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If I can consider myself an expert on anything in this life, it’s taking a road trip with a baby.
In fact, by the time our newborn was one month old, he’d been on his first four-hour road trip to Zion National Park. We sold nearly everything we owned and embarked on a United States cross-country road trip with our infant when he was just seven months, and before he was eighteen-months old, we’d traveled by car over 16,000 miles through Europe.
When we returned back to the US, we headed cross-country again. That’s over 25,000 miles with a baby on road trips in two years. Yep, definitely an expert on traveling with a baby here.
Here is my best wisdom after racking up tens of thousands of miles of road trips with baby in tow:
Expert Advice for Taking a Road Trip with a Baby
Plan extra time into road trips for feeding, changing and necessary stops, like rest areas and Starbucks for mom.
Set realistic expectations on a possible delay in your time of arrival. You won’t want to keep baby strapped into the car seat for long periods of time without a stretch and a hug. And you need it yourselves. Alternate drivers and you’ll all stay happier.
Start small on road trips with baby. The road trips we took with our baby are some of our most priceless newborn memories. My husband and I nurtured our marriage while making time to enjoy our favorite hobby, traveling, right from the start with our newborn. As baby got older, road trips were just part of life, and taking early road trips with a newborn baby made it easier through toddler, elementary and now even young adult years. Laura Begley Bloom, travel expert and Forbes' travel contributor confirms my advice here with one of her stories:
My biggest piece of advice is to start small - and start early - and then work your way up to longer trips. We have a friend who did a epic road trip from New York to Florida when his baby was really little. The baby wasn't used to traveling, and it scarred him for a long time; he would scream and cry whenever they got in the car. We have a place in the Hamptons, and we started taking our daughter there when she was just 1-week-old. We started venturing on longer road trips and took her to Cape Cod when she was about 4-months-old. It really helped prepare her for longer road trips.
Sit in the back with baby as much as you can. I know it’s fun to ride up front, but being in the backseat with your infant on a road trip will help ease some anxiety you and baby may feel.
Travel while baby sleeps as much as possible. Limit your drive time to (mostly) nap times. This will give you time to enjoy the sights, parks and rest stops along your road trip, but still stay sane in the car.
Have extra patience and grace for each other. Have more patience and grace. Yes, I said that twice. ;) Consider this my best traveling wisdom, like when things are mentioned twice in the Bible. Heed the message and traveling with your baby will be blessed and can lead you into a lifetime of adventures. You never know when you’ll get the call to go!
Checklist for Taking a Road Trip with a Baby
- An awesome car seat. We used the Britax Marathon from birth and loved it. (When baby was tiny, we also used an infant body and head support.)
- An extra car seat cover.This was a must with long distances, and being able to clean the cover and change the design is a fun plus.
- Two car seat waterproof liners. Lifesaver. For diaper leaks, bottle spills and little accidents, these were amazing. I could just rinse them out with natural baby shampoo in our hotel room and dry overnight for a fresh seat the next day.
- Silicone Feeder. Seriously. A must for when our baby began to teethe. These simple tools for making teething with real food safe are also a cure for backseat boredom, as baby is exposed to new senses and tastes. Super fun with ice! Other teething helps for traveling are an amber necklace for a baby and teething beads for mom.
- Your travel diaper bag (I love the Petunia Pickle Bottom Backpack type) and the essentials like:
- A great baby carrier like the Ergo.
- Baby clothing. Think layers, a few changes and stick to the basics, like onesies, and always a lightweight jacket.
- A weather appropriate baby hat.
- A traveling baby high chair like the Ciao Baby is considered an essential for packing baby for vacation from my friends at Trekaroo. It comes in a ton of colors and even has a cool case and attachable umbrella. I can see this as a big helper!
- A family first aid kit.
- A play-pen like the Go Guardian Sleep N Play or the ultra-portable KidCo plus as a safe play area and activity center.
- Baby beach shade.
- Baby’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal.
- Ziploc bags in multiple sizes.
- Small travel stroller.
- Bibs and burp cloths.
- The My Brest Friend nursing pillow. This makes an awesome baby pillow and travel pillow for mom and dad, too!
- Stainless steel travel bottle and/or sippy cup.
- Baby toys- lots of new things to entertain and look at!
- A few favorite books to read to baby.
- Baby music and/or DVDs. We loved BabyFaith like “God Made Music” and Beatles (and U2) for Baby lullabies.
- Baby monitor.
- Breast Pump and a power adapter if using.
- A journal and simple, weatherproof disposable camera for you to record your memories.
- A great attitude, tons of patience and grace!
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