New Parents? 7 Tips for Family Road Trips with a Baby
For new parents, traveling can be tough. But then again, there's no easier way to start traveling with a baby than by car, so we unlocked our Zipcar and headed for Montauk, NY. Here are a few helpful tips we’ve learned along the way for road tripping with your infant.
1. Rip up the Itinerary
With frequent stops for nursing and diaper changes, time can get away from you. Rather than worry about how soon you'll get to where you're going, it's much better to vacation without a set schedule (don’t book reservations for lunch or that 3pm tour ahead of time) so that you can be relaxed if something comes up. Instead, let the drive be part of the adventure, and make some impromptu stops along the way.
2. Use the 1-2 Rule
If you have some plans you can’t miss, just remember that it takes longer to do…well just about everything with a tiny babe! If that’s the case, work backwards from the time you must be there, and add on 1-2 hours, just in case. For our trip to Montauk, we had a scheduled drive-on ferry, so we worked backwards from our ticketed time, and then added on another 1.5 hours. We ended up at the dock with time to spare, and were able to grab coffee, sandwiches and relax in line. Much better than missing the boat!
3. Pack It All, and Then Some!
For us, driving trumps flying for ease and convenience every time because you are not limited to fitting everything into your carry-on. If you think you'll need it, throw it in! We chose an SUV from Zipcar for the space, and it was so nice having everything we needed so accessible and in one place.
4. Use the Car for Private Moments
Need to nurse? Swap your clothes? Change the baby? Take a nap? A car is the perfect space for calm, quiet privacy. And it is always there! Especially in the winter, when it is too cold to do much outside, our Zipcar was the ultimate home away from home.
5. Pack Plenty of Snacks and Drinks
Not only will you be hungrier and thirstier while breastfeeding, but a well-fed partner makes for a happier journey, too!
6. Plan Your Rest Stops
Nothing is worse for a new mom than hearing your little one cry, especially when they are strapped into a carseat and you can't cuddle them or feed them. We always plan out our stops along the highway ahead of time, based on when the baby will be hungry. Tears be gone!
Some newborns will sleep all day, and many babies will nap best when in a moving car. It has been so nice for us to use long drives as a time to talk and laugh, as adults, about a whole host of stuff—some baby related, and some not! Being in a car with someone you love can be just as romantic as a long conversation over dinner, so I recommend making the most of that precious "alone" time.
8. Family-Friendly Tunes
We love streaming Spotify through our Zipcar's bluetooth, which provides us with an endless array of music. When the baby is sleeping, stations like Jack Johnson, James Taylor and Acoustic Covers are soft and soothing. When the baby is awake, we love to listen to Motown, Kygo and other upbeat tunes.
Hopefully some of these tips are helpful, and encourage you to hit the road along with your baby. Happy driving!
Lauren Wells is a professional blogger, an award-winning designer, and a published travel writer. You can follow her on her blog and on Instagram @laurenswells.