My Little Prince and I spent a good chunk of our summer on vacation. We were gone almost a full month from the end of June through almost the end of July. We visited Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. That is a lot of travel with a 5-6 month old (he turned 6 months old on vacation). All that traveling had its ups and downs, but I made it out the other side and back and now I have a much better understanding of some do’s and don’ts when it comes to traveling (atleast by car) with a baby. Here are some tips based on my experiences this summer.
1. Less is More
I definitely over packed on this trip. It’s amazing there was any room left in the car for us to sit. Which would have been OK if we had used every single thing we brought, but we didn’t. Leave the extra toys, books and clothing at home. You really won’t need them, especially if you’re taking your baby to see out of state family. They may have bought him toys and clothing to give to him in person. Or they may ask to go shopping with you and baby. So don’t bring too many extras as you may be heading home with a lot more than you came with. This was definitely our experience.
I also brought a pack N play even though we bedshare. He slept in the pack N play maybe 4 nights out of 25 so it was a waste of space to tote across 5 states in the trunk of my Ford Taurus. And the awesome Costco beach tent? Yeah we used it once for maybe 20 minutes on 4th of July to shade his baby pool. We never had our beach day in Oregon like we had planned to so it became another relatively useless item.
2. Plan for your special needs
My son uses added rice starch formula because of reflux. Shortly before vacation we had switched him to Parent’s Choice brand which is a Walmart exclusive. No big deal, there were Walmarts near all the places we were staying so I didn’t pack extra in case it spoiled in the car (History of car breaking down in the desert while on vacation lol). I didn’t learn untill vacation that the added rice starch formula from Parent’s Choice is not carried at all Walmarts even though it is exclusive to Walmart. And the Parents Choice website sent me to Walmarts that didn’t carry it even though the website said they did. And Walmart.com was sold out so I couldn’t even have it shipped to my grandma’s or sister in laws. 3 Walmarts in 3 different towns in 2 different states did not carry it. I ended up buying Enfamil AR so it’s not like he starved, but it’s twice the price and I didn’t budget for that. My amazing husband joined us for our last week of vacation and flew into Boise with two tubs of formula so he was our hero. We were lucky it was just a specific rice formula we couldn’t get a hold of and not a medication.
3. Help is great
I was so blessed to have a lot of help on this trip. My amazing mother in law rode with us to Idaho to help me and then flew back to Phoenix. My grandma had arranged baby sitters for us to go to a concert. Family members took turns helping to feed him or play with him or entertain him in some way. My nieces helped take of him on our day trips. My nephew wore him to hike up a mountain and explore lava caves. If anyone offers to help you, take the help. It takes some of the stress away and it feels good to not be the only person looking out for his well being even minute of the day.
4. Parks are your friend
About halfway through a day of driving we would stop at the park in whatever town we were in. I brought a blanket just for this so he could crawl around and play outside of the car. Some moms in an online local mom group suggested pulling over on the side of the road to do this and I would not recommend this. It’s dangerous to park on the side of the highway and you can also be ticketed. Find a park. Parks have grass, baby swings and restrooms.
5. Baby wear
I can’t say enough about the amazingness of wearing the baby while traveling. It’s so convenient and my son is better behaved when he is worn. He does not like being strapped into the stroller or cars eat for prolonged periods of time. But if you wear him, he is the most quiet and easiest baby on the planet. He loves it. He was worn all over the place and some of my favorite memories of the trip are just wearing him while walking around exploring.
6. Choose the right accessories
Choosing the right accessories for you and baby will help with tip #1 because you can eliminate extras you don’t need and some accessories can work double duty. I’ve used 5 different types of diaper bags since my son was born and I’ve found that I prefer large tote bag style for everyday use but a regular sized back pack for traveling. The backpack is more convenient because it holds so much more and you can wear it on your back while wearing baby on your front. Your diaper bag can also double as your purse if it’s big enough which backpack and tote style both are. On our trip the baby carrier was used more than the stroller so given the choice again I’d take the carrier for carting around baby and leave the stroller at home.
7. Be Flexible And schedule down time.
When traveling with a baby you have to be flexible because shit literally happens. We never had a blowout diaper in the car seat untill our road trip. I’ve never had to get a hotel room to rest in while my car was broken down untill breaking down in 112 degree heat with no A/C and a 5 month old who was turning beet red and sweating profusely and needing a place to cool down and rest. My drive that once upon a time only took me 12 hours without a baby took me 16+ hours with one. Everything takes twice as long with a baby so be flexible with time.
And schedule downtown. Travel can be tiring and traveling with a baby is exhausting for baby and parents. The baby can also become over stimulated. Schedule plenty of free time where you’re not out playing tourist. Your sanity will thank you.
8. Savor the moments and Capture the fun.
Enjoy yourself. One day he will be a toddler and not as easy to wrangle. One day he will be a teen plugged into his headphones or vacationing with his friends. Enjoy carrying him around on your back while you still can and take as many pictures as possible. Flood your Instagram and Snap Chat and Facebook with every precious moment.
Do you have any tips for traveling with infants or children? Leave me some comment love.