The idea of going on a holiday with a baby might be one of the most terrifying things that a new parent has heard. I mean, the first few months of parenthood felt like a whirlwind loop of feeding, nappy changes, laundry and lack of sleep. How could you possibly go on an enjoyable holiday with a baby and come back feeling refreshed? Despite this, our love of travel led us to book an overseas holiday with a four-month-old baby. Was I nervous? You bet! We were still trying to adjust to everyday life with a little person. And yet here we were, organising our baby’s passport photos and packing a portacot.
I can proudly say that our little boy loves travelling just as much as his parents! Although there were moments where things didn’t go quite as planned, we thoroughly enjoyed travelling with a baby AND came home feeling revitalized. A bit of careful planning and the right mindset can go a long way with family travel.
Here are our six top tips to successfully take a holiday with a baby.
1. Lower your expectations
Take a moment and reflect on what you have come to expect from travelling. For some it is spending countless days seeing the sights the city has to offer. For others it is savouring delectable culinary delights; or revelling in the nightlife scene. Your travelling style will most likely change once you have a baby in tow and lowering your expectations can help you to adjust. Having the right mindset and being realistic about what you can (and can’t) do with a baby really helped us to have an amazing family holiday.
2. Carefully select your destination
Your choice in holiday destination really can make or break your trip. Try to find a destination that is appealing to you but also offers some baby-friendly activities. A destination that is safe and free from any major health risks is a must. You may also like to consider the infrastructure and services available. Can you reach your destination with a direct flight? Are the footpaths suitable for using a pram? Will you be able to buy additional nappies and formula? These factors can really contribute to you having an enjoyable holiday with a baby. (Read more about family-friendly holiday destinations here).
3. Lighten your load
For a tiny person, babies need A LOT of luggage. Half of my case was filled by nappies alone! It also becomes exponentially more difficult to manage your luggage while carrying a baby. Lighten your load as much as possible – it makes the travel component of your holiday less stressful. I sacrificed some of my non-essential luggage (which sadly meant leaving my SLR at home) so that we could easily manage with all of the extra baby gear. We invested in a Mountain Buggy Nano travel stroller and an ultra-light portacot, to lighten our load a little bit more while still ensuring we had the convenience of these items. Many hotels may also provide infant cribs or liaise with a company that you can hire baby equipment from. Remember to check availability and reserve items in advance.
4. Make yourself at home in your hotel
A few minor changes to your hotel room can make travel with a baby a lot easier. Baby-proof the room upon arrival and move any unsafe or breakable items. Set up a nappy-change station to make change time a breeze. A disposable change mat placed on top of a pile of towels is the perfect makeshift change table. Keep a tub of wipes and a stack of nappies (and swimming nappies) nearby. Find a quiet corner in the room to set up the cot. Create a spot to keep bottles, baby food, snacks and bibs together; ensuring snack time is made simple. Travel with a peg-less clothes line – we found it the perfect solution for drying baby clothes and bibs. Make a designated play space for your baby and bring a few favourite toys from home. This helps to make your little one feel more comfortable and familiar within their new environment, while ensuring they have a safe play area.
5. Take it slow
A change of pace can work wonders when travelling with a baby. Enjoy one big activity each morning, while your little one is fresh and full of energy. Factor in a bit of time to relax in the afternoon so that you can all recharge before venturing out again. Slowing things down and changing our travel style to work around our baby’s routine actually made it easier to get out and about. Find that happy medium where you get to see the sights and explore, while making lifelong memories with a contented baby.
6. Sweet dreams, little one
Sleep. I have never given so much thought to it until I became a mother. A well-rested baby means a happy baby so I definitely place a lot of importance on nap time. Now, don’t get me wrong – no one wants to spend their entire holiday sitting in a hotel room while their baby sleeps. A good travel stroller or baby carrier can help squeeze in nap time while you are on the go. We got to enjoy long walks on the beach while our little one snoozed in his baby carrier, lulled to sleep by the crashing waves. If you prefer to use a travel stroller, ensure that it can recline completely so that it provides another safe sleeping place while out sightseeing. And if you do find that your tot sleeps best in the cot, why not enjoy a siesta yourself? Chances are you are a sleep deprived parent who could also do with a snooze too!
Do you have another tip that helped you to have an enjoyable holiday with a baby? I’d love to hear about it – please comment below.
You can read my post on Six Reasons to Book a Holiday with your Baby here.