Essential Baby Travel Guide: Holiday Road trip Edition

essential baby travel guide for the holidays

Should we Really be Driving?

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 

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.

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 multi layer options. 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
photo 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 hussle and bussle 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 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
    • Portable bottle warmer. I WISH we had one of these. We were forced to stop off at the exits and scout out McDonalds 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. 

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 puree 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 buly; however these are bulky and aren’t as practical as the traditional mats that usually come in your diaper bag
  • 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 developer a diaper rash from changing brands
  • Diaper cream
    • Your baby may not have had diaper rash before but you do not want to be on the road traveling with a baby without diaper cream just in case

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
  • Doggies 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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