A 12-hour road trip with an infant. Sounds like a nightmare, right? When my husband and I told our family and friends we were driving from Atlanta to Pennsylvania in the middle of summer, you should have seen the looks flying back at us. But it was my husband’s first Father’s Day and as a Civil War history buff, visiting Gettysburg was something he really wanted to do with his family. This included taking in the breathtaking views of Shenandoah Valley with a quick stop in Washington, D.C. to visit friends and work colleagues.
Of course I was anxious wondering how we were going to manage this with our six month old daughter. But when I started planning out our trip, four key topics came to the forefront and I was able to develop some strategies I think are helpful when taking long road trips with a little one.
We survived six days and four separate hotels and had the very best time. I hope this helps those nervous moms out there with an upcoming road trip — pack up that car and hit the road!
Just like flying with an infant, the biggest key here is to start early and make a list. In case you missed it, there is a draft (shortened) version of what I do when planning for a trip. Check it out here!
Every family member should get his or her own bag — mom, dad and baby. And throw in a Pack-N-Play (if you will not have a crib available) and stroller.
As far as staging everything in your trunk, put all the luggage, the Pack-N-Play and stroller in the trunk. When flying, I stick to an inexpensive stroller frame in case an airline attendant develops slippery hands when stowing our things in the cargo space. But for road trips I suggest using your sturdier, more expensive stroller.
On top of clothing and pajamas, put diapers, wipes and a baby bather in your baby’s suitcase.
Keep your diaper bag and a separate “bottle” bag with all of your bottle and feeding needs in the backseat next to the carseat – you will want it handy for stops!
The first day of our six-day adventure we had no commitments – just the open road! Our last day, we had dinner scheduled for 5:00 p.m. The difference between these two days was monumental. All that being said, try to make every effort to have your more significant travel days completely free. It will ease your stress level more than you know!
Hope for longer stretches of time, but prepare to stop every two to three hours with your little one — feeding or not. Our goal was to time our stops at either “interesting” places to visit or non-drive through food options so we could eat somewhat healthy while we fed or changed her. In making this a priority, we strolled through beautiful downtown Lexington, Virginia to visit Washington and Lee and ate lunch overlooking the Potomac River while sitting on the yard of Mount Vernon near D.C.
This was were most of my anxiety was bundled prior to our trip. There were so many questions and moving parts.
Each morning I would put three to four bottles in the diaper bag, along with formula ready to go in this inexpensive formula dispenser. This stayed in the backseat and was easy to locate whenever we needed it.
As far as cleaning the bottles, this travel drying rack and brush were incredibly helpful to keep her bottles organized and clean. Find a bottle cleanser that you love and buy it in a travel size. Finish with a bottle warmer you like and you are all set!
Last, I pre-made some purees and kept them cool in this amazing mini refrigerator. If you’re traveling while breastfeeding, this is a must-have.
When you get to your hotel room or whatever your housing situation may be and if you are using a Pack-N-Play, decide right away where you are placing it. Get it set up and place the extra swaddle blanket you conveniently packed over one of the mesh sides facing the TV or window. This will help block some light, and keep your little one (and his/her parents) on that perfect sleep schedule!
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions on traveling with a baby or booking your next trip at firstname.lastname@example.org