As someone who has kids on a farm I have become fairly practiced at travelling with a baby and small (and now larger) children. The closest shops to us are an hour away and our nearest city (with more than a Target) is 4.5 hours away, so I’ve had a bit of practice with driving long distances and the difficulties of being away from the comforts of home with a young family in tow. I know how stressful it is, and how messy and disrupting it can be, so I hope these ideas can help you make it all a little easier.
1.Travel when it’s nap time.
Try to start your journey just prior to when it’s sleep time for your baby. Many babies love to sleep in the car, the rocking and constant sound is very soothing and will often help bubs sleep both deeper and longer. You have a greater chance of getting a fair way down the road if your baby is asleep and if you are travelling during their routine sleep time then they will more than likely drift off. To this end, try to feed bubs about 1/2 hour before you leave- this way you should get at least 3 hours down the road before they need another feed. A second choice is to travel at night- when bub will (theoretically) be spending most of their time asleep. If you do choose to travel at night please be aware of how tired you are and watch out for the increased amount of wildlife on the road!
2. Plan regular stops.
Know where you are going and plan where you might be able to stop if you need to- but don’t stop if bub is asleep!!! (unless it’s absolutely necessary). Let’s be honest, your drive IS probably going to take a little longer than normal because your baby is going to need nappy changes and feeds, be prepared for when your bub will need these things. Keep an eye on roadside signage that informs you when a parking bay, roadhouse or rest stop is coming up- it is safest to pull up in one of these, but if you can’t please remember to pull over in an area that you can get completely off the road and are clearly visible to oncoming traffic.
3. Pack a spare outfit (or two).
Inevitably it is on a long drive that your baby will vomit and/or poo onto their outfit- it’s Murphy’s Law. So be prepared with a change of clothes that is easily accessible. I have a friend that was travelling with her 2 young children- on the way to the airport her beautiful little baby did the biggest poo ever seen (possibly- this is not substantiated), apparently it went all over the capsule she was in and covered her beautiful outfit (lets pause to remember the many adorable outfits lost to poo-splosions while travelling #intherubbishnow). Naturally they stopped and cleaned her up (take some extra wet wipes too!), once they were on the plane she vomited all over the clothes she was in…. no more spare clothes, poor baby girl spent the rest of the flight in a nappy and a muslin wrap- not dignified at all!! While we are on the subject of spare clothes- pack a spare top for you too- better to be safe rather than sorry!!
4. Take some snap lock bags
On the subject of babies making messes- if they do make a mess and you simply can’t bare to part with the outfit, having a handful of medium sized snap lock bags is rather handy. They trap liquids and smells inside and are much less likely to leak. I use mine ALL THE TIME, for everything- keeping baby’s spoons, bibs & food together, dirty nappies when there is no bin around, spare outfits (put the dirty one in when you get the clean one out!), dummies, nappy cream and hand sanitiser- they even work well as a sick bag if you have older kids with you too.
5. Keep things as familiar as possible.
Now is not the time to change things in your babies life (where possible). Don’t wear a different perfume or put bub in a brand new outfit the day you plan to travel. Keep their car seat the same and make sure they have their normal teddy or comfort item with them. Babies need constancy and familiarity to feel safe- you will already be taking them somewhere outside their normal world, they will have enough change going on so what ever you can keep the same do so! A baby that has familiar things/ smells/ sights etc around them will feel safer and more secure which means they are going to be more settled and calm which in turn equals more sleep and a happier baby AND Mum!
6. Get a baby car mirror.
If you are travelling alone it can be a huge help to be able to make eye contact with your baby. A mirror that lets them see you will also reassure them that you are still around. Bonus idea- remember to talk to your baby, if they are awake but can’t really see you, talking and singing will remind them you are close by.
7. Don’t stress!
Whether you are doing this with your family, a friend or all by yourself, going for a long car drive is something people do all the time. You will survive it (maybe even enjoy it) and I hope it won’t be the last time you do it.
Tell me your tips for long haul driving (whether it’s with a baby, kids, teenagers or by yourself)