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”.
#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!
#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?