Thursday, August 7, 2014

Road Trip Necessities

In the past couple of weeks, we have made several road trips with the babe.  We've been commuting between New Orleans and Atlanta (about  a 7 hour drive) and last night we just got home from a 12 hour drive.  Needless to say, we have figured out how to make long road trips work for us.  Here are a few of my tips and necessities that make for a smoother drive.
(These are just my person opinions based on our experiences.)
Before I get into our necessities, let me start with a few things that are so important.  First would be the schedule.  For us, winging it just doesn't work.  The last thing you need is a hungry toddler in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat for miles.  I make sure that we stick to our schedule and don't veer off.  To achieve this takes a lot of very detailed planning.  I use Google maps, or the map on my phone, to map out our stops.   This also helps me figure out what time we need to leave the house.  I make sure that there is somewhere to stop at breakfast time and also lunch time.  One stop would include: eating, diaper change, bathroom break, get gas and then we get back on the road.  That way, you knock everything out in one stop and keep your stops down to a minimum.  A lot of stops can really add to the length of your trip, trust me.  Even if you have half a tank, fill it up.  We've made the mistake of not getting gas and having to stop 20 minutes into nap time which resulted in Lo waking up, not falling back asleep, getting hungry sooner than he would have, etc etc.  It's just a really bad ripple effect that can easily be avoided.
So this brings me to what time we get on the road.  We learned the hard way that taking advantage of sleeping babies is a must.  The more driving time we can get behind us while the baby is still sleeping, the better.  It makes all the difference in the world.  Here's what we do when we drive to New Orleans:

We leave at 4 am.  Lo wakes up at 7 am and we stop for breakfast at 8.  Back on the road at about 8:45 to do the last 3 hours which will put us in New Orleans at lunch time so we don't have to stop and eat again.  It really sucks to be out of the house by 4 and in order for that to happen, we wake up at 3 am.  We have tried it other ways and Lo usually gets pretty fussy towards the last hour.  It also helps to keep it to one stop.  During that last leg of the trip, Lo will play with toys for a while and then take a nap.  He usually wakes up just before we are home and it's really nice to not feel like you are stick in the car all day long.

So here are a few of my necessities:

1. Meal & Snacks
I like to have his meals ready to go before we leave.  I pack things that are really easy and that I know he will like.  Even if we stop at Panera, I still have food for him.  Basically, I can eat eat anywhere or anything but he can't.  This way, if your schedule gets thrown off and there isn't a Panera, or whatever you planned on stopping at, you won't freak out.  I usually cut up some fruit the night before and have it in a container that is ready to go in the morning.  I also bring a banana and some cheerios since those are easy too.  Also, I can get him started on breakfast while Loyal is ordering for us.  Every minute counts!
These Dr. Browns Containers are great for travel.

2. Travel High Chair
I grabbed this just before a trip once so that I didn't have to worry about a high chair.  I picked up a super cheap one thinking that I would only use it once or twice and boy was I wrong.  This is honestly one of the things that I feel is a true must have in terms of all baby products.  I keep it in the back of my car at all times.  Remember how I said above that if your schedule gets thrown off and there is nowhere to stop?  No problem!  We have fed him his breakfast in the back seat while Loyal pumps gas.  This is also great for wherever you are going.  Grandparents house so they don't have to have one for you.  It has also been a lifesaver when we have gone to restaurants that don't have high chairs available or are broken.  We have run into both situations.  Actually, on this last 12 hour drive, our lunch place didn't have high chairs at all. 
The seat that we have also turns into a booster seat which is what I will put Lo in when the new babe is old enough for a high chair.  I'm telling you, best $30 I've ever spent.
Fisher Price Booster Seat

3. Bedtime/Naptime Necessities
Since we leave so early in the morning, Lo goes right back to sleep.  This child can not sleep without his bunny.  If we ever forgot this, we would be so screwed.  I make sure to replicate his sleep set up the best I can.  For us, that includes his bunny, a pacifier and I usually throw in a blankie.  Another key point is that I take them away right after he wakes up.  Since he is still napping during the day, I give them back to him when it is time for a nap and this helps to distinguish play time and nap time since both take place in the car seat.  Once I hand him bunny and a pacifier, he's knows it's time to go to sleep and it really makes for an easier transition.

4. Neck Support
This is something that I wish I had figured out sooner.  Once we moved him out of his infant car seat, the new one sits him more upright.  Because of this, his head would fall forward while he was sleeping.  He didn't get a good nap like he normally does and would end up waking up early.  I finally decided to give one of these a try and they made all the difference!  We bought the Boppy one and only use the circular neck pillow.  I give it to him when I give him his bunny and pacifier.  He seems to really like it and his head hardly ever falls forward.  With this, he naps anywhere from 1.5-2 hrs, which is what his nap normally is.

5. Diaper bag & Changing pad
I like to have everything on hand and my diaper bag is a great keep all for that.  It has pockets on the sides which are great for drinks.  My snack container fits right in perfectly.  I also have it stocked with diapers, wipes, etc.  My diaper bag came with a changing pad and I use it the most on road trips.  It's great for the changing tables in public restrooms but I can't tell you how many times I've changed him in the back seat during a stop for gas.  It's a must!

6. Toys, toys & more toys
I figured this would be a given but I'll share a few details about our toy routine.  I usually have 2 or 3 different buckets of toys and here's why...
I'll give Lo one bucket of toys and he'll play with them for a little while.  Eventually he will get bored with the toys he has and one by one, they will go flying down in between the seats along with the bucket.  Rather than trying to round up all of the toys that are scattered everywhere, I just hand him a new bucket of different toys.  This buys us some time.  Once all the toys and buckets are on the floor, it's usually time for our next stop anyway so it seems to work out for us.

7. iPad
I like to save this as my last resort.  We usually make it without needing it but it's great for the longer trips.  Once Lo is completely over playing with any and all toys, this works like a charm.  I just don't want to run the risk of whipping this out too soon.  Movies are great but sometimes he likes to just swipe the screen back and forth.  Whatever works!

So that's about it.  Those are my tips and necessities!  One last bit of advice I would give would be to not hesitate to pull out all the stops.  Use anything that does the trick.
Here is Lo with a new tooth brush and an empty Chic Fil A cup.  These kept him occupied for a good hour. :)

Good luck and I hope this helped a little.
For more tips and other opinions, check out the rest of the
One Year and Beyond link up.


  1. Awesome post! And I love your graphic! What do you use to make yours?

    Thanks for the tip about the neck support. I've been meaning to get one for C, but have yet to do so. And I'm all about the schedule too. However, now that we're down to one nap, we usually leave before or after nap time since she hates sleeping in the car. Your tips regarding a longer road trip are noted. We'll be taking one in the spring I think, so I'll definitely need to come back to this. :)

  2. Thank you! I use Photoshop. I have it for my invitation business and it has come in handy for my blog as well. You can pay month to month to use it rather than purchase it. I think it's $20 or $25 a month. I know that you can create these in Paint and other programs instead but I personally feel that Photoshop allows you to play around with fonts so much more. Hope this helps!


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