Traveling with a newborn baby can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if the longest trips you’ve taken so far were to the grocery store or the nearby park.
There’s no denying that a road trip with your baby will look a lot different than your daily strolls.
There are many variables to take into consideration and you can’t always predict how things will go.
Is your baby going to enjoy the trip, is he going to sleep for the most part of the journey or is he going to throw one tantrum after another and keep you on your toes from start to finish?
And how are you going to handle the situation if you don’t even know what to expect?
There are many things going through a parent’s mind when getting ready to hit the road with a baby on board.
However, with proper preparation and a lot of patience, you can ease the stress and anxiety that loom ahead and even turn your journey into a pleasant experience.
So, here are a few handy tips that will help you get ready for your first-ever road trip with your baby.
Make a list with all the necessary travel items
Since this is your first road trip experience with your little one, you might find it difficult to figure out which items you may or may not need, so it can be tempting to bring the whole house with you, just to be on the safe side.
However, packing more stuff than necessary won’t make your road trip easier. On the contrary, it can make it worse, as you’ll have to search through a jam-packed car for that one item that you need, but can’t seem to find in all the chaos.
What you need to do instead is write a list with all the things that you will actually use during your trip and pack only the essentials.
Unless you’re travelling to a remote location with no possibility to stop at a store along the way, you don’t need to go through the trouble of packing things for every possible scenario.
Get your gear ready
By getting your gear ready we mostly refer to getting a good baby car seat and installing it correctly.
For a lot of parents, installing a baby car seat right can be quite a hassle, considering it’s not exactly the most intuitive piece of equipment and there are various methods available.
Thus, apart from choosing a tested and approved car seat that will provide the greatest safety and comfort for your baby during your journeys, you also have to read the instructions carefully to make sure it’s properly secured.
There are other travel gear items to take into consideration such as diaper changing pads, diaper backpacks, or silicone bibs.
These items can make your life a lot easier and you can use all the help you can get when traveling with a baby.
Bring up reinforcements
Speaking of help, it would be great if you could have another adult traveling with you to take part of the load and responsibilities off your shoulders.
It’s obviously a lot more stressful to be a parent traveling solo with a small kid in the back seat of your car, so having someone accompanying you can provide invaluable support and peace of mind.
However, if your spouse or a friend can’t join you, even a bigger kid can help a lot. They can keep an eye on the baby and keep them entertained, allowing you to rest a little and focus on your driving.
Take frequent breaks
Long trips can be extremely tiring, for both you and your baby. You may be able to push yourself to drive for five hours straight, without stopping to take a rest or grab a snack – although it’s not recommended – but you can’t expect your baby to stay put in their car seat for long periods of time.
Even if you want to reach your destination as fast as possible, you still have to include frequent breaks into your road trip schedule.
This will give you the possibility to stretch your legs a little, eat, feed your baby, change diapers, maybe make a quick run to the store and get ready for the next part of your trip.
Besides, it will also reduce the risk of making unplanned stops, so you’ll at least have a relative sense of control.
Make the most of your time
If you don’t want to waste too much time on the road, you’ll have to organize yourself effectively.
If you’re lucky enough to have a travel partner with you, you can delegate tasks, so you can make the most of your time.
For example, while you are feeding the baby, your spouse, friend or whoever else is traveling with you can go to the shop and buy the necessary supplies.
Similarly, when one of you needs to go to the bathroom, the other person can take the baby out for a walk.
When the baby is resting, the person in the back seat can rest as well, and, if possible, you can take turns driving, so neither of you gets too exhausted.
Working together as a team can relieve some of the stress and pressure that come with long-distance driving.
Accept the unexpected
Preparing yourself mentally is just as important as planning your packing list and time.
You have to be aware and try to accept that some things are simply beyond your control and you can’t possibly predict how your journey will go.
As much as you plan and prepare, things might not go according to plan – and in most cases, they don’t – so the best you can do is keep calm and stay flexible.
If you get too tired or frustrated, just stop for a moment, and give yourself time to breathe and regain your composure.
Try to take things one step at a time, and the journey will flow a lot smoother.