I’ll preface this post by saying that we are by no means experts in traveling with a baby BUT, we are feeling pretty good about it after 4 successful road trips in Liam’s first 4 months of life!
First, prepare for your plans to be derailed! Being “on time” with a baby is tough. I like to give an approximate time that we’ll be leaving/arriving on trips. Inevitably, the baby will have a blow out that will take 15 minutes to clean up or he’ll decide he’s hungry every 2.5 hours instead of 3 and cause you to stop more frequently.
Second, don’t overpack! On our first trip, we joke that we took one of every thing that we MIGHT need. We’ve definitely gotten better and more efficient. You don’t need to take the baby’s bath tub, you don’t need multiple strollers, and you don’t need a gazillion toys! You DO need diapers, wipes, clothes, a car seat, a stroller or baby wearing device (we love our Ergo360 and Solly Baby Wrap), a Swaddle or sleep sack, and a couple toys to keep baby entertained. We are also big fans of taking a hat for Liam, hand sanitizer, his travel bassinet, a sound machine and a light blanket.
(I also recommend taking grandparents because they’re a huge help!)
Next, keep your routine (as much as possible)! If baby eats at 7, 10, 1, and so on… make sure that happens on the trip! Babies LIKE routines! Staying on schedule will help with naps and nighttime sleep, too! Obviously, some things will shift when you’re traveling but do your best to keep it consistent and your little one will thank you! When we travel, I still nurse Liam before giving him a bottle – even if we’re on the road. Yes, it takes more time but it is what he’s used to – so we do it. It helps keep ALL of us from getting stressed out! We usually try to have our lunch at the same time so we aren’t having to stop again. Once we get his first hunger cue (or get close to the 3 hour mark) we start looking for good places to stop.
I also encourage him to nap on our trips and to go to bed at his normal time. Again, these might be a little off but so helpful if you can still make it happen.
Be flexible! Setting rigid schedules is setting yourself up for failure! We made reservations on our last trip and cancelled them. Deciding instead to take our babe out to dinner with us. He wanted to be held almost the whole time but we still enjoyed our meal and were able to be there for his bedtime routine at his normal time. It is much easier to make tentative plans and see how the day goes than it is to have every hour mapped out and get frustrated when you get off schedule.
Let your baby be a part of your life, not control it! Easier said than done, right? But we didn’t want to limit our lives to play dates and we didn’t want to leave L with a babysitter every time we went somewhere either. So, we take him with us. We’ve taken him to lunch and dinner, on hikes, to breweries, to outdoor music (but not too close or too loud!), to our nephew’s baseball game, to the gardens at Biltmore and more! We like to have a plan (type A!) and know what our options are wherever we are going. That way, we aren’t caught off guard in an uncomfortable situation or one that just won’t work with the baby.
Lastly, relax and have fun! The idea of traveling with a baby can stress us out before we actually take the trip. As long as you are prepared, have reasonable expectations of what you can do, and don’t fret too much about the mishaps, you’ll be fine!
The longest we’ve been on a road trip is 5 hours. Liam is a good sleeper so he naps along the way which helps. We’re currently planning his first flight so we can prep him for many more adventures, all around the world!