Travelling shouldn’t be stressful. You’re booking a holiday to get away and explore, or relax for a week or two (or longer if you’re lucky). If you’re travelling with a new born baby or young child, it’s very possible that you’ll have no experience in this (unless you’ve got older children too), and if you’re using your shared parental leave as an opportunity to see more of the world, it’s a lot to organise.
It could be a whirlwind few weeks for you leading up to your holiday. You’ll be settling in with the little one and finding a routine, but also trying to figure out what you need to pack. Do you need a buggy or can you use a baby carrier? How many nappies do you need? Not forgetting you need to fit all this in your luggage, whilst packing for you and your partner at the same time!
Just be mindful that travelling can be tiring and a big deal for not only a young baby, but a new family too. We’ve devised some top tips if you’re travelling with a little one:
- Check the airline you’re using for age restrictions. Some airlines allow babies to fly from 2 days old, where others have restrictions up until 15 days old. Although some doctors advise waiting until your baby is 6-weeks old so their immune system can develop.
- If you’ve had a caesarean section, you may need a doctor’s approval note for you to fly. You can ask for this in your 6-week postnatal check-up.
- Are you ready to travel? Make sure you give yourself time to rest and adjust to the new routine.
- Some airlines allow extra baggage with an infant fare. These lower fares allow your little one to sit on your lap during the flight. If you’re travelling long haul, make sure to book a bulkhead seat and ask for a bassinet. These are first-come first-serve so it’s advisable to book this as soon as possible.
- Bring a familiar baby blanket. Being surrounded by the familiar smell will help them feel more comforted.
- Nappy check before you board! The baby change units in the airport will feel luxurious compared to the toilets on board the plane.
- Prepare a bottle for take-off and landing, this will help with the change in altitude and the inevitable ear-popping.
So now that you’re ready to go – where exactly are you flying to? We took a browse through the web, and found some suggestions, including tried-and-tested baby-safe locations!
South of France
With the lovely weather (depending on when you go), the South of France offers a serene and laid-back experience for new (or new again) parents. The warmer Mediterranean Sea meets France here, and the coastline is dotted with non-touristy areas and beautiful sandy beaches to be explored.
The Reserve Africaine de Sigean is located between Narbonne and Perpignan, and provides a great chance for younger children to see safari animals up close. The reserve prides itself on conservation, education, research and leisure, and has more than 3,800 animals that are free to wander the 300 hectares.
If you’d prefer to see more of the South of France, we’d suggest hiring bikes and cycling along the Canal du Midi. Although it can get a little bumpy in places, it’s a relatively flat trail which is ideal to follow to nearby towns for a bite to eat.
For those of you who are looking to take your young family a bit further afield, Japan is an excellent option. Firstly, it’s extremely baby-friendly – there are plenty of baby cafés with childproof areas that provide food and drink for young and old. Secondly, it’s a very clean country - it’s the norm for Japanese people to clean up after themselves, and they’re taught to take responsibility of their own rubbish.
We’d advise leaving the buggy at home though, and opt for the baby carrier. If you’re trying to get around major cities, you’ll find steps and escalators galore – especially if you’re travelling on the trains. The good thing about using Japan’s public transport is that children under 6 travel for free, plus it’s definitely the easiest way to get around.
Things in Japan can be quite expensive, taxis especially (another reason to use the trains). If you’re planning on doing some travelling whilst you’re in the country, it can be difficult to transport your luggage with you and can easily turn into a juggling session - especially if you’ve had to pack extra for the little one. You’ll be pleased to know that Japan has a handy luggage forwarding system which is available at a reasonable price, and your cases generally reach your next destination the next business day.
You really can pack light if you’re intending on heading to Bali for your baby holiday. We can hear you saying “It’s easier said than done!” BUT – Bali have a brilliant baby equipment hiring system, whereby you can be sure that you can hire the equipment you need for your trip, all at a reasonable price. Worry about the smaller things such as nappies, food, creams and ointments which can be difficult to find, but also not necessarily the brands you use which could upset your routine.
The Conggu, Ubud, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua areas are the best to visit with your young family. The latter is scattered with baby-friendly hotels and villas, all of whom are more than happy to provide provisions to make your stay as comfortable as possible, making it the perfect place if it’s a quiet escape you’re looking for.
Ubud is located within the rice paddies and villages as you head north in land, and is perfect if you want to learn a little bit more about Bali. Most hotels will offer excursions, if you opt for a walking tour and want to bring the little one along for the ride, leave the buggy behind – the pathways in Bali can be a bit difficult.
If the beach is calling you, then Tulum could be the perfect place. The hot climate may be a bit difficult for baby, so search for a hotel room with air con. If the cold air from the air con is too much, it’s advisable to ask for a seafront room, the breeze will be just as nice.
If you like to get away from the hotel, the Tulum Ruins are nearby. A taxi will take around 15 minutes to get there, depending on where you’re picked up from. It’s probably worth bringing a car seat for the baby if you’re planning on getting taxi’s, not many will provide these. The Ruins have a beach area (Playa Ruinas), so you can have a paddle to cool off.
If you’re staying in the area, there are plenty of places to eat and drink by the beach, and in the town. Most of the hotels are situated by the beach, with the town a little bit inland. Ice cream shops are available, and can be the perfect cool snack for little one. One to look out for is Panna e Cioccolato which you definitely can’t miss.
Walt Disney World, Florida
Okay, this one might seem like a bit of a cop-out. But many people think it’s not worth spending thousands to take your baby to a place they won’t remember. Disney caters for everyone, no matter what age – it’s magical, right? It means you get to spend some time in “the most magical place on earth”, and bond with your new born.
The best news about this? Under 3’s get free entry to all Disney parks, and eat for free in all the buffets. With plenty of options, you should be able to find something suitable to explore, and chow down. If not, there are many Baby Care Centres where you will be able to change, nurse and feed your little one. High-chairs are available, as well as microwaves for warming food, and AIR CON! You can also pick up snacks, nappies and dummy’s here if you’re in desperate need for some spares.
Most rides at Magic Kingdom don’t have height restrictions because of their tame manner, meaning you can hop on with your baby on your lap, and watch as they interact with the sights, sounds and motions of the ride. Meet and greets with the characters are also great if little one is fascinated by the colourful outfits and likes to interact.
And if you’re travelling with a new born, you may well be taking a familymoon. Use your shared parental leave to explore the world!