Recently we drove from MN to CA with our 3 month old. We took my car (an automatic) so we could both drive. We had planned out our route, figured we’d stop often to give little man a stretching break, & had sightseeing stops planned out too but it turns out I couldn’t pump while I was driving. Hubby ended up driving the majority of the 4,500+ miles we drove! I thought we had a great plan figured out but we definitely learned a few additional tricks as the miles went by. Trying to keep him awake the majority of the day and happy while being stuck in his car seat was quite the adventure on its own. Hopefully what we learned will help provide sanity on your travels!
Drive while baby sleeps
We left at 9pm after Hubby got off work and drove until 3:30am the 1st night. The last night was a little rough. We left CO at 11am and were going to stop for the night at 7pm but little man decided he was done being in the car. We decided to drive all night so we could be home instead of spending another $90 or so in a hotel.
- Pack lots of burp cloths
Eating in the car seat is not the easiest position for baby
- Bring multiple bottles for feeding baby with
You may not be able to rinse as often as you wish.
- I found it worked best to pump and give him the expressed milk in a bottle
This worked best if I gave him expressed milk when he was hungry and then pumped afterwards to replace what he had just eaten.
- Make sure your pump works in the car!
Turns out my Madela wouldn’t work with my car adapter; the voltage needed to power the pump is greater than the adapter can handle. I’m glad we checked it before we left! Madela makes a battery operated pack for portable use. Mine didn’t come with it but a friend had one I could use (This is sanitary as it does not come in any contact with your skin or the breast milk). Double check if yours has a portable power option!
- Have multiple pump parts with you if you have them
It is not always possible to rinse as soon as your done in the care and it’s always best to have clean parts every time.
- Have a small cooler to keep your breast milk useable.
- We had a jug of water in case baby got too hot but we never ended up using it
Formula Feeding Moms:
- Measure formula into several bottles ahead of time (do not add water)
- Bring a 1 gallon jug of filtered water to add the bottles when baby gets hungry
You can re-fill water jugs at most grocery stores and a few gas stations for between $0.25-$0.50/bottle
Keeping baby awake, happy & entertained:
- If baby has a favorite toy, book, blanket, etc, make sure it gets packed!
- Pack toys baby does not play with every day
This does not mean you need to purchase new toys. Just put a few toys away before you go so they seem new again when they are pulled out.
- Books with lots of pictures
Babies love to look at pictures of other babies/people
- Silly songs are also a great way to distract baby.
- Frequent breaks!
We found our son did great with 4 hours of driving, then a break. We would stop for 1 hour for him to play, get a diaper change, feed him & us, check diaper again, then go.
We discovered that a light blanket over our changing pad made for a great instant play area. You might get weird looks but restaurant tables work well to let baby sprawl out. Rest stops often have picnic tables and grassy areas (in the summer) to boot!
Hotel with a baby
- Pick a hotel that offers free breakfast
This will allow you to save money, get a little something to munch on and be out on the road more quickly. If your little one is eating, they typically have oatmeal and bananas are always easy to mash up.
- Ask if the hotel has a fridge
Many hotels will not charge you for the fridge, if it’s not included in the standard rate, when traveling with a small child. This is also helpful if you are nursing because it allowed us to keep the expressed milk longer.
- Bring your own travel bed (think pack ‘n play) for baby to sleep in
While although hotels might have a crib, they do not guarantee the cleanliness or safety of their beds. If you don’t have a travel bed you can make a simple bed on the floor using a thin blanket or sheet from home (for cleanliness & so you don’t need to worry about laundry detergents), then baby’s blanket for a covering. Remember, to help prevent SIDS you don’t want to place baby on a plush surface that might smother baby; the harder the surface, the better.
Plan on doing laundry
Babies go through a lot of laundry & car space is limited! Pack enough clothes (daytime & sleepers) for a few days, then do laundry while stopped for the night. Many hotels have laundry facilities or laundry mats nearby. You can often find travel size laundry detergent or the smallest size container to save room.
Pack extra diapers and wipes
I literally packed an entire small suitcase with diapers, wipes, and extra cream! This helped us save a ton of money! We use Amazon moms which lets us get the diapers for a great price and we couldn’t have guaranteed that we were getting great prices in the states that charge more for diapers than we typically pay.