Road Trip Success With a New Baby
A baby can turn your life upside down, but family travel can still be a blast
The transition into parenthood is truly eye-opening, which is funny when you consider how sleep deprived most parents are the first year, it’s like you have weights on your eyelids.
Since the addition of our kids, things I took for granted before, like spontaneous road-trips, now require lots of planning. It’s important to us to continue adventuring, so we’ve been exploring ideas on how to road-trip safely and comfortably with a baby.
Here’s five tips that will help make the time spent together in the car as enjoyable as possible.
Timing is Everything. Our kids’ morning nap occurs around nine, so we plan to hit the road just as their eyes droop, counting on the background noise and movement of the vehicle to lull them to sleep. They usually nap again from 1:00-3:00 pm so we’ll make plenty of progress and they’ll be well-rested when we arrive. If their naps are disrupted because the travel has thrown their routine off, I’ll be resorting to tips #4 and #5 on this list.
Stop constantly. Between nap #1 and nap #2 is the time to stop and stretch, snack and take in the scenery. Oh, and be smart about where you pack items you’ll need access to during the trip. There’s nothing worse than digging through bags and suitcases only to finally locate a diaper placed strategically in the furthest corner of the trunk.
Maintain a comfortable temperature in the car. Infants lack the ability to regulate their body temperature the same way adults do. Our kids still gets hot quickly in their car seats. One huge advantage is solar window tint on our car, because it noticeably reduces heat and glare in your car’s interior. Since installing window tint, I can really feel the difference in the temperature when I travel in my friends’ unprotected vehicles. We also got our air conditioner serviced as summer is approaching. I’m not taking any chances on this one. Comfortable baby = less fussing.
Find some toys that occupy the mind. Infant car seats face backwards, how boring is that? We’ve purchased a few soft and lightweight toys (hard objects can quickly become projectiles during a sudden stop or accident). We don’t spend a lot of money, either. Even the dollar store has inexpensive, age appropriate toys.
Pack double of everything. Kids can be very particular about certain things, like pacifiers or blankets. Pacifiers come in all shapes and sizes, and our kids each have a favorite, which means they’ll loudly reject any and all substitutions. According to some of my more seasoned road-trip-with-baby friends, they suggest packing multiples of the right kind of pacifier, because it’ll go missing and chances the local drugstore doesn’t carry that brand.