After mastering the art of flying with an infant, it was time to tackle the next travel hurdle: a road trip with baby.
I can report back to you that we recently survived our first road trip with baby and dog to SoCal. An infant in the backseat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go further than the pediatrician or the mall. Even though we were a bit nervous and expected the worst, we ended up having the best road trip of all times. Or maybe it was because we expected the worst…?
Personally, I am not a huge fan of long road trips unless they are part of the journey. And that’s where Paul’s and my opinion go different ways: Paul wants to get to the destination quickly with as little stops as possible. I, on the other hand, prefer to take it easy, stop frequently at rest areas to enjoy some yummy, homemade snacks, get out of the car for a few minutes, stretch my legs and let the dog run around, and I drinks lots of liquids and don’t care if I have to stop every hour to pee. Needless to say, lots of fighting happens in the car. Especially on longer trips.
This time we had to figure out a fight-proof plan. With baby and dog on board, I certainly didn’t want to end up arguing over how many breaks we would or wouldn’t take. Now let look at the Thrasher Road Trip Tips, shall we?
First, we agreed to remain flexible and make the ride part of the journey and enjoy it as much as possible. There wouldn’t be a limit on pee breaks, coffee breaks, nursing breaks, diaper changing breaks or any other breaks. If the usual trip would turn into an all-day ride, so shall it be. We usually try to not leave Emma in her car seat for more than 2 hours in one stretch (unless she’s fast asleep) so our breaks included not only a few minutes of leg stretching for Paul and me, and playing catch for Griffin, we also let Emma lounge around on a picnic blanket for Emma.
Leave with peace of mind and create a packing check list so you don’t have to contemplate the whole time if you forgot anything. What always helps me is to go through a regular day and night routine with Emma and think about the ‘tools’ I need. Remember things like bulb suction, thermometer, baby food including feeding utensils, a night light (to plug in at your destination) and flip flops. (We always forget our flip flops when we leave on a rainy day.) A packing list written once is a suitcase quickly packed every time. Believe me. Martha said so.
In regards to timing, we decided to follow Emma’s schedule as much as possible. When we missed our original departure time (because someone still had to finish packing), we allowed Emma to take her next nap in her crib and planned to leave as soon as she woke up. That way she would be well-rested and happy instead of tired and cranky. Try to stick to her bedtime routine: Change her into her pajamas, read a book or sing a song, say your prayer or do whatever you do to tell her it’s time to sleep.
Then, I prepared lots of fresh food-to-go: chopped fruit, pasta salad, chilled drinks, crackers, the usual selection of Haribo candy, enough water for Griffin and a decent amount of bottled organic German breast milk – all stored conveniently in a cooler on the backseat. All this helps avoiding fast food chains and overpriced gas station snacks. The breast milk was for ‘emergencies’ when she started to get cranky and we didn’t want to stop. Otherwise, I nursed.
Since we had to manage to fit Griffin, Emma, car seat, cooler, breast pump, beach gear, and duffle bags for everyone in the car, we decided to invest into this cargo roof top box. Thankfully, we didn’t have to take our massive stroller since Paul’s mom has a simple Snap’n'Go for us that we attach to Emma’s car seat when we’re in SoCal. But we knew eventually, we’d have to bring it along.
Next: Turn the backseat into an amusement park so Emma wouldn’t get bored. Between a comfy one-piece outfit (skip those cute but unpractical outfits, traveling is not the time to make a fashion statement), sun shades for both back windows, a genius toys-on-a-string solution (see photo below), a box with more toys, a sippy cup with water and freshly pumped breast milk, Emma definitely traveled first class.
Keep smiling! Take a fully charged camera and Flip to document Baby’s first road trip. We surely captured some great moments and have a couple of fun snapshots to share.
Any tips or genius ideas you wanna share about successful roadtripping with a baby or toddler? Bring it on!