When you have a baby, a simple day out can feel like a major expedition, with diapers, strollers, baby carriers, toys, bottles, a change of clothes and everything else in between needing to be brought along. The idea then, of taking a family vacation with baby on board can feel completely overwhelming. Rest assured, it can be done! In addition to our collection of 40+ Tips for RoadTrips, here are a few tips that have worked for our family.
Pack a first aid kit – in addition to the usual items in a first aid kit, be sure to include a thermometer, diaper cream, medicine for infant pain and fever, and a list of emergency contact numbers.
Pack a variety of baby’s favorite toys and books, as well as a few new items that they have not seen before. I like to save the brand new items for the car journey because that is when it is most difficult to entertain a little one and curiosity for a new toy can work wonders. Do make sure however that any toys you give to your little one in the car are soft toys as any loose objects in car can act as weapons at high speeds. The harder toys and books can be saved for the hotel.
I always pack a small “Mom’s bag of tricks”. This is a bag full of everything we might need during our journey that we keep in the car, readily on hand as soon as we need it. My bag of tricks contains diapers, change mat, baby wipes, snacks, water, soft toys, sunscreen, lip balm, hand sanitizer and tissues. This means that when we need to do an emergency diaper change I’m not having to rummage through the trunk looking for the diaper bag, or trawling through the glove department looking for a tissue. No matter what situation arises, everything I need is on hand, all in the one place.
Bring zip lock bags. Babies make messes. It’s life. Unfortunately though, when you’re on the road, there isn’t always somewhere to dispose of diapers, food scraps or baby wipes and even if you have a waste bin in the car, there are some messes you just don’t want in there! Take along some zip lock backs, put the trash in a bag, zip it up and store it in the trunk until you can dispose of it properly. No smell, no leaks, no fuss!
Keep the routine.
Try to schedule the start of your journey for your baby’s usual nap time. Feed your baby, change them, dress them in loose comfy clothing and then begin your drive. With any luck, you will enjoy a calm and peaceful start to your journey.
If baby is fussing, take a break. You might be tempted to just keep going, wanting to make that next milestone on your journey before stopping, but this will just make baby even more upset and resettling them for the next leg of the journey will be rendered all the more difficult. Take them out of their car seat, feed and change them, and let everyone have a breather. You’ll all feel more refreshed as a result and baby will hopefully settle back for another nap during the next leg of the drive.
Baby Sleep Needs
When you arrive at your hotel, assess the room and set up zones. Create a zone for toys and play, a zone for a changing station, and a zone for bottles, food and snacks. Creating zones will keep everything organized and it will reduce stress because you will know exactly where everything is as soon as you need it.
The most important tip for traveling with baby
So what is my all time, biggest tip for traveling with baby? Patience, lots of it. Long car rides, changes of scene and new sleeping arrangements can be unsettling and confusing for routine-loving babies. Accept ahead of time that your journey may take several hours longer than expected, that it may take a little longer for baby to fall asleep, and that even the calmest baby might be a little upset and fussy. If you accept from the outset that little hiccups and delays are bound to happen, you’ll be all the more able to cope with them and take them in your stride, making a happier vacation for everyone.
What are your favorite tips for traveling with baby? I’d love for you to share your ideas and tips in the comments.