It was never my plan to travel with a baby–I like to keep them home, clean, safe, and sleeping well. However, life happened and I found myself heading to a farm in Ohio with much younger babies than I’d anticipated. We’ve taken quite a few trips in the past five years since our first bundle of joy arrived, and I like to think that we’ve hacked this baby travel thing a bit! Maybe some of these ideas can help you venture out on a Gas Tank Getaway!
Overpacker is my middle name, but I limit myself as we now travel longer distances in smaller vehicles. Having a crate or bin full of the necessities has eliminated a lot of stress. My essentials include:
- a full pack of diapers
- full package of wipes
- pacifier and clip
- five interesting toys
- three board books
- a change of clothes with bibs
- a muslin blanket
Having all of these pieces right at hand instead of in a diaper bag has made car travel so much more pleasant for us! I am sure to stand everything on end so nothing is stacked on top of anything else. When we have flown, a backpack was the easiest way for me to keep everything my young child needed at hand.
I’ve made the mistake of packing only three diapers in the diaper bag for our three scheduled stops, just to be caught digging through the trunk at a rest stop to find more diapers because explosions happen. Having lots of wipes is essential because they clean up everything.
Choose your car toys wisely. Only one that makes an obnoxious noise with lights. Car seat toys that vibrate or crinkle have helped me soothe many a crying baby. Snacks in the car are hard because of possible choking, we always go with applesauce pouches. I am sure to pack enough for the return trip too and store them in a dark-colored bag at the bottom of the crate (the dark bag makes us not realize they’re there during the trip to be used up).
I usually dress my babies in light clothes for the car, including socks and a bib. I hate having dirty car seat straps, too, so a bib put on over the straps has been really helpful! I bring muslin blankets in the car, like these Aden and Anais swaddles, because I can drape them over the car seat to soften the light in the car during a nap time without overheating my baby, or I can use large alligator clips to hold the blanket up to a headrest if the sun is shining at a strange angle. (I also use these clips to hold a blanket on my pack ‘n play so the baby doesn’t see the other kids when it is time to sleep!)
I’m a ‘get on the road and go‘ girl, get me there at lightning speed, please. So stopping to breastfeed for thirty or more minutes is daunting. I bring my Medela Harmony Breastpump and at least three bottles because it fits into my purse, is quiet, and I think it works faster! If you plan to breastfeed at a rest stop, remember the location is probably a bench or in an eating area. If you’re bottle feeding, be sure to bring extra for your travels–especially if you’re flying! Delayed flights can really mess up travel with a baby.
Gauging when my baby will need to eat is the most important step for travel pumping. I usually stick to a two to three-hour schedule and pump no matter what so that I always have something available. As soon as a bottle is used, I rinse it and wipe it down to use it again. Breast milk keeps at room temperature for a long time, so it is always used before it would need to be refrigerated.
Diaper Change Situation
During travel, diaper changing is just, ugh. I hate carrying a diaper bag into public places where you don’t know that last time they were cleaned, so I just grab my package of wipes, a single diaper and a puppy pad (they’re folded so neatly it is just like carrying a second diaper)! This hack is the easiest way to keep my diaper bag, which will undoubtedly end up being thrown on my bed, clean, as well as my baby!
Video Monitor- Levana Ovia 2
Sleep on vacation seems to be the hardest part; baby is in a new environment and we just don’t know what to expect. When my oldest was born, video monitors were just coming out and I wasn’t sold on the idea. I sat in the dark at grandma’s house waiting for the baby to fall asleep. I’m disappointed I missed out on family time, but I was too worried our daughter would escape her sleeping arrangements and hurt herself or fall down the dreaded farmhouse stairs.
I was given the Levana Ovia 2 Camera Video Monitor to review, and now it is my go to video monitor. Having a monitor that requires minimal set-up is incredibly helpful for travel. The packaging is so efficient I saved the box to travel with! The rubber feet and angle of the base make it sit for optimal viewing as long as I put it up on a dresser–no special equipment needed.
The menu is self-explanatory and the control buttons on the side are simple to navigate. Within a few minutes of using it, we understood the features which include taking pictures or video on an SD card (included). The large display shows a crisp picture in the light or the dark; I was really surprised at how clear the night vision was on this monitor. The monitor can be rotated, as long as I set it up facing the right direction I can pan around the whole room! This is great for being in new locations!
I love traveling with this monitor because the battery life is stellar. I chose to set up the ‘sleep mode’ to the most sensitive setting. I can hear a quiet hum from the fan the entire time I use the monitor, but the screen stays dark until the child triggers it with a sound. A light up LED ring changes colors from blue, to green to red depending how loud the sound is in the baby’s room, this has caught my attention when I’ve accidentally left the volume down! All of this, to say that I don’t need the power cord if we’re only staying away for one night.
One of my favorite features on the monitor though is the 2-way radio. I can talk to my baby as I head back inside (because yes, it works all the way out in the yard!). Because we stay in the old farmhouse with steep stairs, it is imperative to me that I can get to my kids quickly. But since I can talk to them, it calms them down and they don’t try to escape the room where they wouldn’t be safe. And Levana uses ClearVu technology to prevent people from hacking into the monitors for additional peace of mind.
We travel most to see family, with family from home. I am the only one who packs a thermometer for the kids. I know I am not the only woman with at least four “free gift with purchase” makeup bags around the house., and they are perfect for this hack. I bring the following when we travel: children’s pain reliever, allergy medicine, a measuring syringe, note card with dosing for each child, thermometer, Neosporin, teething tablets, lavender essential oil and band aids. Storing this bag in an easy to reach place is really important, it usually goes on top of the luggage in the trunk just in case I need it on the road.
Now that you know my travel hacks, what are your “must-haves” for navigating travel with children?
Do you enjoy traveling with babies? What have you done to make travel easier? Tell us in the comments!
Disclosure: the author received a Levana Ovia 2 monitor to facilitate in her review of the product, no further compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are her own. Some links provided in the story are affiliate links. A portion of purchases made through those links will go to supporting the site. Thank you for clicking!