Getting ready for a family vacation with a baby? Many things can make the trip a more enjoyable experience, depending on the age of the child. Of course, if the baby is still in diapers then having a good supply of diapers and baby wipes is a necessity. Bottled water for drinking and for rinsing out cups is a plus. Snacks, the healthy sugar free variety are also a necessity, and pillows and blankets to make the child comfortable during the long ride.
If your baby is old enough to pay attention, then travel games, coloring books, and toys that are quiet enough to avoid driving you crazy can be helpful. Also a travel DVD player that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter for power will allow the child to watch a favorite video, keeping him or her occupied and more comfortable. Read along books for children are handy as well. These books have recordings the children listen to while looking at the pictures and the words underneath, teaching reading skills at a very young age. Possibly the most important tip would be making a schedule and setting realistic driving times each day. Adults can handle longer spans of time in the car than children can, and especially babies. Try not to spend more than eight hours a day driving, and have rest stops every couple of hours to stretch legs, and get outside in the fresh air.
Jill is a mother of two who has fond memories of traveling with her children as babies and toddlers. She tells many stories of trips to the lake, the park, the beach and even to Disneyland, bringing her small children along and says that the experience wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable for her or her husband if the children had stayed home. She does however, recommend thoughtful planning. “Story books were great. I read to the kids while my husband drove, and that kept them occupied. It also often makes them sleepy and led them to frequent nap times.” Jill also recommends coloring books so that the kids can amuse themselves. Ditto for the sugar free snacks. You won’t want to get the children running in overdrive on a sugar rush. But children do get hungry frequently, so keeping a good supply of crackers, fruit snacks and other things the kids enjoy will make the trip more enjoyable.
It helps travelers, that so many rest stops these days, have baby changing stations in both men’s and women’s rest rooms. This allows both parents to handle the child changing chores, and eases traveling tensions.
Jill’s friend and neighbor Sally also remembers traveling with very small children, and offers this advice: “Baby wipes. Have lots and lots of baby wipes. You never know when you’ll need them. And be sure that you make rest stops every hour or two. The kids will get a bit cranky and stopping for fifteen minutes can make a world of difference. Also, be sure to bring animal crackers, graham crackers or some other sort of snack, and bottles of water or fruit juice to wash it down with. Keeping a child fed with keep a child happy.”
Traveling with a very young child can be a challenge. If you have friends with older children, ask them what they did to ease the stress of the rip with traveling with the children in earlier years. It always helps to learn from someone else’s experiences. Also, ask your own parents what they did when you were a baby, and how they handled traveling situations. It also doesn’t hurt to check out the local public library for parenting magazines and books. Being a parent is a very responsible job and learning from others is only wise. However, traveling with your baby or other young child will provide you with a great deal of enjoyment. If you take a camera or video camcorder you’ll be able to record the trip for future memories, and have stories to tell for years to come. So enjoy traveling with your baby, but be sure to plan ahead.