This June (2023), I joined host Tracy Moore on Cityline—North America’s longest-running daytime talk show for women—sharing some tips (and products) for new parents embarking on a road trip! As a new parent myself—and one who loves to travel—we knew we wanted to bring along baby on our adventures pretty early in his life. We filmed this segment while on an Alberta-B.C. family road trip (I’ll be sharing all about that too—so check my blog for that!)
Hopefully the products + tips help you if you’re planning to road trip travel with your new baby. Note: our baby was three months old for this trip.
Cityline: Road Trip Tips and Products for New Parents
Segment originally aired June 28, 2023.
Let’s start with general travel tips:
1. Build in Buffer Time
You just never know what extra minutes or hours you’ll need with baby. Factor in a bit more stops than you’d normally take on a road trip for feeds, diaper changes or stretches.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
To avoid vacation disappointment, let’s be realistic about what or how many activities you might be able to do during you trip. As someone who used to do a LOT and try to pack in a LOT during our trips, on this road trip I tried to temper my expectations, selecting maybe one or two main things to do in a day and otherwise just enjoying being in a different setting with baby. A flexible state of mind is important for road tripping / travel in general with a baby.
3. Do practice trips
Once Benjimin turned just two weeks old we had started taking him out for car rides, errands and to restaurants, so he’d be used to being out and about. We think this really helped with how he acted during our Alberta-B.C. road trip—super chill! You can work out your car / driving kinks or figure out his car / driving personality in advance of a big trip.
4. Try to keep similar wake / sleep times
Although our days looked super different, we tried to ensure we still kept baby Benjimin’s similar wake-up and bed times. Of course depending on your baby, they may dictate a bit of that timing anyway, but generally we made sure there was some consistency in the wake and sleep times for the road trip. At Ben’s age at the time of our road trip (three months), he was also pretty much napping regularly throughout the day no matter what we were doing so it made going a road trip at this time pretty easy.
5. Look for compact, space-saving travel products
Overall, the big things to consider for taking a road trip with baby is bringing compact, space saving products for easy packing. Also try to mimic similar situations as baby would experience at home, so bringing some familiar or favourite items with you to help create a more seamless travel experience.
What about considerations for accommodations?
1. Take a bit more time reviewing hotel room amenities, like fridge/freezer
Before baby I can’t say I’d spend too much time looking at hotel room amenities or features, assuming most accommodations have Wi-Fi and a bed/bathroom, that’s all I really needed before. Now I look for things like fridge/freezer for pumping/storing breastmilk and/or kitchenette/suite options for an extra sink to clean milk bottles, even ice machines on the same floor / every floor of a hotel to save you a trip for grabbing ice to keep those milk bottles / cooler packs functional during your travels. You might also want to know the hotel’s laundry service options if you’re staying awhile (and knowing baby might dirty their clothes more frequently than you’re used to). Those are just examples of things we found we needed—but maybe there will be things you specifically need to make your stay more comfortable too.
2. Look at free cancellation options
Usually the accommodation options that are non-refundable are a little cheaper and when we had a trip booked pre-baby, we weren’t really worried that something might happen that would require us to cancel our trip, but with baby you just never know. So while the lower price is nice for a non-refundable room, it’s a good idea to get free cancellation *just in case*—you never know with babies!
3. Let the accommodation know you’re coming with a baby
Sometimes accommodations may have pack and play, cribs or other touches that can help make your stay more comfortable! It never hurts to ask and/or just give them a heads up in the notes that you’re travelling with an X-month old baby.
Road Trip Products for New Parents
1. Baby Carrier (Beluga Baby / Baby Bjorn)
I highly recommend a baby carrier or wrap for your adventures! It just ensures you can be hands-free and both parent and baby can more easily and confidently tackle walks, hikes, and other vacation activities. There’s a Canadian brand called Beluga Baby that has really nice, soft, colourful wraps, and we also got a Baby Bjorn that offers great ergonomics, neck and head support and is adjustable as baby grows.
2. Travel Clips / Pacifier Attachments
We don’t leave the house without a soother to help calm baby in between feeds and play time, and if you want to avoid picking it up and cleaning it all the time between use as babies will drop them, get a travel clip! There’s all sorts of colours and designs for accessorizing and it’s just super handy for soothing baby without a lot of maintenance.
3. Travel Bassinet / Pack and Play Pen
If you’re travelling before baby gets too big, bring along a collapsible Travel Bassinet for naps or bedtime. We actually use one at home too so where vacation can mimic a similar scenario as at home we’ve found is really helpful. If baby is too big for a bassinet, there are pretty lightweight and portable pack and play pens that can act as a crib on your travels.
4. Baby Rocker (Maxi Cosi)
Building on that idea of trying to mimic scenarios from home, try to bring some favourite items of baby. For Benjimin, he loves his Maxi Cosi rocker. We brought it with us on this trip, again to provide that familiar home feel and comfort while on the go, and it helps lull him to sleep in between adventures and switch up where he’s sitting / laying (bed, couch, rocker, and car seat).
5. Bottle Cleaning / Drying Gear
Now I’m breast pumping to bottle and my partner also helps with feeds so bringing along some kind of compact travel cleaning rack and drying gear for bottles is really helpful too. I also bring along some dish soap. Depending, you may want that hotel kitchen with stove/pots for extra sanitization but I just washed items regularly.
6. Light Travel Stroller
You should definitely get a lightweight, foldable travel stroller, mostly because a regular size one likely won’t fit in your road trip vehicle (and you don’t want it to take up all the space anyway!) You also have to consider where the stroller might be needed—or if you want to just get away with a baby carrier / or carrying the car seat. We do a mix of car seat carrying, baby carrier, holding with our arms, or using stroller, depending on the activity and duration.
7. Hanging High Chair
For eating out—which we like to do a lot whether it’s at home or during our travels—consider a portable, hanging high chair to keep baby close and not worry about being limited to what high chair option the restaurant you’re headed to might have. These are sturdy!
Don’t forget to keep your diaper bag stocked!
I like to bring extra baby blankets and wipes for the assurance of extra hygiene while travelling with baby. Depending on where you go (and availability of items in stores), you may need to bring more diapers than you may need. Another a handy tip is to bring along dog poop bags to store diapers while you’re out and about without the diaper(s) getting too smelly.
These are just a few road trip tips + products for new parents based on our experience (everyone is different / and some of these may work great for you, and others you may not need depending on the type of trip you’re planning).
Feel free to share your own travel tips below, and check out my Alberta-B.C. Road Trip Blog Travel Guides too!
Thanks again to Cityline for having me on the show! I love being one of their guest “experts!”
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