When you marry into the military, you’re guaranteed to move – over and over. It’s been almost three months since we moved to our new home in Washington. We love our new home, but getting here was a big ordeal. I can’t believe we all survived a cross-country road trip with an infant (and two dogs)!
While driving long distances with an infant is a challenge, I encourage you to give it a try if there’s a place you’re dying to drive to. Izzy did surprisingly well, though we probably won’t be living on the road long term anytime soon. Here’s what I did to prepare for our family’s road trip.
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Break up the trip into small segments.
Before having a baby, James and I would try to cram as much distance into each leg of the trip as we could. This resulted in 12 or more hours of driving a day.
With Izzy, safety was a much bigger concern. We were cautious about pushing ourselves to stay up too late into the night. I also didn’t want Izzy strapped in his seat too long since it can be dangerous for babies to sleep in car seats. Naps were one thing, but we wanted to put him down each night in a hotel room.
This broke down to 6 hours of driving per day. After this time, Izzy would start getting fussy and demand to be held. Breaking up the trip ended up working out perfectly.
You don’t need anything fancy to plan your trip. We just used Google Maps and found cities along our route we were interested in seeing.
Look up the weather.
You absolutely need to check the weather in advance before your trip. Our road trip took place in the winter, so we chose a route in the middle of the United States instead of the North to avoid severe snow. We also made sure to pack appropriately. Here are some suggestions for what to bring – click the image to learn more.
Also see How To Dress Baby for Cold Climates.
I don’t think we saw a healthy eating establishment at a rest stop for our entire trip. Bringing your own snacks will give you more control of your family’s food choices, so you’re less likely to binge on fast food and soda. Don’t forget caffeine to help the grown ups get through long stretches on the road!
Keep things clean.
The longer a road trip is, the bigger mess I become. Clothes go unwashed, makeup is forgotten, and food crumbs litter every nook and cranny in the car. It’s too easy to neglect cleanliness when you’re powering through to your destination.
With a baby, you have to have some standards. Bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down rest stop changing tables, clean your family’s hands when soap isn’t available, or quickly freshen up your baby’s seat. Assorted zip baggies will help organize your car’s clutter and contain bits of trash.
For baby gear, think small.
Because the purpose of our road trip was to move, our truck was packed to the nines with as much stuff as it could handle. I felt bad for my husband because loading and unloading the car every day was such a pain! If you have the choice, pack as light as possible. Avoid going overboard with baby gear in hopes that you’ll be more prepared.
I have a minimalist packing list for air travel that can be modified for your road trip. Before packing away your bassinet, see if your hotel provides them to guests. Instead of packing a ton of clothes, see if you can find lodging with a laundromat on site.
Bring age-appropriate entertainment.
To paraphrase the classic quote, if you go on a road trip without plans to entertain the kids, you’re going to have a bad time. Keep in mind your child’s age. For example, you’ll want to research recommendations on screen time limitations for your child’s age group.
How do you prepare for long road trips?
Share your favorite tips in the comments below!