By Lyz Lenz
When Ellis was 6 weeks old, we packed her up and took her to visit family in Minneapolis. Before our baby, the trip was a mere four hours. With the baby, the trip took five and a half, with the last half-hour a cry-fest between me and her. Turns out, we were both tired.
We’ve taken several road trips and a vacation since then and we’ve learned a lot about traveling with an infant in a tiny Honda Accord. And as the holiday travel season approaches, I feel more prepared. Here are some tips that I’ve learned that have kept me sane.
1. Know your baby’s schedule and stick to it
From picking a time to leave, to your daily routine while you’re out of town, make sure your baby gets the sleep he needs. Even if this means you have to lie down on grandma’s bed to make sure your peanut get’s a nap. Frankly, you both will find it refreshing. Sure, your relatives may whine about not seeing the baby, but let’s just be honest; they’ll always find something to whine about. And with a nap under your belt, you can easily brush the complaints off.
2. Call ahead
The hotel you are staying at may already have a crib and your mother-in-law may already have a highchair. Call ahead and ask what baby stuff is there to save you the hassle of hauling things around.
3. Take a break
Don’t be afraid to give your baby to your mother-in-law, aunt or husband for a while. You may feel protective of your little one in a new environment, but your family loves your baby and they love you. Don’t be afraid to take family member’s up on offers to hold your baby while you drink some coffee or sleep in. Your family is presumably passable at raising kids or else you wouldn’t be here, so let go and get your snuggles in during nap time.
4. Bring the favorite toy and the baby monitor
Packing our baby monitor was the smartest thing we ever did as parents, or at least as traveling parents. Bringing the monitor allowed us to let her nap in a quiet part of the house, while we enjoyed some grown-up time. Also, it meant that we could put her down at her normal bedtime without frantically checking on her every five minutes. Of course, our monitor was the cheap $20 version and very portable. Consider borrowing one for the trip if yours has a little more complicated set up. Also, after packing a million toys on each trip, we’ve finally gotten wise. Over the holidays we are only bringing one toy, the Grace Jumper Bumper. It’s her favorite thing and will no doubt distract her while we eat and keep her out of the way of her more rambunctious toddler cousins.
5. You can buy it there
We cloth diaper, so our first trip with the baby I packed an entire bag of nothing but diapers and a couple wet bags. But after a few days, it became apparent that doing the wash, keeping up with a baby, and traveling was a little much. So, the second time we traveled I packed a separate bag of nothing but diapers. I immediately felt foolish when my husband pointed out that we overspent on diapers and could have bought what we needed on the road. While packing what you need does save money, don’t overdo it. You can always buy more diapers, wipes, Gerber puffs, and yes, even outfits. But do you know what you can’t buy? Your sanity. So, save your sanity and leave anything you might require in an emergency to a late-night drugstore run, which could also double as a late-night coffee run.
6. Pack a towel and garbage bags
My car is a mess. I’m not proud of it. But this mess came in handy on our first trip, when we had a poosplosion that hit us, the baby and the car seat. While frantically searching for something to clean the car seat, I found, for some inexplicable reason, an old towel in the back seat. This towel saved our lives and became a staple of our travel routine. In a pinch, towels can work as a blanket, a bottle prop, a burp rag or poo cleaner upper. Just make sure you also have a stash of trash bags to store it in should it become stinky along the way.
What’s your must-have travel item with baby?
About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at LyzLenz.com
Mom-tested tips for how to stay sane in a tiny car with a tiny person.