Three times in the past month I’ve listened to friends speak excitedly about their future travel plans: Driving the French countryside, seeing Scotland for the first time, staying on a Greek island. “Where to travel next” is one of my all-time favorite conversations; but, what struck me is that all three are saving these trips for their maternity leaves.
As in, right after having a baby!
These friends work high-powered, stressful jobs where time off is limited. Even while on vacation, they are still expected to answer emails and calls from bosses. So, they are looking to maternity leave to truly “check out.”
Forget babymoons. Are “maternity leave vacations” the next travel trend?
I did not have a maternity leave as a freelance writer, but I do have experience in traveling with a baby. It can be done. It can even be enjoyable. Here are my tips:
Travel insurance. In case of sickness, colic, allergies, you name it. Always purchase travel insurance if your trip includes a baby. Read this article as a starting point.
The baby’s age. The sweet spot is eight to 12 weeks. Infants this age have usually received their first round of vaccines, are eating around the clock (so they don’t experience jet lag) and are good at falling asleep anywhere. Also by eight weeks, you will feel that you’re actually getting the hang of this parenting thing.
Mode of transportation. Taking a road trip is a great option because you can pack a car full of supplies and creature comforts. I’d recommend not planning a road trip longer than six hours in one day, since you’ll likely be stopping every two hours and that extra time adds up. If you want to roam further, book a non-stop flight.
Lodging. Relaxation and amenities should be at the top of your list. If you want to stay in a hotel, get an apart-hotel or suite so you aren’t forced to tiptoe around a tiny room every time the baby is napping. A kitchen would be a major plus. Balcony, too. If you want to rent a home, pay to have the refrigerator pre-stocked. The less on your to-do list, the better.
Location. Now we’re getting into the fun stuff! I’d recommend the beach, the mountains, the country — some place where all you have to do is look out the window to feel like you are on vacation. A place where taking naps, walks and eating well are easily accomplished. Not a place where you need to get out and see “sights” to enjoy yourself.
For the winter baby. I’d recommend Jake’s Treasure Beach in Jamaica. It’s as close as you can get to an all-inclusive hotel without scrimping on charm. There is a pool, a spa, three restaurants and the beach at your doorstep. Each room stands alone so you’ll never worry about waking your neighbors. There are direct flights from Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, New York and more.
For the west coast baby. Glen Oaks in Big Sur, California. Although I’ve not had the chance to stay at this down-to-earth roadside hotel, Big Sur is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever visited. Glen Oaks is nestled in the redwoods with upscale dining, hiking trails and ocean views nearby. Spend a little more to stay in one of their cottages — complete with fireplaces, kitchens and outdoor soaking tubs. (Babies aren’t allowed at the more famous Post Ranch Inn and Ventana. Book a babymoon there!)
For the adventuresome baby. OK, you really want to see some stamps in your baby’s passport and you don’t care if it requires a little extra juggling. How about a place that caters specifically to new parents? At Manoir La Jugie in the French countryside, parents will be treated exercise classes, massages, babysitting services and daily gourmet meals (plus wine, of course). Parents even meet with experts to discuss their well-being and future health goals. Babies can be up to the age of 18 months, so I’m going to earmark this one for the future. Requires a flight to Paris and three-hour train ride to Limoges.
For any baby. The easiest and possibly most budget-friendly option is visiting a place where family or friends reside (like we did!), so they can cook you dinner, hold the baby and let you take a nap. It will feel like a five-star hotel, trust me.
Did you travel after having a baby? Where did you go? Wishing you a relaxing weekend!