Posts Tagged ‘hotel’

Tips for Road-Tripping with Babies

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Tips for Road Trips with BabiesWe recently completed a cross-country move with our 5-year-old, 2.5-year-old and 13-month-old daughters, driving from Fort Worth, Texas to Queensbury, New York.

When I sat down to Google Maps and started making our route, I was scared. Three days. Stretches of 8 to 11 hours of driving each day. Two overnight stays. How were we going to do this and all stay sane? We don’t even own a portable DVD player.

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, sometimes flying isn’t an option and you need to road trip. Here are a few things I learned from our experience that can make your trip easier.

  1. Give yourself options. Kids love change, any change, no matter how small. So make sure you can keep things interesting when everyone has had enough. Change seating arrangements, change toys, change seat partners, change coloring books, or change snacks. We bought silly dollar toys at gas stations, had emergency snacks and different toys from home that I could distribute when things were getting ugly. Having a few new shows and games downloaded on the iPad and Leapster before the trip helped, too.
  2. Plan at least two extra hours for each day of driving. When I drive alone, I am a fill-up-the-tank, gulp-down-the-coffee, hook-up-the-catheter kind of road tripper. I live and die by making “good time.” So it was helpful for planning purposes, and for me mentally, to realize that having the kids with us added two hours to our total drive time each day. That way I didn’t stretch us too far.
  3. Get multiple rooms overnight. The tiny room at Motel 6 may seem like a wise choice on paper, but it’s very helpful to have room to spread out in the evenings. I love AirBnB when traveling, because we can rent an entire home for the price of a hotel room. Each night we all had our own rooms, we could put the baby down early without having to sit in darkness, and the kids had space to run and explore.  This can be especially helpful if you cloth diaper, because you can get a place with a washer/dryer if you want.  AirBnB isn’t the only place you can book travel this way—there’s VRBO, and more home-sharing or renting options online. Obviously, you want to be safe when traveling with your family. I have several conversations over email and on the phone with my host to get a general vibe before I stay somewhere, and I always pay through the site.
  4. Pack by the day. A friend who has four kids gave me this tip: Instead of packing each person their own bag, pack clothing for the ENTIRE family per overnight stop. Since we were staying in different locations and would have to pack in/pack out each night anyway, this made so much sense! Toiletries for the whole family went in one bag, and PJS/diapers/clothes for the next day in one bag. When we got to our destination for the day, out come the two bags and the pack n play. DONE.
    Tips for Road Trips with Babies
  5. Lower your expectations. The first night, I realized there was not going to be “bedtime” on this trip. We got to our first stop after 13 hours on the road (11 hours of driving), and the two older girls were running circles around the cabin, yelling. I told them they could run but no yelling, and they complied. The baby wanted me only, and wanted to nurse all the time, so we nursed. The girls crashed hard way after their bedtime, which resulted in napping in the middle of the afternoon in the car—normally something that would inspire fear in me. I knew we’d get back to our routine eventually, and it might be painful, but this was not the time to fight that battle. How strict you want to keep schedules while on the road will depend on your kids’ personalities, how old they are, and how well they adjust to change. Once we got to New York and got settled, we were back to normal bedtime within a few days. In my mind, the relaxed standards were well worth the saved sanity.

I think the key to any trip or vacation, even if it’s out of necessity and not for pleasure, is to enjoy yourself and the people you are with. Make memories when you can. Most of all, enjoy the journey!

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.