In May of this year we took our first road trip with Sweet Vi. We were so excited to take her to the beach for the first time…that was until we were about 2 hours into the trip. She screamed her head off, refused to sleep and pretty much made the remaining 6 hours miserable.
I quickly realized I needed to figure out how to make future road trips easier on her and us. See, Violet and I were homeless for a month while my husband was at Officer Training School and we bounced back and forth between my parents house (Florida) my in-laws house (Georgia) and weekend trips to OTS (Alabama). On top of all that, me and my mom had to take Violet (who was under 4 months) and Millie (my 65 pound Goldendoodle) on a cross-country trip the month after OTS to move us from Georgia to Las Vegas, Nevada. We went through 10 states. Yes. So, I’m not saying I’m an expert at travelling with a baby, but I can say that I am very well experienced! This was all of us at the end of the trip…just a little delirious.
I’m going to break these tips down to: what you’ll need in the car, what to do in the car, what you’ll need in the hotel and a few dog tips…but the dog is the easy part!
1) Toybar on the car seat, buy here. You’ll also need some other small toys, key rings, rattles, etc. to toss back to the baby to prevent them from getting bored
2) Baby Einstein CD, buy here. I don’t know why, but Violet still just stops whatever she is doing if she hears Baby Einstein music. It helps keep babies calm on the long ride. I would say Violet slept for about half of the drive, if not more. DON’T just get any Baby Einstein CD though. I made the mistake of getting one that had songs like “Old McDonald” on it…drove me insane. Get a classical music, wordless CD.
3) DVD Player, buy here, to hook on the back of the seat. These are really inexpensive and seriously so worth it. You will need a Baby Einstein DVD to go in the player. No, this is not an advertisement for Baby Einstein! This DVD must have played 100 times during our 5 day trip! Buy DVD here.
4) I don’t know why, but it seems that babies have more blowouts in car seats than any other place. After my mom got poop on her twice, we smartened up. I poked a hole through a disposable changing bad and put it on the bottom of Vi’s car seat. You would not believe how much this saved the car seat! I highly recommend this.
1) Diaper Changes: My favorite place to change an emergency diaper is at a gas pump. Before you turn up your nose to that…I don’t actually change her inside the gas station, but I change her in the car and then there’s a trash can at the pump to dump the diaper in ….then you can fill up your tank, too! Also, I’d take a couple extra minutes just to play with the baby before putting her back in the seat.
2) Feedings: We stopped for 1 out of her 2 feedings during the driving day. Stop at a place like Cracker Barrel. You can sit in a rocking chair and give you and the baby a much-needed break. If you have a dog, you can let the dog sit outside with you, too. If you can’t find a Cracker Barrel, any outside restaurant will do…like this one we found in Flagstaff, AZ.
3) Meltdowns: We only had about 2 of these the entire trip. Try to get in the back seat with the baby and if that doesn’t work, stop and take the baby out of the car and play for 10 minutes. You have to be flexible or you will drive yourself crazy.
1) Bottle Bag. You’ll need this in the car too. I had not only your standard diaper bag, but a bag for just for bottles, formula, nursery water, bottle brush and dish soap.
2) Pak-n-play. Probably goes without saying.
3) Some sort of Sound Maker. Hotels can be noisy. Even though Violet was sleeping through the night at that point, she would wake up during the nights at the hotel. I would turn on her musical lamb and that normally did the trick of putting her back to sleep. Buy here.
1) What to bring: gallon of water (refill often), dog bowls, a toy
2) Measure out your dog food before the trip and put into separate bags, feed at the hotel
3) Download the Pet Friendly App. It will tell you of hotel friendly dogs around you. If you’re a planner and want to map out your hotels before hand, http://www.petswelcome.com and you can find hotels by city. Beware some hotels have weight limits (we broke some of the 50 pound ones…no one said anything) and pet fees.
4) In the car: when you stop to feed/change the baby…also make sure you let the dog out and go to the bathroom.
I’m very happy to say that we had a very smooth trip. We had very few incidents and the ones that we had…we were able to laugh off. You’ll figure out your baby’s limits. Violet started to get fussy around hour 7 and we had to stop for the day at hour 8…which was what we planned to do anyway. Just prepare, prepare, prepare beforehand, go into it with a laid-back attitude and you’ll be fine.