Toddler on the
Tour du Mont Blanc

In April of 2020, my wife and I were confident that the COVID pandemic couldn’t possibly last much longer, so we took advantage of all the discounted flights and booked tickets to Chile for December. Fast forward to the Spring of 2022 and we still hadn’t used the AeroMexico vouchers from when that trip was cancelled. The answer to why we booked tickets to Switzerland (through Mexico City) instead of Chile is a long and complicated story for another time, but that’s what we did!

While this wasn’t our son’s first backpacking trip, it was surely his biggest and most ambitious. There were a ton of unknowns that manifested as fears, but in the end, our Tour du Mont Blanc became one of our favorite trips of all time. I hope the information below helps you and your family plan an equally enriching and fulfilling trek!

What is the TMB?

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a trek that takes hikers full circle around the Mont Blanc massif. Its ~105 miles (~170 km) of trail span three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. While it is possible to tent camp the whole hike, most opt to stay in mountain huts and hotels along the way. The elevation gain and loss makes for an especially challenging trail…roughly, it’s equivalent to hiking from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the bottom and back up again a total of 5 times! These exhausting days are balanced with delicious traditional food, generous pours of alcohol, and a warm sense of community with the many hikers you meet along the way. If you’re looking for a trail that feels lonely, this is not it. However, if you’d like a trail that has epic views shared with new friends, this is you!

Our Itinerary

There are seemingly infinite ways to customize the TMB itinerary. Below is what we did along with some other popular alterations and tips to help you prepare your perfect trip.
(Click the links for pictures and a more detailed description of each day.)

June 20🚂 Geneva to Annemasse
🚌 to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
🚌 to Les Contamines-Montjoie
TMB Day 1
June 21
🥾 Les Contamines-Montjoie to Refuge des Mottets
~13 miles/21 km
TMB Day 2
June 22
🥾 Refuge des Mottets to Courmayeur
~14 miles/22.5 km
TMB Day 3
June 23
🥾 Courmayeur to Rifugio Walter Bonatti
~7.5 miles/12 km
TMB Day 4
June 24
🥾 Rifugio Walter Bonatti to La Fouly
~12 miles/19 km
TMB Day 5
June 25
🥾 La Fouly to Champex-Lac
~10.5 miles/17 km
TMB Day 6
June 26
🥾 Champex-Lac to Trient
~9 miles/14.5 km
TMB Day 7
June 27
🥾 Trient to Montroc
~9 miles/14.5 km
TMB Day 8
June 28
🥾 Montroc to La Flégère
~5 miles/8 km
🚠 + 🚂 La Flégère to Chamonix
TMB Day 9
June 29
🚂 + 🚠 Chamonix to La Flégère
🥾 La Flégère to Les Houches
~10 miles/16 km
TMB Day 10
June 30
🥾 Les Houches to Téléphérique de Bellevue
~1 mile/2 km
🚠 Téléphérique de Bellevue
🥾 Téléphérique de Bellevue to Les Contamines-Montjoie
~10 miles/16 km
July 1🚌 Les Contamines-Montjoie to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
🚌 to Annemasse
🚂 to Geneva
Summer 2022

Our itinerary took us counter-clockwise around the TMB starting and ending in Les Contamines-Montjoie. While most trekkers begin at the “official” start in Les Houches, many also choose to start in one of the other cities most easily accessible by public transportation: Chamonix or Courmayeur. Les Contamines was also easily accessible, but definitely less popular as a starting location. No matter where we started, it seemed as if both clockwise and counter-clockwise were popular and I’m not sure I could recommend one over the other.

Taking 10 days to complete the circuit is a popular timeline, but it can be done in more or fewer days. Some people build in rest days in Chamonix or Courmayeur as there is plenty to do in those cities. Some choose to run or even bike it, so they often finish in under 10 days. We are very happy with the challenge of walking it in 10 days because it averaged out to 10 challenging miles a day. Some days were shorter and easier while others were brutal like our first two days.

The Story of OUR Trek

Part 1: Travel & Days 1-2
Part 3: Days 6-8
Part 2: Days 3-5
Part 4: Days 9-10, Review, & Travel

Taking a Toddler

Practice & Experience

This 1st section is intended to be a disclaimer: I won’t recommend this trip to every family. This trip is tough…everyone, with or without a child, needs to be prepared for big mileage and big climbs. Yes, you will need to train to carry the weight of your child, but your child will also need to prepared for being in a carrier for hours a day. If you want some extra guidance on how to make being in a carrier as enjoyable as possible for you and your child, check out my post on happy babies in carriers.

Pack Weight

Because we chose to save a few bucks and not pay for luggage transfers, our packs were heavy! We estimate that they were each about 50-55 lbs/22-25 kg (includes the weight of our son). While we didn’t need to pack sleep and cook systems, we still packed for 10 days and it all added up. To cut down on weight, we packed ourselves only few luxuries…conversely, we packed ALL the luxuries for our son. We made sure he had everything he could possibly need on the trail, because, in the end, he didn’t sign up for this!

Fortunately, we were able to resupply along the way, so we only needed to pack a few days worth of diapers, wipes, and snacks. Markets to resupply can be found in at least Les Houches, Les Contamines-Montjoie, Courmayeur, La Fouly, Champex, Argentiere, and Chamonix. Keep in mind though, they don’t sell diapers in small packages, so make sure their’s some room for a big ol’ bag of diapers and a jumbo box of Cheerios like we had!

Safety & Contingency Plans

While this trek never takes you far from civilization, you will still be traveling through difficult to reach, backcountry locations. Be sure to pack children’s medication and, if possible, a GPS like a Garmin inReach Mini. And, as always, do not ever depend on wifi or cell reception while out on any trail.

In preparation for taking our son, we planned out every shortcut or bail out point we could find. I’ve included our list in a section further below. While we only chose to use one shortcut, it was comforting to always know the easiest way to get off trail if needed.

The scariest moment for us while on trail involved a sudden and extreme thunderstorm. All along the trail, rain was pretty unpredictable…the weather forecasts we used were not reliable. On this particular day however, we were heading over Grand Col Ferret. Fortunately for us, we heard a guide a breakfast informing his group of a likely stormy afternoon, so we ran out early and fast to beat it. Our biggest fear was being at one of the trail’s high points during an electric storm. Turns out, we made it to the pass with just about 10 minutes before the storm hit us. On the way down, we ran through slick mud while we cowered with each boom echoing around us. After about a full hour of this, we finally made it to the next refuge to take shelter, now soaked and freezing. While Brittany and I ran in fear and through discomfort, our son slept through it all! We were able to get him in warm layers, his rain suit, and rain cover at the pass to prepare us for what we knew was coming. Ultimately, we were prepared for the situation; we are grateful for the experiences and research that made for a safe hike through every circumstance on the trail!

Finally, there is one section that stands out as a place to consider rerouting…the ladders. Between Argentiere and La Flegere (Chamonix), you will come across quite a few ladders. If you have any doubt about your ability to climb ladders with a child on your back, find another route. If your child swings around in your pack, greatly moving your center of gravity, consider finding another route. As far as I know, there is an alternate route around these ladders, but we heard that it was steep and challenging. The third option would be to go straight through the valley to Chamonix and take the lift up to La Flegere. There is a train through the valley you could easily take. Unbeknownst to us though, there were more ladders just short of the summit of Le Brevent! These were fewer but definitely more intimidating. The only way to bypass these would be to take the Brevent lift to the summit.

Refuges, Rifugios, Auberges, & Gîtes

Booking hotels in the cities was a piece of cake. Booking all the mountain huts, however, was extremely stressful! First, we decided to take this trip well after the time we should have booked everything. Most book their lodging 6-10 months in advance…we somehow booked 3 months in advance. To avoid our this extra stress, plan to book your lodging in the Fall or Winter before your trip. See a list of all our accommodations later on in this blog.

Second, it was important that we book private rooms out of respect for other trekkers. While we would have no problem with a bunk in a shared room, forcing others to share a room with an unpredictable child didn’t feel right. Not every place had private rooms and we had no idea if they would allow us to bring a toddler. Therefore, I had to email each and every place we considered, asking if they had private rooms, had availability, and would accommodate our child. In the end, every place we contacted allowed us to bring our son (not every place had private rooms). Finally, we were able to secure private rooms in every location but one…at Gite Le Moulin, we had a room with 4 beds and ended up sharing it with a couple we had already met on the trail.

Because we chose to bring a lightweight crib, we didn’t have to pay for our child to stay at the refuges. We had never co-slept with him, but the first few nights, we pulled him in with us to keep our fussy, jet lagged baby from keeping those on the other side of the thin walls awake. The beds were small, especially with another body in it, but all-in-all, our son did very well sleeping through most nights in his crib!

Regarding food: there’s typically milk at every breakfast. Not sure what kind, but it’s milk! Finally, meals in the huts are typically prix fix so, if you have a picky eater, plan to bring your own meals for your child.

Was it worth it?

Our son had such an enriching time on this trip and the biggest highlight was watching him learn and take it all in. He learned to smell every flower. He ate wild strawberries. He enjoyed his first trailside crepe. He played in every water fountain and splashed through his first rain puddles.

He also made the biggest trail family anyone could ever have…at just about every break, someone would run over and take Callan which was always a nice break! Avi, Nick, Meaghan, Sarah, Jordan, and Debbie became his biggest fans, playing with him and even buying him snacks. Even the waitress at lunch one day took him to the kitchen to get a humongous strawberry that he devoured!

This trip was invaluably memorable for us and we hope that these experiences help mould our son into a fine human being.

Shortcuts & Safety Nets

Before we set off on the TMB, we were prepared with a list of every single place we could bail or shortcut if needed. We had never done a trip this big with a child so little, so we wanted to make sure safety and our son’s well-being were the number one priority. Fortunately for us, we only used one shortcut and were able to walk almost every step of the trail! Regardless, it was comforting knowing we had a safety net.

I have included the list below, but keep in mind that some of these options are seasonal. Some were not operational when we went mid June, so be sure to look up there opening/closing dates before you go. For the most part though, they should all be open by July. Finally, along with the list below, you can likely find charters, taxis, and other local transportation options if needed.

  • Bellevue Lift from Les Houches (This is the only one we used…by day 10, Brittany was having some bad knee problems and we knew this shortcut was popular, so we took advantage of 1 fewer climb.)
  • Bus through Les Contamines-Montjoie to Notre Dame de la Gorge (not operational when we went mid June)
  • If you’re taking the variant to Mottets, but Col des Fours is too icy or weather conditions are poor, you can hike down from Bonhomme and catch a shuttle from Les Chapieux to Bonhomme. Be careful that you make it in time for the last ride, otherwise you are walking quite a few extra miles up the road to Mottets.
  • Bus from Combal to Courmayeur
  • Lifts down to Courmayeur (not open when we went mid June)
  • Bus from Courmayeur to Lavachey (there is a steep, but short trail up to Bonatti from Lavachey which can save a couple miles)
  • Bus from Ferret to La Fouly
  • Lift down from Col du Balme (closed for repairs while we were there, 2022)
  • Mont Blanc Express Train – Vallorcine to Les Houches (many stops in the Chamonix Valley)
  • Lift from La Flegere to Chamonix (we only used it to go into town and back up the next day)
  • Lift up Planpraz to Le Brevent

Variants & Options

In my GPS, I had programmed every variant on the TMB in hopes that we’d do as many as possible. In the end, we only did 2 variants and only because they were the most sensible options. We took the variant over Col des Fours because we were staying at Refuge des Mottets and we took the variant from Col de Balme because of knee pain and a shorter route to Gîte Le Moulin.

Col des Fours

Be aware that many of the most desirable variants are much more difficult, especially with the weight of your child in tow. There is, however, an option to make this easier if you so choose! Many trekkers hike with a day pack and have their luggage transferred to their next destination. While they cannot do transfers to EVERY location, it can help save weight on your back for much of the trip, ultimately saving time and energy on the trail. We chose not to do this as the trip was getting very expensive already, but if you can afford it, it’s a great option!

You can also do this trip with a guide. Honestly, I do not think a guide is needed, however a booking service would have been convenient. Booking was incredibly difficult and stressful, but we ended up doing it successfully on our own in March, just 3 months prior to our trip.

Looking down Val Ferret from Bonatti towards Courmayeur
Looking down the Chamonix Valley from above Les Houches

Finally, you don’t need to do the whole thing if it sounds like too much! The stretch through the Chamonix Valley is amazing as is the stretch from Les Contamines to Bonatti or La Fouly. While I’m so glad I did the whole thing, many people we met on the trail were just doing part of it and that’s totally cool!

Where We Stayed

There are countless places to stay around the Mont Blanc massif, so building your itinerary and choosing lodging can be incredibly overwhelming. Most, but not all, can be booked on the Autour du Mont Blanc website. Below are the places we stayed and a brief description of our experiences there.

Hotel Gai Soleil (Les Contamines-Montjoie)

View from our room at Hotel Gai Soleil

Our starting and ending hotel, Gai Soleil, was my favorite place on the trip. The view in and around their garden was peaceful, the food was gourmet, and the owners were warm and welcoming. They also allowed us to store our suitcases and car seat while trekking which was nice to have handy when we finished. Easily a 10/10! (hotel with private room and ensuite bathroom/shower)

Refuge Des Mottets (Valle Des Glaciers)

Approaching Refuge Des Mottets

Because our first day was easily our most challenging day, we arrived at Mottets with just 5 minutes to spare before dinner began. It is set in the stunning Valle Des Glaciers and is incredibly lonely, contrasted by a bit of a party vibe inside during dinner. Their organ grinder and drinks made for loud and fun sing alongs through the night. We were able to book a private room with a private bathroom/hot shower and it was great. Food was good and we definitely enjoyed it there. A recurring theme we learned later on during the trek: breakfast in the huts is a bit disappointing…bread, cereal, instant coffee, and a few other little things.

Chalet Svizzero (Courmayeur)

View from our room at Chalet Svizzero

Much like our previous day, we arrived in Courmayeur late, so we didn’t get to enjoy the Chalet Svizzero hot tub as we planned. We chose to get some delicious pizza in town, but the hotel breakfast was amazing! It included a giant spread of breads, meats, cheeses, sweets, proteins, and more! The view from our room and breakfast was gorgeous as well. (hotel with private room and ensuite bathroom/shower)

Rifugio Walter Bonatti

View from above Rifugio Walter Bonatti

Rifugio Walter Bonatti was easily the most amazing view from any of our lodgings. The vibe was perfect and we enjoyed a full bar with a private room. It was a much easier day, so we got in early and hung out at the picnic tables perched on the edge of the valley looking over to the Mont Blanc Massif. The food was fine, but nothing spectacular. We enjoyed our private room and the shared bathrooms/token showers were fine. Definitely one of the most memorable places we stayed!

Hotel Edelweiss (La Fouly)

Hotel Edelweiss

We arrived at Hotel Edelweiss soaking wet and cold; we didn’t take advantage of it, but they offer laundry service! We enjoyed a nice fondue dinner here with new friends and the location was excellent. All in all, this hotel and our room were both very nice. (hotel with private room and ensuite bathroom/shower)

Gîte Bon Abri (Champex-Lac)

Gîte Bon Abri

Gîte Bon Abri was fine, but not great. Their private room with shared bathroom was very large, but the place wasn’t anything special. The location was inconveniently far from the lake…walkable, but far enough to make you dread the walk back. One of the hosts drove us into town and told us he’d pick us up after dinner, but when we called him, he said he couldn’t pick us up any more…so, we hoofed it back with no baby carrier. In the morning, we were greeted with the same underwhelming cereal breakfast.

Auberge Mont Blanc (Trient)

View from inside Auberge Mont Blanc

We enjoyed our dinner at Auberge Mont Blanc with new friends and the view of the mountains behind the church was nice. Breakfast was the typical refuge/auberge/gite breakfast…cereal and bread. Once again, we had a private room with a shared bathroom. Not special, but not bad at all.

Gîte Le Moulin (Montroc)

Gîte Le Moulin

When we first rolled up, the gite was not open and everyone was waiting around outside. By the looks of it, we were a bit concerned that this place wouldn’t be good, but boy, were we way wrong?! The food was easily the most amazing on the trip. The food was clearly from their garden across the street and from local bakers. It was amazing! There was no private room option, but we were able to snag a room for 4. The other couple we shared a room with was friendly and we completely enjoyed our stay! The location was also great; we were right by the train and were able to go into town to purchase a much needed knee brace. Because of the food alone, even with no epic view or special accommodations, this place was a 10/10!

Auberge du Manoir (Chamonix)

Hot Tub at Auberge du Manoir

We took the Flegere lift and train into Chamonix to go to Auberge du Manoir for 1 reason alone…hot tub. It came at the perfect time on the trek, too! By day 8, we were in rough shape, so the bar, hot tub, sauna, comfy beds, and large rooms were perfectly timed. The place was so welcoming and nice. Because of its location, we were able to walk around and find the most amazing French food. Breakfast was the most beautiful spread of anything you could want…even molten chocolate lava cake! Brittany says that it was her favorite place. (hotel with private room and ensuite bathroom/shower)

Chalet Hotel Les Campanules (Les Houches)

Chalet Hotel Les Campanules

The day from La Flegere to Les Campanules was one of the most challenging days, as the descent was unlike anything we’d ever done. We arrived after dinner service began, but they were so accommodating. The view from our private room was stunning, so our morning was pretty special here. The location isn’t great, but it provided for a better view than from in town. As a whole, the place is very nice and we loved it!

Our (exhaustive) Pack List

Our Toddler’s Things

  • Morrison Outdoors 40º Sleeping Bag
    (affiliate link…if you make a purchase with this link, I make a small commission to help fund more adventures!)
    • Never needed it! Refuges were plenty warm.
  • Z Lite Sleeping Pad
    • Never needed it! Refuges were plenty warm. Used it as a sit pad and changing pad a few times though which was nice.
  • Phil and Ted’s Lightweight Crib w/ sheet
    • Pro tip that we wish we had thought of sooner…a Z Lite cut in half fits this crib perfecting and provides better insulation!
  • 2 Sets Wool Base Layers
    • We used Woolly Tots and Iksplor and are happy with both
  • Pajamas
  • Sun Shirt
  • Fleece Pants
  • Hiking Pants
  • Patagonia Fleece Jacket
  • Patagonia Puffy Jacket
  • 2 Pairs Socks
  • 1 Pair Thick Wool Socks
  • Sunhat
  • Beanie
  • Sunglasses
  • Crocs
  • Columbia Rain Suit
  • Fleece Gloves
  • Glove Mitts (didn’t end up using)
  • 28 Diapers
    • We were able to restock along the trek, so these got us through the first half of the trip.
  • A few swim diapers (for hot tubs, duh!)
  • 9 overnight diapers (we were having leaking problems at the time)
  • 2 Packages Baby Wipes
  • Dog Bags (for the stinky diapers)
  • Dirty Diaper Zip Lock Bag
  • Baby Bath Soap
  • Tooth Brush
  • Tooth Paste
  • Lotion
  • Booger Drops
  • Baby Hand Sanitizer
  • Comb
  • Sippy Cup
  • Snack Cup
  • 10 Pureed Food Pouches
  • Snacks to last 5 days
    • Finding small snack food when we needed it wasn’t always easy, but cereal was easy to find. So we got a LOT of Cheerios along the trail.
  • 20 servings Powdered Whole Milk
    • Milk was plentiful on the trip, but we didn’t know that before we set off. It was good to have on hand though.
  • Dr. Bronners Frangrance Free Soap and a Cut Piece of a Scouring Pad
    • To clean his cup
  • Busy Baby Bottle Bungee
    • Essentially a leash for his snack and sippy cup
  • Stuffed Ibex
  • Teether with Snap Tether

Gear & Things

  • Backpack
    • Gregory Baltoro
      (included daypack)
    • Kelty Journey PerfectFit
  • Rain Covers
  • Contractor Trash Bag (pack liner)
    • Handy to buy time and keep the contents of my pack dry when I was helping get the rain suit on my son and the cover on his pack.
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Pillow Case
  • REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles
  • Duct Tape (a little wrapped on trek pole)
  • Hand Warmers
    • It never got cold enough for us to use these. My wife’s hands get cold quickly so we brought a couple for emergencies.
  • Carabiner, because they’re always handy!
  • Passports
  • IDs/Credit Cards
    • Every place we went on the trail took credit card


  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Sun Shirts x2-3
  • Hiking Bottoms x2
    • My wife was happiest in her tights as she got burned in her shorts day 1. I was happiest in shorts because I hate hiking in pants. Only once did it get too cold/wet for shorts, but I was fine hiking through the pain 😄
  • Belt
  • Bra x2
    • I chose not to wear one, but my wife did
  • Undies x4
    • We sink washed them when they got too gross.
  • Trail Socks x2
  • Camp/Cozy Socks x1
  • Trail Runners – Altra Lone Peak 6
    • I was fine in these. Brittany hated them.
  • Crocs
    • For showers and camp
  • Jogger/Cozy Pants x1
    • Having warm, dry clothes after it rains is a blessing!
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
    • Wife always brings them…I hate them. Neither of us needed them this time.
  • Down/Synthetic Down Jacket
    • Wife brought her Patagonia R1 Midlayer as well…I’m happy hiking a little cold and warming up in my puffy.
  • Buff
  • Silicone Wedding Band
    • Because it’s cheap, we like having a band on, and because we would be devastated to lose or break our real ones.
  • Microspikes
    • There was 1 time we should have used these but didn’t…we each ended up taking a fall. Watch the snow conditions before your trip especially if you go early like us. Early-mid June, some of the passes are still icy. Check with locals/refuge hosts on conditions.


  • Micro usb
    • To charge our headlamps and Garmin inReach
  • Nitecore NU25 Headlamps
    • Never needed
  • Garmin inReach Mini
  • Mini Tripod
  • Phone Charger Cord
  • Cell Phone
  • Charger USB Brick
  • Type C Outlet Adapter
  • Garmin Watch
  • Watch Charger

Food Stuff

  • Water Storage
    • 1L Water Bottle x2
      • We like having bottles for when we are at camp and for making a single bottle of electrolytes on trail.
    • 2L Water Reservoir
      • Wife prefers the accessibility of a tube
  • Katadyn Water Filter
  • Ziplock Bags for Trash
  • Knife
  • Gatorade Powder
  • Clif Bloks Electrolyte Gummies
    • This has always been our special treat when the trail gets tough
  • Bars
    • Many markets in the towns sell bars, electrolytes, and snacks. Bring a few and just resupply along the way.

First Aid

  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol
  • Gauze
  • Band Aids
  • Benadryl
  • Neosporin
  • Leukotape
  • Tums
  • Immodium
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Aquaphor
  • Baby Tylenol
  • Baby Ibuprofen
Our Quart Size
First Aid Bag


  • Sun Screen
  • Chapstick
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tooth Brush
  • Tooth Paste
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Emergency Ration Toilet Paper
    • All bathrooms had TP
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Face Wash
  • Pack Towel
  • Face Towel
  • Face Wash
  • Razor
  • Body Wash
  • Body Scrubber
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Makeup/Makeup Wipes
  • Women’s Hygiene Things
  • Hairbrush & Hair Ties
  • Masks
    • In June 2022, masks were not enforced anywhere but on our flights

more posts from by josh

%d bloggers like this: