How To Have a Fun and Stress Free Road Trip With Baby

A happy baby = No one goes crazy.

Remember the days when you decided to take a road trip one moment and were on the road the next? And it happened all the time. Wasn’t it wonderful?

Imagine having the opportunity to do that now.

Now keep on dreaming, sister, because that was a whole other lifetime ago.

Nowadays, you can’t make a trip to the grocery store without having an execution plan. But for the one or two times a year that you do get the opportunity to hit the road, there are a few things you should consider.

Below you will find 4 things to keep in mind when preparing to travel, and a list of essentials for the road and your destination.

The 4 components to consider for stress free travel.

  • Travel Time. The amount of time it will take to get to and from your destination. Don’t forget to include pit stops! Even some that may be unexpected.
  • Weather. Do you need sun shades for the passenger windows? What about snow chains or new windshield wipers?
  • Destination. Is wherever your headed a place that is baby friendly? Is there a safe area for baby to play and sleep?
  • Baby’s Schedule. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, try to schedule your road trip around b10aby’s sleeping schedule.

Hit and miss

My husband and I have made a trip to Santa Monica Beach every summer for our birthdays. Our little Marie was 6 months old when we took the trip this last summer.

She couldn’t walk and was just starting to crawl, so there weren’t too many play options for her. So we took our small plastic ‘laundry’ tub and filled it with ocean water and some sand, and gave her some bath toys to play with.

I’d never seen her have so much fun, before. It made my heart swell.

For the new year, we planned a snow trip with some friends whose baby is just two weeks younger than ours. Neither of us had been to the snow in almost a decade, so we weren’t quite sure how to prepare for fun with little Marie.

Our friends brought some sleds and I packed a few items I thought the babies could play in the snow with.

What I didn’t consider was how bundled up the girls would be. Little Marie had on a pair of gloves, some mittens and the hand covers on her big, puffy snow suit, which made it impossible for her to play with the toys. Her big puffy suit made it impossible for her to crawl, and because it was so slippery on the ground and the snow was so deep, she couldn’t walk.

Needless to say, she didn’t have as wonderful of a time as I thought she would.

The car ride was easy, though. We had snacks packed and toys for the girls to play with, and played Disney movie soundtracks the whole ride. Everyone had a good time.

Well, almost everyone. I sat in the back of the Suburban and the winding roads and stop-and-go’s had me sick the whole way there.

Which brings me to…

Your Essential Check List

There are 3 categories that need to be covered on this list: travel time, Destination, and car essentials.

For the time that you spend on the road:

  1. For baby.
    1. Fully stocked diaper bag: wipes, diaper cream, diapers, changing pad.
    2. Formula or stored breast milk: if baby is hungry and you don’t want to pull over and breast feed on the side of the road, pumped milk is a great option.
    3. Snacks: I absolutely love the spill proof snack containers. They keep the car clean and provide baby with motor skill practice.
    4. Bottle and juice bottle.
    5. Appropriate toys: have a small box or bag of toys that help keep baby entertained. Books and sing along, flashing toys are great.
    6. Blanket and pacifier.
  2. For everyone else.
    1. Snacks.
    2. Drinks: Be sure to have caffeine for the driver and the assigned driver’s buddy. Water is always a must.
    3. Epic playlist.
    4. Pillows: Someone is bound to catch a few Z’s.
    5. Dramamine: For those who are more sensitive to the winding or bumpy roads than they want to be.
    6. Camera: Make those memories last!

Must-Have baby items for your destination:

Car Essentials:

  • Get a tune-up a few days before your trip.
  • Check tire pressure.
  • Spare tire.
  • Jack and tire iron.
  • Emergency cash.
  • Insurance information, including your agent’s phone number.
  • First aid kit.
  • Snow tires/chains: If you’re traveling through icy roads or snow, of course.

If you have a small car and are not sure everything can fit, you can adapt the supply list; or you can rent a car.

Renting a car could be a better option too, if you have an older vehicle and are unsure of its ability to withstand the trip. This could save you some cash in the long run.

Now, I know this seems like an impossible list to get through and you may be considering skipping this road trip all-together, but relax, Mom. Just breathe.

In… out… In… out.

Now that we are collected again, you might notice that half of this list is done every time you go anywhere– the mall, the grocery store, your in-law’s… you’ve got this! Your a mom, for goodness sake. You can handle anything.

Let the Fun Begin!

Just as the saying goes, “A happy wife = A happy life”, the same goes for baby. A happy baby = No one goes crazy.

Once the planning and packing has been arranged, it’s time to enjoy the ride. Literally. Have fun with it.

There are numerous fun games and activities that can be done in the car. On our latest trip to the snow, we all sang along to various Disney songs which our babies are familiar with.

Babies love to babble and enjoy interactive activities such as singing or even plain old babble. If someone is sitting with baby, be sure to throw a few silly faces in as you all make silly sounds together or sing along to the music. Everyone is guaranteed to have a great time.

The Child Development Institute suggests hanging some light weight toys from the car ceiling with strings. Using fishing line might be best, as it allows for a clear visual path in the rear view mirror for the driver and gives a cool “hanging in mid-air” illusion for baby to enjoy.

If you are driving alone with baby, putting up some mirrors for him to see himself and you from multiple angles could also help keep him from getting lonely.

A classic game for a car full of people is I Spy. Your car load could even tweak the rules to give more of a challenge and make it so that only shapes are allowed to describe items seen.

The human mind is full of creativity. Brainstorm and compare ideas to turn the mundane into something you and your family and friends look forward to every time you hit the road.

Hit the road, jack!

Wherever your destination, however long  your journey; road trips should be fun and stress free! These check lists can help keep track of essentials, keeping you free of worry. And don’t worry if things don’t go exactly according to plan. A positive and light-hearted mindset is a key component to remaining stress free.

As for the fun… I’ll leave the true creativity up to you and your family and friends’ imaginations.

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