In some ways, this post should be asking the question, “How short is too short?”

After all, the packing, planning and logistics involved in getting an under one out of town, seem to suggest that by the time you get there, you may as well stay a while.

The final answer depends a bit on the following:

You: what sort of traveller are you?

Are you a keen traveller? Love being away from home? Not phased that things will be a little bit more makeshift on the road with a baby? In that case, you’ll probably feel like a short joint of a couple of nights saw you just getting started.

Your baby: their travel tendencies.

This one is unknown. Some babies travel really well. They seem to love the new experiences, aren’t too phased by being introduced to countless new people, and embrace the travel cot like they have slept in it for their whole (admittedly short to date) life. The thing is, you won’t know if your baby is a good traveller until you get out there and try. So be brave! Or at least, start with somewhere small and fairly local, and then build up to more adventurous trips.

Who are you staying with?

If you’re staying with friends or family, there’s probably a natural sweet spot in terms of the length of your stay. Yes, one or two nights may not feel worth the effort at your end, but it might be just the perfect amount of time to bunk in with the in laws.

Our advice: how long is the right holiday length with a baby?

For local holidays…

Sue’s own ‘sweet spot’ for holidays when her son was under one was three or four nights for a local trip, or a trip where she is travelling solo.  If getting there took a bit more effort – think plane trip versus jumping in the car – then six nights seems a good number.

Why? On the first night, her son is usually so excited he wouldn’t go to sleep early. And on the last night, her own head was exploding with thoughts of the final bits of packing and the logistics of their ‘exit strategy’. That leaves four, fabulous days (or more importantly, trouble-free nights) in the middle of the experience to feel like you’re on holiday and the effort packing was worth it.

For international trips…

Of course if you venturing further afield, you may be thinking about staying weeks, not just days. Here, Sue’s six night minimum still applies: she tested this on a six week European trip where she mostly stayed that long in every location, and found it was just enough.

Yes, it would have been better to stay twice as long in half as many places (but as she was there working as a travel writer, that option was off the table). For ‘normal’ travellers, you’ll have a lot more scope to tailor the timing to suit. In fact, the hardest challenge is often letting go of places you’d really love to visit because the reality of staying just one and two nights in lots of locations for a couple of weeks with a small baby is, frankly, a terrible idea. Trust us: you’ll be frazzled within a week.

Remember, for a longer trip the golden rule is fewer locations, for longer.  Repeat it like your personal planning mantra.

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Aussie journalist, travel writer and founder of babieswhotravel.com Sue White has always been a traveller. When her son was born, Sue knew her travel itch would still need regular scratching. But how do you travel with a baby under one and still have a good time? Is it even possible? Where do busy new parents discover practical tips to support those first few trips? To find out, Sue and her baby son travelled both Australia and Europe doing house sits and house swaps; cat sitting and car journeys; took on 24 hours flights and short domestic jaunts; travelled with friends, solo and family members; and cycled, drove, flew and train-ed around seven countries, all before his first birthday.
Learn more about Sue.