Here’s the real truth: it won’t be easy. In fact, nothing is easy about having a newborn baby and having to travel in a car for more than 20 minutes anywhere. But it’s ok, you’ll get through it like the rest of us have. It’s not an impossible task as long as you are prepared.
It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about the big road trip to see family for the holidays. There’s lots of logistics that are required to mobilize the baby + gear + parents but here’s a guideline on what to do to optimize your travel time.
What to pack for your road trip:
- Extra bottles of milks. When you are driving down a highway, it’s not always convenient to pull over to take the baby out of the car seat or pull out your boob to start breastfeeding. Having the spare bottle to appease the little one on a whim will help keep your sanity from hearing non-stop screaming for 10-15 minutes or until you are able to pull over.
Breast pump & accessories. This is always good to have as backup in case your schedule is thrown off and you need to empty out your boobs. Having your breast pump with you is essential to maintaining and building your milk supply. Also when you’re with your family, they may be oogling over the new addition to the family. They’ll want to hold or even feed the baby. Sometimes you can’t help but just let them. After all, it is the holidays and they don’t get to see you and your little one very often. Make sure you have you pump and parts so you can keep to your pumping schedule. You can keep building your supply for backup and emergencies. Here’s a more detailed list on what to include in your breast pump bag:
- Breast pump
- Power cord
- Breast shields
- Breast pump nipple cushions
- Pump bottles
- Storage bags
- Nipple cream/lubricant
- Baby toys. Other than sleeping, your baby will need some stimulus to stay entertained. Babies will basically keep themselves entertained playing with anything so be sure to bring some small, portable baby toys. I’d highly suggest ones that don’t play music or light up. Although this may be fun for a few minutes hearing that over and over again for your 3 hour drive to Grandma’s house may drive you and your husband crazy.
- Bed sheets & blankets with familiar scent. Sometimes babies don’t sleep well in different environments and that means you don’t sleep. You can try to avoid this by bringing sheets and blankets with the familiar scent to help ease and soothe your baby back to sleep.
- First aid kit. Always a good idea. Hopefully you won’t need to use this but you don’t want to be in a situation where you might need a band aide and not have one. This is something that you could just keep in your car for emergency use.
- Phone charger. God please keep my phone charged. If not I won’t be able to contact anyone or know where I’m doing. Not to mention I won’t be able to turn on the baby’s favorite tunes to help entertain and calm the bugger down.
- Favorite toy for comfort. Being in an unfamiliar environment for a baby could cause a bit of anxiety. You can help your baby transition to the new surroundings by bringing something familiar like a favorite toy or blanket to help sooth and comfort him.
- Stroller. You may need to take a break to stretch your legs. Bring your umbrella stroller so you can easily mobilize and go for a quick stroll.
- Few changes of clothing. You never know when there’s going to be an accident or explosion. The worse thing is to be caught without an outfit change or worse, a diaper! Don’t be that parent. Bring a few extra changes of clothing just in case this happens.
- Snacks for you and your hubby. If you’re in a rush or time crunch, having some healthy snack options that you packed may be a better choice than the selection they have at the restroom stop or gas station. Save the calories for mama’s cooking and the freshly baked holiday treats! Pack some nutritious easy to transport snacks to make your drive more comfortable.
- Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Lets face it. We are all sleep deprived parents. We survive on coffee. Enough said.
From one parent to another, these are just some of the tricks I learned after my first few road trips with my baby girl. You may find your child is an angel traveling which is fantastic but it’s always good to be prepared for the unknowns when possible. In the worse case, if you forget anything you can always stop by a Target or Buy Buy Baby along the way to pick up whatever necessary baby equipment you may need.
Finally, a very helpful tip would be to either borrow or order some baby necessities to have delivered to your destination so you don’t have to lug your entire house with you. You can easily amazon extra diapers, wipes, ointments, creams, etc. that you can use and then throw away when there. You may even be able to borrow some baby equipment from other family members too. That is always very convenient.
Either way, it’s just a small speed bump to get through before you get to enjoy the holidays with all your family. When you look back on the memories, you won’t even think about the driving experience but only the wonderful happy times your baby had with extended relatives.
Safe travels and happy holidays!