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Best ages to travel with babies/toddlers/kids?

Best ages to travel with babies/toddlers/kids?

Old Jun 16th, 2012, 04:08 PM
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Best ages to travel with babies/toddlers/kids?

We have enough frequent flier miles to finally get to take the trip to Europe we were planning when I discovered I was pregnant. That child will be two next month, and I'm due with my second in August. We'd really like to go ASAP when the new one arrives, since in my thinking, if we want to ever amble through a big museum, we better do it when one can nap in a stroller and the other while being carried - by the time mid-morning naps disappear, so will "adult" activities like museums until probably they're in Junior High.

We're torn a bit, however, trying to figure out the best time to go: If we go when new baby is 6 mo or less, she's practically an accessory - I can wear her everywhere and I'll be nursing so I don't have to worry about strange foods, etc. The two-year old is a remarkably well-behaved child that still takes a good long nap every day - both pluses. But that also means we're looking at going in either November or Feb/March, which means we're bringing coats and risking bad weather. (We haven't even settled on a destination yet - leaning towards Rome or Florence since DH has never been). Option #2 is to wait until summer since my business revolves around the school year, which makes it a bit easier to get away, but that means we're looking at an almost 1-year old, and an almost 3-year old. They'll be more engaged, which is nice, but also potentially more particular about sleep, foods, etc. Since new one hasn't arrived yet, I don't know if she'll be as laid-back as her brother.... We also don't have the miles for 4 tickets, so whether she's an infant or a 1-year old, she'll be in laps for the whole long flight....Infant is definitely easier on that front. And Option #3 is to continue to put off the trip for God-knows-how-long while I mourn my previously well-traveled life... =)

In addition to advice on our particulars, I'd love a bit of a poll - with kids 2 years apart, what do you think the best ages to travel with them are? In our case, would you go for the probably easier infant stage but bad weather and having to check in at work while you were gone, or would you go for the nice weather, vacation from work, but two toddlers?
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 12:08 AM
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Allow me to ramble a bit . . .

You can go anytime but the trips will obviously be different. We have too many places to see to wait until the perfect time. That said, I can't imagine doing that two very little ones in tow.

It sounds as if this is a "trip of a lifetime" or at least not an every year thing. If that is the case, I would wait a few years (youngest out of diapers? or a little longer). You'll have so much more stuff to take otherwise. Another wrinkle is the jet lag. We took our 20 month old daughter to Korea and it took her forever to adjust. We tried everything to keep her awake . . .

It's easier when the youngest can entertain him/herself with videos and games and can pull their own luggage.

Surely there are some nice places to see closer to home that would be easier to manage.

We moved to the UK with kids 8 & 11 -- that's been perfect for us though I doubt there is a perfect age.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 01:28 AM
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We took our two sons (now 18 and 21, one mellow, one active) to Europe almost every year (work related), starting when our older one was 20 months, and usually stayed 2-5 weeks. Other than the long plane rides from the west coast, we never found the journey any more challenging or stressful than travel in the US. And it was always really fun and to immerse ourselves in different cultures as a family. We often had to go in August when it was unbearably hot, but once spent a month in Paris in October. (Didn't take them in the winter until they were older.)

The key to preserving our sanity was staying in apartments rather than hotels, sticking to a "mid Atlantic schedule" (late to bed, sleep late) to minimize jet lag, limit traditional sightseeing to one activity a day, rent cars for day trips, and seek out kid activities - parks, puppet shows, sailing boats in fountains, watching pick up games of soccer, etc. When they were very young, we also hired local babysitters (Time Out guides list vetted agencies) for 3 hours every evening so we could go out to dinner, a museum or concert.

If this is your "one trip," I would say to wait unti they're 5 and 8 and go in the summer. But if you're craving Italy (or maybe Spain - warmer in Nov), just do it. Western Europe is extremely well set up for babies and kids - great medical care, access to better equipment and food than at home, and lots of civilized adventures that will pave the way for more extreme travel later on. Enjoy!
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 04:12 AM
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Hi Thursday,

I would suggest an option in between "go now" and "wait indefinitely," which would be to wait one more year until they are almost-2 and 4. By that time at least one of them will be out of diapers. You may have to strategize to enjoy museums (that is, mom spends some time in the courtyard while dad walks around, and then switch) but both of them will be able to enjoy parks and outdoor activities rather than being in a stroller all day (which in turn tires them out, which is a beautiful thing).

The first time we went to Scotland our youngest was 2 1/2. He had a great time. If I recall correctly he was wearing pull-ups just as a backup but we were able to avoid needing them most of the time. We did not use a stroller - DH carried him in a backpack when necessary (no need to stop for naps - just kept walking while he slept). So I don't think you need to wait until they are of school age.

Either way I am a big fan of the self-catering travel mode with kids - we did not do it when were child-free (we tended to move around a lot) but you can make a lot work when you have a "home base" to return to, even Florence in November.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 06:29 AM
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I would like to suggest a completely different idea. If you have grandparents (or sibling, or friend) that are willing, wait until you can leave the youngest (through with breast feeding) and go with just your husband. I think it is great for your marriage to have couple time. The kids are too young at those ages to remember anything of the trip. Wait until they are older, at least 6 and 8, and they will be easier to travel with, and have a lasting memory of the trip.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 10:54 PM
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Thanks for the replies and opinions! A few details to add clarity/wrinkles, though I don't think they matter- the points made already are all good ones. Two year old is out of diapers already except at night (we did infant potty training), so we do already have one down on that front...In terms of "trip of a lifetime," it's an odd distinction. Prior to marriage, I attempted to travel at least once a year, and we backpacked for our honeymoon, swearing that we would continue to do so as often as possible for the rest of our lives...cut to 6 years and 1.8 kids later, and we have yet to go back. So it's a trip we've been planning for a while, but at the same time we think of it as a jump start into traveling again - though whether that's actually going to happen or it's going to be another 6 years, we can't tell. So we want to make it count, but we don't expect it to be the only time we ever go.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 02:02 AM
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If you are flexible, you can't go wrong.

My kids grew up traveling over in Europe as we are expats. Like Crosscheck said, the key thing for us was to stay in apartments or villas. When the kids get a tad bit older, you will want to make sure that you ahve a pool available too. HInts are: Sightsee half the day and relax the other half, carry snacks, concentrate on more child friendly places ie Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia and some other Southern European countries. If you go to museums, pick up an art book tht concentrates on that museum. Have the 3 year old go through it and circle certain pictures that appeal to him. His mission will be to find those pieces in the museum. Finally, make sure you have excellent quality strollers with wheels that can handle cobblestones.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 12:28 PM
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Go this fall/winter. There is never a good age to travel with children, nor a bad one. It is different than two adults, but every age brings its special joys... and challenges. The longer you wait, the less trips you will have in your life time, so go when you can, and don't worry about the 'best' time.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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Go whenever you want to go. I took my two (3 years apart) at least once a year from the time they were infants until they were in college. There weren't any bad trips, just different trips with different expectations. We didn't stay away from museums on any trips, either, though my kids were weaned on the Smithsonian and had plenty of museum time under their belts by the time they were toddlers. It's all about adapting to the individual children and being flexible.
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