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traveling with baby - need help getting started!

dedham, ma
8 posts
traveling with baby - need help getting started!

hi everyone - I need your help! my husband and I are planning a trip for next summer with our baby who will be 1.5 at that time. i have been reading these forums for help (which i always do before any big trip!), but this time i am pretty overwhelmed by all of the choices. i am hoping for some advice!

here is what I know: we will go sometime between may and august (not sure what is best in terms of wildlife, crowds, etc) for about 2 weeks. we love to hike (but will have the baby, so the hikes can't be too hard to do with a baby carrier), we love wildlife (hoping to photograph bears and whales and more), we love scenery (hoping to see icebergs/glaciers - maybe on a day trip or a longer cruise). we love adventure, but again, this is now a bit harder now that we need to keep the baby safe! we aren't crazy about spending much time in cities, unless they are very unique, but we do love small towns that show a place's character.

we used to camp, but with the baby, we probably need hotels or other more predictable lodging (hopefully unique and not mass market). we have never used tour groups, but i am beginning to wonder if it would be easier this way. we can drive, use trains, or fly as recommended. medium budget - we want to save where we can, but we don't want to miss out on an experience of a lifetime due to money. all in all, we do like to cram in a lot of experiences, but not so much that we are constantly running from one place to the next.

so where or where should i begin? i don't even know where to start the trip! i hope that seasoned Alaska travelers can offer some help. I appreciate your time.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
916 posts
1 review
1. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

I applaud your desire to take such a big trip with wuch a small child. I know we didn't vacation with our kids until the youngest was 5! We have made up for it though. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I just don't know you would be able to do what you enjoy with such a small child. We have worked up to our upcoming trip, now with a 12 and 14 year old.

Alaska is huge! Car rides are long, boat excursions can be long, bear excursions probably not appropriate, shuttle bus into the park LONG! A trip now would mean: no kayaking, rafting, hiking on a glacier, longer hikes and on... You could do Alaska "soft" but I don't know if you would enjoy that.

Just me, but starting with trips that had excursions that were more accessible, Alaska may be a place you would enjoy more in a few years.

San Diego
Level Contributor
73 posts
2. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

We're leaving on Friday for 9 nights in an RV with a 9, 7, and 20 month old. I'll let you know when I get back if this was a good idea or not:=)

We did an RV trip (1000 miles) with our 18 month old a couple of months ago in Northern California. It was a bit challenging, but worth it. Of course, it is our third (boy) and letting the naps slide and eating macaroni every day was no big deal. We brought a chair that clipped onto the end of the table and a pack and play. He was bushed by the end of each day.

You might consider doing two 1-week vacation rentals. One on the Kenai peninsula and one in the Mat-Su Valley. Each location has lots fun things to do in day trips. That way, the wee one would have more of a stable environment.

I think a tour would be a drag, your toddler will not want to be operating on someone else's schedule.

You need to think of what mode of transportation/lodging works best for you and then go from there.

Hope that gets you started!

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
45,094 posts
44 reviews
3. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

Too bad you can't come this summer, I think a smaller baby travels easier than a toddler . . . as well, it just really depends on your kid - some are great travelers that you can bring anywhere, and some that you cannot. Most Alaskans are use to traveling with kids all over the place, so we just do it - can't wait for them to grow up or grandparents Outside would never see them.

You could either rent an RV and camp around the state that way . . . or do the B&B/cabin/hotel thing - whatever would work for you, though I would recommend staying somewhere you can do at least some basic meal prep, as it will save you not only $$ but the hassles of dining out for every meal. I would drive yourself so you can be on your own schedule, rather than the train or bus - just my thoughts.

If you invest in a good child carrier like a Kelty, you could do just about anything with your child - most trails, etc.

I would do about a week on the Kenai seeing places like Homer and Seward . . . and a week in Denali/Fairbanks, etc. You can fine tune that once you decide if you are going to do it . . . my favorite times to come here would be mid-June to mid- July OR late August/early September. Good luck! :)

Columbia, Maryland
Level Contributor
274 posts
8 reviews
4. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

I'm a child development specialist and wouldn't have attempted a trip like this with my three kids when they were toddlers. My kids were really active babies and would not have tolerated multiple long trips in the car strapped in a car seat. Our vacations back then consisted of anywhere we could drive in 2 hours because that was the limit of what they (and we) could endure in the car.

My husband and I love to tent-camp and wanted to share that love with our kids. We went camping with our oldest when he was 6 months old and it worked well. We went again when he was 18 months old and had such an awful time that we didn't attempt it again until our youngest was 4. As an 18 month old, our son was into everything (and everything he could grab in his fist was into him). We couldn't take our eyes off him for a second. It was not a relaxing peaceful experience because it was impossible to "child proof" a campsite in the middle of the woods. Now that our children are older we enjoy camping with them, but we had to take a break for a few years

There are less active children who do well on long trips. However, if I did the math correctly, your baby is only 5 months old and hasn't developed to the point of being mobile. You won't know if your child has the right personality for such travel until he or she is able to independently crawl or walk. You'll also have a better sense of how flexible your child's personality is. Some children don't tolerate changes in routine, others take it all in stride. My recommendation would be to gather information now, but not plan anything definite until your child is a little older and you can better predict if he or she has the right personality for such a trip. Good luck!

Fairbanks, Alaska
Level Contributor
1,696 posts
146 reviews
5. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

In my experience, kids are very good travelers. One of my favorite pictures is of my now 20 year old sitting on a picnic table at Teklanika with her baby spoon clutched in her little fist. She has been on the shuttle bus many times since then. As coalminer says, Alaska kids have to be good travelers.

I'd recommend that you look into renting a small RV so you can stop for day hikes (or naps or meals) when the mood strikes. That would be easier than moving from hotel to hotel, and would allow you to experience some great campgrounds. You could go north from Anchorage to Denali and/or south to the Kenai Peninsula -- Homer and Seward are beautiful.

You might also look into cruise prices for May; they are very reasonable early and late in the season, and allow you to sample the ports in southeast Alaska. You could do a one way cruise to Seward or Whittier, and then a week in an RV to Denali, etc. (If you do an early cruise, just be sure to check when the Denali shuttles start for the season.)

A tour group is NOT well suited to families with children; you need more flexibility than a tour can offer.

Arkansas
Level Contributor
318 posts
45 reviews
6. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

I think it is great that you will be traveling with your little one. My daughter is 8, but I have been traveling with her since she was 3 months old. Did we make more stops then? Oh yeah, but it was worth it.

This is our first trip to Alaska. We actually opted to fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks to save on time.

Denver, CO
Level Contributor
3 posts
14 reviews
7. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

Next week I will be flying to Alaska with my 3-month old baby. We will be renting an rv for the flexibility. I have travelled extensively with my now 3 year old son including air and road trips. He has done well with all the international and domestic travel we have done. I agree that having a backpack is very useful.

I was looking forward to the 9-hour Northwestern Fjord boat tour. I called Kenai Fjords to ask about bringing a baby and they had no problem. They do not charge for children under 2. Then I saw a recommendation for Major Marine tours so I called them as well. I found they charge the same as a child (2-18 yrs old). I asked why. I wasn't given a reason why but was told they charge to discourage people from taking their infants.

8. Re: traveling with baby - need help getting started!

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