Tips for Road Tripping With a Baby.
We took a family road trip this week down to St. Simons Island, Georgia. Stevie has a work conference, so Everett and I decided to tag along and enjoy a mini vacation somewhere that we've never been before. We are never ones to turn down a new adventure, especially when there is a beach involved. I'll post more about the trip next week, but I did want to go ahead and share a few things that have worked for road tripping with this little guy. He's only 9 months old, but he is developing into a lovely road trip companion. I'm sure there will come a day where he just won't tolerate sitting in his car seat for so long, but right now, we are able to convince him to ride along with us as we hit some drive-able destinations. I'm not saying he is perfect during the entire trip, but we have found some helpful hacks for coercing him to be a pleasant ride-along car buddy. In light of summertime and everyone's upcoming travels, I thought I would share what has worked for us.
1. Leave at the Crack of Dawn.
I learned this one the hard way. I left at 10am for a 7-hour road trip, and my little babe was awake for most of it. Which meant he was bored, which meant he was LOUD, which meant everyone in the car was exercising their patience. For the next road trip, I decided to leave at 5am, in hopes that he would sleep for a good portion of the trip. And that is indeed what happened. Hallelujah. Here's how the 7-hour trip broke down: I woke up at 4:30am and got myself dressed and ready. The car was already packed the night before. I gently woke him up, changed his diaper, kept him in his pjs and placed him in his car seat. I did all of this in the dark. I was on the road at 5am, and he slept for the first three hours of the drive. At 8am we stopped at a Starbucks, fed Everett in the parking lot, then grabbed a coffee and breakfast sandwich to go. He fell back asleep until about 10:30am or so, and I started handing him toys in the back. One by one. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Pack Toys. A Lot of Toys.
Pack more than you could ever imagine you would need. An obnoxious amount. Once the novelty of riding along in the car gets old, those toys are your lifeline. I purchased this set of toys specifically for roadtripping and it has proven to be a worthy investment. The other thing is, everything can be a toy! A plastic water bottle, toilet paper rolls, Styrofoam cup, plastic sunglasses, you name it! I've started passing the strangest things back there to him, and it amuses him for a bit. My kiddo is a curious soul. Why wouldn't he want to stare soulfully into my hat? Sure.
Gotta stop to feed and change. But these stops are actually kinda fun! LOOK AT MY BABYYYY.
3. Pack Travel Food.
I make Everett's baby food for whenever we eat at home (which is most of the time), but when we travel it's a different story. I admire those ladies who lug around their canisters of homemade blended baby purees - but I just cannot do it. I've tried and it's just too much mess to pack up and take home, to then clean up again later. No thanks. Not for me. I stock up on easy travel food when we hit the road, and Everett LOVES it. I think he feels like it's a special treat :) Our favorites are these by Earth's Best, these by Happy Baby and these by Plum Organics. He is also really loving his appetizers by Happy Baby :) (I've been reading that French parenting book that recommends feeding children in courses, so Everett gets fancy these days with his appetizers).
4. Pack More Clothes/Diapers/Wipes Than You Think You Will Need.
Some weird things have happened on our road trips. Some weird, weird things. Blowouts, showering urine, gassyness that leads to... solidness. I'll leave it at that. But I always pack Everett THREE changes of clothes when we go anywhere. Three. Yes. Three.
5. Budget Extra Travel Time.
The days of blazing down the road, NO STOPS, is over. Man, me and Stevie used to tear up some mileage on road trips. I reminisced about my favorite all-time road trip with him the other day, when we used to drive from before the sun was up until late in the night. Those days. Are over. In the new era, with a baby and gear and breastfeeding breaks and diaper change breaks and YOU NAME IT breaks, we stop often. There's just no way around it. So budgeting extra travel time is a must, especially if you're super type-A and you like to "race" your Googlemaps estimate. Not like my husband does that or anything. Needless to say, we've had to make some expectation adjustments.
Sleeping baby. Makes for a very happy mommy.
6. Enjoy it!
This is so important. I'm continuously learning about how much life has changed with Everett's arrival in my world, and everything is truly, infinitely better with him. It is. Everything is also really truly different. Vacations look different, my idea of rest looks different, and certainly the way I roadtrip is so so different. But he is also so much fun, and I find myself staring at him wondering what I was doing with my life before he came along. Like, why did I wait so long to have him?? Well, actually, I know the answer to that. But still! My baby is the best. So grateful that I can take him along for journeys and adventures!
And bonus tip - Coldplay does wonders for putting a baby to sleep in the car. THAT CHRIS MARTIN. Okay, there it is, folks. All my road trip tricks in a nutshell. For all of you planning to road trip and travel this summer, I hope this helps!