Well, I am no expert but I think I have had my decent share of traveling with my little one, so far. He has experienced all modes of transportation – yes, all. I am pretty sure, he knows there is a lot to come in the future as well but for the purpose of this post, let’s focus on road trips and our most recent one in particular. Over this recent long weekend, we did a bunch of fun stuff together but one of the highlights of the weekend was a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo with our new new-parents friends. We were 3 couples and 4 babies in total (2 little boys and a pair of twins all below the age of 16 months). We had a great day with lots of adventure and laughter. Not that it matters but we were all Indians and spending a day with people who you can talk to in your native tongue has a special kick of its own. Just sayin!
So, here are a few things to consider when you take a road-trip:
1) Destination, of course
How you travel and where you are traveling to are equally significant. If you are new to the idea of a road trip with your little one/s, a place that is not more than 2-3 hours of a drive is a good place to start. Your destination will give you a rough idea of what items you will need to carry and what items you can leave behind. It will give you an idea about the weather, temperature, food, etc. For example, we were going to the zoo, so items such as sun protection gear, extra food pouches, and extra diapers were a no brainer. I also knew we might make a quick beach stop but a beach mat is always in the trunk considering out impromptu trips to the beach.
2) Time management
Like I said, a good place to start would be 2 hours or less but you could definitely try more if you feel up to it. I, personally, would gradually increase the travel time. If it is a long trip, taking breaks to change the diaper and nurse/feed is always a great idea. Honestly, the distance doesn’t matter as much if you and your baby (and everyone traveling) are well fed, hydrated, and comfortable. So, food, water, and diaper change are key. Another thing to consider is your baby’s nap time and if you could travel during that time, this is of course in case you’ve set up a routine. If you have, great. If you haven’t, no problem. Timing the travel after a meal, freshly changed diaper will result in a happy baby enjoying the window views. For this trip, his nap time synced with most of our travel time-both ways. Ensuring that he is comfortable, I wouldn’t worry too much about it anyway. So, Yay!
3) Packing Essentials
Heres the thing with diaper bags and packing, as new parents, one of your main concerns is going to be whether you’ve got all that you want for your baby. With time and experience, I have come to conclude that the shift from wants to “needs” HAS to happen if I want less chaos. I understand that you want to make sure that you have everything possible but think about it, carrying too much will only lead you to more confusion and stress to manage it all. You know you kid the best, pack accordingly. For instance, on this trip, our bag had water, 4 pureed fruit pouches, an extra pair of clothes, wet wipes, pacifier, a box of Cheerios for munching, warm water flask, formula pouches, a bottle for formula, and disposable table mat. These are all that I knew we would need, not want and we happened to use all of it. In addition to this, I always have a backup bag in the car with his interactive toys while he is sitting in the car seat. I rarely use them because he likes to look out the window and babble.
4) Room for goof-ups, they are going to happen. Flexibility, people!
True story, we forgot to refill our portable changing pad with extra diapers! *facepalm* It was a classic case of “I thought you did it. No! I thought you did” between my husband and I. Of course, I was frustrated for a just a minute and surprisingly so, we didn’t let that affect the rest of the day. I quickly asked if the zoo’s store sold some diapers, they said no, then one of us ran to the car and grabbed few extras we left in the trunk. Bam! Crisis averted! *High-5 time!* So, the moral of the story is, sometimes, goof ups happen. Flexibility is a key when babies are around. You have to be prepared for surprises.
5) Lastly, take it easy and don’t forget to have fun
As much as you are trying to make the best of all for your kid/s, don’t forget to take it easy and have fun. Try to let go when you have to. Try to capture as many pictures (manual and mental) for memories. If you are going in a group, help each other out when in need. None of the above factors will matter if you all, yes, parents included, failed to have a good time by being stressed out. Learning from mistakes and adapting to a situation is a trait of a happy parent. Just sit back, enjoy the drive. Play some good music or have a great talk or sing songs together have fun.
Remember to be happy, not perfect!
Until next time,
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