Taking A Road Trip With Baby
Based on my travel experience with a 4-month-old baby (over 26h drive)
Whether the pandemic ruined your plans of family travels by plane or a car would have been your transportation of choice anyway, taking a road trip with your baby for the first time might make you feel a little anxious or hesitant if you should do it at all.
As a first-time mama, I found that it raises many questions, the same way anything does, that you do with your baby for the first time. Reading about someone else’s experience can give you great insight. Moreover, you can hopefully get some of your questions answered and feel more confident and prepared for your own journey.
ROAD TRIPPING WITH A BABY
First things first. You might be wondering when you can take your newborn baby for a first car ride in general?
Well, as soon as YOU are ready. However, it is best to wait until your baby’s immune system is better developed.
Before you embark on a long journey it’s best to first take short trips with your baby, just to see how they feel and behave. Do they fall asleep easily while driving or are they more cranky? Do they overheat easily in their car seat? Those and many more are questions you want to have answers to before taking a long road trip.
But like I’ve said, you, mama, gotta be ready first. Postpartum is no joke. Even if you feel better after a few weeks or months, you still need to take extra care of yourself and that might not be possible if you’re stuck in the car for too long.
Depending on your and baby’s health as well as baby’s age, I suggest you consult your traveling plans with your gynecologist, pediatrician, or midwife to make sure you’re both set to go. Hearing from my health care providers that they think we’re both ready to travel as well as getting to know their stories of how they traveled with their babies early on, really put me at ease.
So now that you’ve decided you’re ready for your first road trip with your baby, how can you best prepare for it? What should you pack? What are some top tips to successfully travel by car with a baby? Well, let’s dive right into all those aspects now.
Top 7 Tips For A Successful Road Trip With Baby
How to prepare your mind and what to do before embarking on the journey
Let’s start with preparing the mind, adjusting your expectations and your attitude. My top tips to successfully travel by car with a baby are all about what you can do beforehand to feel as calm and as confident as possible. This can mean a variety of things, you can inter alia:
1. Talk to your healthcare providers
Like I’ve said before, this can definitely boost your confidence and put you at ease. Moreover, you’ll find out if there’s anything extra healthwise you or your baby should do before or while traveling.
In my case, we were traveling in hot weather and I was breastfeeding so it was good to know that I will feed my baby more often, but that I don’t need to (or even shouldn’t) give my baby any extra water. That’s something my lactation consultant explained to me.
It’s little things like that, which are good to know ahead of time and worth talking about to a professional instead of googling answers in panic during your trip, when in doubt.
2. Make a solid packing list
This will of course depend on where you’re going, what’s the weather like, what you plan on doing on the way, and so on. For my recommendations and travel essentials check the next section of this post.
3. Collect all the needed documents
(seems like a no-brainer, however, I know first-hand how it is to have so much on your mind while being exhausted that you forget or simply overlook some basic things)
Depending on where you’ll be traveling to, make sure you have all the needed documents plus double-check if they’re still valid.
Have a copy of your baby’s birth certificate with you or request a kid’s ID, a passport, etc. if needed. And don’t forget the car documents.
4. Get your car checked and make sure baby’s car seat is properly installed
5. Have realistic (or no) expectations as far as the duration of your trip – plan a lot of stops
You know that you don’t know how everything will go. How your baby will feel, how often you’ll have to change the diaper, feed your baby plus it’s not optimal for your child to be in the car seat for long stretches of time.
So make sure to take your baby out quite often, get some fresh air and hold them as well as let them lay down or even take some naps in between on a flat, firm surface. This can be in your car (we traveled with a van, so that was super convenient), or if you really have a long way to go make sure you book some hotels on the way so that your baby (and you) can get some proper sleep.
To find out more about car seat safety and about letting your baby travel in a car seat for long periods of time check out this page.
6. Take short trips with baby first, before embarking on a longer journey
I’ve mentioned this before, but it really is super important and can help you be so much better prepared.
For us, we’ve noticed that our son gets really warm, really fast in the car seat and as a result, sweats a lot. Which, by the way, after talking to some friends about it, seems to be a very common struggle. But knowing this helped us to be better prepared. We lined the seat with a cotton (burp) cloth to help absorb the moisture and kept changing it for a fresh, dry one at every stop to make sure our baby is more comfortable.
The same goes for clothing. We knew we had to dress him in light clothing and we had plenty of clothes ready to change him into as well, in order to keep him dry and happy.
Moreover, knowing he gets warm so easily we made sure to have a digital thermometer at hand to ensure his temperature is okay. Trust me, this saved mama from a lot of unnecessary stress and overthinking.
7. In these times– check current Covid-related regulations of places you’re traveling through and to
This might also mean you have to get vaccinated, if you haven’t already, or take a PCR/antigen test, as well as fill out online forms.
To check current regulations I recommend visiting the following websites:
x Trip, which covers Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, Africa, and South America.
The website lets you put in the countries you are traveling “from” and “to”, stating what the rules are to enter a particular country as well as to return to the country you’ve originally traveled from. What is more, you can choose to track policy changes for a particular search.
There is also a map showing you right away which countries have no restrictions, where entering and traveling is partially prohibited and where entry is prohibited.
Moreover, there is an app version of the website, which might be very convenient while already on the road.
x For Europe specifically I recommend the website or app Re-open EU
You can choose if you want to check a specific country’s regulations only or search travel rules “from” – “to” specific European countries.
What I like about this app is that when you look up a particular country it gives you a great overview of everything you might want to know, so you can get all the information that is specific to your trip.
You can find out inter alia what are the rules:
x to enter a particular country from an EU Member State or Schengen Associated country
x to enter with the EU Digital COVID certificate
x to enter without the EU Digital COVID certificate or with a certificate not compliant with national requirements
x to enter from outside an EU Member State or Schengen Associated country
You will also get answers to the following questions:
x may I transit this country? (by air/by land)`
x may I fly to this country?
Moreover, what are the countries measures as far as:
the usage of facemasks, physical distancing, indoor, and outdoor meetings, public or private gatherings and events, safety measures for public transportation as well as what about places of worship, non-essential (other than medicine and food) shops, tourist accommodations, catering establishments, cinemas, museums and indoor attractions, personal care services, outdoor areas, and beaches. Furthermore, what are the quarantine-related regulations? On top of that, there is information about the current health situation of the country you’re interested in traveling to.
Travel Essentials For A Road Trip With Baby
– Packing List –
Your detailed packing list will of course depend on where you are going, what the weather will be like, how long you will be driving for, and so on and so forth.
Therefore, I must say I’m really not a fan of those packing lists that some people share which are telling you specifically how many, for instance, items of clothing you should pack for your baby and what those should be. This will differ from baby to baby, from trip to trip.
However, there are certain things that might be considered travel essentials and certain things parents recommend, which can be super helpful to be reminded of. Here’s what I’d recommend besides the obvious like clothes, blankets, or water:
x well-stocked diaper bag
x back seat car organizer/storage with essentials such as extra burp cloths, socks, wet wipes, and so on
x changing pad that you can use in the car
x digital thermometer
x baby’s medicine just in case (paracetamol in case of a fever; make sure to store it properly!)
x baby’s vitamins if they’re supposed to take any
x physiological saline solution and sterile gauze in case you’ll have to clean baby’s eyes or nose
x mama’s vitamins
x documents: ID’s, passports, drivers license, car papers, Covid vaccination certificate/ PCR test results, a copy of baby’s birth certificate
x burp cloths to put in baby’s car seat in order to absorb sweat (I’ve seen special anti-sweat car seat covers, however only for bigger kids)
x change of clothes at hand
x mosquito net
x sleeping bag
x wet wipes as well as hand sanitizer for you
x nursing-friendly clothes, a change of clothes and bras for you plus bra pads
x trash bags for diapers
x a separate bag for dirty/wet baby clothes, burp cloths, etc.
x breast pump and nipple cream (even if you don’t usually have to use it, better safe than sorry)
x first aid kit
x stroller (you might want to check out the best stroller accessories that will make your life easier)
x car sunshades
x small ventilator if you don’t want to use the AC with baby in the car
I want to note that we traveled with our baby when he was 4 months old, meaning he didn’t eat solids yet and I was exclusively breastfeeding, so there will be other things you’ll need depending on what and how you’re feeding your baby.
I hope you found this post insightful and feel better prepared as well as more confident about taking your first road trip with your baby.
This post was all about taking a road trip with baby and traveling with baby for the first time.