Taking a road trip doesn’t have to be an experience that you must miss out on when a baby or toddler is in tow. While your young child might not remember the experience of an epic and successful road trip, you are sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. All you need is a general travel plan and a great destination in mind to get started.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that road travel with babies is a bit trickier than travelling alone or with other adult companions. Babies and toddlers have special needs that we might not think about as adults. Those special needs can make road-tripping a bummer if they are not anticipated beforehand.
Here are seven baby travel essentials that you should consider to make your next getaway a successful road trip.
It does save time to travel far between stops to an anticipated destination, but chances are that your baby will have different plans. Therefore, it’s a good idea to plan twice as many stops compared to an adult road trip, for example, every hour rather than two hours.
Grab a map to identify parks and other stops such as rest stops where you can provide your child with some attention, feed them, and change their diaper. Plan to stop at least once every hour, and you won’t end up frustrated with a crying baby and a goal to get to a destination without any plans to stop beforehand.
When travelling with a baby, it’s always a good idea to make a baby packing list and to pack twice as much as you need for them before taking off on your road trip.
If you will be gone for three days, pack six days’ worth of extra baby clothes and diapers in your diaper bag. Pack extra baby food or formula for very young babies if it’s relied on at feeding time, including some extra bottles.
This should help ensure that you do not end up having to make unexpected shopping stops that end up costing unnecessary time and money.
Pack an extra blanket and pillow for ensured comfort and to help your baby sleep. It’s may also a good idea to set up your baby’s car seat beforehand to save time. Consider packing a sun shade for the window as well.
Don’t forget the baby carrier, baby monitor and any other essential items that may be needed. Pack your baby’s favourite toy and plenty of toys that can be alternate through during the road trip.
A great way to make sure that your baby stays calm and happy while you’re driving is to make it a point to do some exercise before you start your trip and during your stops. Take time to do a little dancing, or throw a ball to one another.
Play chase or hide-and-seek. The idea is to get your child to release some pent-up energy before they have to sit in the vehicle for long periods of time.
We recommend spending at least five minutes playing during each stop to help keep energy levels in check and to optimise everyone’s overall road travel experience.
It’s a good idea not to fill the entire back car seats with baby travel items because there is a chance that you’ll be needed back there to help calm and soothe your baby while you travel. If your baby gets fussy and you don’t want to make a full stop, you can pull over and either you or your partner can hop in the backseat and then keep moving along.
At that point, play with and feed your baby to keep them happy until there is time to make a full stop. Add some books to the road trip pack list and keep some road trip songs in mind to sing for entertainment purposes.
Don’t wait until your baby gets fussy before deciding to stop and take a break. If you start to feel a little restless and irritable, chances are that your child is too. So, when those feelings arise, it is probably a good idea to get off the road and move around for even just a minute or two before moving along again.
Instead of taking breaks every two hours like you might if travelling without a child, consider breaking once an hour instead. Plan breaks around mealtimes and never pass up the opportunity to use a water source for cleaning up.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when road travelling with a baby is that things likely will not go as planned. Therefore, it is important to keep an open mind and be flexible during the road trip.
Try not to get frustrated when you must unexpectedly pull over, and take the moment to find the beauty in wherever you happen to be at the time.
If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a walk until the feeling settle. Take the time to stop and smell the roses as they say, as you will only have these experiences once during your lifetime.
Instead of staying in a hotel room during a family road trip, consider a family-friendly accommodation option by staying at caravan parks where you can camp in a rig or a tent for a fraction of the cost when compared to a hotel room. These parks feature all the amenities you would expect from a hotel experience, including power, but with a more vibrant and open atmosphere.
Many caravan parks, like Summerstar Tourist Parks, even offer cabins and other types of housing if you want a more luxurious experience. These parks provide the opportunity to meet with other families and let off some steam.
They will also allow your little one to meet others of their age and get some socialisation in.
Nobody ever said that travelling with a baby or toddler was easy, but the experience shouldn’t be avoided just because a little extra work must go into it. The memories you make with your little one are sure to be cherished for a lifetime!
Hopefully, the tips and tricks outlined here will help to make your next road travel with your baby a more enjoyable and less stressful experience overall.
Can a baby go on a road trip?
Yes, you can! Keep in mind that travelling with a baby will make your trip longer as you will have to schedule regular breaks for feeding and nappy changes. Be flexible, make a list of everything you need to take and make sure you leave with a plan!
How long can a baby go on a road trip?
For a newborn baby, you can take them on long road trips however, it is advised that they only stay in the car seat for 30 minutes at a time. So be prepared to make regular stops along your journey.
What do I pack for a road trip with my baby?
We recommend you make a list of everything you need to take on your trip to ensure you don’t forget anything. You need to take your baby’s food, feeding utensils, toys, strollers & carriers, clothes and diapers. Pack extra of everything!
What age can my child stop using a car seat?
After 7 years old, your child can sit in a regular seat and no longer needs a car seat.
What do you do when a baby cries while driving?
Do not turn around and stay focused on the road. Find a safe place to stop to attend to your baby. If it isn’t possible to stop, keep driving and don’t let the crying distract you from the road.
What is the car seat rule?
The two hour car seat rule encourages you to not use a car seat for any longer than 30 minutes with babies younger than 4 weeks and not use car seats for more than 2 hours at a time for babies of all ages.