Five Things I’ve Learned Traveling With Our Infant

This post could really be called “10 things…..” or for that matter “25 things…..”, because I had never traveled with an infant before. For the sake of digital ink, which my verbose writing style spills a plenty, I’ll keep this post to the “5” most important things. As a back story, my wife and I took a two week trip with our infant recently. I called it the great baby tour, because the trip’s purpose was to introduce the little man to his extended family. My wife has a huge concentration of family members in the midwest. Given that many of them are in their 80s and 90s, we needed to head west-by-northwest…..and go to them.  The trip turned out well. In two weeks we covered 2,950 miles, leaving our Florida home and traveling as far west as Kansas. As an added thrill, we brought our 7.5 year old Labrador Retriever (pictured below) along. Below is my “top 5 countdown”.

The Great Baby Tour 182

#5. Make every moment count– Our little guy is breast feeding, which puts some constraints on car travel. We decided we didn’t feel comfortable taking him out of his car seat while underway. The next most reasonable thing would be to give him a bottle, except that bottle feeding (instead of breast feeding) left my wife feeling very uncomfortable. Therefore, we settled on a strategy to stop and breast feed when necessary……and to do so as efficiently as humanly possible. Basically, I would find a large truck stop on the interstate. I’d pull up to a gas pump, and change the little man while my wife went to bathroom. Then, she would begin feeding him and I would fill the gas take. As many of you know, breast feeding takes a while. So after the tank was full, I’d run in and get us whatever food we needed. Then I’d eat my food and walk our Lab. About the time we were done, they would be done and we could get on the road. We would get on the road immediately, learning that the feedings were our critical path. I learned to make every moment (between feedings) count, because our little man is a ticking time bomb……counting down to the next feeding.

#4. We can take the trip with one, but not two– Regular readers of this blog know that we are planning to take a 12 month RVing adventure next year….traveling around the United States and Canada. This trip, while not in an RV, was a dry run for that trip. On the plus side, having a kitchen and a bathroom with us would have made the trip much easier. Also, we are traveling at our own pace when we are RVing……which means fewer miles per day! On this trip we learned we can take the trip with one child and our Lab, but not two.

#3 It’s not about us– It’s official, it’s no longer about us! Nope, everything you do with an infant is on their schedule. This is starting to change as he ages, but at the time of the “Tour”…..his schedule was pretty rigid. #3 was especially true when visiting family and friends. We’d hardly get in the door before people were knocking us down to hold our son. They didn’t ask about us really, it was all about him. I get that….. he is pretty darn amazing!

Baby Tour 39

#2 The down side to sleeping all day in the car…..– Well our little man is an excellent traveler. I understand most babies fall asleep quickly to the whine of the highway, and our boy is no exception. He literally spent an hour awake the whole time we were driving…..spread out over two weeks. He was incredible! Baring road construction or a traffic accident…..he slept on as we covered ground. Yes, he awoke the moment our speed dipped below 40 miles per hour. He’s like a certain movie from the 90s in that way….Speed anyone? So, now the downside. Clearly the little man has to be awake at some point. Well, since he slept all day…. he played all night. My wife was an angel about entertaining him as I tried to sleep, which isn’t easy when the four of us were sharing a small hotel room.

#1 Life goes on– We now come to the biggest lesson we learned on The Great Baby Tour. The lesson was that life goes on, even with an infant in tow. Too many of my friends quit going out or traveling when their families grew. I acknowledge that traveling with a small child takes a lot more planning…..and requires a great deal more stuff……but life is meant to be lived, and we’re doing it! We love to camp and have our first family camping trip scheduled. We intend to take our RV trip for most of next year. I think travel is in our blood. My parents traveled and camped extensively when I was young, and we look forward to doing the same with our little man. Even closer to home we take trips to the park, beach, and date nights. I think we’d go stir crazy if we didn’t leave the house.

If you want to read about a couple parents making the most of an ill fated trip with their toddler, check out this link from PreTired Nick. Kids or not, you’ll feel for them :o/

What have you learned (or heard) about traveling with young children?

20 thoughts on “Five Things I’ve Learned Traveling With Our Infant

  1. Roadmap2Retire

    Ah the experiences of new parenthood. Happy to read posts like these so that I know what to expect 😉 The “Its not about us” is something Im very familiar with and have noticed it a lot with my nephews and nieces. I can totally picture people knocking you over to get their hands on the little one. All conversations seem to revolve around them, dont they?

    Well, sounds like you had a decent trip and you managed the situation well. Im sure this will help your plans next year for The Big Tour across the continent.

    Best wishes
    R2R

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      Haha, yeah you just wait R2R. All kidding aside, with a little planning trips with little ones go just fine. But there are surprises along the way, like RBD mentions below.

      To your other point, I’m glad you’re seeing how it goes with your nieces and nephews. That way you know what to expect. It’s funny, but my inlaws were really disappointed when we left…..because we were taking the little man with us. It was a great trip, except that we had to use disposable diapers. Another quick note, if you have the time…..cloth diapers are outstanding. Both PreTired Nick and RBD recommended we try them, and there is no going back now. They leak less and save a fortune over time, plus there are the environmental benefits
      -Bryan

      Reply
        1. Income Surfer Post author

          Good for you. PreTired Nick and Retire Before Dad each have great posts about diaper selection and how to save big money. Be sure to scout them out
          -Bryan

          Reply
  2. Retire Before Dad

    IS,
    One thing about traveling with kids is that each trip you face new challenges. Our first big trip with our son ended with a massive diaper overflow into the car seat base at 9:30 on a Sunday night. It happened during the last 15 minutes of a 5 hour trip. We spent the next two hours cleaning it up and looking for instructions online to reassemble the car seat. Then the next trip was 5 hours on a plane. As if that was bad enough, we were stuck at LAX for a 5 hour delay. He slept just 20 minutes during the whole flight. Now our son is ok watching the iPad in the car, but our daughter doesn’t sleep well. So we sometimes have to endure an hour of screaming here or there. Ahh, parenthood.
    -RBD

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      Haha, I believe that RBD. I didn’t mention this earlier, but 2 hours into our first 12 hour driving day he had a massive blowout in his car seat. We cleaned it up the best we could, but what can you really do at an interstate rest area. Did I mention I hate disposable diapers! I was very happy to see how easily the car seat cover can be taken off and washed. He rode 22 more hours in that thing, over the next few days.

      Screaming in the car doesn’t bother me too much, but it triggers something maternal in my wife. We were stuck in heavy traffic when he was wailing…..no where to pull over and no way to comfort him. I suggested we ignore it and let him cry himself out for the next 15 minutes. Wow, if I wasn’t driving she would have killed me.
      -Bryan

      Reply
  3. Julie @ Millennial Cents

    Reading this makes me hope driverless cars are out before I have a baby (although highly unlikely). Great tips- and I”m glad to see while a baby changes things massively- it hasn’t stopped you from getting on the road and just going!

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      Hi Julie! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’ll check out your site shortly. I’m glad you liked the post. Driverless cars would be an improvement. I just figure at least there weren’t 100 other people glaring at us and our fussy little man. Flying or taking a train will be a BIG step! Thanks for the support too, we try very hard to keep going and doing. It’s going to be so cool when he will enjoy the experiences too. I’ll never forget seeing the American Southwest (like Mesa Verde, Bryce, and Zion) as a kiddo. Or my first trout stream, now that was cool…..
      -Bryan

      Reply
  4. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

    Great tips…and we’re planning on going on some road trips this summer too, but not too far. Funny comparison to the movie, Speed! My son was the same way…we had to travel over 40 mph otherwise he’d start crying. I dreaded traffic and red lights! Now that he’s older, he doesn’t sleep as much in the car though. And same here about moms and their maternal instinct. She has told me to pull over so she can hold him…while I suggest that we just let him cry it out for a bit =) Oh and your cross country RV trip sounds pretty exciting.

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      Thanks Andrew, and it’s great news about your trips this summer. Traveling with a little one is totally do-able. By the way, that’s quite a story about how your little one was born. I probably would have died of a heart attack. Our sons birth was bad enough and it was at the hospital!

      Funny how you learn to dread traffic and red lights with a little one onboard :) I think the RVing adventure will provide plenty of awesome posts. Be sure to stay tuned!
      -Bryan

      Reply
      1. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

        I think I almost did have a heart attack. For our next one, they’ll have to drag us out of the hospital cause I ain’t leaving! Just read your Dream Map post…looks pretty awesome. I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to SF…and on a separate trip from Seattle to Vancouver then Whistler. It’s lovely. Though I liked driving north on the PCH since you’re on the inside lane =)

        Reply
        1. Income Surfer Post author

          Glad you liked the Dream Map post Andrew. I’m going to repost and updated version of it in the coming days, for all of the new readers that haven’t read it yet. Right now we’re just hoping that a great business opportunity doesn’t come along between now and then. This trip is nearly a life long dream. We’ve noticed over the last several years that it’s getting harder and harder to drop everything and go on an extended trip. I see you’ve taken some nice trips along the Pacific coast. I can’t wait to see Washington, Oregon and northern California!
          -Bryan

          Reply
  5. Mr. Grump

    Traveling with an infant is tiresome for all involved. We have been all over Europe and the states with our 17 month old and it never fails that we learn something else on the next trip. If don’t mind surfer and piggy back on your list in a few weeks with my own.

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      No worries Mr Grump, share your tips too! I think we can all benefit from other people’s lessons. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Have a great night.
      -Bryan

      Reply
  6. Pretired Nick

    Thanks for the mention!
    We didn’t travel much at all for the first year so I can’t imagine doing a cross-country trip while breast-feeding. Exhausting!
    Our first major trip was the one you mentioned. But even though it started out roughly, we’re feeling brave enough to try again next winter. Hopefully with less puke!

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      No worries Nick. You totally helped me out. That was a heck of a trip, therefore I needed to link to it. I’m glad you’re going back for round two. Less puke is good :)
      -Bryan

      Reply
  7. Asset-Grinder

    When traveling with my kids , I remember to do a few things.
    -Keep the Ipad charged with movies loaded on there
    – Have snacks in little containers ready to go
    – Change of clothes
    – baby wipes for all things!
    – have some sweet time consuming treats, Like lollipops. They will work on one for a hour!

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      Nice list Grinder. Baby wipes are awesome! Infact I used them this weekend when our Lab got sick in the house. I’m a huge fan of your suggestion of having a couple of changes of clothes at all times. My wife has taken to bringing a few extra clothes for her as well, after two embarrassing events. I’m not worried though. I figure all parents have been stained with puke or poo at some point, so most people understand.
      -Bryan

      Reply
  8. Dividend Mantra

    Bryan,

    Sounds like you guys are enjoying life! And I’m glad you’re not letting the new addition to the family keep you from living life to the max. :)

    I personally don’t ever plan on having children, but if I were to have kids I’d try to keep a family identity intact. Good for you guys for adapting to the circumstances.

    Best wishes!

    Reply
    1. Income Surfer Post author

      Hey Jason. We are man, and our son is amazing. Having kids isn’t for everyone, but we’re glad we have him. Better to know kids aren’t for you, and not have them, than be like some people I know……who have kids and resent them. Like the child was part of the decision.

      We’re trying to keep the blood and adventures flowing. I’ve been enjoying hearing about your transition to colder climates. Enjoy your summer :)
      -Bryan

      Reply

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