5 Aug 2011

Ways to Enjoy Traveling With Kids

By TravelingMom's Cindy Richards for GalTime.com
Oh, for those carefree B.C. (Before Children) days of travel. You shoved a change of underwear, an extra pair of socks and your toothbrush into a backpack and you were ready for a tour of Europe.
But now there’s a baby in your life. It doesn’t mean you can no longer travel. It just means you’re taking family vacationsnow. And traveling with a baby means you’ll be traveling heavy. Who knew babies needed so much equipment?
But, how do you decide where to go with a baby in tow? Consider these six things when deciding what trip is right for you and your baby.
1. Think all-inclusive
I know--you never would have considered an all-inclusive before the baby. But consider it now. Club Med does a particularly good job. The buffet includes a section with baby foods in jars and the baby corner, open 24 hours a day, contains the necessary facilities for preparing meals: blender, sterilizer (provided on request), microwave and refrigerator. The Baby Welcome package for children from 4 months to 2 years includes amenities to help make traveling with infants and toddlers easier—including bottle warmers, a stroller to use during your vacation and even a baby bathtub, which significantly reduces the equipment you have lug along.
2. Try a cruise
A growing number of cruise lines that will take children in diapers, including Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships offering the Royal Babies program. Cruises also are great options for families with kids of different ages, right up to and through the teen years. There are so many activities and so many kid-friendly options that everyone ought to be able to find something they want to do.
3. Consider international
I never would have tried this when my kids were babies, but every time I have run into young families traveling abroad with babies, they say the same thing: International travel with babies is easy.
For one thing, babies sleep anywhere and anytime. So no worries about jet lag. For another, many cultures are family-focused and baby-centric (Mexico and Italy, in particular) and welcome babies at hotels, restaurants and attractions. If you’re still nursing, there are no food worries. And babies used to sleeping in strollers or baby carriers can do that in Paris as easily as Peoria. So baby naps while you walk around to see the sites.
4. Rent a bigger place.
Hotel rooms can get really crowded once you move in the crib, stroller, car seat, diaper bag and all the other equipment that comes with a baby these days. Opt for a condo, apartment or house instead. They come complete with kitchens, so there’s a fridge and microwave for preparing the baby’s food and they have a separate bedroom with a door that closes so parents can stay up and get to know one another after the baby goes to sleep. Having access to a kitchen is a key to saving money when traveling with a family, regardless of the kids’ ages, simply because you can save so much on restaurant meals.
5. Go to the beach.
The beach is a great laid-back destination for kids of all ages, but it’s particularly good for babies and toddlers. Just remember to bring or rent a good beach umbrella to protect that fragile baby skin from the sun.
6. Take a train
Kids under 3 are fascinated by trains and when my kids were babies, they fell asleep almost immediately, lulled by the gentle rocking. As they got a little older, the freedom to toddle up and down the aisles as needed to burn off a little energy was a precious gift. It takes a little longer to get there, but just being on the train can make getting there the highlight of the trip.

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