You might as well hear it here; traveling with little ones takes some logistical coordination. When you’re a couple, you can just toss things in a bag, get on your motorcycle, or back your car out of your driveway and go. Not any more.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy traveling; it just means that you can benefit from things that other parents have learned. First-time parents in particular can feel overwhelmed not just by the prospect of hours in a car or airplane, but by the amount of “stuff” that must be dragged along. This is such a big topic that we’re going to address it in two parts. This posting—traveling by car. The next one…traveling by plane.
So..here are some words of wisdom from parents who’ve been there:
- Re-read all the safety tips in our last blog — they apply to driving vacations too.
- Your goal is to do as much driving time while kids are asleep as possible…don’t start driving mid-morning. Instead, try starting out in late afternoon, drive a few hours, stop and eat around 8:00 pm. Then plan to drive later into the night. Your little ones will be tired and fall asleep and you’ll have peace and quiet. Follow the same pattern in the early morning, starting while they are still sleeping, then stopping for breakfast, then back in the car where babies who are still taking morning naps may fall asleep.
- Make sure your car seat is adjusted properly…research has shown that up to 70% of car seats aren’t installed properly.
- Dress your kids in footie pj’s to travel…they’re comfy and good for long stretches of travel (feet get cold in air-conditioned or night-time cars). It’s easy to change diapers if you need to, and you don’t loose little socks under the car seats or walking to and from restaurants.
- Pack a small bag for on-the-road diaper changes…something that can be quickly grabbed to change baby, one individual accident at a time. Gas station restrooms aren’t always that big, or that clean, and big diaper bags always seem to fall out all over the floor. Save the enormous and well-stocked diaper bag for your visit to grandma’s house.
- Pack bacterial soap…it will clean up messes in the car and on hands quickly, and keep you feeling cleaner than dealing with tons of baby wipes. You’ll have less trash all over the car too.
- Bring new toys and books that your baby or little one has never seen before (or in a long while)...but be careful of small parts. They get lost under car seats. Picture books that come with pieces that are still attached to the books by some straps are great because they can’t get lost.
- Try for some sort of routine…especially if doing a cross-country driving trip. Be mindful that kids don’t switch timezones as readily as adults; plan your eating times to coincide with when you know they’ll melt down sitting still; then run with them, dip, swirl…move! your muscles will feel good too! (And if you’re doing a cross-country drive, you qualify for the Natal to Nest Hero award!)
We’ve got more tips coming up soon…for parents planning air trips for their summer vacations. Here’s to safe and fun family travel!
All of us at Natal to Nest