Kid-Friendly Vacations For Less Than $1,000

The Deal Detective
by , SmarterTravel Staff
The Deal Detective -Female
Baby at the airport (Photo: Duncan Babbage/iStockphoto)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on July 9, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: camping, family travel, Jackson Hole, national park, Quebec City, The Deal Detective, The Deal Detective, vacation package, vacation rental, wildlife, Yellowstone National Park.

The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel.com's resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She's always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.

lilone writes, "My husband and I want to take our one-year-old on a non-beach vacation. We all have our passports. We'd like to stay under $1,000 for the trip. Last-minute is fine with us this summer! We are in Western Kentucky, and would be flying out of BNA (Nashville, Tennessee) or STL (St. Louis, Missouri). Thanks for any help!"

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There are many things to consider when traveling with a baby, including length of flights, lodging amenities, activities, and safety of the destination. Plus, there's no need to plan your vacation around keeping the little one entertained (save Disney for the later years) since he or she is so young. You also don't want to spend a lot of money on a trip that he or she isn't going to remember. You want to plan a vacation that you and your husband are going to enjoy, but that also accommodates your baby's needs. The destination you choose will also depend on the type of traveling you like to do.

For the active parent who enjoys the great outdoors and a bit of adventure, I would recommend a trip to a national park, such as Acadia or Yellowstone. Located just a few miles from the popular town of Jackson Hole, Yellowstone provides endless things to see and do inside and outside the park, including hiking (get a baby backpack and go), wildlife viewing, Wild West history, and sightseeing.

I priced round-trip airfare from St. Louis to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, starting at $220 per person (with taxes and fees) in August. Most airlines do not require you to buy a ticket for children under two years of age for domestic flights, but you may want to consider it when flying longer distances. Check with your airline carrier about their policies before you depart.

Though there are many accommodations options in Jackson Hole, a vacation rental with its own kitchen and separate bedrooms may be the ideal place to stay for a family. Two-bedroom condos start at $100 per night, and most require a minimum night stay (three nights, in this case). Camping is also an option if you feel like braving the elements, and campsites in Yellowstone start at $12 per night. You can opt to take a tour bus through the park ($58 per adult and $45 for 16 and under), but a rental car allows for a great deal more freedom and comfort for you and your baby. A three-day car rental from the Jackson Hole airport starts at $248. The total price for transportation and lodging (based on a three-night condo stay) equals $988.

For the parent who wants a city getaway complete with shopping, restaurants, sightseeing, and tours, I would say skip Europe—at least until the tiny tot is a wee bit older—and instead go someplace closer to home. Boston provides an array of activities easily accessible by foot, such as learning about history along the Freedom Trail, window shopping on Newbury Street, and enjoying a picnic in the Public Garden.

I priced round-trip airfare from St. Louis to Boston starting at $227 per person (with taxes and fees) in August. Apartment rentals start as low as $69 per night, and some require a minimum-night stay. Public transportation in the city makes it easy to get to the more popular sites, and a rental car would prove more hassle than help. The total cost for transportation and lodging (based on a three-night rental) is $661.

If you still want a stamp on your passport (and don't mind going a bit over budget), Quebec City embodies a French flair, and is as close to Europe you can get without crossing the Pond. The fortified Old City overlooking the river provides outdoor dining, historical sites, and shops filled with unique crafts and souvenirs.

I priced round-trip airfare from St. Louis to Quebec City starting at $509 per person (with taxes and fees) in August. One-bedroom vacation rentals start at about $110 CAD (about $95 per night; check XE.com for the current exchange rate). No car rental is required since it is easy and encouraged to explore the Old City by foot (again, invest in a baby backpack). The total cost for lodging (based on a three-day vacation rental) and transportation comes to about $1,303. However, you may have to buy your baby a ticket as well, so be prepared for the extra cost.

No matter where you choose to go, prior planning is key to a successful and safe trip. Do your research beforehand, and you and your family will have a relaxing vacation.

To all my other readers who have children: Do you have any tips on where to go with a one-year-old baby? Is there a destination that might be better suited for this person's needs? Please share your travel experiences below.

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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.

 
 
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