I first thought of calling this post “survive the long drive with baby in tow”. I am no expert but I learnt some valuable lessons on taking a road trip with baby during our short vacation and not-so-short drive to USA. I don’t know why we decided on a spur of the moment to spend an extended long weekend in the bean-town and how we rationalized driving to our destination with our sixteen month old baby but that is what it was. We actually ended up having a lovely trip and a refreshing vacation. These are the lessons I took away:
1. It doesn’t get easier with age
All my internet search and first hand accounts of friends point to this. The older the child gets the more difficult it is to take a road trip. The children grow up to be more demanding and less co-operative as they age , so my tip to any new parents out there who are holding off on road-trips with-in or outside your city waiting for the child to be little bit older, the time to do it is now!!
As a side note, let me remind you that as far as children are concerned , strength does lie in numbers. ( the number of kids in the car is directly proportional to the number of breaks you’d need to take, the number of questions asked and the amount of garbage bags you’d need to carry!)
2. Forget traveling light.
Before my daughter was born, My husband insisted on traveling light. Packing things that were absolutely necessary and taking only the things we could carry. Now he is not so sure. The things we took for our little one outnumbered the both of us put together. Diapers, wipes, extra sets of change clothes, tissues, towels, sunblock, hat and toys and what-have-you need to be carried wherever you go in addition to all of your own stuff.
Though I must admit the stroller comes in really handy to hang your bags off but that also means you have to push all that too.
3. Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment.
Yeah the baby needs to be entertained at all times with the exception of nap time. so I was prepared with books, toys and her favorite songs on my mp3 playlist. Since being tied to a car seat does not provide much room for movement, we ended up singing some action songs and filled up my journal with the bay’s sketches. (she loves to draw!). Now I realize what a great idea it is to have those video screens in family vehicles. It is among the easy ways of keeping the children occupied and entertained requiring almost no effort on your part.
4. Freedom within boundaries
The resistance started the moment I strapped my sixteen month old, who has started to exert independence and wants to explore places (things and whatever else) on her own, into her car seat. Goes without saying, I had to be extremely patient in dealing with her.
Even when we were site seeing, I had to give my daughter ample time and space to move around on her own , explore things at her own pace. The rules don’t change for kids when you are traveling. You have to define how far they can go and things they can do. Freedom with in boundaries means , you and the child both get to enjoy the trip.
5. It pays to be prepared.
It’s a war people! You would never regret being prepared with a kid around. Be prepared with things you would need and the things you never saw coming. My baby girl threw up on us during a whale-watching cruise and I am happy my backpack was packed full with everything I could have possibly needed including a change of clothes for baby and me.
well….. there is one last lesson I learnt , although I would have loved to leave my list to a good odd number 5…but i think this is the most important one
6. there is no “I” in team!
my husband and I have well laid out division of labor around the house, things he does and things I don’t do ……but when you travel you gotta improvise! I can tell you with certainty, traveling with kids becomes easier with a partner, or a friend or family!
All the work was worth it whenever we saw our little daughter enjoying herself (well, all she needed was just us…the place didn’t matter that much ….. right!). Our trip may not have been the most smoothest sailing but it was a happy one