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Monday, January 24, 2022

On The Go - Baby In Tow (Day Trips)

Leave it to a global pandemic and parenting to really change the way you travel. Before I had a baby, travel was a big priority. I spent my 20s taking my hiking boots to anywhere my budget could accommodate. I had some big-ticket trips like sipping champagne in Paris, hiking through Iceland, or scuba diving in Bonaire and they were grand 20 something adventures. As lovely as it was to get on a plane a few times a year, a lot of my travels were pretty local. Life as a weekend warrior who worked a 9 to 5 meant that I became quite skilled at packing an adventure into a long weekend or even the day.

A lot of my trips were with a day bag packed with snacks and a full tank of gas. COVID made local travel even more important as the world struggled with understaffed flights, access limitations and testing requirements. 

The pandemic changed the way we travel and being a parent changes it even more. Now that we have a baby, we plan a lot more day trips to small scenic towns and head out for exciting hikes throughout New England. 

Whether you are heading out for the day, the night, or the week, traveling with a baby requires a different mondset. It isn't always easy and there are plenty of frustrating moments. I promise that it is all worth it, worth the Xtra packing and planning to share our favorite places with Whitney and to discover new spaces with him in tow. It's also a skill you improve with time, the more you go, the more you know. but before you set out on your next adventure, there are a few foundations that make it all run smoother. Today's post is my non-expert advice, my tips and tricks to get you out on the go with a baby in tow - the day trip edition. 


Plan your driving times around nap schedules - I can't emphasize this one enough. Whenever we go somewhere more than a 20-minute drive, we plan it around nap times. Of course, this is assuming that your baby is on a schedule and they will sleep in the car. We used Babywise to get Whitney on a schedule and sleep trained (and it was the best thing we did for him and ourselves). We try to stick to our schedule as best as possible but of course, there are imes when we extend a wake window or delay a nap. Knowing when they nap, and planning your road trip around that is vital for a stress-free car ride and a happy baby once you get to where you are going.   

To help with a nap on the go, bring the things that help your baby nap. We bring a portable sound machine or find an empty AM station. We also use Spotify to play lullabies which really works to soothe him or signal it's time for sleep. We also pack his PJs and will change him after dinner if we suspect he will fall asleep on the car ride home. A sleep-trained baby with sleep cues makes napping on the go or in new places so much easier. 


I think the baby market is toxic in promoting all of these things "you need". It's insanely wasteful, overly expensive, and you don't need as much as you think. We had a lot of hand-me-downs which I am so thankful for but, there are a few big-ticket items we invested in that makes our day trips a bit easier.
Uppababy Stroller - large bottom basket, infant seat clicks right in (perfect way to move a napping baby without waking them up), large sunshade on the toddler seat. If you don't have a great sunshade on your stroller (the cars eat sun shade sucks) you can order one that attaches. You can also buy a car seat or nursing cover that works perfectly for keeping a dark environment when you are napping with a baby on the go. 

Travel stroller - fold up smaller stroller when we have the truck or just want to travel light (it doesn't have a full recline and we have to wake him up if he falls asleep in the car or the stroller). I love our Uppababy Vista but it takes up a lot of room. When we are tight on storage or want a smaller sleeker stroller for tight spaces, our Cybex Libelle.

Hiking pack - If you like to hike or take baby in places that aren't stroller friendly, a comfortable pack is a must. We use the Osprey Poco Plus which is comfortable for both of us and something we both can wear. It has a  large bottom compartment for baby (and our) supplies and stands up on it's own for a high chair on the go. 

Ergobaby Omni 360 Carrier - If the weather is colder and I want to make sure he is toasty warm, I use the Ergobaby Omni 360 Carrier. This way, he is right against me and I can constantly check to see how he is doing temperature-wise. It's also my go to option for shorter hikes or trips as it is much lighter than our Opsrey Poco Plus pack. With that being said, there is zero storage on this pack so for anything longer than a few miles (or anywhere I need to carry essentials) I opt for the poco plus.   

Car Mirror - Need to see if baby is sleeping? This car mirror fastens onto the headrest and you can check out baby through the rearview mirror. 

Travel High Chair - This travel high chair is great for a life on the go. It folds up compact for easy storage (with it's own little bag) and opens up like your typical camp chair. It clips right around any restaurant chair and better yet, is also the perfect place to sit baby down with a toy and a snack at the park or any outdoor adventure.


If you are car shopping... I highly recommend an SUV or some hatchback style car. First off for the extra room but secondly, they make diaper changes so much easier. I simply pop the trunk and change him on the dog beds we keep in the back of our car. If you have to change a diaper on the go, doggy pee pads or a travel diaper pad liner are great options when you need somewhere clean and safe to put the baby down. I also keep doggie bags on hand for stashing away diapers until we can find a trash can. 


Always have your diaper bag packed with the essentials. I try to always bring it in and repack it right when you get home from a trip so it's always ready for the next one. When we set out for an adventure, I always make sure my diaper bag is packed with the essentials and organized in easy to grap zip up containers. No digging through for a cracker, its in the food pouch, the changing pouch, or the clothes pouch. I chose a neutral color and backpack style which means we are hands free and both my husband and I are happy to hold it. Here's what's in my bag. 

Diaper Changing Pouch: Diapers, wipes, rash cream, doggie bags
Clothes Pouch: (at least one, preferably 2 sets) , including a set of pajamas if you are somewhere late and an undershirt
Food Pouch: Formula (premeasured packs, at least two extra), pouch, teething crackers puffs
Stashed in my bag: Changing pad, bottle/cup, paifier, toys, extra layer 


Obviously, your diaper bag is a necessity, but I can't stress enough how vital it is to have an extra emergency set in the car (diapers, wipes, PJs). This was a great tip from @TheCarMom. I use a little zip-up pouch to keep an extra set of clothes and a diaper or two and keep it in each of our cars. There will be a time when you run out of the house without your diaper bag and you will be very happy that you packed an emergency stash in each vehicle.   

Packing your car is also insanely important. Pack your car in the order you need things. Leave the diaper bag and stroller out towards a door and easy to get to. I also find it helpful to have a soft side zipped up container under his carseat to keep all of his toys and neccessities that could easily turn into projectiles during a crash. Everything is organized, within reach, and much safer.


Planning something simple to start is key to setting yourself up for success. I'm talking short trips not too far from home, a short hike, or some small family-friendly activity. The best way to get better at traveling with a baby is to keep doing it. It will feel daunting at first but just doing it is the best advice I can give. Keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it. Start from the very beginning and keep working on it and towards it and you both will adapt to a life on the go. 


If you are planning on stopping for lunch or dinner on your excursion, where you pick truly matters. I know it's obvious, but don't make a reservation at that fancy French restaurant. I try to find outdoor seating, seating away from others, or a large open floor plan restaurant. We almost always bring his stroller in so he has a safe contained space so finding somewhere to accommodate that is key. Counterintuitive but breweries are often a great option. Many are family-friendly open and are already loud and a bit chaotic, If all else fails, plan to grab something to go and have lunch picnic style at a park or in your car. A stroller with a tray is an easy place to eat. I also sometimes bring his travel highchair and at minimum, bring disposable table covers for him to eat off of while sitting in a highchair. 


Things will go great sometimes. Things will go stressfully chaotically wrong other times. You need to dial back your expectations sometimes and embrace the fact that you are on someone else's schedule. Planning sets you up for success but things go wrong no matter how well you planned a trip around naptime. You have to keep your cool and enjoy the perfect moments and calmly smile through the imperfections. Know that like anything else, the more you practice, the more you are out and about with your baby, the easier things will get. 

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