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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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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 14reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by This whole section of articles is great. Would like even more added. March 8, 2013
    Rated 0 out of 5 by We are planning a move to a new state in a few months and am in no way prepared for my little one to travel for 13 hours. I know we will be making plenty stops to keep the trip as calm as possible. Thanks for some of the travel tips. I will surely be using a few on our journey. November 1, 2012
    Rated 0 out of 5 by We have used the extra room tip for years with our teenagers and now with our newborn. When we travel we always book a suite which usually consists of two rooms - one with a king or queen bed and a door separating the "living" area with a pull out bed. You can also fit in a roll away bed if needed. This allows for kids to watch one tv and adults the other or helps so that baby doesn't bother the teens during the night. The upgrade to a suite has never been more than $20 for us - but that probably depends on where you are located.I also found that even when we visited family, it is often nice to get a hotel room so that our kids had their own space to unwind and claim as their own. After a long day of playing/visiting cousins and dealing the the usual childhood conflicts of sharing toys, etc, the last thing they want to do is share their sleeping space. October 16, 2012
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I think this article could have been more helpful if it included lists and helpful hints, rather than just an overview of general knowledge. Most of the things in this article are known to those with kids, nothing new or helpful! Thumbs down for this one. September 24, 2012
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