Traveling can be stressful enough, add a baby and you can forget you’re even on a vacation. While babies will slow you down, I have found that careful planning can still make for a fun and relaxing trip. Here are some tips to help make your road trip run a little more smoother.
Set realistic expectations
If you are true road warrior, then you expect to make it to your destination with minimal stops and a faster time than what Google Maps predicts. If you plan on toting a baby for the ride, you must drop this expectation. Depending on your child’s schedule, anticipate 30 minutes to an hour of additional travel time per feeding. For example, for a 7 hour trip we would plan on it taking 10 hours because our son eats every 2 and a half to 3 hours. Over the course of seven hours that would include 3 feedings so that is up to an additional 3 hours.
Things will come up and you will just have to go with it. As the spouse of a road warrior, I understand that this may come harder for some than for others. However, expecting there will be unplanned stops is the first step to enjoying the road. One way to minimize your unplanned stops is to take full advantage of your planned ones. On our last road trip, Andrea and I stopped for gas. Owen wasn’t acting up, but we could tell that he was getting tired of being in his car seat. We decided to push him a little longer and only made it a mile from the gas station before he started crying. We should have played it safe while we were stopped. It would have saved us time and frustration in the long run. There is no point in rushing a stop. Enjoy the stop and leave when it is best for everyone.
So what to do with the extra time on the road? Plan your stops to be at nursing/baby tending friendly locations such as shopping centers, malls, restaurants, rest stops. Make it a casual trip with planned stops for shopping, eating and sight-seeing.
Take into consideration your baby’s schedule and tendencies. We decided to leave early in the morning right after our son’s first feeding. Since he likes to fall asleep shortly after his morning feeding, we knew we could get about 3 hours of travel time right at the start. I packed our car the night before so that we could take off right when he finished eating.
Careful planning does not mean bringing more stuff. I don’t know how many times we have crammed our stoller in the trunk and then never use it for the whole trip. You definitely don’t want to be without anything you may need, but whenever it comes to traveling, less is more.
By having realistic expectations, we were able to remain flexible throughout the duration of our trip. With careful planning, we were able to have fun with the extra stops and traveled efficiently while on the move.
Other useful tips
Even if you nurse, bring baby formula for an emergency; traffic jam, wreck, breakdown, get lost.
Pack a breast pump and bottles for the car if you are in a hurry and want to speed up feeding stops.
Bring snacks in the car to keep from making extra stops for yourself when your baby doesn’t need one.