It’s amazing how much luggage a baby needs. My husband and I managed to fit all our clothes and things in one red carry-on sized suitcase. Our baby took up the rest of the trunk. This past Thanksgiving my husband and I along with our baby girl traveled across Pennsylvania to see our family. It’s an eight hour car drive if conditions are right – with a baby the trip took quite a bit longer. It was a little nerve wracking initially but we survived the trip and enjoyed it. Our methods though were unorthodox. We traveled at night, stopped for a lot of breaks and took literally the longer but prettier route. Here are some helpful tips to make your road trip stress free and fun!
Consider leaving at a different time
The trip is much easier when the baby is sound asleep or mellow. Knowing your baby consider traveling in the evening when he/she is sleeping or early morning. You can also break up your trip into pieces and travel one chunk in the evening or stop at a hotel or friends house along the way.
Bring enough baby supplies
Diapers, wipes and clothes. You think you have enough? Bring more. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re in a restroom the baby is naked and you are out of diapers or clean clothes. I think every mom or dad has this happen at least once. In your diaper bag be sure to have an extra set of clothes, some bags for blowouts, diapers, wipes and cream. I also like to have my own changing pad and some hand sanitizer to minimize germ transfer. We also brought a new container of diapers and wipes. It’s better to have too much rather than too little. You may want to consider bringing a pack and play if you plan on staying in a hotel though many hotels provide cribs.
Prepare to spend more time than you think
Even if your baby sleeps the entire way – it will take longer than you realize. Add other children into the mix and there is no telling how long the trip may actually take. Limit your stress but by being flexible. If your family wants to know when you will arrive tell them a generalized time like the afternoon or evening. If you say two o’clock and it gets to be 2:30
Carry along supplies for you
This is basic car travel philosophy. Bring things to keep you and or your significant other happy. We like to bring music, podcasts, food and drinks. Consider an extra pillow and blanket. The person not driving can take naps.
Take breaks before you think you need them
Things that are stressful – being caught behind an accident when you have to pee, a car low on gas with no gas station in sight, being hungry, thirsty etc. Limit these problems by stopping often. There’s no reason not to. The few minutes you may save by not stopping add so much stress that it will take you longer to recover once you get there. It’s also nice to treat yourself to Starbucks or a donut as a reward for making it as far as you have. Take a short walk and stretch those legs, you’ll feel better. Make the trip enjoyable. If you see a store, park or museum that is appealing leave the option open to stop and visit.
Ask For Help
Once you’ve arrived after visiting for a bit see if you can rangle up some babysitters. Grandparents are great for this. Take the time to nap or get out for a baby free coffee break. We also borrowed baby accessories like a bouncy chair and toys from in-laws rather than pack these things along.
Overall just because you have children doesn’t mean you are now landlocked. Road trips are fun! Some of my best memories are of places we’ve been to on road trips. You can see all sorts of great places, get away from the stresses of home and expose your child to the big diverse world. Just plan ahead and be flexible.