5 baby-friendly destinations for baby’s first trip

On June 1st, 2016

baby travel thumbThe road is beckoning.

Your wanderlust has woken from its brief nap during pregnancy. Now you want to smell the planes’ exhaust permanently lingering in the airport, wake in an unfamiliar bed in an unknown city and venture to find breakfast. You need to travel.

Only this time a new partner in crime will accompany you: your under-one-year-old baby.

Introducing your child to the grand world is a great privilege. While I believe that nearly any destination is suitable for a baby — given the right attitude from you as the parent — setting off on your first trip with baby can be daunting.

Similar to your first trip, there are some nerves involved. It’s hard to know what to expect with baby + travel. You can stack the odds in your favor by picking a baby-friendly destination for your first trip.

Aim for one that fulfills these four criteria:

  • Short flight of less than 2 hours
  • Flexibility in activities at destination to change plans if baby needs a longer nap
  • On a road trip, break up driving time into 2 hour chunks to give baby a break from car seat
  • Privacy in accommodations for naps, noise from other guests or crying baby, or crawling room

Here are five baby-friendly destinations for a baby under 1 year old:

1. Boston, Massachusetts

Leave the stroller at home for this city. Thanks to its extensive public transportation system and walkable neighborhoods, you can visit every tourist attraction, cute local pub, or wander at will through the historic cobblestone streets. And you won’t have trouble finding restaurants open at odd hours if your schedule gets thrown off and you’re hunting for dinner at 11pm.

Opt for a baby carrier for easy sightseeing, letting baby snooze comfortably close to mom or dad. Plus, Boston doesn’t get super hot so no concern about baby getting overheated.

Enjoy utter freedom to set your own agenda or skip the sites that baby will scream through (like an art museum). With this trip, book an Airbnb apartment for more privacy and create a familiar setting for a home away from home.

Check out:

  • Fort Warren in Boston Harbor: reachable by nap-inducing ferry, this 28 acre historic fort on Georges Island is prime opportunity for exploration. Or letting your just-learned-to-walk child run off some steam on yards of open green grass.
  • Boston Aquarium: let your child watch the wildlife at the aquarium where the water will mesmerize little eyes and penguins will delight
  • Boston’s Children Museum: this highly rated museum will indulge your child’s imagination and play — even for a baby as young as three months old

2. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

After a scenic two-hour drive from Denver, you’ll find majestic Rocky Mountain National Park.

With its snow-capped mountains and lush green valleys, I dare you to keep your rental car on the road. If baby is happiest in the car, pick this destination. You’ll spend pleasant hours in the car spotting elk and longhorn sheep herds. Or pack a picnic lunch, pinpoint a hiking trail, and hit the dirt to enjoy some mile-high hiking with snoozing baby strapped to your chest.

Book a cabin or an Airbnb rental in nearby Estes Park.

Check out:

  • Stanley Hotel: where Stephen King wrote The Shining during a winter snowstorm that shut down Estes Park for a few days
  • Peak to Peak scenic byway: aka a gorgeous way to get from Denver to Estes Park; if you have the time and want vistas, pick this option

3. Franklyn D. Resort – Jamaica

Imagine a fully-inclusive beach resort with a vacation nanny who is trained in CPR and assigned to only you from 9am until 4:40pm.

While I’m not a traveler that’s inclined towards resorts (not enough choose-your-own-adventure), this option is attractive. Your food, drink and room are included in the final price. But with this family resort, you can sneak away for Mom and Dad only time while leaving baby in your vacation nanny’s capable hands.

This baby-friendly destination is a great introduction to traveling with baby. You can marry your pre-baby traveling habits with new post-baby experiments, so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t in traveling with your baby.

Check out:

  • Dunn’s River Falls and Park: the gently cascading waterfall that you climb (made famous by James Bond movie, Dr. No)
  • Seven Mile Beach: spend a day relaxing on the pristine white sand of this beach and introduce your baby to the ocean

4. Oregon Coast

Rocky cliffs plunge dramatically into pounding surf. Trees crowd the strip of sand. Sea lions march ponderously into caves.

Welcome to the Oregon Coast: a place where you can get to know your little one’s travel spirit amidst the crashing surf and freedom to drive miles along a curving coastline. Here you can set your own schedule. The usually cooler weather is perfect for long walks with baby snuggled against your chest. Or forgo outside activities and relax inside with baby, catching up on sleep.

That’s the beauty of the Oregon Coast with an infant younger than 1 year old: explore as much as you desire or enjoy the views from your rented house.

Check out:

  • Newport: 2.5 hours from Portland, fishing village turned tourist stop with cute stores lining the main street. Sea lion caves are a short drive away. or hang out and grab a beer at Rogue Brewery’s outside picnic tables.
  • Portland, Oregon: catch a flight into this beer and bridge-loving city where the weirdness reigns and population is still young enough that bringing a baby to a brewery will fit right in
  • Hecta Head Lighthouse: build in 1894, this white-washed lighthouse overlooks a half-moon bay; it is 1 hour south on Highway 101 from Newport, Oregon

5. That destination you can’t get out of your mind

Think this option is rather broad? That’s the beauty of it. Sometimes there’s a destination that’s been calling to you. A place or city that you can’t get out of your head or you keep hearing about. I bet it just popped into your mind.

Take your baby there. If you take your baby someplace that you’re excited about, that feeling will rub off. You’ll have a spectacular time exploring a city you’ve been dreaming of. And if your baby gets fussy, your attitude will be “can do.”

What baby-friendly destinations have you taken your baby to?

Laura Lopuch is a copywriter and incurable traveler. She blogs at Waiting To Be Read where she helps you find your next great book to read because life’s too short to read crummy books.