10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby
Traveling with kids can be difficult and the thought of traveling with a newborn might turn you into a nervous wreck. Our princess was 4 month old when we felt comfortable enough to take her on her first road trip adventure. So far, we had experience in her sleeping over in a different place other than home or in her being in the car for short distance trips. What we haven´t practiced yet was her being in the car for a few hours every day as well as staying over in different places within 10 days. Since she is a chilled baby anyways, we decided to go for this new challenge. Resolutely, we booked a flight to Dubrovnik and a rental car that we wanted to tour Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro with. Turned out our little one is an amazing road trip fellow. Here in this post, I am going to share my tips of how to make a 10 day road trip with a baby a positive experience.
Get a big car – Road trip with a baby
On our trip we took 3 pieces of hand luggage and the travel system of our little ones pushchair. The travel system consists of the pushchair itself and the car seat. During the drive our little one was sitting in the car seat and when we got out for strolls we could easily click the car seat in and out of the pushchair. We didn´t want to carry her all the time in a backpack carrier and since we had to take the car seat anyways, we decided to go for this option. However, your car basically becomes your home. We had a saloon car, which we literally packed up to the roof. The boot was already blocked with the pushchair and one bag only. The other bags we put in the legroom. Aside from our luggage and the pram, our car was also full of groceries, drinks and baby essentials. You then still want to sit a bit comfortable and I was also breastfeeding in the car while we were on the road, so getting a big car is essential. Another tip: The boot can easily be turned into a changing diaper station when the car is unpacked (only if it is not too cold outside!!)
Stock up groceries and all the baby essentials
Every time we carried on with our trip we made sure we carry all the important stuff like food, snacks, drinks and baby essentials with us.
First of all, that is important since you never know if you get stuck somewhere on your way due to traffic jam, a car breakdown or whatsoever. In case it happens, at least you have everything with you. I suffer a bit from dizziness if I didn´t have enough food or liquid. I made sure we carry water and some food with us all the time in case of emergency.
Second of all, it is important to stock up on groceries and all the baby essentials since we changed countries and locations quite often. We didn´t really know about the opening hours of supermarkets, restaurants and shops. Having some emergency groceries with you will also provide a dinner and breakfast in case your little one isn´t adapting to a new environment too well and you can´t make it to a restaurant or shop in time. We had a few situations where we wanted to go out for dinner but our little one had other plans. Theses emergency groceries saved our life and can easily be carried with you without being refrigerated: eggs, noodles, rice, tomato sauce, oats, and fruits.
Breastfeeding tips while traveling with a newborn
You are still breastfeeding? Perfect! I still did when we went on our trip. It was the most convenient thing ever. It gives you freedom, so much freedom – you aren´t dependent on hot water, formula, sterilized bottles or anything else. If you are on the road and the little one feels hungry, just stop wherever you want and here we go! Even if you are exploring your car can always be your emergency breastfeeding spot. We always made sure to have the car parked somewhere nearby, so that in case she gets hungry, we can easily get to the car to feed her or change her diapers. Having that option was super nice in Montenegro and Bosnia as on our trip we didn´t find a single restaurant or public toilet with a changing table or a separate room for babies. I had my nursing pillow with me, which was super nice to have put myself and our baby girl in a comfortable position in the car while nursing.
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Kid friendly hotels or AirBnB
I found staying over in apartments or private rentals has many advantages. First of all, we always had a kitchen to prepare some food, cook some tea or sterilize our little ones dummies or toys. Second of all, most of the time we had a separate room where we put the little one to sleep or for a nap while we chilled in the kitchen. We booked our apartments on AirBnB, where you can even find apartments that come with cribs for the little one. Some apartments we booked didn´t come with a crib. We booked 3 beds instead and combined the beds to have the little one lying next to us safely. For safety reasons: not having a crib only works when your baby is not moving around yet otherwise please carry your own crib or rent a place that has one when traveling with a newborn.
If you haven´t signed up for AirBnB yet. Here we go!
Stay Over in a Place for at least 2 Nights
There are 2 reasons why I recommend staying over in one place for at least 2 nights. First of all, you literally carry your entire house – packing and unpacking, loading and unloading becomes stressful for you which eventually will become stress for your baby. Second of all, the little one has to adapt to new places a lot which might also cause fuzziness. We tested everything from 1 up to 3 nights. After this trip I came to the conclusion that, 1 night is too stressful, 2 nights is ok whereas 3 nights is perfect. What helped our little one to get used to a new environment more easily is my next piece of advice:
Continue with your good night routine from home
Especially if you are staying at different places you want to make sure your little sunshine is catching enough sleep. Fuzziness is something you don’t need while being on a road trip. Fortunately, our baby wasn´t irritated not being at home. Hence, we didn´t spend hours to put her to sleep. When it is time to sleep we always bathe her, and after a good night lullaby she falls asleep herself. We continued with that during the trip and it worked out perfect.
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Travel distances of max 2 hours a day
My advice when changing places: travel distances of 2 hours max. Why I am saying that, because we always ended up taking longer. You should always expect taking more time than planned due to traffic, breaks or border crossing. One thing we completely underestimated was finding our place to stay. This turned into a mission for us twice. Just finding the apartment in town took us 1 ½ hours each. Fortunately, our little one was super chilled but that might not always be like that. If you end up finding your place quicker, good for you as then there is more time to actually explore. The travel distance and locating your accommodation brings me to my next point:
Check out where you going in advance
Really important: Check out the route and how to get to your accommodation before you go. This is really important if you are traveling with a newborn around a country where people don´t speak your language.
There are different navigational options:
- An offline map – requires GPS and is your alternative if you don´t have a local SIM card
- Navigation with internet if you have a local SIM card
- a paper map
- directions provided by your host of how to get to your accommodation
My tip: Never rely on one option only. Use a combination in case GPS is not working or the Wi-Fi coverage is not good. Knowing a few words in the local language to ask for directions is another tip I would like to share. Especially in the rural areas of Bosnia Herzegovina it is rare to find someone that speaks English. If your translator on the phone is not working, at least you are capable of asking someone.
Choose the right time for the drive
As it is with every ride in a car, drive when the little one is tired. You can also schedule the drive during the regular nap time. That’s what we did and it worked perfect. Actually, we were really lucky because she always slept while we drove. However, one of us always sat in the backseat for safety and entertainment reasons. Since our baby doesn´t like sitting in the car seat for too long, we always had to time the drive after a rest on the back or some tummy time.
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Medical advice for traveling with a newborn
Before the trip I spoke to my doctor explaining where we wanted to go. She gave me some medicine like nose drops and fever pills which we carried with us for “in case of emergency” use. Of course, if it is something serious you still need to go to see a doctor immediately. Whereas, if it was only a cold or a little fever you would at least be able to get through it yourself. Besides carrying some medicine with you, knowing where to find the next doctor or hospital (inlcuding emergency numbers) should be noted on your travel documents as well.
Fortunately, our little one was adapting to the trip super well, so we didn´t need any assistance.
Please note: Every baby is different. Our baby is quite easygoing. The tips I shared worked for us but of course doesn´t mean it is going to work for every baby. Happy traveling with a newborn!
What is your secret tip for traveling with a newborn? Please let me know in the comments!
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