I wanted to share a few tips on traveling by car with a baby. I don’t have any experience in flying with Andrew but I do in driving long distance with him. We recently drove down to Southern California to visit my in-laws and it’s a 9 hour drive. A is 10 months old and although he still takes 2 naps per day, all he wants to do these days is crawl around and stand so of course he gets squirmy if he’s in the car seat for too long. We have made this trip 3 times now and I’ve learned something new each time.
Feed baby a bottle while partner is driving. We left the house right at nap time which is helpful since he slept in the car for about an hour and a half right from the get go. When he woke up he was hungry so we stopped to take a bathroom break and I sat in the backseat with him. This was really helpful actually and clearly only works if you’re traveling with another adult. If you’re traveling alone with baby, this tip might not help you and I apologize for that. It might sound silly to sit in the back seat with your baby but it helps keep him or her entertained; it really does. I actually fed him his bottle while we were driving. Some kids tend to get a little carsick so feeding them while driving might not be best, but for us it worked out great. It kept Andrew entertained for a little while and we didn’t have to stop to feed him which would have added to our travel time.
Another great feeding tool is a baby puree squeeze pouch. For some reason kids love these things. Andrew is not a great eater but we just discovered that he will suck down a squeeze pouch like his life depended on it. I just bought about 20 of them the other day! Not only are they fun to eat (I say this assuming it’s because the tip is a hard plastic and the baby can chew on the end a little?) but they’re perfect for traveling! We also fed him these while driving. If you’re worried about babies choking if you hit a bump or something then obviously don’t try this if you’re not comfortable but I personally was totally fine with feeding him these while driving. It’s just a puree so it’s not like I was feeding him cubed chicken or something. Anyway, they’re slightly messy but totally convenient. We love the “Plum Organics” brand, especially the Apple & Carrot blend.
Toys, books and music! That’s my next tip. The last long drive we took with Andrew was a few months ago and he slept most of the way but when he was awake he cried and cried, probably because we didn’t sit in the back with him and entertain him. I get it. I mean, he probably gets bored but the crying can really wear out the parents! So this time Kyle and I traded off sitting back there with him and we read to him, played with him and sang to him. He didn’t cry at all! He sat in that car for about 8 of the 9 hours and did not cry one bit. Oh the power of those slightly annoying musical toys…
Change baby in the car. Okay, please don’t change your baby’s diaper while driving, I think that’s a given, but I do prefer changing A on the seat inside the car…..while parked :). I myself don’t like using those changing tables in public places. I just get a little grossed out by them and even though I can lay something on top of them, I still don’t feel like they’re clean. I don’t know, maybe I’m weird but that’s just how I feel about them. I use a changing pad that came with my diaper bag and lay it down on the front seat to change Andrew. It saves a little time because you don’t have to go in the restroom and clean the changing table and get all of your stuff together and so on. The only problem with this is Andrew is getting taller so it might be difficult next time if he’s too tall to lay on the seat, but this time it was great. We just changed him right there, threw away the diaper in the nearest trash can, and we were on our way. It might not save THAT much time but it does save a little time; even 5 or 10 minutes per stop to change him adds up by the end of the day.
Organize before you leave. I’m a planner; there’s no doubt about it. I love to organize but I also feel like I HAVE to organize to function properly. Make a list of everything you’re going to pack (Lord knows you have to pack SO MUCH STUFF for baby). I usually start a list a few days before we are scheduled to leave and keep adding to it until it’s time to actually pack. It definitely helps to pack in advance, like at least a day before, but it reallllyyyy helps to pack the car correctly. Make sure all of the items you need while on the road are in the back seat with you and baby so they are easily accessible. If for instance, your squeeze pouches are in a separate bag in the trunk, you won’t be able to grab one if baby gets hungry. Keep the diaper bag near you and make bottles in advance if your baby is bottle fed. I mixed up 3 bottles before we left and put them in a lunchbox with ice packs to keep them fresh all day. I cut up some jack cheese and had that in the lunch box as well for when we stopped to eat lunch. I had a water bottle ready to go and his toys in a bag next to me. All of this was in the backseat with us. This might sound like a given to most of you but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve needed something and, oh yeah, I forgot I packed it in my personal bag which is in the trunk. Have a few diapers and travel wipes handy as well so they’re easy to get to for changing baby in the car. Organization is always a good thing!
Pack your lunch. Okay I’ll be honest, we normally don’t do this, but I always want to. In fact, writing about it has inspired me to actually commit to it next time we travel! I love the idea of packing a healthier lunch for Kyle and I instead of eating fast food. I actually refuse to eat any fast food besides “In N Out” or “Chipotle”, but even that is not a super healthy option. Pack a sandwich, some fruit, and bottled waters in a lunchbox and have it handy. The image below is what I ate for lunch today at work but it’s a great option for traveling. Pack some tuna in a small container, some romaine lettuce leaves in a ziploc, an apple already sliced in a small container and a jar of “Justin’s Maple Almond Butter” and you’re set. This is better if you choose to stop and eat since you have to assemble it a little. Soooo yummy! Quick note: if you haven’t tried this maple almond butter, go get it now! It’s delicious!
You can either eat on the road (probably easier if you have a pre-made sandwich or something) or stop to eat but even stopping to eat your packed lunch saves time because you don’t have to wait in line anywhere. I’m telling you, every time we travel down south the lines for lunch are sooooo long. It takes just as long to wait for our food as it does to actually eat it. We like to stop and eat because it allows us to stretch our legs, use the restroom and let Andrew stretch his legs as well. If you’re one of those “go go go” people then eating your sandwich while driving would be great for you. Packing your lunch is a healthy and quick alternative to eating out!
Have fun. This is the most important tip I can give! Sometimes I feel like I’m so wrapped up in getting stuff done or making good time on trips that I stress myself out. There’s really no reason for this. I’m an anxious person as it is and my husband always reminds me to relax. Sometimes that’s hard to do but he’s so right. Driving for 9 hours can be exhausting and it has it’s challenges, but look, you’re in the car with your favorite people and you should cherish your time together. I was able to sit and play with Andrew all day long, even if it was in the car. Kyle and I were able to laugh with him together and take turns watching him smile. We were able to travel as a family to visit more family; that’s awesome and we are lucky that we’re capable and that we have the resources to do so. We’re lucky to have a life so we might as well make it a fun one!
I hope these tips are helpful to you and make your next travel adventure easier and more fun. Good luck on your journey to wherever you choose!