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4 Best Family Vacations To Go On Before Your Infant Turns One

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4 Best Family Vacations To Go On Before Your Infant Turns One

I’ve always loved traveling. Each December 31, I tally up the miles flown and places visited in the past year to determine if it was a successful year. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t anticipate this changing. I had envisioned us exploring the world together at every stage and would often say (smugly) things like, “Children are easily movable!” and “It can’t be that challenging.”

Now, firmly in toddlerhood, I can confirm that it can, indeed, be quite challenging. But traveling with a toddler is a whole different story. In my daughter’s first year, we managed to travel extensively. By the time she turned 1, she had been on eight flights and three train rides, stayed in nine hotels and two Airbnbs, and visited five countries. Looking back, I now realize that her age and stage of development really influenced our travels. And while our experience may not be applicable for everyone, if you still want to travel once you become a mom, I discovered that these were the finest kinds of trips to take before your child turns one.

Finest Vacations to Take Before Your Child Turns One

These sleep-deprived months are a period of adaptation—to the new, enchanting human in your life, to your new role as a parent, and to this new normal that feels both foreign and familiar. Once my body started to heal and the routine became a little less overwhelming, I felt prepared to introduce my daughter to the world of travel… and, quite frankly, to get out of the house myself.

The Advantages of Train Travel

At this stage, traveling by train is terrific. It’s a good trial run for future trips before your child turns one, with lower stakes, shorter travel times, and less strict baggage regulations. The soothing, nap-inducing train movements are an added bonus. We were living in London at the time, so in less than two hours, the Eurostar transported us to the Belgian capital city of Brussels, allowing us to change cultures and time zones without ever setting foot in an airport. And while train travel in the U.S. may not be as common as in Europe, Amtrak’s 500+ destinations combined with the 1,250+ stations serviced by the 32 commuter rail systems make it a unique option for the baby’s inaugural trip.

Urban Areas Provide Everything You Require

Exploring a city is an excellent way to maintain a high level of convenience when your baby is still in that fourth trimester. If you forgot something (which, let’s face it, you definitely did), there’s usually a store nearby that stocks the essentials like diapers, bottles, and formula. Urban areas tend to offer more delivery options than rural areas, too. I once had some onesies and a pack of diapers arrive via InstaCart in Los Angeles. The wide variety of options and the ease of walkability also ensure flexibility, the key component to enjoyable travel with your baby. I was consistently running late during these first three months, so having more choices meant I didn’t need to stick to a set schedule or firm reservation times.

Prime Travel Recommendation: Indulge Yourself

Treat yourself to a luxury hotel. Firstly, you’re still recovering postpartum, and after everything you’ve been through, you deserve it. Secondly, a luxury hotel is likely to have specific conveniences that will make your trip easier: a portable crib available to borrow, a mini-fridge or buckets of ice delivered to the room to keep milk/ bottles cold, and 24/7 room service bringing food and drinks directly to your door, even when the baby is sleeping.

Key Travel Item: The Doona

I don’t believe there’s a more adaptable baby item on the market than the Doona. It’s an all-in-one convertible car seat and stroller. We used it as a stroller to get on the train and converted it into a car seat during the journey. It makes taking Ubers easy, as you always have your own car seat with you and don’t need to worry about trunk space for the stroller. Restaurants that won’t allow a stroller next to the table typically do allow you to keep a car seat with you. And not needing to transfer a sleeping baby from one to the other means a little more time for the parents to actually enjoy the destination they’re in.

Ages 3-6 Months: Seaside Retreat

Beach, baby. Before I became a mom, my ideal vacation included a lounge chair near the ocean, a never-ending stack of books on my Kindle, and a copious amount of cocktails delivered on demand. Once I had my daughter, I thought those days were over. But I was wrong! Less than four hours from London (plus an hour ferry ride) is the Greek Island of Naxos, where we spent a week as a family doing a lot of the vacation things I loved from my life “before.”

Beach vacations are accessible trips to take before your child turns one, no matter where you live. A road trip to the shore or a short flight south can be the perfect getaway before your baby is mobile enough to crawl off a beach blanket or eat handfuls of sand.

Key Travel Recommendation

Sitting down for dinner can be challenging at this age. What worked best for us was popping the baby in the carrier for a sunset stroll down the sand. Once she was asleep, we’d settle at a local restaurant’s bar to savor some delectable bites and drinks.

Essential Travel Item: Tiny Beach Tent

Coverage is essential for sun protection on babies under six months old, so long-sleeve swimsuits, hats, and staying out of the sun as much as possible were ideal. We found a small pop-up tent on Amazon that was intended to shade an adult head. As odd as that sounds, it was the perfect-sized tent for an infant. WePositioned on a sun lounger between us, we arranged our portable fan to spread a refreshing breeze, while our daughter dozed to the sounds of the natural white noise as we (surprisingly) read and unwound.

6-9 Months of Age: Voyage to an Entertaining Location

By this point, you’ve probably forgotten what life was like before your baby, having acclimated to this new schedule adeptly. Baby is now beginning to sit up on their own and consume solid foods, making traveling together slightly more manageable. With two to four hours of daytime naps and still being small enough to fit within the plane’s bassinet, it’s time to voyage to an entertaining location.

In addition to packing the diaper bag with multiple changes of clothes for baby, do yourself a favor and toss one in there for yourself. Dark shades, intricate designs, and wrinkle-free fabrics are the ideal ways to conceal shared messes.

As for where to go at this stage, it’s entirely up to you. Do you have a place on your family travel bucket list you’ve been eager to visit? A family tradition you’re keen to continue or begin? We took a short flight from London to Edinburgh and were rewarded with a change of scenery and my daughter’s first taste of haggis (Just kidding).

Top Travel Tip: Utilize Airline Baggage Allowance to the Max

I was genuinely taken aback to discover that most airlines allow a lap infant to have their own checked bag. In addition, they’ll usually let you check a stroller and a car seat for free, too. I see this as permission to pack as much stuff as you want in order to give you peace of mind at your destination.

MVP Travel Item: BabyBjörn Carrier

Since the day my daughter was born, the BabyBjörn carrier has been lovingly referred to as the “magic bullet” in my house. It was always reliable, even on our hardest days, and if nothing else worked to soothe her, a stroll around the block with her nestled in the carrier was all it took to calm her down. For boarding and deplaning, it’s also essential, holding baby close while keeping your hands free to carry bags, bottles, or both.

9-12 Months of Age: Family Road Trip

As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short. It’s unbelievable to be this close to your child’s first birthday, which also makes it the perfect time for one last hurrah before they start running around and everything changes again.

At this age, we appreciated the convenience and autonomy of a road trip, allowing us to be in our own space and on our own time. Since you no longer need to be concerned with baggage or liquid limits, pack the car full to the brim with anything and everything that you might need. Stay within 5 hours of home to maintain maximum enjoyment.

Top Travel Tip: Book a Rental Home

With baby becoming more mobile, our trips at this age centered around the right short-term rental rather than a specific destination. A rental from Airbnb, VRBO, etc. offered a few things that hotels did not: more space for baby to play and crawl; a kitchen that made storing and prepping baby’s food and bottles easier; a separate room for baby, so we didn’t have to whisper during naps or after bedtime; and a living room or outdoor space where we could relax after baby was asleep.

MVP Travel Item: Portable high chair

Packing a compact, portable high chair increases your dining options significantly since you no longer have to limit yourself to restaurants with high chairs. Additionally, this item works well for meals at your Airbnb and even works nicely on the ground for beach or park picnics.

Traveling with an infant isn’t always easy. Heck, it’s rarely easy. But the memories you create and the photos you take during such a special year of life will certainly be worth it. And proving to yourself that you know what you’re doing more often than not, no matter the locale is just a bonus.

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