Having a baby is one of the most joyous occasions in your life. It’s also an occasion that requires a lot of adjustment. While I was pregnant I was road tripping up until my third trimester. Just scroll through my Instagram feed and you’ll see photos of me posing with my bump on a mountain higher than Table Mountain and in the middle of a back-road in the Cederberg Mountains. That was when baby was still snugly inside my tummy. Few things could’ve prepared us for road tripping with a baby once he was born. But after a few months of tears and tantrums, I’d say we’ve learnt a thing or two about traveling with an infant.
If you’re planning on traveling by car with an infant, it is essential to prepare well ahead of time. It’s a good idea to start by compiling a list of things to pack for baby. And don’t hold out on this one! We’ve made the mistake of thinking we could leave some things at home – 200km down the line we wished we hadn’t. Depending on your preferences, some traveling essentials with baby include; LOTS of wet wipes, at least two extra sets of clothes and something to soothe and entertain baby during the ride. Basically, whatever your baby can’t do without at home, he’ll probably need on the road too.
Do your homework
We’ve been to quite a few places on the assumption that they’re family-friendly and will probably cater for parents with newborns. WRONG. Our first road trip with baby was a rude awakening and since then we’ve made sure to do our research well ahead of time. Make sure you determine firstly, whether they allow babies (some accommodations don’t allow children under a certain age) whether they’ve got a baby changing room (if it’s just a day trip activity) and if their facilities are accessible with a stroller. Also, a guesthouse or hotel stay with an infant might not be such a good idea due to possible late night cries and early morning wake-ups – so a self-catering chalet might be a better option as it’s a bit more private.
Plan your route
Car trips with babies are not for the fainthearted. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a screaming baby. So make sure that you take a route that has lots of rest stops preferably with a convenience store in case you need anything. Trust me; this is not the time to take the road less travelled. You’ll need to stop at least every two hours for various reasons if you’re planning a lengthy road trip.
This applies to mom and dad. You’ll be surprised at how much luggage a small person comes with so in order to save space, only take what you absolutely need so as to leave more room for baby’s stuff. Our trip to Tsitsikamma had us packing the car to the brim for a mere weekend stay and more than half of the luggage was the baby’s! The stroller and camp cot already took up the bulk of the space and our SUV is not exactly small. In order to save space, we decided to wear the bulkier items while traveling – such as sneakers and jeans which would have taken up slightly more packing space.
When taking long drives with babies, everything won’t go according to plan. Our first road trip with a newborn certainly didn’t go according to plan but we made the best of it. You’ll more than likely be late and probably won’t make it for your planned arrival time. Accept this and make provision for it. You also won’t get around to everything on your list of things to do and places to see so make sure you prioritise what you absolutely cannot leave out and what you can do on your next visit.
Road tripping with a baby
Road tripping with a baby can be daunting to say the least. But that definitely doesn’t mean that you should stay at home or leave baby with grandma. If you follow these simple tips for taking long drives with babies you’ll be good to go (pun intended of course). We choose to take our baby along for as much outings as possible. It’s a learning experience for both parties – baby becomes used to the outside world and we become less anxious about going out with him. Win Win.