when the juggle of work, life and baby gets a little too crazy.
—Tara Harvey, founder of Knowmad Adventures, a travel company specializing in active, authentic and sustainable adventures in South America