Some people have the notion that when they start a family, they would have to endure months, or even years, without being able to go for a holiday. And as holidays are such a sacred part of our lifestyle, the fear of being “grounded” by a baby is an unpleasant thought indeed.
However, even though it is true that when baby arrives, “life as you know it will end”, it merely means that a different life – one that is fuller, crazier, and definitely more meaningful – is about to begin.
So put your mind at ease. It is possible to have fun family holidays with baby in tow, and here are some simple tips on how to plan a successful first family vacation!
1. First K.I.S.S (Keep it Short and Simple)
If you are bringing your infant on an overseas trip for the very first time, try not to be overly ambitious about the destination and length of travel. Babies are notoriously unpredictable, and you wouldn’t know how your (usually) charming and easygoing little angel will react to the unfamiliar surroundings, stresses of travel, and changes to time zones.
The first family trip should also not be too extravagant, as you should consider it more of an “experiment” to find out how well your baby adapts to travels. Keeping it low-budget helps you manage expectations, just in case things go south.
For example, if you suddenly have a fussy and inconsolable baby on your hands, it would be much easier to forego a relaxing day at the beach, rather than giving up expensive admission tickets to a theme park.
Try to keep your itinerary simple and flexible, with lots of time to just rest, relax and enjoy family time.
2. The Mode Factor
It is important to consider the mode of travel for baby’s first trip. Although Singaporeans are spoilt for choice with budget airlines offering a whole gamut of enticing destinations, it might be a good idea to hold off air travel till slightly later.
Instead of flying, you could consider a short road trip to Malaysia, where you would be able to control most aspects of the journey, including how many rest stops you make. An additional advantage of traveling by car is that you can pack half the house into the car boot, including the sterilizer, baby bathtub and other random baby paraphernalia, just in case you might need them.
Some excellent road trip destinations that can be reached fairly easily within a few hours of driving include Desaru, Malacca or even Genting Highlands (for the cool weather, not the casino!).
Another fantastic option would be to visit the neighbouring Indonesian islands of Batam or Bintan. Babies love the soothing, rocking rhythms of the waves, and would most likely be lulled into blissful slumber during the boat ride!
If you do decide to travel by plane, it would be best to keep it to a short flight, and be prepared with the following:
- toys or books to entertain your child for the duration of the flight.
- a bottle, pacifier, or good ‘ole’ mommy’s breast, for baby to suckle during take-off and descent, so as to relieve pressure in the ears. A more detailed article about ear pain while flying may be found here.
- sweater and long pants for baby, as it can get cold during the flight.
- lots of extra diapers, clothes and wipes. You wouldn’t want to be caught short when turbulence causes you to spill milk all over your little darling.
Also, try to book a bassinet seat, so that if you are in luck and your baby drops off to sleep, you can relax and enjoy some in-flight entertainment.
3. Go All-In
Once you have figured out how to get there, the next crucial thing to consider is what you’ll do and where you’ll stay. A great option for parents with babies are all-inclusive family resorts like Club Med, also offered by hotel chains such as Marriott, Hyatt, Holiday Inn and more. A comprehensive list of such resorts, organized by destinations, can be found here.
Some of these resorts accept babies in their Kids’ Clubs from as young as 4 months old, allowing couples to enjoy a well-deserved break from parenthood, relax, and reconnect with each other.
Being family-friendly, these resorts will have the needs of their young guests in mind, and amenities such as baby meals, cots and high chairs would be readily available. This means there is no need for you to worry about the nitty-gritty details.
4. Baby Steps are OK
Finally, if overseas travel still sounds a little daunting, one could always consider the wonderful option of getting away from it all while staying right here! Many hotels in Singapore now offer staycation packages for families eager for a short break, without the hassle of travel. With an infant in the picture, this might just hit the sweet spot, as there is no need to worry about unfamiliar cuisines, cultures or surroundings. It’s also a cheaper alternative, which is always a welcomed bonus!
Click here to read I Love Children's daddy blogger, Joel Chng's, child-friendly 6D5N holiday in Bangkok!
I hope these simple tips have been helpful. Get packing, and enjoy a family holiday!