You’ve probably heard it all before, but the key to a successful and enjoyable road trip with a baby in tow is planning. But how? Here are a few tips to get you (and your engine) started.
1. Load thoughtfully
Think about what you might need on your drive before you load up the boot – you don’t want to end up unpacking half of it on the side of the highway just to get to the teething rusks! That goes for all the items you might need for a pit stop: jackets, cameras, nappies, selfie sticks – not necessarily in that order 😉
2. Make special requests
If you’re staying at a hotel, motel, or resort, check ahead to make sure they offer infant beds or cribs. If you’re booking a property on Wotif, just check the Room Amenities section at the bottom of the hotel’s page. Keep an eye out for any extra charges (some properties charge for portacots, while others don’t). To add a portacot to your booking, just add a note requesting one to the Special Requests section during checkout. The beauty of an in-house portacot is that it’s one less bulky item to pack. #boot-packing-win
3. Give your little one the best seat in the car
If you’re hiring a car and pre-ordering a car seat, make sure you request the right one for your child’s age at the time of your trip. Most hire companies have options for rearward and forward-facing capsules and boosters, and you don’t want to arrive to find you mistakenly selected the wrong one! Alternatively, if you want to BYO car seat, most airlines will allow you to check in your baby items. Just double-check with the airline for any restrictions.
4. Remember the little extras
Car seats and snacks might be a given, but don’t forget the other simple items that can be lifesavers. Things like sun shades, car toys, and baby mirrors are all handy and won’t take up much room in your luggage. That way no-one needs to deal with the dreaded flapping-blanket-in-the-window scenario!
5. Time it right
Plan your departure times around feeds. My wife and I have found that post-feeding is the perfect time to hit the road. It allows you the maximum driving time between pit stops and creates the perfect environment for your little one to snooze.
6. Take pit stops
As an adult, driving for hours in a car is not the most comfortable thing in the world. So take a minute to put yourself in your baby’s 10cm shoes and imagine you’re also strapped into a car seat or capsule… No wonder they get so restless! So make sure you allow enough time for regular pit stops so everyone can get out and stretch their legs. It’s also a perfect excuse to visit a new town or attraction that isn’t on your itinerary. Or pre-plan your route with some pit-stop spots in mind if spontaneity isn’t your strong point.
7. Just add tunes
Protect your sanity from the grizzling babies, long roads, and crackling radio coverage by prepping some tunes (and an aux cord, just in case) before you leave home. Travelling is all about treating your senses; think the sun and salt of the Gold Coast, or the bustle and scents of Istanbul’s souks. Your road trip might tick the ‘sight’ box with its picturesque scenery, but why not up the holiday vibes by matching your music to your destination? Ben Howard was my fave for the misty, wet roads of the UK.
8. Avoid the supermarket
Nobody wants to spend all day driving just to have to go to the supermarket as soon as they arrive at their destination. So this is the perfect time to rejoice in the existence of supermarket ‘Click and Collect’ services. “Reward” your navigator by charging them with the pre-ordering of all the required groceries. Then all you need to do is pick them up, which saves you having to traipse up and down the aisles. Or save even more time by arranging a home delivery straight to your room. This is also a perfect opportunity to stock up on road trip snacks for the return trip.
Note to husbands: Kinder Surprises are considered a ‘treat’, not a ‘snack’. You’ve been warned!HIT THE ROAD WITH A HIRE CAR FIND A TOP HOTEL DEAL