Just because you’ve become a parent doesn’t mean you have to stay put. Here are five ways to take a family vacation with wee ones:
Consider an all-inclusive. At Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, the youngest travelers are cared for by certified nannies, caregivers with more than 2000 hours of experience and training in child safety. Toddlers enjoy beach and pool activities, puppet shows, face painting, treasure hunts and visits with Sesame Street characters. Parents of newborns to two year olds can enjoy uninterrupted beach time or a quiet dinner for two knowing their babies are cared for in a fully equipped nursery where child development specialists will look after their every need. Just in case, a nurse is available 24 hours a day. Contact: 1-888-BEACHES; www.Beaches.com.
Flight time. Book flights off peak for less crowded conditions and book early for the best choice of seats. Children under two are safest when buckled into a car seat so plan accordingly. Family preboarding may sound appealing, however, settling in early can mean considerable extra time in tight quarters before take-off. Consider sending one family member onboard early to organize seating arrangements and then board with the baby closer to departure. And of course, take time to research current TSA restrictions. Their web site offers videos regarding travel with kids of various ages. Contact: www.TSA.gov.
Take a cruise. Vacationing aboard a cruise ship provides a wide range of options for parents with young children. Many ships offer comprehensive children’s programs, providing parents a chance to enjoy their own shipboard activities. On board Disney’s Wonder and Magic ships, tykes from three months to three years can check in to the Flounder's Reef Nursery, a Little Mermaid-themed daycare center. Character visits, shows, pools and arcade centers offer family fun. Contact: (800) 951-3532; www.DisneyCruise.com.
Visit friends and family. Do you have cousins, siblings or college pals with children the same ages as yours? Plan a visit to their town or invite them to yours. Peruse the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau site for suitable outings and deals. Check promotions from Groupon and similar ventures for half or reduced-price offers. Venturing out with folks who share similar interests, restrictions and nap requirements can provide a sense of well-being for all. Too many young children under the same roof might be overwhelming. Consider spending the night in spacious accommodations that will support various sleep schedules and meal times. Contact: www.ResidenceInn.com.
Visit the zoo. Build a trip around an outing to a well-known establishment like the San Diego Zoo or our National Zoo in Washington DC or visit one nearby your own home. Stroll through lush grounds with your family and enjoy the sights and sounds of wildlife in a safe environment. Investigate educational programs and tours including animal encounters, overnights and backstage passes. Contact: (619) 231-1515; www.sandiegozoo.org; nationalzoo.si.edu