Embracing the Chaos of Family Vacations



Before I had my son, I was living life to the fullest! My husband and I traveled frequently, went out to dinner, and hung out with our friends all the time. Now, that my son is 14 months old, we still do the things we want to…but our life sure isn’t how it used to be. Many of our friends told us once we started having kids we wouldn’t be able to take a vacation until they were much older. My husband and I were determined to hold on to a small piece of our “before baby lives” and continue our adventures. When my son was 6 months old, I finally felt comfortable traveling out of state with a small child.

I never traveled with a child before, so it didn’t cross my mind that we wouldn’t be able to do all the things on the agenda.

Our first family trip was to Denver, Colorado, last summer. I spent HOURS researching and put together a list of all the things we were going to do and where we would go to eat. However, babies sure do have a mind of their own and I had to adjust our plans drastically. For example, I’d planned on spending the whole day at Garden of the Gods. It was about an hour drive there and we hoped my son would nap in the car. Of course he did not sleep at ALL which made for an interesting morning. I thought we were prepared in bringing both the Baby Bjorn and stroller with us. Unfortunately, my son did not want to spend much time in either one. In between diaper changes and feedings, we crammed in what should have been a full day into about three hours. Although our road trip didn’t go as planned, we made the best of it and enjoyed the short time we had exploring a new place. 

If I learned anything about traveling with a small child it’s this:

  • Plan only 1-2 activities per day for short periods of time AND preferably within close proximity to the hotel.
  • Choose a hotel or other accommodation that is family friendly. A 350 sqft area was not a lot of room for my son to crawl around and I think this added to his fussiness. This not only provides more space for the child but also for the adults to have a separate spot to relax and hang out during nap and bedtime.
  • Have a backup plan. When I first started traveling with my son, it was hard for me to understand that plans WILL most likely not go as expected. Having a “Plan B” can help account for poor weather, a crabby baby, or crowds at a particular attraction or event.
  • Poop explosions are pretty much inevitable so bring plenty of extra clothes when you are out and about, not only for the baby but for yourself as well. 

Traveling with a child is not an easy task! However, by being adaptable and keeping an open mind, vacations can be a fun experience for everyone.


  1. Yes yes yes! We just took our 9 month old to the Netherlands and Belgium. So many lessons learned. But at the end of the day, we will keep traveling with him. It’s a special experience all on its own.


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