Where to go on vacation with an infant?
October 20, 2009 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Where to go on vacation with 14 month old?

I haven't been on a vacation since 2005. We have a now 10 month old son. If we go in Feb. he'll be 14 months. We've been considering the following:

Havasu (since we have friends with a house out there so it would be free accomodations). My hesitation is Havasu is for adults. With a baby, there is NOTHING to do out there. I'm not bringing him on a boat.

Florida but don't want to do Disney since he's too young and it's expensive. We have friends in Miami and even thought of the Keys.

California. We have friends out there but may or may not stay with them (logistics). But it seems there is the most to do with a child--Hollywood tours, aquarium, zoo, beach....

I'm open to other suggestions. I rather be somewhere warm but with things to do from outdoor/sightseeing, beach (maybe but can do a pool at the hotel), decent restaurants, etc. But I've thought of Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Oregon, etc). We even thought of wine country in Napa but everyone said no to bringing the baby.

I've never traveled with a baby before. Is this even feasible? (lugging strollers, what about the car seat?). But if I don't go somewhere beyond our usual summer local outting in WI, I'm going to go nuts.
posted by stormpooper to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What about going to Great Wolf Lodge? There's one here in Kansas City and it is always booked up.

Seems like they might have some toddler friendly stuff to do.
posted by reenum at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2009

I dont think it would be fun to have a toddler on a boat, I'd be constantly stressing about him falling.

When our kiddo was that age we took city trips (NY, Seattle , San Fran) and put the kiddo in the stroller and got to walk all over, see cool stuff and just hang out in a different setting.

When our kiddo was about 18 months we took her on a nice bike tour in France, she rode in the trailer (but I would have preferred her on a seat). Camping, the kids like riding bikes, easy to stop for snacks and breastfeeding, but still outside having fun.
posted by H. Roark at 11:30 AM on October 20, 2009

Small FYI--our summer outting is every other weekend in Door County in an RV. I'm ready to pull my hair out if I have to do another dish in a tin box. Renting a cabin--I don't mind. I'm just slightly burned out on the 100% camping vacation.
posted by stormpooper at 11:35 AM on October 20, 2009

We have spent a week in Miami in February off and on (depending on finances) since our daughter was about that age, and we've always had a great time. There's lots to do with a kid, actually, and so many restaurants are child-friendly. Usually we stay in Coconut Grove, which is a lovely place to hang out. We LOVE the Miami Zoo (and if you belong to your hometown zoo you may have reciprocal membership) and the Science Center. There's also a new Children's Museum that might be worth checking out - we haven't been there yet. South Beach wasn't such a great idea with a little one - our stroller was stolen when we thought we could leave it parked (as we would at the New Jersey shore) and we found it several blocks away covered in toothpaste, spit, and water. Thank goodness it wasn't an expensive one - we chose not to reclaim it. If you have friends in the area, so much the better! A day trip to Fort Lauderdale is worth the time as they have a really nice canal system and lovely parks. You can also fly into Fort Lauderdale for less, usually, and it's only 40 minutes to Miami. A few times that first trip my husband and I took our daughter for a drive around naptime so she could sleep in the car while we took our own impromptu auto tour of Miami's sights. It was a wonderful, relaxing vacation because we didn't try to do too much - just enjoyed the warm weather and each other's company. Stepping off the plane from Philadelphia to palm trees and blue sky is like a miracle every time.

Traveling with a toddler isn't too difficult as long as you keep things pared down to essentials. That first trip to Miami, we brought enough diapers for the first day and bought more at Target or Walgreens to conserve luggage space. Our stroller was a used umbrella type (luckily!). We rented the car seat with the car because I refuse to lug one aboard a crowded plane. I used a vest-type harness for her to sit on my lap in the plane and we felt perfectly safe.

Hope this helps!
posted by chihiro at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2009

Forgot to add: we always rent a little apartment when we travel for more than a day or two. The (not always, but often) additional cost makes up for itself in convenience and privacy. Having a little kitchen is a huge savings all by itself. La Solana is where we've always stayed in Coconut Grove and it is wonderful. Not that expensive, either, when you compare it with a week in a hotel in Miami.
posted by chihiro at 11:44 AM on October 20, 2009

Babies and boats aren't a terrible mix as long as the boat isn't tiny and you obviously put him in a life vest. Lots of babies fall immediately asleep due to the rocking. Even really active toddlers won't try to climb over the ledge of a boat, and will generally sit in your lap without much squirming because the sights are fairly interesting. I'm not saying I'd like to spend a whole day on a boat with a toddler, but an hour or two would be fun for him.

Honestly, your kid is too little to really enjoy much culture or "fun." Toddlers like running amok, playing games with you, and having your undivided attention. Toddlers don't give a shit if this happens in the Napa wine valley or in a deserted field. Outdoors-y places are fun, open pastures and the like. Cities are stressful and overstimulating to kids unused to the noises and the people. Cute towns like Ashville, NC or Charlottesville, VA or anywhere that has small markets and shops that will be interesting to see from a stroller ride; or any bed and breakfast lodge that allows little kids and is located near hiking trails. I'd wager that even a bright 14 month-old will not be terribly into the zoo or a kid-oriented science center, two sites that are geared to children at least 3 years old.

When you travel with a really young child, the point is to foster a close connection between both parents and the kid by spending more time than you do during a normal work week. He's not going to remember anything of it as an adult, and he's not expecting a wild week of mind-blowing fun. He just wants to hang with you guys.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:55 AM on October 20, 2009

We had plenty of fun at the beach with little ones. He'll love playing in the sand and maybe even playing in the water. You'll have fun as long at you take you cues about when it's time to head in from the toddler. You won't be able to lounge on the beach all day. It'll be more like an hour on the beach, back to the room, lunch, another hour on the beach, go do something else for a while, dinner, back to the beach, etc.

It really won't be relaxing for you though. Parents simply can not relax with a toddler around! If you really are looking for a relaxing vacation I suggest leaving the toddler with grandma for a long weekend and doing something with just the two of you.
posted by COD at 11:58 AM on October 20, 2009

Just got back from a vacation with a 15-month old and the lessons we learned were:

*Cabins are WAY better than hotel rooms - both for sleeping and for eating.
*Stay in one place - we went to three different places over 7 days and it was too much disruption.
*Be prepared to do less than you would otherwise - Everything takes longer and fitting in naptime and time to get out the door really does add up.
*Minimize variation from sleeping arrangements at home. By the end of a week away, our daughter was totally clingy, whiny, scared, and unhappy. I felt terrible about it all and the last two nights could only get her to sleep in our bed. We had a Peapod travel bed that she'd been fine with for other trips and is super easy to travel with but even that was no good by the end of it all.

We didn't bring a stroller and were totally fine but our daughter walks well and for when she was tired, we used a soft baby carrier. That worked great. We also brought our own carseat but that was just easier for us.

At her age, it didn't really matter where we went. A museum was fine, even if it was not a children's museum since she wasn't old enough to really do kids stuff yet anyway. Finding a park or two along the way was nice for a romp.

Be patient and don't try to schedule too much.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

We just took our 12-month old on our First Big Week-Long Airplane Vacation a few months ago. Overall it was a success. I can't tell you where to go for your vacation, but I would encourage you not to let logistics hinder you too much from going wherever you are most interested in going. Kids are very adaptable. Remember, yours may be walking or at least crawling by then. In my mind, that actually made life easier (your opinion may vary).

We went to Portland, ME. We flew. We brought our ergo, our cheapy umbrella stroller, and our car seat. We used a car seat roller (like this: http://www.amazon.com/Childress-Wheelie-Seat-Travel-Black/dp/B000XA6DC6/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1256065340&sr=8-14) and rolled it and the stroller right up to the plane gate and left them there. Easy peasy.

We rented a car so that we could take lots of small day trips and, thus, ensure that at least he would have some nap times in the car if we couldn't rely on him to maintain a good sleep schedule in a new environment (this was a life-saver).

We found a 2-bedroom apartment through homeaway.com. This meant we didn't have to deal with him/us struggling to sleep with us/him in the room (an ongoing battle when sleeping away from home). And we could still be "vacationy" at night when we were stuck in our rental by 8 pm because it was the kiddo's bedtime. (This would have been even better if we had had a balcony but so be it.)

We found a kid-friendly rental owner who was kind enough to set up a pack 'n play for us, awaiting our midnight arrival. One less thing to pack. Talk to the rental owner ahead of time---you never know what they will do to ensure a good review.

Bring a GPS and addresses of grocery stores/baby stores. Buy food/diapers on the vacation.

We managed to fit in everything we would have wanted to do, if in an abbreviated time frame, if the kiddo hadn't been with us. As long as he got some sunshine, some wiggle room in the grass, and some bites of our lobster rolls, he was mostly really happy.

I think the biggest difference for us compared to vacations pre-baby was that this vacation was more expensive due to needing a 2-bedroom rental.

To sum, go where you want to go for vacation and your child will adapt. Have a great time!
posted by rabidsegue at 12:11 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

The hard thing about this age is that they're really not big enough to enjoy kid-oriented stuff (Disney, etc.) The great thing about this age is they're easy to drag along with you and generally pretty easily entertained. My son is 20 mos. now and he's fairly content to go anywhere, as long as we don't make him sit too long and there's something to hold his attention. We took a short family vacation last year (he was 8 mos.) to Kansas City and did the zoo, the College Basketball Experience (super-fun!), and a lot of shopping. We chose KC because we wanted a simple place to go that was relatively close to the other places we were traveling. Now that he's really mobile, he loves zoos and playgrounds but he's also happy to walk around the mall with us. If we want to grab a quiet cup of coffee we bring along our Touch so he can watch a video. Some days we're out from dawn til dusk but we try not to make every day an "out" day. If he's had a couple days in a row where he hasn't gotten to nap in a bed, we try to be "home" for nap time the next day.

I guess my point is, sure, consider your kid's needs/wants but don't overthink it. He'll be fine. With a toddler, there are no guarantees anyway--some days they're just mad at the world, it wouldn't matter if you chose the perfect destination.

And a vacation rental is definitely the way to go. We're headed to one in December that will provide us with the "accessories" we need (stroller, etc.) And being able to prepare your own meals is priceless.
posted by wallaby at 1:54 PM on October 20, 2009

I'm tentatively planning on taking my baby to Sonoma in February, when he'll be 13 months. If we go, we'll rent a house and stick to the smaller, more rustic wineries. I've seen babies and kids in tasting rooms before, and no one seemed to care as long as they were appropriately supervised and reasonably well behaved. Picnicking opportunities abound, there are lots of quaint little towns to stroll around, pretty hiking trails, and breathtaking, though cold, beaches not too far away. Seems like a pretty good trip to take with a baby to me.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 2:18 PM on October 20, 2009

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