Tips To Keep You And Baby Happy!

Traveling with children anywhere can be a challenge, but packing up an infant for a trip to the big city can be a true adventure. How can you prepare your little one? How do you prepare yourself, especially when you

Petula Brown


Traveling with children anywhere can be a challenge, but packing up an infant for a trip to the big city can be a true adventure. How can you prepare your little one? How do you prepare yourself, especially when you are the only adult? Writer Petula Brown shares her experience traveling as a new mother with a three-month-old to Chicago from Michigan and offers some insight into planning, creativity and fun.

Lesson No. 1 -- Do trial runs
Running errands can be a fascinating activity for the little one, but stop and go car travel is not the same as a road trip. If you want to try minimizing rest stops to every couple of hours, make sure the baby is used to the car seat and car movement over an extended period.

Visiting friends and relatives within a one- to two-hour drive time is a great way to help her get accustomed to road travel. The practice runs also help you gauge the travel style of the baby. Is he a quick sleeper? Does she get fidgety easily? Is the baby a fan of your music preferences?

Trial runs can also help you adjust to a variety of scenarios, like roadside stops to retrieve a favorite toy from the vehicle floor. While you may have conquered driving and eating at the same time, do not assume that you can multitask baby care and driving.

Lesson No. 2 -- Confirm your assumptions about the destination
Although your little one may be the perfect traveler, a road trip involves more than Mom and Baby. But what you bring may vary depending on where you go. Before packing up the entire nursery and your luggage for any road trip, make sure to check on what items or services may be available at your destination.

In many hotels, cribs can be arranged as part of the accommodations, but check on the degree of baby friendliness and be prepared to bring some items if necessary.

In a city with a good transportation system, bringing a baby carrier to use on buses and trains may be easier to manage than a stroller. For high-use items (diapers, formula, etc.) it may be more convenient to buy them as needed at the destination. In some areas, rental services may be available. Check these sites -- and help you lighten the load even more.

Lesson No. 3 -- Overestimate rest stop time
The days of non-stop road travel are long gone with an infant in tow. Fortunately, most rest stops have basic diaper changing accommodations, but do not be surprised to find a wait. Even if accommodations are readily available, giving your little one additional stretch time out of the car seat with playtime or a jaunt around the rest stop helps minimize boredom for you while adding a new element of adventure for baby.

For alternatives to highway rest stops and gas stations, investigate whether malls, outlet centers or baby stores are on the route. They may provide more changing facilities, activity options and/or dining selections.

Lesson No. 4 -- Make it more than a twosome
If you have never traveled alone with a baby, having another trusted adult join the trip can provide great peace of mind. The second person can help out in countless ways, from splitting the drive time to occupying the baby on the road to helping maneuver luggage. Just make sure everyone is on the same page regarding what help to expect.

If you are traveling with Grandma, getting an extra hand for luggage lugging is probably not likely, but she could occupy the little one from the back seat while you drive. A childless best friend may not jump at the chance to change diapers, but splitting drive time could be doable. To help make the trip of interest to him/her, make sure to include baby free time so he/she can pursue local activities.

Have a friend with a baby? Try making the trip a foursome. You may be able to share some items (toys, etc.), but double check that your vehicle has enough space for doubles of the necessities (car seats, etc.).

Lesson No. 5 -- Decide on activities, then drop half of them
If you are accustomed to loading up on activities, be sure to prioritize must do items and allow more time for activities that may be no brainer tasks back home. Getting a baby dressed, fed and asleep in a new setting is bound to take more effort.

If possible, plan your first day at the location as a transition day with no planned activities other than getting your little one adjusted to the sights, sounds, feels and smells of the new location.

For an older child, seeking out local child-friendly activities could help make the trip a treat for everyone. The web can be a goldmine for visitors looking for options. Here are some sites that offer tips and activities for traveling with kids and :

Lesson No. 6 -- Don't forget the travel basics
Baby or no baby, practicing certain travel basics can help smooth out potential rough spots. Invest in a check up of your vehicle before venturing on the road. Include a roadside emergency kit (first aid, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, work gloves, gasoline container, spare tire, etc.) in your vehicle to cover unexpected situations.


Obtain weather and construction information prior to your trip. Bring detailed directions and area maps for reference.

Include healthy (and economical) snacks in your travels by bringing your own food instead of depending on rest stop convenience items. Check that your cell phone service will available at all points on your route or buy calling cards to avoid high pay phone rates. Carry credit cards or traveler checks instead of large amounts of cash.

Road travel with babies is doable and exciting. By combining thoughtful planning, some flexibility and a positive attitude, your road trip can be a fun and memorable experience. Happy travels!

Tags: driving

recommended for you