Perhaps no other family activity strikes more excitement and apprehension in the hearts of new parents than the words “road trip”. Parents or grandparents looking forward to experiencing new places with their family –may also dread the cries of “Are we there yet?” and “I’m boooored!”. And what if these complaints aren’t in the form of words, but come from a crying baby?
Family road trips generally are wonderful experiences, but add a baby to the mix and it’s a whole new ballgame. From lack of diaper-changing stations at rest stops to the challenge of comforting your baby while driving, traveling with an infant presents obstacles for even the most patient of parents to overcome. With a bit of planning, your next road trip with your baby or toddler can be smoother, less stressful and more enjoyable for the whole family.
Develop A Plan
At least a week before your departure make a list of everything you’ll need and think you might need. Depending on your child’s age, USA Today suggests packing a special bag with essentials and extras, such as:
• Baby wipes and sanitizing wipes
• Toys and books
• Baby food
• Bottles or cups
• Garbage bags
• Bottled water
• Two changes of clothes
• Warm sweater or coat
• First aid kit
Once you’ve packed everything but the kitchen sink into your travel bag, make sure it’s accessible and doesn’t get thrown in the back or buried under other luggage. Keep the bag up front for easy, quick access when it’s needed. The last thing you want to do is tear the car apart looking for the bag while your baby screams, or your toddler throws a tantrum.
Map The Trip
Determine what time of day you’ll be departing. If possible, time your departure to coincide with your baby or toddler’s regular naptime or bedtime. Next, take a few minutes to note the location of rest stops, restaurants and other places along the road trip route where you can stop for a break, a snack and a diaper change.
You’ll likely need to stop every two hours or so. Mapping the best places to stop ahead of time will make the road trip with your child much easier.
Before departing, make sure that your baby’s car seat is installed correctly. Many local fire or police departments perform this service for free so call your local station to see if it’s offered there.
If your car is due for an oil change, tune-up or tire rotation, get it done before you leave. Also, check the tire pressure before you start your trip.
Brighten Up the Journey and Relax
Tape some brightly colored pictures to the back of the seat that your baby or toddler will face. Flowers, animals and family photos will greatly improve the view.
Be sure to pack some of your little one’s favorite books, too. If baby gets fussy, older siblings can read to him or her in the back seat.
Don’t forget about the calming effect of music. Studies show that listening to music reduces stress and relieves anxiety in both infants and adults. So pop some Mozart into your player and crank it up.
Above all, have fun! With a little bit of planning, your baby or toddler will enjoy that first road trip – and so will you.