When Morgan was just 7 months old we took our first Road Trip with her. We drove from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes. A roughly 6 and half hour trip to visit my parents. With Morgan the trip ended up taking almost 9 hours, but it was well worth the extra time. Morgan was a pure joy in the car, but then again most 7 month old’s are because they tend to sleep most of the time. Here we are today, Morgan is now 16 months old and we will be taking that same Road Trip in just two weeks.
We learned a lot from that first trip. We also learned a lot from several smaller trips we have taken since. Including a three hour disastrous crying frenzy of a trip to Oxnard for a Strawberry Festival. Luckily that trip wasn’t the norm and since then we have learned how to keep an active toddler entertained on a long car ride. In today’s post I am going to share with you How To Love Going On Road Trips With Your Baby.
I’m going to list all of my tips and tricks in bullet point format because oddly enough that’s the way most thoughts come into my head. In short bursts! I truly hope you Enjoy!!!
Before The Trip
- Access how long the trip will be. Plan out each day’s outfit, snacks and meals as if you were staying at home. Only pack what you will actually need! Include a few pieces in case of spills or blowouts. Don’t forget to pack yourself an extra shirt as well, in case baby spits up or spills something on you.
- Access where you will be staying: hotel, with family, camping etc. Accommodate for the new location, do you need a bassinet. Does the hotel supply a crib? Do you need to take a portable potty or bathtub.
- Access what the weather will be along the way and at your final destination. For instance Mammoth could be a frigid 15 degrees, but driving through Mojave on the way there could reach over 100 degrees.
- Ensure your car is ready. Check the tire pressure, spare tire, fluid levels, pack extra fluids if needed (in some cold weather locations special fluids are needed).
- Layout your course. What is your destination and what are some obvious stopping points along the way.
- Access how long it will take you to reach your destination, make sure that you leave plenty of extra time for stops and activities along the way.
- If you are leaving really early in the morning make sure to pack a healthy breakfast because most breakfast locations besides fast food might not be open yet.
- For your passengers comfort and your baby’s comfort bring a soft blanket, and pillow. I was still nursing Morgan when we went on our first trip, the Boppy pillow was a necessity!!
- Create a new playlist of all your favorite songs. Or download a few interesting podcasts or audio books to listen to along the way.
- Download a list of all the Historical Points of Interest along the way (California has hundreds) as well as the old El Camino Real (Kings Highway) that is filled with history and adventure.
On The Road
- Always take advantage of rest stops to use the rest room or just stretch your legs.
- Make sure everyone gets out of the car when you stop for gas, this is also a great opportunity to stretch and to check out what fun things the convenient store is selling.
- If you have a road trip budget set aside a few dollars for rest stop vending machines, convenient stores and side of the road fruit vendors.
- Pack healthy snacks and purchase toys or post cards when you stop instead of junk food.
- Stop at as many Historical Points of Interest as you can. In California we also have several Missions which are amazing! Both of these are usually free destinations or very inexpensive. If you are unable to stop have the history of each location printed out and read it out loud as you pass by.
- If you have a zoo, aquarium, theme park or botanical garden annual pass see if there are any along the way that are affiliated with your membership. Pop in for an hour or so. Since its free you have nothing to lose if you only stay for a bit.
- Take the scenic route!
- Plan a super fun themed photo shoot. I knew it would be chilly in Mammoth when we went so I bought Morgan the cutest fluffiest teddy bear outfit as seen in my image. She looked like a toy. We made sure to stop in the woods (all Mammoth is woods) and do a mini shoot. It was so much fun!
- Search Yelp for parks along the way, make sure to stop at one during your toddlers super active time, this usually happens right before lunch or right after nap time.
- Stop for lunch, either pack a picnic and enjoy a beautiful scenic location or discover a new fun restaurant. Either way avoid eating in the car. Get out into the fresh air as much as you can.
- Ensure that your baby stretches as much as possible. Encourage them to kick their feet in the car and wave their arms, this will prevent blood clots.
- Sing songs, play games and talk about what you have experienced on the trip.
- Avoid giving your toddler/kids electronic devices and instead encourage them to enjoy the views and spot things that they see.
- Plan a small hike or nature activity along the way: discover new flowers, a waterfall or a nature preserve.
- Take tons of pictures to remember your adventures. Make each location you stop at an adventure.
- Create a Road Trip scavenger hunt, this is funner with older kids. Have them spot objects such as a horse, a cow, a skyscraper, a river, a lake etc.
Most of all be silly, have fun and enjoy the ride!!!