Travel with Babies: How to Enjoy It

"Travel with babies" is not an oxymoron. It's entirely possible to enjoy taking a trip with your baby - especially if that trip is a road trip.

You know the obvious stuff: Pack plenty of outfits. Pack plenty of diapers and wipes. Pack snacks. Pack formula, if that's what you use. Here are some less-obvious tips for travel with babies:

  • Plan around naptimes. In the weeks leading up to your road trip, keep a log of your baby's naptimes. Plan on driving during those times. At what other times of day is your baby typically pleasant? These, too, will be good times to drive.

  • Avoid a rigid travel schedule. Travel with babies requires flexibility. Even if you're blessed with a calm, quiet baby, there will be days when she's not quite herself. You may need an extra feeding break, or some extra playtime.

    These little interruptions can be a joy – as long as you don't absolutely have to be in Albuquerque by 4:30. It's like the road sign says: Expect Delays.

  • Pack soft toys. Your baby will need some toys to keep him distracted during the trip. Pack only the ones you wouldn't mind having thrown at the back of your head as you navigate a traffic jam, or banged repeatedly into the side of the car.

  • Plan for your worst-case clothing scenario. What's a bad day for baby – two outfit changes? Three? Consider packing enough outfits so that even if every day is your worst day ever, you'll still make it.

    Also, make a laundry plan. How soon will you have access to a machine? Back out from that day as you decide how many onesies to throw in the case.

  • Pack a spare car seat cover. Do I even have to explain why? Thank God it was only on the very last leg of our epic road trip that our daughter pooped through her clothes and her seat cover. We nearly had to sell that car.

  • Learn some distraction techniques. Having one parent (or an agreeable older sibling) sit next to the car seat while the other parent drives makes a lot of sense.

    Here's another tip: if your baby is beginning to fuss but you're not too far from your next stop, roll down her nearest window a few inches. The sound of rushing air will sometimes be enough to distract a baby from whatever was bothering her.

    Putting the window up and down every few minutes can sometimes buy you enough time to make your destination without an unplanned stop.

  • Watch your speed on turns. We were driving over California's Donner Pass a few years ago when our baby girl started fussing. I finally realized that she was probably feeling uncomfortable from the winding roads, so I slowed up a bit. She soon settled down.

With a little careful planning, travel with babies can be a joy. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

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