Does the idea of traveling with a very small child give you anxiety? As a new mom (I have a 13 month old toddler) and being 24 weeks preggo with another baby, the idea of traveling to the grocery store can cause anxiety, let alone traveling a long distance by car, train or plane.
With so many families separated by hundreds, if not thousands of miles, traveling with small kids is a reality many of us will have to face. My family and I recently traveled out of state for a family party and learned a lot along the way!
First question — to fly or drive? I truly wanted to take a 2.5 hour plane ride versus an 11 hour car ride. However, small babies and toddlers need a lot of stuff and none of it packs into small packages. In order to answer the fly or drive question for yourself, ask yourself the following additional questions…
- What essentials does my baby need…I mean REALLY need? (Car seat, booster seat, crib, bouncer, etc.)
- Can I beg/borrow/rent or even ship any of these items to my destination ahead of time?
My main advice, if you are traveling to be with friends and family, ask if you can borrow or ship any of these items. This can save significant amounts of time, money and hassle. If you are traveling to a hotel/resort/cruise ask about crib and car seat rentals.
If you cannot do any of the above, decide if driving is a better alternative. For us, for this trip, it was better for us to drive. The family we were staying with does not have any children nor did they have any friends with the essential car seat and crib we would need once we got there.
Once we determined we would drive, it was a matter of timing. Our trip was about 11 hours. Since our baby sleeps through the night (thankfully!) we decided to drive all night in order to minimize numerous stops and turn 11 hours into 20 and have an unhappy, ready to walk and run 13-month-old in the back seat! We did our usual bedtime routine – dinner, bath, story – and instead of putting to bed in her crib, we put her in her car seat. After about an hour on the road (at about 9 p.m.) she fell asleep and truly slept until 7 a.m. when we were an hour from our destination and stopped for breakfast!
Not going to lie, this is rough on the drivers but so worth it! If you are the driver(s) be prepared to be sleepy the next day and plan to take a nap to catch up.
Other perks to driving at night…significantly less traffic and fewer stops! I personally hate multiple bathroom, food and gas stops that come along with road trips…the fewer, the better!
Just a few words of caution if you choose to drive at night…
- Have a companion with you (spouse, grandparent, friend, etc). This will help to keep the driver awake and alert plus allows for a change in drivers if one becomes sleepy.
- If you stop for gas/bathroom late at night, chose a well-lit, busy exit with a well-lit service station or rest area.
- Be aware that a lot of highway construction is done at night and be on the look out for lane closures and reduced speeds in some areas.
Ultimately be safe!
Traveling is and should be awesome. With a little extra planning and organization, traveling with small children can be just as awesome!
Happy trails and safe travels!