Traveling is such an adventure and even more so when you travel with kids. Showing them the world exposes them to new experiences and instills values of curiosity and exploration. If you’re already one of the millions of Americans traveling as a family, then you also understand how stressful it can be to go on vacation with babies. Totts founder and mom, Alejandra Tejada doesn’t think it needs to be that way though. Here are her tips on how to make traveling with kids feel less like work and more like a vacation.
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Location, Location, Location: When you’re considering your first trip with your child you may think beach vacations are the only ones that work— don’t limit yourself! Look for locations that have the mix of activities you want (e.g., site seeing, beach, restaurants) that are all central to where you’re staying. Cartagena worked for us because we wanted a mix of culture, picture-perfect sites, a pool, and delicious food (with plenty of ice cream breaks). We had access to all of this within a quarter-mile walking radius. It’s worth splurging to get the location you need especially if you are traveling with a little one. My son was 3 months old and feeding every 1.5 hours at the time, so it was key to be able to go back to the hotel when I needed to take care of him but still feel like I wasn’t a slave to the room or hotel.
Hotel vs Airbnb: You’ll hear a lot of parents going only the Airbnb route, but for us it depends. For our first trip we chose a hotel that had a living room and kitchenette. We enjoyed the comfort of a buffet breakfast every morning, cleaning service and concierge help while also having a place to set up a changing station, heat bottles and wash equipment. There are a lot of benefits to both and if you can find something in between that works for you the better, especially for your first vacation. We now know what works for us in each travel situation, which is generally a mix of both. After all, it’s a vacation!
Prepare for a Very Bad First Day: This was a lesson learned for us. And if it’s not a bad day, you have luck on your side! We found that the first day adjusting from any trip is difficult. Whether it’s the time change, sleeping arrangements or just getting used to a new location it’s important not to expect too much from the first day. Don’t set an itinerary, go with the flow and try to enjoy your first day adjusting together. Starting a trip with these expectations helps set the tone for the fact that your first trip with your baby is not like what you’re used to. You have to operate in baby steps (excuse the pun), and when they are that cute, it makes up for not operating at regular speed.
Don’t Be Afraid to Overpack: I’m not a fan of over-packing, and that’s why I started Totts. However, I will say this: Being prepared for the unexpected helped me ease my initial fears of traveling with my baby. You really don’t know what to expect that first time so if you need to pay for extra luggage, bring more supplies or back-ups (I even brought a back-up pump in case my failed), then do it. While this may discourage you from taking the trip in the first place, don’t let it! If I needed to bring my whole home on this vacation, I would have done so in a heartbeat to have the memories that I now have of this first trip. When I’m feeling blue or realizing how fast my baby has grown, I find comfort in the memories we made when he was 3 months old in Cartagena. And a small baby that sits calmly on top of your legs while you sip a cold drink isn’t bad either!
The good news is that the earlier you start traveling with your baby, they will learn travel skills right along with you and vacations will once again be something the whole family will look forward to taking.