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Traveling With Kids: Happier Trails

Get vacation tips for traveling with kids and let the pros provide options for kid-friendly trips with your baby or toddler.
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Tips from the pros for having a super fun vacation with your baby or toddler.

Settle down. "It's a good idea to set up in as few places as possible. I think road trips can be a pretty rough deal for a baby," notes Robert Reid, the U.S. travel editor for the Lonely Planet travel guide series. "I prefer picking a place and setting up there for three to seven days. Towns that are pedestrian- and stroller-friendly and have compact centers, with gardens or petting zoos or parks nearby, are ideal."

Make it a family affair. "A trip to visit loved ones is an affordable and enjoyable way to get away," says Colleen Lanin, creator and editor of the site Travel Mamas. "Just be sure to babyproof your temporary digs and let those you are visiting know your schedule ahead of time to avoid causing hurt feelings when, say, Grandma doesn’t get to spend every single minute of your trip with her grandchild."

Aim for open-ended. "National parks, open museums—such as art museums or hands-on interactive types—and outdoor historical settings where kids can run around have been the best vacation destinations with our toddlers," says Laurel Smith, a Lexington, Kentucky mom of three and creator of the website Moms Minivan. "We set our own pace, choosing one—and only one—activity that we want to do in a given day, and then just see where the rest of that day takes us."

Get an extra room. "Finding accommodations with multiple rooms means you can watch television, talk on the phone, or plan the rest of the day’s adventures while your child naps in a separate space," says Reid, a father of one in New York City. He once used the site HomeAway to rent an apartment to stay in during a trip. "We had a kitchen and separate rooms for about the same price that cramped hotel quarters would’ve cost. It made all the difference."

Consider an all-inclusive. "These resorts are usually set up to accommodate families with babies and toddlers," says Cindy Richards, editor of the online magazine Traveling Mom and a mom of two in Chicago, Illinois. "I’ve been to one that had baby food at the buffet!"

Pack light. "Don't feel you have to take all of your baby gear with you," says Vicki Lansky, author of Trouble-Free Travel With Children and a mom of two based in Excelsior, Minnesota. "You can rent, borrow, or buy stuff at your destination, or ship some of your own gear ahead of time."

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