Vacationing with a Babe

Baby Travel

Our trip to Key West was not only fun, but actually relaxing.  This got me thinking about what made this Florida trip so much better than the last Florida trip when Emerson was 6 months old. Below are a couple of thoughts on what made our vacation enjoyable with an energetic 15-month-old in tow.

-I used to have the mentality that accommodations are not that important because I didn’t spend much time in the room.  Now? Accommodations are the most important part. We spend nap time and any time after 7pm in the room. Having a separate living area or a big balcony through an AirBnB, suite, or extended stay hotel are essential to an enjoyable trip.  Imagine that your child is really sick and you can’t leave your accommodations – will you be happy ordering takeout and trading shifts with your significant other or family?

 I now spend more time thinking about the goals of a trip.  If it’s sightseeing, I prioritize hotel/rental location and build in time to see the sights at a leisurely pace. Gone are the days of sprinting from the museum to the restaurant to the pool.  If your goal is to relax, think about what makes your child relax. For us, this means lots of down time for Emerson to run around in the room, trips to the park, and not having to get in a car every time we want to explore.

– I know a lot of people don’t like to change hotels given the baby gear, but we’d rather change hotels and be able to walk everywhere than be based in one place and have to drive everywhere.  This is why we split our time between Kapalua and Wailea in Hawaii. That being said, its probably not worth changing accommodations for less than 3 nights.

– As for flying, we’ve had good luck flying during nap times or at night. Board the plane last and have the other significant other/family member sanitize the seat (and install the carseat if necessary).

-Be flexible about routines but not too flexible.  Maybe you shorten the nap, skip the bath, let the baby eat nachos for dinner or hold the phone, but don’t skip anything in the routine that’s essential. For us, this means some sort of nap, bed no later than 8pm with books and white noise – everything else is more flexible than when we are at home.

-Don’t feel guilty if you’re not the perfect parent.  There are 360 other days to be fully engaged, make homemade food, and teach good habits.

-Lastly, change your expectations. Now that I’m staying at home, a vacation for me is just a break from being the primary care giver and the housekeeper.  If I get that plus some awesome food, then I’m happy.  I don’t expect the same kind of experiences I used to during a vacation. I make a list of a couple of restaurants and a couple of activities I’d like to do, and then I hope some of them actually get crossed off my list.

All that being said, this is just my experience, and I know every child and every age is different. People also like different styles of travel, and we like to take it easy since real life is hectic. It seems like Emerson is a pretty good traveler in the big scheme of things, but I know this could change. Ask me how I feel about traveling a year from now, and I might say I prefer to just stay
home 🙂


  • Reply
    Susan Bellinger
    February 12, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Very sensible advice! So glad you and your family had a wonderful, relaxing time. We all need a vacation and especially stay at home moms!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Our little one is around Emerson’s age and we have a trip to Europe planned for May. He has been on a couple flights and refused to sleep on any of them despite being scheduled at nap time. Now we have an overnight flight to get to Europe and I’m wondering how the heck I will get him to sleep. Did you have any specific tricks or maybe she is just a good plane sleeper and my son is the opposite? :-/

    • Reply
      February 12, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Did you buy a seat? She sleeps well in the car seat. Also, reading books and singing songs like our normal night time routine. Sometime she gets worked up so I have to shush in her ear and pet her hair 🙂 where are you guys headed?

      • Reply
        February 12, 2018 at 11:29 am

        We don’t have a seat – maybe that would help. Actually, this will be the first time he’ll have his own seat so that alone may help. He just gets so overstimulated! But since this is a 9 hour flight, I’m hoping he will get over it. We are headed to Switzerland and France – I’m super excited, just hoping we can get there in one piece without driving the other passengers insane 😉

        • Reply
          February 12, 2018 at 6:29 pm

          Liz, check out the fly tot! Best invention EVER. Our 22 month old slept 6 out of 8 hour flight to Europe last year. We also did not let her get out of seat, despite popular advice to the contrary, becauae we did want that power struggle. Good luck!!

          • Laura
            February 12, 2018 at 6:41 pm

            I’ve heard of this! So did you just have her in the regular seatbelt? I think Emerson would just slide out of this

          • Liz
            February 13, 2018 at 10:02 am

            Thanks for the suggestion! I’m going to look into this. I think I’ve heard of it and I’m glad to know that it worked for you!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Hi Laura,
    I love Emerson’s bonnet and her dress from the pictures of your trip. Would you mind sharing tips on the best places to buy baby clothes? Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 13, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Thanks! The bonnet is from the Beaufort bonnet company. Which dress did you like? I’ve been shopping at the gap outlet, target, and then my mom buys Em stuff from Baby Boden, which is the cutest!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Traveling with kids is always tough, but it definitely gets better. Mine are 6 and 4 now, and things have gotten easier (in some respects). I agree that where you stay is huge – we usually try and find a small condo or house through airbnb which allows us to spread out and make our own meals. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is try an all-inclusive. I feel like having a break from planning, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up food would be a major vacation for me!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      I would love to try an all-inclusive too! Just can’t drink as much as I did on college spring break 🙂

  • Reply
    February 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the post! As a 35 week pregnant mama, it gives me hope that husband and I will be able to continue to travel, just adapt some expectations 🙂

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