“Is vacation with a baby just like being at home, but harder?” a fellow new mother asked me this week.
“No!” I responded with passion. “It’s still vacation, just different! With a little planning and some wise choices, I promise you will be able to achieve relaxation and fun.”
The key to actually feeling like you’re on vacation while traveling with a baby, we found during our Puerto Rico travels, is to start with accommodations where you will feel comfortable and well taken care of. Specifically, tracking down a “family-friendly” hotel makes a world of difference.
Let’s face it: It’s hard enough to be at home with a baby who is starting solid food for the first time, let alone traveling with one. Just observe baby Devi’s dramatic first encounter with a piece of orange.
Intense, right??? Given these swirling emotions, we were relieved that our first three nights in Puerto Rico were in the comforting San Juan Marriott (click to check availability and rates). Heck — even the “Crispy French Toast” that I ordered the first morning (pictured below) was comforting!
Of course, every time I attempted to eat my delectable breakfast, my child was busy trying to devour the napkins. But instead of giving our baby dirty looks, the waitstaff at the hotel’s restaurant, “La Vista,” smiled and helped us. Morning to evening, they made the madness of meals with our infant melt away.
The waiters joked with the baby, standing very formally in front of him and saying, “Hello, sir. What can I get for you this morning?” The baby always responded with some variation of burping and smearing yogurt on his face.
So this goes back to my original point: If we had chosen a less family-friendly or more “roughing it” spot for our first Puerto Rico hotel, how stressed out we would have been! Instead, there were two other babies within ten feet of us in the dining room each morning, and we felt right at home. But wait — it was much more relaxing than home, because kindly people brought us food and cleaned up our baby’s ridiculous post-meal mess! Bless that staff.
Oh, and it didn’t hurt that sun-soaked Condado Beach sits snugly next to the hotel and is visible from the restaurant (and from our crazy high hotel room balcony). And did I mention that “La Vista” had Nutella creme brulée for dessert?
Prior to our Puerto Rico trip, my husband and I had hardly started solids with Devi. We attempted avocado and banana and our little cherub promptly threw them up. (One forgets that we humans are not born knowing how to eat food!) By the time we were set to take the flight to San Juan, Devi was able to eat a little baby oatmeal, but that was the extent of our adventurousness. We were nervous how solids would pan out on the road.
Because we felt so comfortable and welcome in our San Juan hotel, however, we were able to really start experimenting with what food the baby could eat. The waiters helped us think through what dishes might be soft enough, and even provided extra bowls of fruit and yogurt. The result was a huge leap forward in Devi’s eating adventures, as documented by these photos. Yay!
Here’s another tip for making sure your baby vacation is relaxing: Pick a hotel that has entertainment within it as well as close by. With a baby, you can’t be gallivanting into the wee hours all around the city, so we really appreciated that the San Juan Marriott had a perfect pool and beach right there, as well as a bustling lobby and good stores just steps outside. I wish I could tell you I won a zillion dollars in the casino, but I merely lost $2 in pennies at the penny slot machines. Ah well.
In closing, I would declare the San Juan Marriott the most family-friendly place I’ve ever stayed. I’m chuckling because five years ago, I was traveling alone through Asia, sleeping in a supply closet in Cambodia for $10 a night that was so far from “family-friendly,” it’s hilarious. That was fun (albeit dusty), but times have changed. Our little munchkin is better served by kind waiters and a comfortable hotel room, and my appreciation for those luxuries now soars!
We were guests of the San Juan Marriott, but all opinions and yogurt-smeared babies are my own. Some links above are affiliates that provide a small commission at no extra cost to you.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!