After our road trip to OH from MD for four days, I decided to write a post about our experiences so that it might help someone else…or at least give you some ideas to tweak to fit your needs. So, here goes…
We left on Christmas Eve morning and returned on the Saturday following Christmas, so a total of four days gone from home. The first thing I did was start a checklist of all the things I thought we would need for E. This included things like diapers, wipes, food, spoons, plastic containers, toys, high chair (for once we arrived), pack-n-play, bottles, bottle brush, sterilizer, etc. Once I had this list created, it was much easier to go through that list while packing to make sure I had what E would need. Some things I was able to take off the list because they weren’t absolute necessities or we could make do without. Then, the day before our trip, I asked my mom to come over and babysit E so that I could concentrate on the packing. This helped out a lot because I knew E was taken care of and I could focus on the task at hand.
I found some ideas on pinterest (just search road trip or travel with a ____ old) for tips and tricks for traveling with a baby. One of the things I found was the idea to use a flat plastic storage bin or container to place items you will need on the day of the road trip but that will not fit in the regular diaper bag. We already had one of these storage bins, so I just started filling it with stuff from my checklist. It had extra diapers, bottles for two feedings (two were already in the diaper bag), baby cereal container, extra pacifiers, spoons, and baby food jars. The diaper bag had the changing pad with some diapers and wipes, an extra wipes, two bottles, formula container (one of those plastic sectioned things that we pre-measured the formula into), a few spoons, oragel, hand sanitizer, etc. Then, we packed an empty diaper box with additional things that we would need but not on the day of the road trip. This included the large formula container, extra diapers, bottle brush, sanitizer, etc. We took our pickup truck and so we packed things in the bed of the truck (we have a bed cover that locks). This box of extras went in the bed of the truck along with the highchair, pack-n-play, E’s bag (more about this below), our suitcase, etc. The flat storage container went in the truck on the floor of the seat where E’s car seat was with the diaper bag on top. In the truck with us was also a bin of soft toys/books. We have the soft storage bins from Target to organize his toys and stuff at home so I took one of those and then selected some of E’s favorite soft toys such as a ball, a soft block, a soft book, a stuffed animal or two, and the like. Then, for the awake times, I sat with E in the back of the truck and we played with his toys and “read” his books. This helped keep him on his normal schedule for the day (more about this later).
So, for his bag of clothes, I put outfits together (onesie, pants, socks) and then placed each outfit in a plastic ziploc bag (push the air out to make packing easier). I also had a few extra outfits in plastic bags as well. In addition to the outfits, we also had his pajamas for each day, bibs, and burp cloths. Once we got to the hotel, I just pulled out all the bags and put them in the drawers with the pajamas, bibs, and burp cloths. This made it easier to just grab a bag in the morning, rather than having to think about which pants go with which onesie, etc.
Regarding schedule, we decided to leave around 6 am, but E normally gets out of bed around 7:30 or so and eats breakfast around 8 am. So, we packed as much as possible in the truck the night before so that the only things left to put in the truck in the morning were last minute things (toiletries, etc.). We got him out of bed at the last possible minute, changed his diaper, but left him in his pajamas. We put him in his carseat and in the truck and pulled out. The car typically puts E to sleep so we figured he would go right back to sleep until breakfast time, which he did. :-) This gave us two hours of driving and then we stopped for breakfast. We decided to stop at a place that would allow us and E to stretch our legs and stuff for awhile. After he and we ate breakfast, I changed his diaper and changed him into his clothes for the day. When we left breakfast and got back on the road, I sat in the back of the truck next to E in his carseat. As this is his normal awake time, we played with some toys, talked, “read” books, sang songs, etc. He normally takes a short (30-45 minute) nap in the morning and he kept right on schedule with that. Once he was asleep, you can move back up to the front of the car (I stayed in the back and read my own book simply because it was easier and we’d be stopping for lunch soon). We stopped for lunch, not at fast food, but at a more sit-down sort of place so that we and E could stretch our legs and have some time out of the truck. This worked well and we had time to change his diaper, etc. before needing to get back in the truck. E takes a 2-2.5 hour nap in the afternoons after lunch so I sat in the front of the truck after lunch, knowing he would fall asleep for his nap. He woke up with about 10 miles left before we arrived at our destination.
I will say that E is a very easy baby and we had an uneventful trip because of this. You know your own baby and the things that will work for him/her or not. This is simply some tips that helped us and might help you in planning a road trip with a baby.