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Road Trips with a Baby: Tips for a Smooth Journey

Updated: Jun 4

In the United States, road trips are a beloved pastime. With relatively inexpensive gas and often high airfare, driving across the country is an appealing option for many families. However, when you have a baby in tow, road trips require a bit more planning and preparation.

As you embark on your next family road trip, keep these six tips in mind for a smooth journey: Disclaimer: Using the links on this page may provide Traveling with Babies with a small commission for qualifying purchases.

  1. Adjust Your Expectations for Longer Travel Times Understand that your travel time will likely take longer than Google Maps suggests. Babies have different needs and schedules than adults, so be prepared for more stops and potential delays. Manage your partner's expectations ahead of time to avoid frustration.

  2. Take Frequent Breaks for Infant Health Babies under a year old should be taking frequent stops and especially those under 6 months should take a 15-20 minute break every 2 hours to stretch, feed, and change diapers. This helps prevent muscle strain and maintain healthy oxygen levels. Map out your route to include family-friendly rest stops, parks, and welcome centers for these necessary breaks. More info on the Two Hour Rule.

  3. Plan Your Stops to Manage Patience Research interesting places to stop along your route - playgrounds, green spaces, and travel plazas can provide a change of scenery and opportunities to get out of the car. Scheduling these stops will help manage your child's (and your own!) patience and energy levels.

  4. Entertain and Engage with Travel Toys for Toddlers Pack a variety of toys, books, and activities to keep your little one occupied. A travel tray or organizer can be a game-changer for containing the mess and giving your child a surface to play on. You can check out my Amazon Storefront with many travel toys for children based on age.

  5. Time Driving with Baby's Nap Schedule Try to time your driving with your baby's nap schedule. When they're sleeping, you can make the most progress on your journey. Use window shades, white noise, and other sleep aids to help prolong those precious naps. Many people like to suggest to leave during nap time but here is my preferred schedule for leaving for a road trip: - Wake (from overnight sleep or nap), Feed, Change - Drive: Hopefully baby will play and then eventually sleep during this time. - Baby wakes: Stop for rest, feed, change etc. - Repeat

  6. Organize your Car Keep the necessary items close by for you and baby. Feeding/Pumping, Snacks, Changing, and Entertainment should all be packed separately from the rest of your baggage and within reach.

  7. If Necessary Use The Screens While we prefer to keep screen time limited, don't be afraid to occasionally use it as a last resort to get through the final stretch of your drive. A short movie or some educational videos can be a lifesaver when all other entertainment options have been exhausted.

With a little planning and flexibility, your family road trip can be an adventure to remember, not an ordeal to endure. Enjoy the journey and the quality time together.

Travel days are about surviving not thriving.

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