Charlottesville is a biking mecca, thanks to being near the mountains. Numerous locations in the city, and destinations a bit further away make this an ideal Virginia Blue Ridge biking base.
Follow along as we highlight a few of these incredible biking locations.
Located in Albemarle County, this multi-use trails system consists of an outer loop with trails weaving through the center. More than eight miles of rocky, technical, and flowing trail await your wheels.
There are a few things to consider when biking Preddy Creek. E-bikes are not allowed, a lift service is not available, there are no restrooms, and drinking water is not offered.
WHETSTONE RIDGE TRAIL
For those bikers with advanced skills and well-formed technical skills, looking for a more challenging place to ride, this trail up by the Blue Ridge Parkway sections of Nelson and Rockbridge Counties is just for you.
This incredibly powerful trail system offers many unmarked trails, so a guide may be of service here.
GEORGE WASHINGTON NATIONAL FOREST
George Washington National Forest is the crème de la crème of mountain biking in Virginia. At least that is what this national forest is called by the Charlottesville Area Mountain Biking Club.
Some intense, well sought-after trails found in the national forest and spread across five ranger stations include,Lookout Loop, Camp Todd, and Tearjacket Trail.
North River Ranger District includes Brandywine Recreation Area, which houses Brandywine Lake. Along with a jam-packed adventure area, a host of hiking and mountain biking trails are available.
Over in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is Beartree Recreation Area. This peaceful domain provides solace, rest, and recreation to all that visit. After you hit the trails, enjoy lunch in the picnic area or cool off at the beach.
Families will love spending the day hiking along the Pig Iron Trail, learning how iron was made. Put on your helmets and cruise along any of the trails that you encounter with the kids. When your biking adventures are done for the day, learn about some history as you find your way across a swinging bridge to check out the cabin full of history.
Pandapas Pond Day Use Area in the Eastern Divide Ranger District gives bikers 17-miles along the Poverty Creek System to enjoy all day long. Difficulty levels range from easy to most difficult and are anywhere from .3 tenths of a mile, Woods & Fields to 7.2 miles, Poverty Creek.
Hit the trails at one of the gems located in Albemarle County, Walnut Creek. Fifteen miles are friendly and multi-use for mountain bikes and bikes. Spread throughout the area are single tracks, with fast climbs for the intermediate to advanced skill level riders.
Be extra careful when utilizing these trails as rocks become loose, and roots add more edge to this already tricky climb.
Trails can be combined, so extending out your rides are an option. Come for an intense ride and finish with an easy one.
Erik, the Travel Guy, loves to travel, and his blog creates an incredible list of fast facts, how to get there and see what is around, the best times to go, where to unpack your suitcase, and a long list of other great travel information.
Erik suggests visiting in the summer. After all, this is a college town. The city is hopping in the Spring and Fall. Plus, with fewer students and functions, you can score a great deal on lodging.
Yes, this is a college town, so do not forget to visit the University of Virginia. The campus is a staple of the downtown area, and the grounds offer a lovely landscape to stroll through.
Hit the road for a girlfriend’s adventure with A Southern Style Blog. After arriving from Raleigh, four hours away, these three best friends hit the town and Albemarle County.
The three best friends unloaded their car at The Oakhurst Inn and then scoured out Neroli Spa & Beauty Lounge for their prescheduled appointments. They then venture off to UVA grounds before enjoying dinner, which this night was at Brasserie Saison.
The Oakhurst Inn is a boutique hotel found on the University of Virginia and even has a penthouse. This robust Inn once served as homes for UVA professors, how cool is that. The girls had the whole main buildings second floor and loved every minute of it.
At Neroli Spa & Beauty Lounge, this awesome group opted for different types of pampering. Facials seemed to be a hit.
Recap their dinner with them and learn about what the self-proclaimed picky eater tried.
This three-day adventure occurred Monday thru Wednesday, and they packed a boatload into each day. They even made time for lunch before heading back to North Carolina!
Embark on a fascinating adventure from a local gal who uses Sweet Sauce to highlight how she spent her life visiting Charlottesville; she grew up only an hour away in Louisa County. How cool to walk through the city streets and eateries from an insider.
It seems the Downtown Mall is the place to be. This city center landmark has been providing folks with a shopping experience since 1974. Stores such as J. Fenton Too and Derriere De Soie await every fashionista, and the book lovers will enjoy New Dominion Books and 2nd Act.
Sweet Sauce’s choice of accommodations is The Graduate, which is down on Main Street. She recommends Sheepdog Café’s breakfast menu. This unique location also has a rooftop bar and restaurant, perfect for an evening drink. Oh, do not forget about the incredible views.
Those of you that enjoy a good winery or distillery hit up Jefferson Vineyards or Ragged Branch Distillery. Venture through this incredible distillery as Sweet Sauce takes you through the tasting room.
She also offers up brunch, lunch, and supper destinations to taste all that Charlottesville offers.
The art lovers that visit Charlottesville, Virginia, will be delighted to come across The Glass Palette. This mother-daughter co-owned studio is a unique and mesmerizing nod to the world of art glass.
Come and let your creative juices flow when you stop by The Glass Palette. Whether you decide on attending a class or walking in, you will enjoy fusing and slumping. Design your creative piece, and they will fire it at 1,450 degrees to get your glass to melt together. Shapes are formed when refired at lower temperatures and slumped into molds.
Bring two layers and design elements to life in dimensions that range from 1 inch to 12 inches. Due to the process, you will need to return in a few days to pick up the finished piece.
Do you love the stained glass or mosaic look? Excellent! With new techniques and growing interest over the last couple of decades, artists bring together new designs and forms daily. The possibilities of what you create are endless.
Attend a workshop on Enamel Painting on Glass. In this class, you will learn the steps and techniques to create your own glass enamel. The instructors take you along on outlining, shading, and coloring. After you have created your sample tiles, you will also create an 8” finished bowl.
Another workshop option at The Glass Palette is Sand Art in Glass. In this workshop, you will take glass sand, inclusions, and shaping tools to bring to life colorful fused glass tiles. The tiles can be dish-shaped or flat displays.
You will have created a small and large tile/plate of your design by the time the workshop is over. The great thing about this workshop is that all materials come included in the price.
If you have been trying so hard to figure out where to have your five-ten-year old’s birthday party, think no more. The Glass Palette supplies the partygoers with different shapes and colors that are already precut.
Are you looking for something different for your fundraiser, corporate event, or even a bridal shower? The Glass Palette will teach those attendees that are 11 and up how to cut their glass and utilize it with pieces that are precut when they attend a Fusing Party.
Snack Attack is one of the perfect options available for your Fusing Party. The flat glass can be colored; however, they wish! The Glass Palette fuses and shapes the snack bowl in the kiln. Return in a couple of days to take home your kiddos or event member’s fantastic artwork that is food and safe to go into the dishwasher.
Should it be close to the holidays, party participants can show their creative side as they design glass cookies or ornaments to hang around the house.
Blasting Parties are also available for those aged 5-8 and 9 and above. These parties are an incredible choice should you have participants from out of town. You create the glass piece, and The Glass Palette carves it out in the sandblaster!
Some of the fantastic options include creating your own ice cream bowl, personalized mug, or dessert plate, which is perfect for cupcakes!
Those that love golf will hit some balls any time of the year! With fantastic weather, lush greens, and trees that are blossoming, grab your clubs and head to Charlottesville and check out the best golf courses near Boar’s Head Resort.
1. Full Cry at Keswick Hall
Full Cry is a Pete Dye course that merges a modern architecture of a golf course with some outstanding Virginia countryside. Any skill level will love playing this terrain, as you will be anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 yards from a variety of tees. Full Cry lies under Keswick Hall’s location on the high ground of the property, offering some outstanding views and an incredible experience.
2. Spring Creek Golf Club
Situated a short 20-minutes to the east of Charlottesville is Spring Creek Golf Club, a well-nationally recognized course. Ed Carton designed this incredible grass fairway course with lots of trees and greenery. Enjoy a few rounds with your best-golfing buddies, do a solo 9, host a company tournament, or have a wedding at this immaculate golf course.
3. Meadowcreek Golf Course
Nestled in the mystic shadows of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains is Meadowcreek Golf Course. This downtown Charlottesville golf course offers up one hundred and fifty-five acres covered with outstanding views and holes to challenge any golfer.
After you have crushed your partner’s scores, head over to the grill and full-service bar for some relaxation and unwind with an appetizer and much-needed drink to help cool you down.
Meadowcreek Golf Course would make the perfect location for an outing for the attendees of your next office meeting. Weddings would also look fabulous with a spectacular golf course backdrop.
4. Old Trail Golf Club
Head west of Charlottesville into the Blue Ridge Mountains and hit the links at Old Trail Golf Club. The course is a championship course of 18 holes and features a clubhouse that is full service. Following the layout of the land and its natural features, any golfer level will have a fantastic time.
Bring your little future golfers along and follow the junior markers as you train them to be the next Arnold Palmer. Thanks to a partnership with Kandi Comer Golf Academy, the next generation can continue learning with a player development program. This golf academy is also an option for adults for those that wish to perfect their scores.
5. Birdwood Golf Course
As you are enjoying your time at Boar’s Head Resort carve out some time to hit the newest 18 championship golf course equipped with a six-hole par 3 course. This experience is available thanks to the teamwork and partnership with Davis Love lll, yes, the PGA Professional, and Love Golf Design.
Invite your friends to join you on the course as Birdwood Golf Course is open to the public. This course also plays host to the University of Virginia’s NCAA golf team, so you may be able to check them out!
No matter what time of the year you are in, Charlottesville, hit one of these excellent golf courses. Relax in the warm sun or enjoy a crisp fall morning as you kick off your shoes and search for that ball you lost in the water hazard.
Picture the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and a 500 plus acre resort where contemporary and classic meet. Throw in some superb southern hospitality and modern amenities, and you have the makings of a fabulous location to experience the most memorable day – your wedding.
It does not matter if you are looking for a grand gala extravaganza or a small, simple reception. The Boar’s Head Resort can provide elegant indoor and outdoor venues, such as the UVA Foundation Lawn, Arbor Courtyard, or two incredibly unique ballrooms.
With a variety of wedding packages available, no details are unnoticed. Go all out with the Premier Package that offers five hours of celebration or the elopement package for when you want to be intimate.
Add on some extraordinary experiences such as a golf outing, luncheon for the bridal party, or a breakfast post-wedding to any of the customizable packages Boar’s Head Resort has to offer.
Sit back and relax and let the incredible resort staff take care of everything. Your wedding coordinator handles those special moments, such as your first dance or making sure you receive all your wedding gifts.
They will also confirm all details with vendors and ensure your rehearsal ceremony goes off without a glitch. You will be on an emotional roller coaster, so let them assist you with your memorable day.
Your wedding coordinator even helps with securing one of Charlottesville’s most amazing photographers. They have featured vendors, and each will provide you with memories you will cherish forever.
Outstanding food and drinks are a big part of your special day. The catering manager will walk along with you as you decide on and estimate the cost of your food and drink, take care of the banquet space, and provide you with some superb breakfast, lunch, dessert, and snack selections. There is also a wine and alcohol list should you need those extras.
Guests can experience all that Boar’s Head Resort offers when they book accommodations in a fabulous suite or room with breathtaking lake and landscape views. The resort rooms come with balconies, upscale furnishings, modern amenities, and lots more.
Resort suites provide king or queen beds, a sitting area, balconies, fireplaces, and a host of other amenities. Enjoy hanging out in the living room with other wedding attendees as you look forward to the main event.
For the bride and groom, special wedding night accommodations are available in the wedding packages, making this one less thing you need to worry about on your special day.
Whether it is before or after you, say I Do, suit up for some laps at the Junior Olympic swimming pool or hang out with your bridal party and catch some rays. For those who enjoy a morning swim, the pool opens extremely early, giving you some alone time before your special day.
For a wedding to remember, Boar’s Head Resort goes above and beyond to ensure that your memorable day is more than you could imagine.
How cool would it be to stay at a university five-star resort on 600-acres nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains close to Charlottesville, Virginia? Well, you do not have to imagine any longer when you stay at Boar’s Head Resort.
This lavish, charming, exquisite resort is proudly operated and owned by the University of Virginia Foundation. Boar’s Head Resort and the foundation’s partnership are incredibly close, and that shows with facilities for athletics shared. The closeness is evident when watching the Men’s and Women’s tennis teams while enjoying time at the resort.
University of Virginia alumni, employees, and students have access to some outstanding rates at the Boar’s Head Resort created just for them. What a fantastic perk of being a UVA student!
The land that the Boar’s Head Resort resides on goes back to the era of Thomas Jefferson. After all, the glamourous merging was after all part of the state of Virginia’s first land grant. Talk about some astonishing countryside to call home.
University of Virginia graduate John Rogan, with the assistance of John Rhea, in 1959 built the Boar’s Head Inn. The two of them took a gristmill from Birdwood property next door, dismantled, numbered each of the pieces, and put it back together at the present location.
Knowing that they had a piece of Virginia history, the pair took the utmost care of this outstanding gristmill and helped shape what is known as today, Boar’s Head Resort.
Fast forward 40 years, and the University of Virginia Foundation acquires the property, which is Charlottesville’s only one AAA Four Diamond resort, as a gift! What a resort it is! Indulge yourself at the luxury spa, enjoy a round of golf with friends, attend an event at one of the multiple meeting rooms, or enjoy the plush bedding as you relax by the fireplace in any of the 168 rooms and suites.
The University of Virginia Foundation had already acquired the Birdwood property in 1967. Along with this additional property, the resort became a 600-acre paradise!
The resort is an excellent location for the University of Virginia faculty or alumni to hold a conference, meeting, or entertain. Should you be thinking about attending the University of Virginia, be sure to participate in a recruiting event held at this lavish resort, you will not be disappointed.
A unique community-oriented event that benefits the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital that Boar’s Head Resort participates in annually is the Turkey Trot. Each Thanksgiving, a mix of a 5K race, costume party, and a baby jogger parade bring close to 1,400 Charlottesville residents together for some exciting fun and to benefit an outstanding charity.
No matter the reason you are on the University of Virginia campus, carve out some time for exploring all that the Boar’s Head Resort has to offer alumni, students, and faculty. Let the catering team assist with event planning and trust the group sales team to ensure your event and stay are memorable.
Dining out is taken to a whole new level when you are at the Boar’s Head Resort. There is something for everyone at this gorgeous 600-acre property. From exquisite fine dining to grabbing a snack after your hard-core workout, you will not be disappointed.
Whether you are planning a wedding rehearsal dinner or an intimate anniversary celebration, The Mill Room has you covered. Enjoy fine dining at its best form inside or outside as you get captivated by the moment.
Feast on Southern East Coast Fried Shrimp to start with, adding Chef Gary’s Soup of the Day, as you roll into an entrée of Flame Grilled Pepper-Crusted NY Strip. Should you be looking for something smaller, try The Smash Burger with French fries. Whichever option you pick, do not forget to save some room for the Red Velvet Cake.
Add a glass of Don PX Pedro Ximenez Reserve or Sandman Founder’s Reserve to help glide it all down. For a heartier drink, consider some Johnny Walker Blue, you will not be disappointed.
Should you bring the kiddos along, some options for them are House Made Pasta, Grilled Chicken Breast, or good ‘ole Hand-Breaded Chicken Strips.
Local agriculture mixed with modern techniques make The Mill Room a delightful place to gather with friends and family for an unforgettable dining experience.
When searching for some delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner during your stay at Boar’s Head Resort do not overlook Racquets Restaurant in the Boar’s Head Sports Club. Enjoy a quick walk over from the Ednam rooms or the 600 and 700 rooms. A complimentary shuttle is available should you be in other parts of the resort.
Breakfast options include two types of Breakfast Burritos, Umpqua Oats, an Egg White Sandwich, or two styles of Rebecca’s Biscuits.
As you are out enjoying your day and become hungry, the All-Day Menu is perfect for indulging your hunger. Grab a cup or bowl of soup, a Caesar Salad, BLT, Quesadilla, or Asian Wrap. For the little ones, pick up a Hot Dog, Grilled Cheese, or Peanut Butter and Jelly, all of which come served with chips, fruit salad, or French fries.
These are just a small sampling of the deliciousness that awaits you at Racquets Restaurant.
As you are looking at the magnificent views surrounding Boar’s Head Resort after your round of golf and want more, head to the Birdwood Grill. This seasonal grill offers up some of the most fabulous and outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Feast on a salad, sandwich, or appetizer as you dine inside or outside, taking in all that Charlottesville has to show to those that visit this incredible area.
No matter the occasion, Boar’s Head Resort Dining options have you covered. Plan your outdoor adventure with Boar’s Head Outfitters and then relax at this immaculate Charlottesville resort and enjoy knowing that you will not have to fret over, ensuring that the food is available and ready with these options.
Venturing out to the great outdoors regularly can have a positive, lasting impact on physical health, but in the era of COVID-19, it’s even more important to get out there and embrace the fresh air. While the coronavirus pandemic has caused the closure of many forms of indoor entertainment, outdoor activities have become a great source of comfort for millions. According to scientists, the outdoors is also the least likely place to contract COVID-19, so long as social distancing measures are followed. Colorado Springs provides the perfect backdrop for exciting, outdoor adventure, and at Broadmoor Outfitters, it’s our mission to craft one-of-a-kind experiences our guests will never forget. Here are a few Colorado Springs activities to help improve your mental and physical well-being during difficult times.
Colorado Springs and surrounding areas house some of the most beautiful hiking trails in North America. With many gyms still closed to patrons, hiking serves as a fantastic source of exercise and an opportunity to enjoy the incredible fresh air that Colorado Springs has to offer. Broadmoor Outfitters has a number of guided hiking trails to ensure a safe, serene trip for everyone hoping to get moving amid COVID-19. Our guides are able to provide a wonderful experience, all while taking appropriate cautions to ensure guests’ safety is always top of mind.
Broadmoor Outfitters Biking Tours
Biking around Garden of the Gods while the sun shines upon you is one of the best ways to escape the confines of your home. Not only does biking burn calories, but it’s also one of the best ways to take in the beauty of Colorado Springs. Broadmoor Outfitters hosts various biking tours to help you make the most of your time in the city. With Pike’s Peak off in the distance, our late afternoon and sunset make for the perfect memory for you and/or loved ones.
Zip Lining Courses
Nothing screams “fresh air” like flying through it at 500 ft.! Our Colorado Springs zip-lining adventures are ideal for the adrenaline-seekers among us, or anyone hoping to escape the indoors for some much-needed physical activity. Breeze by some of Colorado’s most magnificent natural landscapes on any one of our zip-lining adventures. We have multiple courses to choose from to ensure a spectacular view.
Rock Climbing Excursions
At Broadmoor Outfitters, we always play it safe, but that’s not to say we don’t like to be daring. Our Colorado Springs rock climbing tours offer the chance to put your physical and mental skills to the test. Colorado Springs natural rock formations allow for some of the most thrilling rock climbing in the U.S., and we’re proud to offer a variety of rock climbing tours to accommodate varying skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or of a more advanced skill set, we’ve got a rock just for you.
There has never been a better time for outdoor enjoyment, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve got in store for you. Call us to book your next Colorado Springs outdoor adventure.
CEO of Resort Outfitters. Resort Outfitters operates Broadmoor Outfitters and provides guided outdoor tours corporate events, zip lines and team building in the Colorado Springs and Denver area.
For questions on the area, activity suggestions or to build a custom trip, feel free to contact him at DZ@resortoutfitters.com.
Getting ready to come to Charlottesville, VA. Great, there is a lot to do for you, and your family. Mary Kearl gives us some great tips and hints to bringing your young ones along.
I spent the first half of 2019 traveling with my husband and our one-year-old throughout South America, where we managed to visit some remote places, such as the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, the floating islands of the Uros people in Peru, and Ushuaia, in Argentina, also known as the end of the world.
When we talk about this, many fellow parents ask how we did it. Most of them say it’s a challenge to take their kid to the mall or the restaurant down the street, let alone travel with them to the other side of the world. The funny thing is that it’s always hard—putting your child’s needs first and keeping them healthy, happy, and entertained will always be difficult no matter how far from home you are.
Having visited 14 countries and 16 U.S. states on a total of 77 trips (and counting) with our child, I’ve learned a thing or two about traveling with babies and toddlers. It’s hard, but it’s possible.
It may seem obvious, but no matter how young your child is, they’ll need a passport to leave the country—but it involves more than simply filling out a form. Getting a minor a passport requires demonstrating proof of citizenship, and the primary method is to submit a copy of their birth certificate. This document usually becomes available one month after a child’s birth, but may take longer. In our case, this proved challenging because our child was less than a month old when we first sought out a passport. We tried our local court, but finally obtained the document from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for $28.
Thinking something might happen to you or your partner while away from home can be scary, but those fears amplify tenfold when you’re traveling with a young child. “Truth be told, most places are pretty safe for kids,” says Dr. Katherine Williamson, vice president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Travel is accommodating for families of all ages.”
But of course, being prepared makes things a lot easier for both the parents and the baby. Just add these items to your checklist before you hit the road:
Consult with your pediatrician
Ahead of your travels, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with or talk to your pediatrician about any further advice regarding your child.
If your child is undergoing any kind of medical treatment, make sure you pack enough to last for the entirety of your trip. To be on the safe side, Williamson recommends packing a couple of extra doses and a prescription in case you need to purchase the medication while abroad.
Make sure your child is up to date on their routine vaccines. Start by protecting them against influenza with the flu shot for kids aged six months and older, and check the Center for Disease Control guidelines about what other vaccines they’ll need for particular countries or specific outbreaks that might be occurring. One of the biggest concerns involving travel outside the U.S. is measles. Routine vaccines starting at age one will protect against this highly contagious disease, but your child can get the measles vaccine as early as six months if you’re traveling, Williamson says.
Plan ahead to ensure proper sleep
The first two to three days are key, and you should try to get ahead of jet lag as much as possible by gradually adjusting your kid’s bedtime. For time changes greater than two or three hours, Williamson recommends you give toddlers between 0.5 to 1 milligram of melatonin while you’re on the plane at what will be bedtime at the destination you’re visiting. This will help them start sleeping at the right time. Conversely, once you get to your destination, help your child adjust to time zone changes by having them be active during waking hours, exposing them to sunlight during the day, and not letting them nap longer than normal.
Talk to people who’ve been there
There’s only so much online research you can do before being overloaded with information. The best way to get a sense of a place is to talk to somebody who’s actually been there and ask whatever questions Google couldn’t answer for you.
As of this writing, our family of three has been living out of two suitcases, a backpack, and a diaper bag for exactly 10 months. That sounds challenging for two adults alone, but packing requires a whole new level of expertise when an infant or toddler is involved. Fear not—we’ve been learning from our mistakes so you don’t have to. Next time you embark on an adventure with your little one, make sure you always have these items handy:
When our child was an infant, my packing rule of thumb was to bring about three daytime outfits and two pajamas per day to account for spills, getting sick, and diaper leaks. It’s a lot, but with the transition to toddlerhood, I kept following this rule with great success, only breaking it when I know I’m going somewhere we’ll be able to wash our clothes.
Diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
These are a must, whether you’re flying across the world with your toddler or visiting a friend on the other side of town. The key here is to ensure you’ll never have to depend on finding a store, so even though it may sound over-the-top, I pack double the amount of diapers and wipes I think I’ll need. In my experience, no matter how big an airport or transit station is, it’s not likely even the most essential baby products will be readily available.
Plenty of entertainment
This will take up space, so be prepared to carry this stuff in its own bag if necessary. To start with, we pack a lot of board books—10 for trips of any size, since we may read through all of them before our child is ready for nap time. Hopefully, it’ll take fewer with yours, but be prepared to have options, or you’ll be stuck reading the same two or three stories on a loop. Also, include several toys and stuffed animals. Make sure you bring extra, since it’s almost certain you’ll lose some along the way.
A baby carrier
A great alternative to the traditional stroller. We used this for our seven months of international travel, since most places we visited had uneven terrain and were not stroller-friendly.
This is important whether you’re driving your own car or not, since there’s no guarantee one will be available or in good condition through your rental car company. Plus, the rental price of a seat can be more than the cost of a new car seat, depending on the length of your trip.
A travel bed and baby blanket
Some parents will try to save themselves some trouble and co-sleep with their babies. But the APP doesn’t recommend this for children younger than a year old, so bringing a travel bed for your baby is absolutely necessary. More on this later.
Nail clippers, baby thermometer (digital or traditional—it’s up to you), travel first aid kit (it’s easiest to buy one and complement it with additional necessities for you and your child), two bottles, and two sippy cups (it’s best to have two of each to replace a lost one or stand in for a dirty one).
The medical packing list
You know when you travel and you feel tired and grumpy, and sometimes that even leads to physical pain or discomfort? Well, young children go through the same, and they usually don’t know how to cope with it. Williamson recommends packing these essentials to avoid or quickly placate any illness:
Acetaminophen (safe for infants and toddlers) or ibuprofen (safe for children at least six months old).
Use for general pain and discomfort.
These help with almost anything, from flight-related pressure to a fever. If your child is having a hard time, Williamson recommends to giving it to them mixed with a drink or soft food, like pudding or yogurt.
Cetirizine and loratadine (safe for kids aged two and up) or diphenhydramine (safe for six months and up).
Use to prevent travel or motion sickness, and to treat minor allergic reactions that only entail skin rashes. If, while traveling, your child develops any allergies that include swelling of the lips, eyelids, or extremities, or starts vomiting or has difficulty breathing, see a doctor immediately.
Hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion.
Use for mosquito bites.
For all bug bites, Williamson suggests applying hydrocortisone cream and then a layer of calamine lotion on top.
Ondansetron (consult with your pediatrician), a powdered electrolyte replacement , and potentially antibiotics for if you contract traveler’s diarrhea from consuming contaminated food or water (consult with your pediatrician)
Use for motion sickness, nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
For some kids, it’s common to get sick in the car or on the plane. If that’s the case with your child, Williamson recommends talking to a pediatrician about getting a prescription for ondansetron, which can also help with gastrointestinal issues, such as an upset stomach. If your toddler is experiencing nausea or diarrhea, rehydration solutions such as an electrolyte replacement can help ensure your child stays hydrated. And if you’re traveling somewhere where traveler’s diarrhea is a concern, you should ask your pediatrician if getting a prescription antibiotic for the condition would be appropriate for your child.
Other medical devices and medications as needed. If your child has known conditions, pack all the things you’ll need to treat them. This includes an inhaler or nebulizer (for children with respiratory issues), an epinephrine injector (for children with severe allergic reactions), and antibiotics (for children prone to ear infections).
Preparing a “shortcut” bag
When you’re packing for a toddler, consider two levels of packing: everything you’ll need for your trip, and the bag of whatever you want to have handy when you’re on the go—no matter how you’re traveling. Our diaper bag is always so stuffed with all the above necessities that I usually throw it in the overhead bin or keep it at our accommodations when we head out to sightsee. What I do instead is pack another bag, such as a lightweight foldable backpack, that serves as an accessible baby emergency kit. Here’s what to pack:
A sippy cup and bottle
Snacks, such as cereal, crackers, fruit, and nuts (once your child is eating solids)
Formula (up to 12 months) or whole milk (1 year and up)
Wipes, and one or two diapers
One change of clothing for your toddler
A couple of favorite toys and books
A plastic bag (in case your baby gets motion sickness, or to store a diaper until it can be disposed of)
(Optional) A change of clothing for the parents—especially if your kid is prone to motion sickness. We learned this the hard way after our baby got sick on our laps, and all of our clothes were packed away in checked bags under a plane.
Surviving the journey
I remember how terrified I was ahead of our first cross-country flight—I didn’t want to be that family everybody hates because their baby won’t stop crying. Most people with small children will get to know this fear, but they won’t travel enough to figure out just how to deal with a small kid on a plane. With our now-two-year-old having logged 63 flights and counting, I can confirm what you may have already suspected: there’s no science to the perfect trip with a small child. That said, there are some strategies that will help.
Always pick the aisle seat
From diaper changes to crying sessions, you’ll want the easiest possible access to the bathroom and aisle.
Assume every carry-on item will require extra screening by airport security
Even though liquids, such as breast milk and juice, are allowed on planes when you’re traveling with an infant or toddler, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration says it “may need to test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items.” We have missed flights due to extra screening, so be sure to factor this in when you calculate the amount of time you’ll need to arrive at the gate in time.
Take advantage of early boarding
Families with small children usually get the privilege of boarding planes first. Use the extra time to arrange your seat so you’ll have easy access to all those go-to travel items listed above, one last diaper change, and bathroom trips for the adults.
Plan for the worst
This means arranging everything as if your baby won’t sleep for a minute of the journey and there will be travel delays. At first, people recommended we take night flights so we’d all be more likely to sleep. This worked well and our little one became the ideal traveler, sleeping for most, if not all, of any given flight. But that has changed, and our child has begun sleeping less consistently on the plane. Now we book daytime flights and plan as if everyone is going to be awake (and will need to be entertained) the entire time.
Don’t be scared
Some people will be annoyed to find themselves sitting next to you and your kid on a plane, but that seems to be the exception to the rule. In my experience, most people understand how much harder travel is with a young one, and go out of their way to help you.
Ahead of our first cross-country trip with our baby, my husband and I opted for a portable bassinet which met our search criteria by having the following features:
Sides made of breathable mesh
Removable, washable padding
Could be folded to fit under the seat of a plane
Could fit a baby for up to six months (some are only recommended for the first three to four months, making a $50-$100 purchase quickly obsolete)
The bassinet worked great for the first six months, but after that, and as our child grew, we had to get creative. Co-sleeping with our baby in our beds didn’t work because our presence distracted our otherwise sound sleeper, who woke several times during the night. We also tried creating a makeshift bed out of pillows and blankets, which worked fine until our baby started crawling and began moving out of the nest. After that, we considered a portable travel crib, but because it’s the size of an oversized backpack when folded, it falls into a grey area when it comes to baggage policy, and can sometimes qualify as a suitcase (at a cost) for discount airlines.
Ultimately we landed on the $15.99 Wayfinder TravelTot baby tent, which works just as well as more expensive options, such as the portable crib. But unlike other alternatives, this tent folds down to a thin sleeve that fits in my carry-on backpack. Since it has no padding, we usually request extra bedding and stack one or two thick quilts underneath the bed and layer a baby blanket inside. The bed survived 11 countries, 61 different Airbnbs and hotels, 30 flights, dozens of ferries and buses, and helped us maintain nap and sleep schedules during a 17-hour flight delay in Bariloche, Argentina. After all that wear and tear, we’re now on our second one.
While our baby’s bed has remained consistent, everything else—the sounds, lighting, temperature, and time zones—has been in constant change. The first two weeks of our international journey, we saw our normally easy sleeper taking longer and longer to fall asleep. Now we make an effort to keep the bedtime routine as consistent as possible—every night, no matter where we are in the world, we have a half-hour wind-down period for a bath and reading books. Things improved almost immediately.
Setting realistic expectations
Family trips with our baby have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. That said, the travel life is different when one member of the family is sleeping half the day, needs to eat more than three meals a day, and has a variable attention span.
While it is possible to travel with a baby, it is important to ground your expectations, and most likely change the way you’ve been traveling so far. For us, this has meant having a more limited list of things we want to see and do, or even staying longer than recommended in a place to complete it.
We’ve also realized we cannot do everything together as a family, and sometimes it’s a good idea to part ways. In the Ica Desert in Peru, my husband went on a dune buggy ride while baby and I went swimming in the Huacachina oasis, and in the Amazon, I went on a night crocodile tour while my husband and baby slept. It is a great way to ensure everyone gets to do what they want to do.
Needless to say, we don’t see much nightlife due to the child’s bedtime, and it’s always a good idea to opt for free or lower-cost activities, museums, and live performances rather than investing money in ones we may not be able to fully enjoy.
As a lifelong traveler, I wanted to share my love of travel with my child—and it’s paid off.
Written by Mary Kearl for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.