Essential Baby Travel Guide: Holiday Road trip Edition

essential baby travel guide for the holidays

The holiday season is a magical time of year no matter who you are. Yes, it can prove to be stressful with extended families coming into town, the dreaded political debates, or the fact that your twice removed cousin has forgotten where they parked their car 😅. Yes, the smells of savory food and lovely wafs of sweet-smelling pie seem to wash away all the anguish; however, there’s something that never seems to get easier, especially with the holidays!

TRAVELING WITH A BABY! I used to think the hardest task in life was traveling with my beloved Coco Bacon. This small chihuahua always managed to take up the most room in the car and have more items in her suitcase and my husband and I combined.  I mean what the French Toast!? 

Now that I’m traveling with Coco and the baby one thing is certain. Traveling with a baby takes careful planning, persistence, and patience.  Here is the essential guide I learned from numerous times of trial & ERROR!

First and foremost remember it’s the holiday season. No matter what happens be thankful for your family. You will make it through on the other side 

*You may also like “Rescue Dogs: Adopt Don’t Shop, Coco Bacon finds her forever home

 

inside view of car

 

Should we Really be Driving?

Ask yourself, “should we really be driving”? The Lear part of our family lives in Pennsylvania while the Delort side lives in the south of France. Obviously, if we were going to France we would be taking a plane. BUT, what happens if you want to visit your family 5…6…7… hours away? Do yourself a favor and take a plane. With all the stops and emotional stress, you won’t be saving yourself any money or time. We drove from PA to NYC and it was supposed to take 2-2.5 hours. With all the holiday traffic it took about 4.5. I couldn’t imagine having to be in the car any longer. 

 

dad and baby together in a resturant
Yannick and Jeanne photo by natashadelort

 

What to do before your travels?

  • Check to make sure you have cancellation insurance 
  • Always pick the most flexible option with car rental, hotels. Babies have a mind of their own and can through you off your plan
  • A quiet space of your own
    • If you’re staying with family (like we did) make sure you have your own place to hide away, put the baby to sleep, or just call time out. It’s so critical to be in a safe and warm environment. Babies can feel the energy from a mile away. If you’re cranky from the drive, agitated that you can’t find the babe’s favorite toy, or simply tired from all the excitement, she will feel it and in turn feel the same. Now if mad at your family for talking about politics, you may have to let that one go. I’ve learned that my French in-laws thrive on talking politics. Politics are never off-limits. Even during Noel.

baby items for road trip with baby
Holiday road trip with baby: what to pack in the car?

 

What to pack for inside the car?

  • Car seat. Safety first
  • Stroller in the trunk. We decided not to bring ours… that was a mistake. We had to run last-minute errands and it was a complete pain the butt to not have it. I blame this one on Mr. French.
  • Baby mirror? We don’t use them. Yannick drives and I sit in the backseat with the baby. If you or someone you know uses them or has used them let me know which brands you recommend 🙂
  • Pack their favorite toys, blankets 
  • Comfy clothes, practical clothes, and multi layer options. The baby may get too hot or too cold in the car
  • Do not put the baby bag or milk/formula in the trunk. This may seem obvious but still… just don’t. You will need it frequently during your travels

milk spilled on a black table
Essential baby travel guide: holphoto by Pixabay

 

Snacks, Breastmilk, Formula oh my!

  • Breastmilk  & Formula
    • Don’t forget the milk! Even if you are breastfeeding and normally have an ample supply you’ll be surprised how quickly stress can take a hard hit on your milk production! I recently started pumping only in order to get my baby use to bottles… well in all the hustle and bustle of leaving the house we managed to forget the bag packed with all her milk and bottles! It was a nightmare. I almost cried but instead decided to take Mr. French to advise : “Let’s just get some formula”. I’ll be writing about our experience with formula and getting our baby to take a bottle in a blog coming soon.
    • Filtered water 
    • Milk bags and extra bottles
    • A portable bottle warmer. I WISH we had one of these. We were forced to stop off at the exits and scout out McDonald’s in order to get hot water to warm Jeanne’s bottles. She’s very particular when it comes to her milk. It was to be warm-hot. Not kind of warm, not hot, but warm-hot. It took us 4 months to figure this out. 

baby snack for long drive with baby
Essential baby travel guide: snacks to pack for a long drive with baby Photo by Singkham


Snacks for the Baby

  • Precook some baby food.
    • We personally use the Béaba Babycook to make all of her baby meals. It’s super easy stores in their convenient Béaba babycook containers so storing is easy!

  • Our baby is only 5 months, so she’s just trying out purée veggies at the moment. However, if your little one is older pack their go-to favorites to avoid an emotional breakdown in the car. You’re going to want to only pack pouches or 1-2 serving size to make it a painless process when your baby cries of hunger

small dog and baby in a stroller on a walk
Coco Bacon and Jeanne on their morning walk


Sleeping Arrangements

  • Pre-download their favorite songs or sounds
    • YouTube white noise playlist is our all-time favorite.  

  • Pack and play.
    • Our Graco Pack N’ Play breakdowns small enough to fit into our trunk however we didn’t use it on this past trip. Instead, we opted for ↓↓↓↓↓

  • UppaBaby bassinet!
    • Why bring a pack n’ play if you already have a bassinet with your stroller. All you need to do is bring the UppaBaby bassinet stand


Changing the baby on the Road

  • Portable changing table. Personally, I think these are a little bulky and aren’t as practical as travel mats that usually come in your diaper bag (i.e. lily jade diaper bags come with fabric changing mats)

  • Poop bags
    • you can use dog poop babies as they are a little cheaper than the standard diaper poop bags

  • Diapers & Wipes
    • Do not buy a new brand on the way. Most likely your baby will develop a diaper rash from changing brands

  • Diaper cream
    • Your baby may not have had a diaper rash before but you do not want to be on the road traveling with a baby without diaper cream just in case

Holiday Road trip with dog


Packing for your Dog

  • The leash… we almost forgot this

  • Pre-portioned dog food. This will save you time, energy, and space in the car

  • Water and Food bowls. 

  • Poop bags

  • Dog clothes
    • silly yes, but for cold and long adventures I find it best to keep the dog cozy with her outdoor jacket

  • Water and Food bowls
    • Don’t assume your family will be okay with you using their dishes for your dog.
popcorn on the table
Photo by Pixabay

  • Extra blankets  🙂

  • Adult Snacks! Popcorn anyone?

  • Patience 

  • Sense of humor

  • Music… baby music gets old fast

  • Comfy cozy outfits

  • Moto: I’m proud of myself for leaving the house in one piece! Peep Peep Peep
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Kristine Nicole Alessandra VA
Kristine Nicole Alessandra VA
7 months ago

This is a very detailed list of things to bring with you when traveling with a baby. I used to pack more than I need when my kids were young, but it is okay because I would rather have some extra stuff than to need it and not have it.

Lori Bosworth
7 months ago

Traveling with a baby is definitely more complicated as there is a lot of baby accessories you have to bring. And if you’re bringing your dog, there is more stuff to pack lol. Hope you had a great trip!

Morgan @ Baby Got Balance

Great tips, especially the cancellation insurance! Baby or not it can certainly come in handy when issues arise (or if you’ve got a large non-refundable deposit put down!)

Michael Oyco
Michael Oyco
7 months ago

I will share this post with my cousin. They have a new born and they are looking for tips to make their lives a bit more easy hehe

Melanie
Melanie
7 months ago

What a handy guide. My friend has recently had a baby and they are thinking about some travel so will send this her way xx

Marjie Mare
Marjie Mare
7 months ago

I know it can be hard to travel with a baby. My younger one is 14 now, I wish I knew about blogging when she was little. We find so many tips nowadays.

Lyosha
7 months ago

Great list indeed! I don’t have a baby yet but we plan to make one soon so the guide is very handy

Travel with Karla
7 months ago

This is really helpful. I have a lot of friends who stopped traveling just because they had a baby. I think it shouldn’t be a hindrance. I’ll share them this guide. Thank you!

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