We are traveling again! We have done a lot of driving with babies. Our second had driven through 10 states before hitting 3 months.
We moved from Florida to Illinois with a 5 week old, then back to Florida with a 7 week old and 19 month old, Illinois to D.C. with a 2.5 month old and 20 month old, and now again to Florida with a 9 month old and 2 year old.
That’s over 7,500 miles and never less than 12 hours at a time all crammed into 2 years. Whew.
So I thought I would share some things I have incorporated a few times now to help everything run smoothly. Our philosophy is get where we’re going with as few time-adding stops as possible because 12-18 hour drives are long enough without adding to them.
Departure: We always try to leave just before sleep times. 7 o’clock bedtime? We leave at 6 o’clock. Got an afternoon nap, followed by 2 hours of awake time, then to bed? We leave right at that nap time, entertain for the awake time, then it’s sweet dreams again.
Eating: For breastfeeding babes, I pump on the road, then turn around and bottle feed right in the car seat. Super easy! For bigger babies, I bring a lot of fruit. Bananas, pears, blueberries, strawberries, and apples all packed in a cooler. For our extra long drives we drive all night, so I bake muffins the day before we leave to eat for our breakfast in the morning. We also pack plenty of ProBar Meal and Snack bars and PB&J’s (or our version which is usually almond butter and honey or banana). This all makes for easy, nutritious meals that require nearly zero clean-up. We also avoid feeling terrible at the end of our trip from eating fast food.
Pottying: I change diapers while Sean fills the gas tank. I use a disposable changing pad right in the car. For emergency situations, we try to find an appropriate place quickly, but that’s not always possible with a toddler and 30 miles to the next exit so we’ve been known to put the flashers on and pull over on the highway.
Entertainment: Until this trip, we have not used computers or movies as entertainment. I pack a basket of favorite toys along with a few that I have secretly hidden away a few weeks in advance to make them exciting again. Occasionally we have bought a new item as well. Drawing is easy in the car. So is listening to music if you have any kid music the rest of the occupants can handle – some can be really bad so I suggest pre-listening if it’s new music. We don’t have any that we love, but this one is relatively easy on the adult ears and has been a hit. It’s also perfectly packaged for a road trip.
We may plan to make one extended stop along the way. If we feel anxious tension building or patience is running low, we find a park and get out for some air and sunshine. Running around in the grass or walking around a small lake does wonders for being able to happily get back in the car, for both the big and the small, even if the small can’t walk on their own yet.
Have any tips or questions? Share them below.