Tuesday, May 7, 2013

what we've learned:: road-tripping with baby

The weeks leading up to Silas' arrival were filled with lots of crossing things of bucket lists and 'lasts'. Last fancy dinner out, last movie outing, last naps without interruption. It felt a bit like our life was ending. But we had many conversations about how we were determined that this baby not stop us from traveling and having adventures. We were determined that his presence not completely halt our life.

I think we've done a pretty good job of it so far. At just shy of 9 months, this little boy has flown on an airplane 6 times, and has traveled through 12 states on roadtrips. He's explored St. Augustine, New Orleans, Boston and Annapolis with us. We still have plans to camp with him (once he's sleeping a little better!) and just bought a baby carrier for some backpacking trips. 

Below are a few things we've learned about road-tripping with Si. (I plan on sharing a flying post later on.) If you're new to this parenting thing (like us!), be encouraged that your adventures and travel doesn't have to be put on the back burner! 

Bring the kitchen sink (and don't stress about packing!) 

 The nice thing about car trips is that you can pack whatever the heck you want. Our days of packing light are long gone anyway, so I've embraced the fact that road trips mean loading up the trunk with everything we may want or need. Usually when we discuss whether or not to bring something, the conclusion is 'eh, why not?' Some of the 'extras' we bring along are 'new' toys (random things around the house that he can play with, or toys from a consignment shop) for Si to keep him entertained in the backseat, a few old towels for cleaning up messes, plenty of extra outfit changes for all of us, and the Ergo, stroller and pack'n'play. 

And the good news is, that even if you forget something (like socks for your baby in Boston springtime! *ahem!*), you can most likely find a WalMart or Target that can help you out. 

Pack some "carry-ons"

Instead of lugging our huge suitcases into our overnight stops along the way, we started packing backpacks with essentials for overnight stays. That way, when we stopped driving and finally got to hunker down for the night, Chris didn't have to make 20 trips to the car hauling in our stuff. When we got to our final destination, we could bring everything in, but until then, the car stayed nicely packed in Chris' Tetris-like configuration. 

This also helps us to get up and out the door earlier after a night in the hotel. It's kind of difficult to get moving when clothes, diapers and toiletries are exploded over every inch of the hotel room! 

Tune in to the static

This is a trick we started using when Si was teeny-tiny. White noise usually does a great job of calming him down when he's fussy (especially in the early days). Instead of downloading a white noise app, or lugging our white noise machine along, we just find a radio station with static and turn up the volume. It takes about 30 seconds for Si to chill. 

Of course, sometimes this doesn't work. Sometimes the baby is screaming as you drive through rush hour Atlanta traffic, and you find yourself bawling and trying to change lanes through blurry tear-filled eyes, while your husband says, "You have to focus!". Not like I'd know anything about that...

Go with the flow

I think this probably applies for every 'new parent' situation. Crazy things happen, you'll most likely be unprepared at some point, and plans may get derailed. But I've found that adopting a relaxed attitude about the trip makes things go much smoother. I'm the kind of girl who gets flustered when plans change and expectations aren't met, but I'm slowly learning to be more flexible and have fun no matter what happens. 

Got any roadtrip tips? Are you a 'bring the kitchen sink'-er or a light packer? 


  1. We did a HUGE trip last Summer with our one year old and we really had a great time too. Everything you said I recommend and I wrote up my own post with some more tips :)


  2. thanks for the tips!! i might have some more after our next trip coming up soon hehe!!

    Sandy a la Mode

  3. I started packing just "carry ons" for our travels it makes it SO much easier. I usually pack a bag just for the diapers and wipes. I did a road trip by myself with 2 kids, almost 3 and a baby. I ended up wrapping up presents for the older one and giving them to him along the way. The dollar store, the dollar section at Target or WalMart and even consignment stores is a great place to find items. I actually found out that my kids road tripped better than instead of on the way back when it was both my hubby and myself traveling.

  4. My girls are much older now (almost 14 and almost 9... yikes!), so road trips are pretty much a breeze. When they were little I made sure to bring lots of stuff that stayed in the car with us. Now all my oldest daughter needs is her iPod and Nook. My youngest does well with her Nintendo DS, art notebook, pencil or crayons...... and I always have a pack of snacks for both!

  5. Great tips! We just road tripped from NC to AZ, on our way to move to CA. I have 3 kiddos, all under 4, and I definitely tend to lean towards packing the kitchen sink! I guess the thing I tried to remember was that we would have meltdowns and there going to be tears at some points. It's hard enough for me to sit in the car for days on end, so I can only imagine how my kids, with boundless energy, felt! Glad y'all are finally in Boston!

  6. Do you have any tips on flying? We are traveling from Seattle to Virginia next month and I'm so nervous as my LO does not like to sit still.

  7. We've done road trips with her younger, and now we have a bunch lined up this summer and I'm nervous! I hope she can do well.

    As for camping, we went when she was just shy of 10 months and she did surprisingly well. She is NOT a good sleeper, but I think that helped while camping, because when she wouldn't go down easily and ended up having a fitful night sleeping between us in sleeping bags, we weren't really phased by it.

  8. We have done LOTS of road trips with our girls, and the biggest thing is to always stay one step ahead of your kids. My oldest is 3.5 and she needs snacks alllllLLLL the time it seems like and an activity. I may think she might play with something for an hour, and she is done in 5 minutes. Or a 5 minute thing might extend to an hour. You just never know. And our portable dvd player is a lifesaver but that doesn't really happen until like 18 mon-2 yrs. As for the baby thing, you just gotta let them work it out and cry sometimes. Our kids know that when we're in the car, we ain't getting out for awhile!!

    The biggest hurdle I've had is potty training while on a road trip. I took the potty seat, lysol spray, wipes, extra panties, and extra clothes every time we had to stop at a gas station. talk about exhausting!

  9. We just got back from a road trip to Disney (which, from Baltimore, is about 14 hours). What saved us was Baby Einstein on the ipad and, because of seeing how much your Silas loved mum-mums, baby mum-mums ;) We also bought a few toys and books he'd never seen before.

  10. We took our first baby camping when she was 6 weeks old! What we've learned with three kids now is that the more they have to deal with driving and traveling, the better they get at it. It mat seem like a hassle when they are little but our girls are great road trippers now mostly because they learned they just had to deal with being in the car. :) I think there is alot of positives in teaching kids to be content with sitting and listening to music or talking as a family on the road and mot always having to be entertained. :) It's hard when they are young but it gets easier :)

    1. Oh man so many spelling and grammar errors! Sorry!

  11. I had to switch the backpack method with my first kid. It was just easier. I usually pack more than I need, but I have always used the motto "better safe than sorry". I hadn't even thought about the static on a radio station. I may have to try that next time. I hate when they start to freak out and you can't do much for them.

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  13. I've done a couple large road trips with my kids (both thousands of miles long) and more small ones than I can count (we live about 400 miles from my family). One key is making sure they have food when they need it...or even before. I also highly recommend traveling during nap time and don't stop for anything until they wake. On long road trips when you are driving all day (especially with toddlers), be sure to schedule stops where they can get out of the car and stretch their legs.

    I definitely think travel with kids can still happen. You just have to change it up a bit. Have a lower pace and enjoy the ride. Oh, and about camping, my kids always sleep horribly. They did better when they were younger than they do now (18 months and 3 years old). We still do it because my hubby loves it and I love the day time, with all the outdoor time that comes with camping.

  14. We just had our first camping trip as a family since my daughter was born 3 years ago (we now have a 21 month old son, too!), and my husband about died when he saw how much stuff I wanted to bring with us. It's true that when traveling with kids sometimes more is better! We like to use those big blue rubbermaid buckets with lids you can get at Home Depot. They're easy to pack and label, and make organizing all that baby stuff a breeze! I did one for clothes, one for diapering/potty, and one for food/cooking. It worked great!

  15. We are about to take our first road trip with all three kiddos in a couple of weeks and I'm nervous! Traveling with a baby is tough!!! We usually try to do a lot of our driving at bedtime though :)

  16. I have lamented not being able to take our white noise machine in the car with us, and I never thought to tune into static. What a great tip - I used it today and it worked like a charm! Thanks for sharing :)

  17. I will just say that driving through Atlanta traffic with a man (let alone your dad or husband) in the passenger seat is enought to make any woman cry. I cannot even imagine having a crying baby in the backseat. You did it though, and that makes you Wonder Woman!

  18. We have road tripped from VA to FL twice with our kids, most recently about a month ago they are 4 and 7. We have done it both times without a DVD player. My girls love music so I bought an extra long AUX cord to hook into the iPod and into the auxiliary jack and let them choose the songs and mix their own playlist, play karaoke, that keeps them happy for a while, I also have lots of snacks, MadLibs, games and toys they have not played with in a while or that I have picked up new.

    I printed license plate games and other car games off and we played those as well. I love road trips and the time spent with one another in the car talking, laughing and playing games. Alot of my friends tried to get me to borrow their DVD player, but we have too much fun without one.

  19. What a well-traveled little guy!! My family traveled so much when i was growing up, and i loved it. one of my favorite family memories!

  20. Thanks for posting this! You are a true inspiration to me. I'm also determined that our little guy (4 months) won't cramp our adventurous style. I love the "carry on" idea. I'm definitely a pack the kitchen sink type like you -- and, like you, on our first big road trip with baby I forgot to pack socks! Which freaked me out, but then I took a deep breath and realized there's always WalMart (or Target!). :) Thanks again...

  21. oh em gee. Just found your blog and want to read it 'cover to cover' but I'm at work.
    I will tonight. I love your refashioning tips!!! Congrats on the house!


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