Traveling internationally with your baby is sure to create some of your lifetime’s best memories, and I should know: our first overseas trip with baby was to Thailand when he was just five months old, over 14 years ago! Taking a trip with baby is a relatively simple journey, if you are properly prepared.
It’s my joy to help others get ready for adventures as a family, and I’m so glad you’re here, thinking about taking an international journey! While having a baby definitely changes your routine, schedule and life, it doesn’t have to stop you from traveling; you just need to travel differently, especially internationally.
(Hint - get baby’s passport right away, so when the travel bug and awesome sale hits, you’ll be ready!)
Based on years of travel with my family, and hours of researching today’s best baby-friendly destinations just for you (some of which we’ve personally visited, marked with *) here are my top recommendations for taking baby on vacation internationally.
Martinhal Family Resorts, Portugal
Having visited Europe extensively, I can personally tell you that the southwestern coast of Portugal, in the Algarve region, is one of the most glorious places on Earth. I wish the Martinhal family of resorts had been open when we visited Portugal with our nine-month-old baby! The Martinhal Algarve properties (for golfing and the amazing beaches) and two family-friendly properties in Lisbon, create an unparalleled name in Portugal for families to enjoy a true vacation in style. The award-winning Martinhal Family Hotels and Resorts, founded by Chitra Stern in 2010 (six years after we visited Portugal) may be the perfect place to travel with your infant.
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Stern’s vision for the brand was “to create properties specifically with the new generation of parents in mind. Those who've been accustomed to a certain luxury in their travels and now have kids and don't want to compromise on design / good healthy food/ and want the luxury of time as a family.” Their exclusive "Baby Concierge service" allows parents to pre-order baby products prior to arrival including cribs, safety gates, baby baths or smaller items like food products, thermometers etc. In addition, each property has a baby care center for infants and five kids clubs for ages 6 months to 16. In the mild and uncrowded winters, there is a complimentary kids club.
The award winning, family-friendly luxury Caribbean destinations, Beaches all-inclusive resorts, are sure to please even the most discriminating mom and bring huge smiles to baby! We’ve personally visited the Turks & Caicos location, and my boys are constantly asking when we can return! Beaches features family suites, optional butlers, splash pools water activities and certified nannies every day from 9 am to 6 pm, with an infant to staff ratio of 3:1. Planning to go dancing with your beloved? No problem, the nannies are also available for evening babysitting in your suite at an additional fee. If your little one is a fan of Sesame Street, this is the place for you! Beaches Resorts offer daily Sesame Street themed activities, weekly stage shows, a Caribbean festival and other opportunities to meet the characters, including an optional character tuck-in service! Taking older kids to the Caribbean, too or just looking for some fun? Grab my fun printable island scavenger hunt!
Disney Cruise Lines
While I’ve dreamt of a Disney Cruise for ages, we’ve not yet embarked on the magical cruise line, which has undoubtedly the best baby program available on the open oceans. According to their website, infants must be at least 6 months of age on the day of sailing for most itineraries, with minimum age for Transatlantic and Panama Canal itineraries as one year old. In addition to having necessary baby amenities available to you such as baby swings, toys and books, the counselors in the childcare facilities will change parent-provided diapers while mom and dad enjoy some famous onboard Disney hospitality. Many shore excursions have accommodations for baby joining the family, and your cruise can take you to such exotic ports-of-call as the Disney private island, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Panama, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, the Panama Canal and even across the Atlantic. Even older siblings will be entertained from Marvel, Star Wars, and of course, Disney entertainment featuring first-run films, activities, themed dining and more.
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When I was a kid, I remember hearing about Club Med vacations as prizes on Wheel of Fortune and thinking that must be the ultimate vacation experience. For a family with infants, it surely can bring that dream to life. Baby Club Med, specially for infants 4 to 23 months, will surely please both parents and baby. With destinations abroad, including the Dominican Republic, two locations in sunny Mexico, Europe, Africa, Brazil and even Asia, you can certainly think exotic all-inclusive destinations with the Club Med programs. Their unique Baby Club Med even seems to adhere to a Babywise-style schedule! Their exclusive program follows a set schedule including stimulating activities both in and outdoors, healthy meals and an afternoon nap. In addition, parents have 24-hour access to baby care rooms complete with all the necessary equipment for baby: bottle warmers, fridge, mixer, sterilizers, bottle warmer and more. The resorts also have a baby welcome package, including strollers, bathtubs, and other baby items for your use for an additional fee.
*Azul Beach Resort, Rivera Maya, Mexico
Just a short 20-minute ride from the easily accessible Cancun International Airport lies one of the best pieces of paradise our family has ever encountered. From the incredible staff, the silky sand beaches, the gourmet inclusive dining experience and the easily navigable intimate-luxury resort, Azul Beach Resort is truly a hidden gem. The Azulitos program for little ones will help you experience your vacation to the fullest while the pleasant staff provides you with essentials during your stay. You can travel lighter with strollers, cribs, pack 'n plays, bottle sterilizers and more, already on site for your convenience.
Franklyn D. Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dream of a private nanny while on vacation in the islands? Ya, mon, try the Franklyn D. Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Ever since the inspiring Disney movie Cool Runnings, I’m a huge fan of Jamaica! The all-suites, all-inclusive resort provides the gift of a fully-trained nanny to your family while you are on vacation. A qualified member of the FDR staff, she is specially trained and assigned to only your family from 8:30-4:30 every day, and is available for evening care for a nominal charge. While on your holiday, the warm, attentive & friendly nanny is your vacation assistant, happy to take care of your family’s every need. By the end of your stay, she’ll be part of your family. Mom and Dad will return home feeling refreshed, restored and relaxed after spending your time on vacation at “the most friendly family place in Jamaica!” While you spend time with baby, your nanny will care for your suite, keeping it clean, and will even stock your refrigerator.
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* Elia Suites, Eratini, Corinthian Rivera, Greece
Feeling a bit more adventurous? Head over to the Corinthian Rivera in Greece, just a couple hours drive from the history of Athens, and vacation at your home away from home, beachside in Erantini at the luxurious and family-friendly Elia Suites (Elia means olives but also stands for Eratini Luxurious Inspiring Accommodations.) Greece, with its difference in language and alphabet, is truly one of the most exotic destinations I’ve ever experienced. That being said, I highly recommend hiring a transport company like Tsoras Travel to get you from Athens to Erantini (with a couple of stops in between!) There is nothing quite like Greek hospitality, and the owners of Elia Suites, Anna and Panos, will make you feel like family in your own private building, your Greek home away from home.
This intimate enclave of luxury private residences with a view of the gulf will help you make a lifetime of memories with baby while still preserving the feeling of romance. Though there is no babies’ program, you’ll be able to make yourselves truly at home with more than enough amenities. Best of all, you’ll be welcomed to the family at a magical place with purple sunsets on the azure seas where owner Anna spent her childhood days. Make sure you ask Panos to make you a coffee in the hip and comfy art-filled courtyard. While at Elia, head to the village of Eratini on market night for some people watching and enjoy the incredible Greek seafood and hospitality at Katina Taverna, sure to come complete with a visit (and probably a kiss) from the family-owned restaurant’s Yiayia (grandmother.)
Oversees too adventurous?
Considering staying stateside? Never fear, Club Med has a program within the US that will pamper you and baby with their famous international flair. Or, check out this article on my other top US destinations with baby, and remember to download your printable packing checklist for traveling with baby.
Tips for International Travel with Baby
Best Places to Travel with Baby in the United States
How to Obtain Baby’s Passport
Printable Checklist for Packing with Baby
7 Tips for Surviving Baby’s First Flight
Helping Baby Sleep While Away from Home
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