The first time we went on a road-trip with our baby, we made it 8 minutes before he pooped everywhere and we had to pull off the road. Luckily, we pulled over near a coffee shop and an extra coffee made me, dare I say, even a little grateful for the pitstop. The rest of the drive was a mostly-fine-a-little-fussy-a-few-cries kind of trip. However, there are a few lessons we’ve learned that make traveling a whole heck of a lot easier.
Before you go:
- Keep a list on your phone of what your baby needs while traveling. Think clothes, to sleep gear, to feeding gear, to toys, etc. Each trip you go on, update your list based on baby’s changing needs. Then, when it’s time to pack, it’s so much easier to avoid forgetting something crucial!
- If at all possible, avoid packing at the last minute. Obviously, personal preference here! But I find it so much less stressful when it’s a slow packing process.
- Make a plan for the travel route. Are you driving? Consider searching for a few parks along the way that aren’t too far off the freeway. Map out a few stops where you could let baby roll/run/crawl around and get a break from the driving along the way.
While on the road:
- If possible, find your baby’s sweetest time to travel. For us, it turns out afternoons are way better than early morning (which was the opposite of my guess). He naps great in the car toward the end of the day, but he tends to get pretty grumpy earlier in the morning if he doesn’t get to stretch around.
- If baby is asleep, keep driving if at all possible! We pushed past a pee break as long as possible recently, but honestly keeping that baby happy and asleep made it worth it!
- Keep toys and blankets nearby. I have an octopus that clips on to his carseat that makes him so happy! I also try to keep the seat next to him empty so I can sit by him for some top notch entertaining when I’ve run out of other options.
- Keep a picnic blanket handy for stops. If there is a park or grassy area where you can pull-off when you need a break, that can sometimes help little babe wiggle around and take an eating break. Our little man is much happier after he has 30 minutes of play time.
- Finally, add in some extra travel time & go with the flow! It may take longer with baby on board, but it can still be a great day.
While you’re there:
- Consider the spaces you can set up for baby. At a hotel, I’ll ask for an extra clean sheet and put it on the carpet so baby has space to roll and crawl around. This always just feels cleaner to me than carpet. When we stayed at a friend’s house, I packed toys, books, a sitting blanket, and a pack n play so I had space and things for the baby.
- Do a quick baby proof inventory. Obviously, you can’t control what your friend has out, but it’s helpful to at least know what you’re working with so you can keep an extra eye.
Now, as I write this, we are in a global pandemic. So, full disclosure, my experience doing these trips is pretty limited due to the shelter in place order. However, we’ve had a few necessary trips & these practices made things much easier! I’d love to learn other ideas as well!