Any new parent has probably heard the mantra that once you have kids your days of travel are relatively few and far between. My husband and I are both avid travelers, so I scoffed a little when I was informed of this norm of parenthood. Once we welcomed our little girl into our lives we realized that traveling might never be the same again, but in no way, shape, or form, has it slowed us down. We still travel, but we have made some serious adjustments to how we travel now that we have a little one on the packing list to consider. Below are some of the things that we have adopted in our traveling routine so we can still visit all of the places we desire with baby in tow. As with all other parenting advice out there, this information is what works for us; every kid is different and yours may have different routines or requirements throughout the day.
1) Be Flexible
Just like you adjusted your own personal routines at home when you welcomed a new baby into the picture, you also need to change your routine when considering travel. Be flexible to your child’s needs on the road; it has to be frustrating to be restrained, backwards in a car seat when the norm is being cuddled and held at home.
2) Take Your Time
Don’t get in the car with a promise to arrive by a certain time. Schedule yourself hours of leeway time. There have been plenty of trips where we make record time with a baby; and then there are the trips that require a stop every thirty minutes on an 8 hour drive. When people ask for our arrival time we usually give them a 2-3 hour window so no one on the receiving end is worrying about where we are.
3) Find Good Stopping Points along the Route
This point can be especially beneficial when traveling with toddlers or older kids. Take them to a park and let them burn off some energy. Bring their bathing suits and let them take a quick dip in a lake or river along the way. If you are truly taking your time, stop in some bigger cities and check out some of the children’s museums or other kid friendly attractions to get them out of the car and stimulate their minds for a couple of hours.
4) Get Out of the Car for Meals
In other words, avoid going through the drive-thru when it is meal time, even if you have a small baby. Get out of the car for a little bit and enjoy a meal together, face to face. Take the baby out of the car seat for some much needed cuddling and stimulation. You can also start building a good foundation for manners at a restaurant.
5) Get up Early For Road Trips
Your kids probably wake up around the same time every day. If you get your baby or toddler up really early, chances are they will go right back to sleep the second the car slips into gear. Knowing our daughter wakes up between 7:30 and 8:00 every day means that if we get her in the car around 5:00 a.m. we can get at least 3 hours down the road before she is ready to wake up for breakfast.