4 Tips for Taking a Road Trip with a Baby
Let’s be honest, traveling with a baby is completely different than solo travel, traveling as a couple, or with friends. The days of choosing a location and a date, and then packing up the car and heading out the door on an unplanned adventure are something of the past. For now, my days of throwing random clothes into a bag, choosing which book to read on the plane and which snacks to eat, showing up at a destination without first booking accommodations, and meeting new people in the hostel has been put on hold. It takes much more time, patience, and coordination to travel with a baby. But this isn’t a bad thing, I promise!
I recently returned from a week-long road trip to the Lithuanian coast (I live in Vilnius) with my husband and two-and-a-half month old. It was our first trip as a family, and a sort of experiment for future travel.
This one trip does by no means make me a pro; however, I’ve certainly learned my fair share about traveling with an infant. Here are my tips for taking a road trip with a baby:
1. Allot yourself more time for travel than you may think is necessary.
On the longer legs of our trip we stopped a couple of times for me to nurse the baby and change some diapers. During those breaks, we took the baby out of his car seat and let him stretch and get some fresh air as well.
2. Prepare a bottle.
If I had known better, I think I would have prepared at least one bottle because sometimes it was inconvenient to pull over the car for a feeding.
3. Dress the baby appropriately.
One of the biggest difficulties for me in general is deciding whether the baby is hot, cold, or comfortable. I’m still learning what each scream, squeal, loud noise, and colors he turns means. This also applied in the car, as the weather was cold outside, but the car had heating.
For this trip, we aimed to dress the baby comfortably and opted to bundle the baby up and forgo heat, especially at times when we knew we would be making relatively frequent stops. During longer legs of the trip we would remove layers and use the heat – which was much more comfortable for the adults at least!
4. Keep necessities like toys or pacifiers close at hand.
I also packed the baby’s rattle, an on-the-go diaper changing pad, and a change of clothes in the backseat, so that they would be easily accessible.
Because it was our first long car ride, I opted to sit in the back, so I could easily check on the baby. It felt a bit strange–like I was being chauffeured everywhere and I’m now thinking that maybe I should have sat in front–at least for the shorter bits of the trip. Luckily, the baby–true to popular sentiment–slept most of the time! The car seemed to lull him instantly to sleep, even when he was cranky.
What other tips would you add for traveling with an infant on road trips? What is different when traveling in the car with a toddler?
I hope you enjoy traveling with your little ones as much as I did! Now to figure out how to travel with an infant on a plane!
Photo credit: Mark Pouley