I have a list of what I refer to as my now and then trips. Things to do before or after the kids reach a certain age. I just wish I’d started it earlier.
Babies and toddlers
The simplest of holidays often work best for this age group. You can’t really take your eyes off the kids no matter what you’re doing so making your life easier will make theirs happier.
“Buckets and spades” holidays are perennial winners. Australia has some of the most pristine beaches and cleanest water in the world. I often wonder why people travel to other places to sit on sand that’s littered with rubbish and swim in murky seas. The trick here is to rent a house or find hotel or serviced apartment accommodation with good kitchen facilities so you can prepare food and bottles safely and efficiently.
Note that even if you’re heading to a beach resort, you won’t spend endless hours on the beach with a baby or toddler; you will be more likely to do it in short, manageable spurts.
Beyond Australia, Bali, Fiji and Phuket are three of the most visited beach destinations for Australians, where babies and small children are fussed over and made welcome, and babysitters on tap if exhausted new parents need a night off. There are however associated health risks with travelling to places like Indonesia, which need to be taken into account when travelling with babies and toddlers.
In many ways city-based holidays are the most ideal for babies and stroller-bound toddlers. As long as you bear their routines and sleep needs in mind you can do a lot with this age group. You can set yourself up in an apartment and explore the city on foot or public transport (so you don’t need to worry about things like car seats).
The wonderful parks in cities like Paris, London and New York might just become the highlight of your trip.
Don’t discount smaller cities or towns – for example Lyon or Dijon or Bordeaux in France – which can often be just that much easier to negotiate but still give you much of the quality of its larger capital cousin.
Another option is a rural villa rental, perhaps in Italy or France or Spain, where you have plenty of space and can drive to nearby towns and villages. Just be aware that if there’s a pool it’s unlikely to be fenced.
Asian cities are lively and colourful but some are cleaner and easier to cope with than others, and pollution can be an issue. Singapore is the most pristine – some might say sterile – of the lot, and in the heat of a Hong Kong summer you can still walk around under cover and in air-conditioned, stroller-friendly malls with ease.