This post is brought to you by my wonderful sister, Molly Reis, the talented mama of my beautiful nieces and author of Blogging the In-Between.
We took two trips this summer with the family – one to Tennessee (a 10-hour drive each way) and one to northern Wisconsin (a 4-and-a-half-hour drive each way). This is how we planned, what we learned and what worked for us in our travels. Most of it was trial and error. This is by no means a perfect solution for the adventure that is traveling with a baby; however, I do hope what we learned can help you. Enjoy your journey!
ZIPLOC BAGS – They just make organization so easy! Get ready for a new best friend! We used the bags to make everything grab-and-go ready. We brought: pjs, outfits, extra tops, extra bottoms, eating supplies, swimming supplies, and blankets and burp cloths. It was nice not to have to think about what we’d need and when and to just have our supplies ready no matter what our trip threw at us. Also, the Ziploc bags allowed us to fit everything nicely into our Thirty-One bag, which was awesome. I highly recommend it (or something similar) because it fit all the babe’s things and was easy to store in the trunk.
BOUNDARIES – Set your limits and stick to them! If traveling with family or friends (or even if you’re not), be prepared to stick to your guns a bit. You know what your little one needs. If that means you need to duck out early or make dinner reservations for 5:00 instead of “going with the flow” to be flexible for everyone else, then that’s what you do. We wanted to keep our girl’s nighttime routine as close to normal as possible, so we insisted on eating dinner no later than 6 or being able to leave early if we needed to. We were with family, so it wasn’t a big deal. But I’m sure whoever you are with will understand.
BREAKS – Plan on a longer travel time. We needed to stop about every two hours to give the babe a break. We planned feedings and changings around those breaks. If your child is old enough, you can stop at places that offer a little grass or space to run around so she can stretch her legs a bit. Of course, if your baby is still taking three- to four-hour naps, you can probably stop less frequently.
TRICKS – I wish I had a one-size-fits-all trick to make a road trip with a little one easier, but, as I’m sure you know, every baby is different. Here are some things that worked for us, though: Baby Einstein videos (on my phone, using Guided Access so she couldn’t do anything but watch), rolling the windows down every so often, lots of snacks, and music. I also had a basket of toys in the backseat that I kept out of sight for the week or so before our trip. Some people recommend sitting in the backseat, but we found that more distracting than beneficial. It just made her want me to hold her even more, which was torture for both of us. She did better on her own, when she could just play or eat or zone out on her own terms.
FLEXIBILITY – While it is important to know your and your little one’s limitations, it’s just as important to be flexible. You’re not at home – you’re working outside of your normal routine. To expect your baby to behave normally is unrealistic. He might not eat as much or nap at the same intervals. We had to come to terms with the fact that our girl was just going to have to make do with naps in the car as we traveled from place to place on our trip. If we could get back to the cabin early for an afternoon nap before meeting everyone for dinner, great! But we had to be flexible. Trying to stick to the normal routine all day might make you a bit crazy. You’re not in a normal situation – it’s okay for you to put a pin in the schedule until you’re back home. Again, you know your baby best. Follow her cues and trust her instincts.
What are your best tips for traveling with babies? What has worked and what hasn’t worked so well?