Road Trips With Babies

When I began writing about traveling with babies, I thought it would take one hour tops and I’d have all the information included in one post. However, I spent 2 hours writing while Joanne was napping and I realized that I had so much to say! I may not be the most experienced traveler with a baby, but I had a lot of suggestions and recommendations. I had questions about road trips and airplanes and getting baby gear from one place to the next, so instead of writing one long post with an overwhelming amount of information, I decided to break it up into two separate ones. The first one will cover our road trip experiences and the second one will cover our airplane experiences. I hope you enjoy!

Before Joanne was born, Taylor and I decided that we were going to immerse Joanne into our busy lives 100%. We didn’t want to adjust our lives to fit her, but instead, we wanted her to adjust her life to fit ours (as much as a baby can that is). This isn’t for everyone, but it was really important for us to have her acclimated to a busy and well-traveled life. Taylor and I are constantly traveling or doing something, so we wanted to make that as easy as possible for our baby. This meant Joanne had to be good at sleeping on the go.

During the past 9 months, Joanne has changed a lot and we’ve had to adjust the ways we travel to work for everyone. This post is just going to be the things we do and the tips we have for anyone looking to travel with a baby. Again, I’m not an expert and we’ve been limited with our travel due to the pandemic, but I’ll share what I know.

Also, this entire post is based on our experiences ONLY. Joanne has been a great baby from the beginning and this is all based on our experiences with her.

ROAD TRIP TIPS & TRICKS

The first thing I can recommend to anyone taking a road trip with a baby, is to travel while your baby is asleep. The younger they are, the more they sleep and the less they need entertained. When Joanne was still a newborn (probably 3 weeks old), we went to the beach. It was a 3 hour road trip, and her first long car ride. I think this is one of the best times to road trip with a baby. Newborns eat, sleep, and poop, so a car ride isn’t nearly as awful as you may think. She also didn’t hate the car seat. Around this time, her naps were frequent and she was eating every 2 hours. We chose to leave early in the morning after she’d already eaten and had her first wake window. We loaded her in her carseat as soon as she was ready to take her first nap and she slept most of the ride. When she woke up, we stopped so I could feed and change her. Then, we hit the road again and finished our drive. This never negatively affected her nighttime sleep either. We’ve traveled to and from the beach several times in the past 9 months and we always leave when she’s ready to nap.

We took our next road trip when she was 1.5 months old from South Carolina to Pennsylvania (10 hours). One of the best things we did during this road trip was leave before she woke up for the day. We had the car packed and ready to go the night before, so all we had to do was get in and go. Joanne was getting up for a feed around 3 or 4 in the morning at this age, so we decided to leave whenever she got up for her middle of the night feeding. When she got up we fed her like we normally would, kept her in her pajamas, snuggled her into her carseat, and started driving. We were able to drive 4 hours before she even woke up for the day! This is the best thing you can do when traveling with a baby on a long road trip. You could even do the opposite and travel at night! The key is to spend the most time driving while baby is naturally ready to sleep. Now that Joanne is older, she’s harder to travel long distance with in the car. We leave as early as possible, but she needs more entertaining and she takes fewer naps.

When we pack the car, I like to make sure there’s plenty of room in the backseat and in between the center consul. I like having easy access to Joanne if needed. Sometimes, she just wants me to sit and entertain her. Also, an overstuffed vehicle stresses me out. Going off of this, I think it really helps to have your diaper bag with anything you may need readily available. You don’t want to dig around looking for something when your baby is screaming and you’re flying down the highway.

If you’re feeding your baby formula, you can fill some bottles up with water before leaving. All you’ll have to do is add the powder and mix!

We try not to travel with her on long road trips anymore, but when we do, we have to allow more time or leave even earlier. The last thing I can suggest when traveling by car with a baby, is to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. If the GPS says it’s going to take 8 hours to get there, tack on an extra 2 hours. Your baby is going to need fed, changed, and time to wiggle. Sometimes, your baby will have a meltdown or a blowout you weren’t anticipating, which will take more time. Babies can sense stress, so if you’re stressed about arriving somewhere at a specific time, they’ll sense your anxiousness. The more easygoing the trip, the better.

Positives & Negatives to Road Trips With a Baby

  • Positive: One of the benefits to traveling by car with a baby is that you can take all their stuff. You can take the pack-and-play, carseat, toys, bottles, whatever they need.
  • Negative: It takes longer and there’s a lot of time spent in a carseat.

Road Trip Essentials:

  • Mirrors – These are amazing because you can see your baby at all times. She likes to look at herself too!
  • Portable Sound Machine This is our MUST HAVE baby item. When people are expecting and they ask us what to get, I always suggest this! Joanne always sleeps with a sound machine and this one is amazing for travel. It holds a charge for like 12 hours! We hang it on her carseat when we’re in the car and we put it around her pack-and-play when she’s sleeping at night. We have the Hatch at home and adore it in the nursery, but it’s bigger and has to be plugged in, so I don’t recommend it for road trips.
  • Portable Baby Dome – With summer coming up, I thought this was a good recommendation for anyone traveling to the beach with a baby. We went to the beach when Joanne was 3 weeks old and we loved using this! It’s breathable, shaded, and has UV protection. You can attach a portable fan to it too!

I think we’re at a point where we can travel easily with Joanne in the car, but I want you to know that this was all a learning experience. Not every car ride is happy and easy. We’ve experienced our moments of screaming and stress, and we’ve used those moments to reevaluate what’s working and what doesn’t. This is what’s worked for us during the past 9 months, but you’ll need to adjust according to your own baby’s needs. Every baby is different, and just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, your baby’s needs change and you readjust. I will say, the more you travel by car, the more flexible your baby becomes. Babies thrive on consistency, so anything that’s out of rhythm can really throw them off. If your baby is use to traveling in the car, it won’t be new and scary and they’ll know what’s happening.

What are your tips and tricks for traveling with little ones in the car?

Let me know what you want to hear about in my next post, all about flying with babies!