Road trips, in general, can be challenging, but you may be especially anxious about traveling with a baby or young children. You’ll need to adjust to their schedule, make sure you have the necessary supplies, and of course, tend to the random spurts of crying. Deep breath!
It seems daunting, but honestly, a little planning and a lot of patience will get you there. We have compiled a short and simple list to help any parent up to the challenge of road tripping with a young one whether by choice or necessity.
Set Expectations & Plan Wisely
This tip includes mapping out how long the trip will take, the number of supplies you’ll need, and how best to accommodate your baby or small child while traveling.
Investing in a car organizer is a great idea because it keeps your supplies in a central location easily accessible. This backseat organizer/cooler can hold bottles, sippy cups, snacks, diapers, wipes, and more, while also offering multiple storage compartments. If you have young children, it’s a great way to keep them entertained by packing tablets and some of their favorite toys to have independent access to them.
For babies, you can keep a few small toys and all of the essentials (bottles, pacifiers, bibs, etc.) right next to their car seat.
You can shop this item here: High Road Car Hop Seat Organizer
Time Your Road Trip Right - Try to Drive at Night or During Naps
Working around your baby’s sleep schedule will help you gain as many miles as possible, uninterrupted. If you know that your baby doesn’t have much trouble sleeping in a vehicle, then you’d probably want to plan your trip at a time when they usually go to bed.
On the other hand, if they can get fussy in the car, then try to leave not too long after they wake up from a nap or in the morning. With this scenario, if you can’t start your journey with a sleeping baby, then at least they’ll be well-rested and content.
A bonus tip for this section is to try playing music if that soothes your child or if it’ll help them to fall asleep while you’re driving.
Be Prepared With the Right Food & Entertainment
Snacks, drinks, and games will go a long way toward helping you keep your baby, or young child distracted from being in the car for so long. Small and frequent healthy snacks should be packed and at arm’s reach.
- Fresh-cut fruit and veggies
- Finger sandwiches
Entertaining your baby with interactive toys that light up, have music, or make any sound will help you when your child gets bored or fussy. Car seat toys like this one are convenient because they attach to the back of the passenger seat, and your toddler can play with it without losing it.
Don’t be afraid to stop and get out of the car for a few minutes from time to time for some fresh air, to stretch, and to allow your child a break from the car seat for a moment. It really helps!
Order this item here: Happy Babies Organic Creamies
Our recommended car toy: WISHTIME Car Seat Play Center
Try to Recreate Your Child's Sleeping Environment
In the instance that your little one isn’t a happy camper when traveling, you’ll want to do all that you can to set the ambiance. Try to recreate their sleeping environment from when they’re home and most comfortable.
This may include singing lullabies using a white noise machine, a nightlight (if you’re traveling at night), or anything else that usually allows them to drift off to sleep peacefully. Make them as relaxed as you can; this will enable both them and you to recharge while driving by creating a calm atmosphere in the car.
Check prices out here: Marpac Hush Portable White Noise Maker
Keep Your Baby's Changing Needs in Mind
Make sure that all of your changing supplies are ready and accessible on a whim. You never know when you may need to stop and change their diaper, whether according to their regular schedule or because of the occasional blow-out.
Either way, being aware of when you’re going to need to stop for gas or where the rest stops are will make this process simpler. If you’re able to create a makeshift changing table in the back of your car, that’s even better. If not, a travel changing pad like this one is helpful because it also keeps the baby’s hands from interfering during the change.
Time your stops for lunch, stretches, and anything else according to your baby’s eating and changing schedule.
Shop this item here: SnoofyBee Travel Changing Pad
Skip the Scenic Route and Take the Most Direct Route
You’re always going to want to take the route that gets you there the fastest. When traveling with children, you don’t want to prolong the trip any longer than you may already have to. The most direct route is the way to go because it helps you get where you’re going and get to suitable accommodations more quickly. A good road trip app can help you with this. We recommend Roadtrippers for helpful planning tips and more.
Admire what you can while driving, but be sure to keep in mind that babies don’t care much about the beautiful trees and fields along the road more than they want to get back to their regularly scheduled programming.
Practice Makes Perfect
A trial run has never hurt anybody! If you’re unsure how the road trip may go, don’t be afraid to test out a shorter (much shorter) version in the weeks before the trip. Try changing your baby once in the seat or floor of your trunk with the appropriate padding; try placing your bag of essentials near and make sure that this is both practical and functional for your needs.
Expect the Unexpected
Roll with it! Even with all of your planning, just like life, something unexpected can happen that causes you to change your course of action. This may be a flat tire, inclement weather conditions, a dead battery, construction sites that cause you to have to go a different route, etc.
For unexpected car situations, you need to regroup and pick the next best strategy for getting to where you need to go.
An Emergency Car Kit is definitely something to consider taking with you because it contains everything you’ll need if you get in a situation where you need to fix a tire, recharge your battery, tend to someone who has a minor injury, and more.
Check out current pricing here: Emergency Road Side/First Aid Kit
Are you nervous about driving for an upcoming holiday? Check out this article on the most dangerous holidays to drive on. Holiday Driving.
Time to Hit the Road
Traveling with a baby or young children is totally do-able. It’s all about pre-planning and being adequately prepared for whatever may come your way. Try to stay as serene as possible and make sure that you and your child (ren) arrive at your destination safe and sound above all.