As director of the TREASURES child care center at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Shelly Schaffer sees many new parents who arrive at the resort feeling daunted by the new adventure of traveling and vacationing with their little ones. Schaffer and her staff have years of experience supporting families’ special getaways at Smugglers’. They understand that traveling with an infant requires a bit more planning and offer a few simple tips below to help parents have a relaxing family vacation with their baby.
Think about your “wish list” of priorities when choosing your destination. Are you looking to spend time with your partner? You’ll need to consider what child care services are offered, which could include private sitters and an onsite child care center, like the one offered at Smugglers’. Thinking about this ahead of time allows you to contact the destination and ask questions prior to arrival, which can help reduce the stress of setting up child care at an unfamiliar place. Would you like to have convenient laundry services? Infants can go through a week’s worth of clothing in just a couple of days. Perhaps a condominium setting with in-home washers and dryers would be a much-appreciated feature. Would you rather not eat out every night? If so, note whether your destination has lodging with a kitchen or kitchenette. Pre-planning some easy meals in your lodging can provide a seemingly effortless dinner option and make maintaining an infant’s routine easier.
Consider the staff at your vacation destination as a resource prior to arrival. When planning a trip with an infant, there are lots of questions that come up, primarily related to keeping your baby happy and on a familiar routine. While a destination’s website offers lots of information, it’s reassuring to connect with a knowledgeable staff member at your destination via email or a phone call. They can fill you in on what’s available right on the property or in the area, and whether you’ll need to pack extras of everything, or nothing! Resort destinations like Smugglers’ are likely to have stores that stock diapers, wipes and baby food, and rental services for everything from baby carriers to strollers.
Plan your route with baby’s needs in mind. Prior to heading off to your destination, it’s useful to map out your stops along the way. Diaper changes or bathroom breaks are often needed at the most inopportune times, so it helps to know where the next rest area is. It may also be helpful to start driving during the night or just prior to nap time, when your infant is usually sleeping. This helps keep fussy babies quiet and can make hours in the car more tolerable, especially if you have other young children unaccustomed to long car rides. If you do leave in the evening, a stay en route may be necessary, and planning your route ahead of time can help with identifying potential overnight lodging.
Research child-friendly restaurants along your route – not just restaurants that tolerate kids, but those that welcome them! If you’ll be traveling through a mealtime, it can be helpful to look up places to eat before you hit the road. Almost every parent has experienced that unsettling moment when their child decides to fuss and cry in a quiet restaurant. By looking ahead to find eating options where children are welcome, you can thoroughly enjoy your meal.
Relax – your pre-vacation preparations have covered all the bases. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your baby and other children will be, and your family will be well on their way to creating special vacation memories.
Looking for more advice on traveling with your baby? Read our nursery director’s tips on Evaluating vacation child care programs