I remember before we had kids we would wake up on Saturday morning wondering where we’d venture off to. Back then all we had to worry about was holiday traffic and then maybe who would dog sit for us. Of course, it was just my wife and I so there was little planning required and any stops we’d have to make were short and infrequent.
Wow, having a child changes everything and I would argue it does for the better. Better doesn’t always mean less challenging though. I think that’s the case when it comes to travel and weekend getaways as we’ll explore.
I found out very quickly after having O and then Jake that babies need food. I’m not sure why this wasn’t obvious to me but I guess they need to eat and lots of it.
Bringing snacks for the car trip is really important. I highly recommend bringing a small cooler or insulated lunch sack with some fresh or dried fruit, cereal, and other snacks that transport easily. Jake is allergic to dairy so we have to be very careful that we ensure we have plenty of dairy free snacks. Often times and especially when traveling it’s hard to find a variety of foods for him.
Stopping along the way can be a very good thing. I’m one of those Travel Nazis that just likes to get where we’re going. So, if I can get there without stopping I will. Of course, when the wife starts slapping the back of my head or one of the kids have crapped themselves so bad I gag on my own inhales it’s time for the pullover. Once pulled over it’s refreshing for everyone. First, the car gets aired out but it’s important for the little ones to get out and stretch on those long drives.
Eating while on the road can be a messy affair. Whether baby is eating in the car or in a restaurant it’s not the same as eating at home . As if they’re not messy at home, right? My favorite all time bib comes from Bibagogo. There are many things I love about this bib and one of them is it’s ability to travel. It folds up very easily, stores two cloths for cleanup and even a pocket for a utensil. Make sure you throw a couple of these in your diaper bag or trunk of your car and you’ll be on your way to fewer clothing changes.
Naps are a tricky thing on weekend getaways. Usually you’re feeling stressed for time because of the short nature of the trip and of course, you may be in the car a lot. Some kids do really well sleeping in the car and others not so much. Both O and Jake are great car sleepers and have no problem doing so. We do try and time our drive (if possible) around their nap times. In otherwords, we may leave a little later in the morning so they pass out soon after we leave or we may drive at night so it’s their bed time. Of course, if your children don’t do so well sleeping in the car you’ll want to plan the opposite having them nap first and then leave.
Napping while at your destination can be a challenge too. Especially if baby doesn’t sleep well in the car you’re going to be relegated to naps at the hotel or place of stay. Again, I think it’s important that children (especially small babies) have some sort of consistent routine/schedule they can keep. They’ll feel better and be more prepared for the unexpected if they can at least keep to the schedules they’re familiar with relative to eating and napping. Obviously things come up and I’m all about teaching children to adapt to change and to be flexible but really do you want them to learn while you’re on your first weekend getaway? I didn’t think so….
Potty Breaks/Diaper Changes
I mentioned a little earlier how I’m a Travel Nazi and don’t like stops, remember? Well they are important no matter how stubborn your driver is. Not all locations have changing stations all though most do. Feel free to consider places to stop that aren’t obvious along your journey. Yes, it’s convenient to change your baby’s diaper at a Restaurant but you may have already eaten. Consider stopping at a Target or Walmart too. They’re all over the place, have plenty of changing tables, and if you forget something you can always buy it there. No matter where you stop make sure you pack plenty of wipes both for hands and for bottoms. A lot of places you may be forced to stop are dirtier than dirt. Guess the first place baby puts their hands after they touch something dirty? Yup, their mouth! Yuck!
Do yourself a favor and check out a portable potty. We found one that works great! It folds up very compactly, has bags to hold the poopy and pee, and can be stored in the trunk. We’ve actually used it at the park and other local stops.
Warning: There’s nothing you can do about this but be prepared to pull over 4 times in a 20-mile radius. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been told they went in their diaper only to pull over, let them out, pull down their pants and find out they’re dry.
Obviously, you’re not taking your crib with you on your weekend getaway. However, this doesn’t mean baby doesn’t or won’t have a place to sleep. Call ahead to the hotel as many of them keep them on hand for us parents. Just make sure that the crib is very sturdy and not loose in anyway. If you think it may be don’t hesitate to question this and request a replacement or for them to tighten it.
Another option is to bring your own travel play pen but I would highly recommend baby has slept in it beforehand. It’d be bad to find out he/she can’t stand it the first night on your trip. If that’s not possible, you’ll just have to go in to it prepared you may not be sleeping.
The other choice is for baby to sleep in bed with you. This is a personal choice and one that parents choose at home as well as on the road. I won’t recommend for or against this but I will say that if you choose to have baby in bed just make sure he/she is in the middle of you and your spouse and not on the end of the bed. We’ve had two separate occasions where my wife was breastfeeding one of the kids and in the middle of the night without realizing they wound up on the outside of the bed. Moments later the loud *thump* sound heard followed by a scream was them hitting the floor. Yes, they were perfectly okay but there is no worse feeling than knowing your baby just fell off the bed and it’s YOUR FAULT!! Okay, there are many worse feelings but I think it added a nice touch to this post.
All in all I think it’s just important to remember that your weekend getaway can be a ton of fun but not without some planning. If you allow yourself to accept that your travel may take a little longer and it’s not going to be exactly like it was before children you can and will have plenty of fun. Weekend getaways can be great for the kids too as they get to see and explore unchartered territory. They’re probably used to the neighborhood parks and malls. Giving them the opportunity to see and visit new places will help them see that they live in such a vast and ever changing world with lots of new sights and sounds. Plus, I guarantee that the more you travel with them the more flexible they’ll be with change. So get away for the weekend and show baby that we all have so much to explore and really what better way to explore than to do so with your family?