MY TOP TIPS FOR ROAD TRIPS WITH A BABY
It's no secret that Jackson and I aren't afraid of a good road trip. When Beckley was less than 2 months old we drove to Hilton Head. Then, when Beckley was 4 months old we drove to Chicago and back within 48 hours. We love to travel, and when we had Beckley we knew we wanted to be very intentional about traveling with her from the get-go, in hopes that she would grow up with a tolerance and maybe even enjoyment for it.
Now I won't lie, road trips with a baby aren't easy. You need to go in with a plan, and there are several items that I would consider "must haves" if you're planning a road trip with a baby.
road trip "must haves":
- Window Shades
- Headrest Mirror
- Headrest iPad Holder
- Organizational Soft Bin
- Changing Pad
- Bottles either pre-filled with water or empty if you're breastfeeding (pack more than you think you'll need)
- Formula (if applicable)
- Diapers (again, more than you think you'll need)
- 2 Changes of Clothes
- Sound Machine
- Burp Cloths (more than you think you'll need)
- Toys, rattles, pacifiers, teethers, etc.
- Disposable Diaper Bags
additional items if you're breast feeding:
- Portable Bottle Warmer
- Wireless Pump
- Milk Cooler Bag
PACKING & PREPPING THE CAR
When I am packing for a road trip with Beckley, the first thing I do to prepare the car is put up the window shades, mirror, and iPad holder.
When you are putting up the window shades you will want to consider which direction you are primarily driving. If you will be driving east or west you'll want to place the shade on your back window, whereas if you're driving north or south you'll want to put it on the back side windows. You can buy our window shades HERE.
Jackson and I prefer to have a mirror put up on the headrest directly facing Beckley so we can see her at all times. This also means that she can see US, and we can interact with one another. You can buy ours HERE.
On the middle seat's headrest we have started putting a iPad holder. When we are in a pinch and need to keep Beckley occupied for a few more minutes until our next stop we have found playing a show to be very helpful. Before we leave I make sure to download a few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse off of Disney+ to the iPad so we can hit play if needed. We definitely only use this as a last resort, but it has bought us 10 minutes here and there before. You can buy our iPad holder HERE.
Next I'll put together our organizational bin with all things Beckley! This bin will hold everything we could possibly need quickly, such as bottles, formula, a changing pad, diapers, wipes, and burp cloths. Toys I usually keep inside her diaper bag so they're more contained.
Having this basket out and prepared makes feeding and changing on the road so much easier! When we go to change Beckley I will first lie out a changing pad on the back seat. I highly recommend leaving the back seat clear aside from the carseat and organizational bin if possible! This will make changing easier, and leaves a space for you to sit in the back if you need to (sometimes some company helps keep Beckley happy). I then have all of my changing necessities ready and on hand inside the bin.
Jackson and I typically try to stop every 2-3 hours, at least for a brief break. We also try to time these stops with Beckley's feeds, and change her diaper almost every stop (the only exception is if she's sleeping).
When we stop our goals are to feed Beckley, change her, get her outside for a few minutes, and give her a chance to stretch her legs for a bit. If we are stopping for food Jackson will run inside and get our food while I take care of Beckley. If we are stopping for gas we will typically get this first before we get Beckley out of her carseat, so that once she's fed and settled we are good to hit the road.
We find that Beckley is always happier going back into her carseat if she's had a chance to get outside and stretch out. Road trips are a LOT of time "inside", and so getting some fresh air, feeling the grass, and getting to roll around a little does a lot for hitting the reset button.
SOME FINAL TIPS
- Plan for the trip to take extra long. Seriously! Traveling with a baby takes wayyy longer than traveling without. Where a quick gas and food stop may have taken 15 minutes before, now you'll want to plan for an average of 45 minutes. Avoid stressing yourself out over time by simply planning for it to take a lot longer than normal from the start.
- Also, don't set a rigid schedule. There will be times when your baby needs a break from the trip and you just made a stop 30 minutes ago. It's okay, it happens.
- Try switching up the environment to keep your baby from getting bored. Switch out the toys you offer them to play with, change up the music you're playing, maybe have one of you sit in the back, or turn on a fun show on an iPad for them to watch for a little bit.
- Try and time the bulk of the travel with when your baby sleeps best. Beckley is a GREAT morning napper, and so Jackson and I love to start our road trips in the wee early hours of the morning, so we can get as many miles done before noon as possible, which is when Beckley doesn't sleep as well.
- If your baby is used to listening to a sound machine when sleeping, bring this along and use it to help your baby sleep on the road!
I hope you found this blog post helpful! Ultimately, don't be intimidated by making a road trip with a baby. Go into it with a game plan and then make adjustments as necessary! You'll never know what works until you give it a try.
Good luck! Thanks for stopping by!