Recently, our little family went on our first familyroad trip. It was my husband, our son (Liam), our dog (Leland), and me all in our trusty SAAB. I’ll just say that it was an experience, a good one, in fact! It helped to be prepared, both physically and mentally. I knew we’d need to pack a lot and stop a lot. Here are some of my lessons learned from our trip. One thing to keep in mind is that we traveled with a 4 month old. This list will change if you have an older/younger baby, I’m sure.
Checklist – Start making a detailed list of all the things that you use for you and the baby over the few days before you leave. That way, when the day comes to pack, you’ll know exactly what you’ll need.
Overpack – I tend to overpack in general, but with a baby, I’ve learned that being over-prepared is always the way to be. For example, I always pack an extra day or two worth of diapers, wipes, food, clothes, etc.
Take lots of breaks – Instead of it taking 3 hours to get somewhere, plan on at least 4 hours. Remember, the baby is stuck in the car seat, unable to stretch out his/her little muscles. So park at a rest stop or a restaurant, get out and stretch your legs and let the baby sit/lay in different positions. Also, frequent stops gives you a good chance to change diapers and take a potty break for you too! Also, I am breastfeeding, which requires my son to eat every 2 hours during the day. So, yes, I felt like we stopped every 3 seconds to feed him.
Play time – Bring a few of your baby’s favorite toys and books for in car entertainment.
Be flexible – Don’t schedule your entire trip. Go with an open mind, being flexible since the baby is in charge.
Sleeping essentials – Call the hotel ahead of time to see if they provide cribs. If so, that’s one less thing you’ll have to haul. I also found it more reassuring to my clean-freakishness to bring a sheet to cover the crib mattress in. Liam also tends to migrate to the edge of the crib, so I used the provided blankets to roll up and create a mock bumper for his head.
Bath time – As I said before, I’m a clean freak, so I brought along some cleaning supplies with me to the hotel to disinfect the sink/bathtub where Liam would be bathing. He doesn’t have the luxury to stand up in a shower with his feet being the only contact point. Eww. Anyway. Bring some spray to just wipe down the baby’s mock bathtub so that he can be nice and clean!
Bring trash bags – You’ll need a small one for the car that you can empty periodically and a large one for all of the dirty clothes. Oh yes, babies can go through some clothes, right?
Be mobile – Whether you bring a stoller or infant carriers (like a Moby, Baby Bjorne, Ergo), you’ll be glad you did because it’ll make being mobile a lot easier.
Have fun – If anything, take lots of pictures to remember your trip. Take time during your trip to step back and enjoy the little things. You made it! You’re on the road!
What’d I miss? What are some things that you always do to prepare for a family trip? Anyone been brave enough to fly with an infant?