10 Travel Tips – Babies – Car Trips Edition {twins too!}

My husband and I love to travel.  We love to travel so much, during a new job negotiation days off became a big point for me when negotiating salary and benefits.  My new employer was unwilling to add paid leave to my package, but he agreed to allow me an extra 10 days of unpaid leave per year.  This arrangement suited us fine.  I met one of my best buddies when her and her husband were seated at our table on our very first cruise.  Many joint vacations and life moments later they are still the only people we know who vacation more then we do!!

Six years ago we found out we were finally blessed with a pregnancy and twins to boot!  Friends, family and acquaintances all told us our travel days were about to end!  Thankfully we didn’t listen to the masses and ventured out.  Often!  The kids first year was filled with a total of twelve trips or visitors.  Pretty much one a month.  Based on taking trips that first year we have some great tips for you.   From our home in Raleigh, NC we traveled by car to Virginia Beach, VA, Washington, DC, and Atlanta GA.

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  • The younger the babies, the easier they travel.    Not only were the twins and our two year old easier to tote around on trips from 3 weeks to 3 months old, it also makes them better travelers when they got to be more active, even if held most of time (view baby sling carriers). Traveling always brings us to locations with different smells, sights, schedules and more.   When babies have had experience with some changes to their overall routine they will be more adaptable again in the future.   One way to have a familiar smell of home is to bring along something the baby handles a lot such as a blanket, pillow or stuffed animal.    Naps and nighttime sleeping will happen so much easier.

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  • Be prepared for all their possible needs.  When traveling by auto we take everything we can fit!  The first year seems to be the time we need the most.   Wish I were joking, but we really do fill up all the available space in the back of the SUV.   Going to a store to pick up random needed items while visiting family, sight seeing or on a cruise is not a my favorite thing!  We always took everything the babies would need for the time we would be gone including diapers, wipes, food, bottles, dish soup/bottle washer, clothes, bibs, laundry bag, pack n play and more.  Some of the same items we used in our small home were great for taking when visiting family & friends!  Two items include the Fisher Price Space Savers Chairs and a fold up bath lounger.   Folded up one of these only took up a few inches of space.

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  • Plan for feeding time breaks.  Before children we had the go go go mentality.  Just get there already!  But with babies we need to make sure they get out of the car seats every so often for a cuddle, play and feeding.  The stops didn’t have to be long either.  Our first trip when they were three weeks old helped us plan better for future trips so we had better expectations of our arrival time.

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  • Embrace flexibility. Babies change their schedules every month or so the first year.  Since we often plan trips months in advance it is important to keep in mind their fluid schedule the first year.  Leave some room for changes in your timing for travel and any reservations you make.
  • Take your own pillow.  A simple pillow came in handy so many times that first year.  From helping with nursing and feeding to me getting more sleep, it was a necessary addition in our travel packing.

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  • Do NOT travel all night.  We tried this once after so many friends said it was amazing.  No, it wasn’t.  During our shifts to sleep we were constantly being woken up to help with a child, a loud passing car or the annoying array of lights as we zipped by them.  Mommy and daddy arrived tired and cranky while the babies were happy and ready to go about the day!  It really felt like we missed the first day for naps and overall feeling of exhaustion.  However, some people Love this mode of travel and it works well for them, and I think most are traveling to family who watches the kids while the parents get some sleep.
  • Your stroller matters.  Rent or borrow one if you have to.  I’m a huge fan of the Baby Jogger full size City Series strollers.  They fit from 5-100 pounds with ease, maneuver like a dream {even fully loaded} and the double fits through standard doorways.  The push bar also adjusts for short to tall people {my husband is 6′ 5″}.  A great stroller is a dream to push around on any surface and holds all of our extra stuff like the diaper bag, all our drinks, my handbag, the camera bag and our purchases.  We still rent one for amusement park trips for our 5 year olds.

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  • Baby Carrier.   Even with a great stroller babies love to be held.  Baby carriers are a great way to keep baby close without wearing your arm out.  Babies love to snuggle in and nap times or eating can happen easier with those free hands.
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  • Bottle Feeders – Temperature matters.  We did a combination of breast feeding and bottle feeding with our twins and mostly bottle with our youngest AKA “The super eater.”  While traveling it can be difficult, to say the least, to warm bottles.  From the first bottle they got I varied the temperature of their milk so they didn’t get used to any one temp.  It made bottle feeding on the go a dream.  Sometimes the best water we could get was hot and sometimes ice cold.  Restaurants are actually the hardest place to get any kind of specific temp water.  They always gave it to us super hot or cold and we weren’t using the bathroom water.  Carrying around your own bottles of water is helpful as are the car bottle warmers.  The bottle warmers take a while though so unless you plan ahead, the baby may be crying a while.
  • Entertain Entertain.  Naps in the car are great, but we all know they don’t last.  Well the little ones under 3 months do, but not so much the other baby months!  Ours loved to listen to music, play with car toys, we talked about what we were passing and more.  Movies and kids shows also work to entertain for those driving hours, even with babies.  We used iPads in our SUV and car until we got our minivan with dual DVD players this year.  When using the iPad we would strap the iPad’s case to the seats headrest using a strong belt or rope.  As with anything strapped on it is a good idea to think of how strong your attachment is in case of a car accident.  The twins were pretty cool, because they would babble to each other that first year creating their own entertainment.

Have FUN!   Approach your trip with a positive attitude and ignore any naysayers!  You will be more likely to have a great time being out and about with your young family.

We would love to hear your tips and tricks for car trips with babies.  Feel free to comment and link to your own articles!

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Shannon - Thank you so much for your comment. I hope your sister really enjoys her trip to Disneyland! She is also welcome to ask me specific questions. We went to Disneyworld 3 times last year staying both on and off the park. We also grew up going to Disneyland every year. Love Disney!!

One thing that was helpful for us was to take lots of bottles of water and PB&J sandwiches which we always ate within an hour of getting into the park. It helped us stay going strong until lunch. Fresh fruit is also a great bring. It’s one reason a fab stroller is so awesome. No one is actually lugging our snacks and waters around!May 8, 2014 – 12:35 am

Bridgette - Thanks for the great tips! My sister is traveling with her one year old for a family trip to Disneyland and I know that these tips will come in handy for her!May 5, 2014 – 1:57 pm

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