Road trips with babies are HARD. You’re constantly worrying about their schedule, if and when they’ll sleep and how far you can make it before the next stop. They take planning… A LOT of planning!
My recent 24-hour drive to Florida, with our 3-month old daughter Liv, was full of trial and error. And what better way to reminisce, than to share everything I learned on the road with you.
Check out these tried-and-true tips for surviving the drive and making your road trip one to remember:
1 – Book Hotels Last Minute
Travelling with a baby is unpredictable. You never know how far you’ll get into your journey, and the last thing you want to stress about is your hotel bookings or losing money if you don’t make it to your reservation.
Using the Hotel Tonight app makes booking a room on the road super simple. They find last minute deals for great hotels with unsold rooms. It includes user ratings and key details you need to know (i.e. parking costs, breakfast, amenities). AND… you score hotel perks the more you book, so your rates continue to drop along your trip.
2 – Download Google Maps
Having directions on your phone these days is a must. I don’t know about your kids, but mine give minimal warning before they’re ready for a stop.
If you’re data-conscious, get a roaming plan before you go. Or, download your maps offline for full access on the road. Being able to do a quick search for the closest gas station, restaurant or store and adding it to your route makes those unplanned detours surprisingly pleasant.
3 – Pack Smart
Pack your overnight bag on top for stops! The last thing you want to do on the road is unpack and repack your car every night. And, if you’re on your own, a backpack is key for keeping your hands free for the little ones. I keep my toiletries, a change of clothes and all baby supplies ready to go in one bag for every stop I know I’ll make.
4 – Save Time at the Pumps
Do a quick stop for gas on your way into the city when you’re finished with the road for the night. Downtown stations are sparse and, believe me, the last thing you want to do in the morning is stop only an hour into your day.
For Canadians travelling in the US, it is possible to pay at the pumps with credit. When asked for your zip code, a few stations (Shell specifically) simply require the numbers from your postal code, with two zeros on the end. This can be a HUGE time-saver, especially when solo with kids.
5 – Podcast Up
Have you experienced the power of podcasts? They make time on the road so much more enjoyable. It’s a chance to laugh, learn, unwind and catch up on the latest stories.
Download a sample of episodes before you go to find the series you like best. Then, get on the Wi-Fi at each pit-stop and load up before hopping back on the road. My trip to Florida would not have been the same without ‘Up and Vanished’.
6 – Don’t Forget the Snacks
With any road trip, car snacks are a must! But especially with a baby — who is happy — you want to drive as long as possible while you can. Make sure to have a full bag of healthy (and not-so-healthy) snacks right up front. I like to keep granola bars, grapes and popcorn as they’re easy to grab and eat with one hand on the wheel.
7 – Nap Time is Prime Time
Whether your kids love to sleep in the car or are on their latest ‘nap-strike’, planning your drive around potential downtime will help keep you sane. Get on the road 20-30 minutes before they’re usually sleepy, power through snooze time and try to stretch stopping once they’re awake for as long as you can.
8 – Help is on the Way
Say yes to roadside assistance! Guess how much fun it is to change a tire, on the side of the road, with kids in the car… ZERO.
Most plans have reciprocal clubs, are recognized globally and worth the cost to save car-trouble headaches on the road.
Remember, if you plan ahead, getting to your dream destination will be as easy as hitting the gas pedal.
Have some road trip tips to share? Leave a comment below.
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