Here in the United States, we LOVE our road trips.
I mean why wouldn’t we. Gas is relatively inexpensive (except for recently, thanks covid) and flights across the country are actually very expensive compared to airfare in other parts of the world like Europe.
So surely once you have your baby, you’ll want them to join in the adventures! And they absolutely should.
But there are some things you should keep in mind when hitting the road on a 15 hour journey…
1. Mentally prepare yourself or your partner that it will take quite a bit longer than the scheduled drive time.
Some people (*cough* dads *cough*) just don’t prepare themselves but that’s ok. They think if Google Maps says it takes 9 hours to get there, then they will be there in 10. But with babies, this just isn’t the way the world works for most people. So better to get it in their minds before you begin your journey.
2. Take Frequent Stops
Prolonged periods in the car and car seat puts a strain on developing bones and muscles. And studies have even linked it to lower blood oxygen levels.
In order to keep the blood flowing and prevent spinal or muscle strain, everyone in the family can benefit from more frequent stops on these long road trips. For babies under 6 months, you should be stopping every 2 hours.
All you need is 15-20 minutes to stretch or grab a snack.
3. Because of this, Map out your Trip
While in the trip planning phase, plan to make scheduled stops in some nice locations off the highway. Try to research some playgrounds, green spaces, state welcome centers, rest stops, and travel stops/gas stations that would help give you a safe, well lit, and potentially FUN place to spend a quick break.
Scheduled and regular stopping will also help with any nagging kiddos screaming “Are we there yet?!" from the back seat.
If your drive is more than 8 hours, I really really suggest to split the drive up into multiple days. Personally, I do this if it is more than 6 hours but some people have more of a tolerance for the car than I do.
4. Bring plenty of toys & activities, especially for older toddlers and children
I have a whole list of travel activities and toys (separated by age) on my Amazon Storefront.
Also consider a kids travel tray for toddlers and children. This will help them keep all of their things within an arms reach plus a nice surface to draw or play.
5. Take Advantage of Naps
This is going to be the best time to really take advantage and gain some mileage. If the baby is asleep, go go go. When they wake up, it will likely be the time you’ll want to take a break to feed baby, and have a stretch.
Hoping to prolong the nap? Create a good sleep environment. Consider a sunshade, a portable sound machine (great for preventing over stimulation), and any other sleep aids to help stretch the nap a bit longer in the car.
6. Don’t be Afraid of Screen Time
My final, controversial tip.
By all means, use every trick in the book before you break out the tablet. Play with all the toys and finish all of the activities. Snack on all of the snacks! Listen to music! Chat about everything going on in each other's lives if you have a toddler that can communicate their every thought!
But once you have done all of that…
If you still have 3 hours left to drive and you’re really wanting to get there, don’t be afraid to put on a movie to get it done.
Travel days are about surviving not thriving.
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