When my husband suggested we go on a road trip, my first reaction was "are you crazy?" Prior to the arrival of our son, we had gone on two road trips and two other vacations. Both of our road trips ended disaster: driving between 18 and 24 hours straight either through a raining mountain pass in the middle of the night or a complete whiteout snow storm in the middle of the night. And now that we have a child, my husband wants to have another one of these adventures, he must be crazy. But somehow he managed to talk me into it and with Tavish just having turned 6 months old we were about to take him on a road trip. We decided on an epic 12 day trip that would take us to Montreal, the Maine Coast and Boston.
Here are a few tips to road tripping with a 6 month old
1) Invested in a GPS especially if you are anything like me - a terrible navigator (I swear the GPS has been a marriage saver).
2) That being said make sure you write down the directions to all of your hotels and make sure you know how to spell the road name. While the GPS is great but it won’t help you find Main St. as opposed to Maine St. unless you know which one you want.
3) Make lots of packing list so you don’t forget anything and make sure you have enough room for everything your baby will need. Holy crap do you need a lot of things when you travel with a baby. Our SUV was full, we needed a playpen, stroller, car seat, carrier backpack (best thing ever), travel high chair, toys, clothes, diapers, wipes, food, cooler, food mill (I was determined to make as much baby food as possible), play mat bag (also a great investment) and many other little things. While we may not have needed all that we brought most of it came in very useful.
4) Spread out travel days with touring days. We would spend a day traveling with a few days of touring. Tavish was a great sleeper in the car so he could catch up on sleep the days we traveled.
5) During travel days stop often to stretch out both your legs and your babies. We found lots of interesting places to stop and some of our favourite memories are at impromptu locations.
6) Keep your normal schedule as much as possible. Tavish did not have a set nap schedule when he was 6 months old but we kept his bed time the same and he was really good and rested for our trip.
7) Bring movies, games, books, or other things to keep entertained at night. Our son has always gone to be around 7-7:30, we when he was done for the day, so were we. We brought movies and a portable DVD player so we could watch what we wanted, lots of games (cards, Dutch blitz, settlers card game, and other small easy to pack games). We also used the time to just chat and spend time together. If our room had a fridge we would buy ice cream and have a nice dessert just the two of us.
8) Make your own breakfast and lunch. It saves you lots of money, and you always have food on hand if you can’t find a good place to eat. Plus it’s healthier than eating the crap they serve at most attractions. Every 2 or 3 days we would go grocery shopping, and we had a cooler that could plug into our car, also most of our hotel rooms had a fridge.
9) Travel in September (after Labour Day) most of the attractions are still open but less crowded and few school groups. We were the only people at a few of the museums we went to and we had lots of fun playing with the hands on activities without having to share.
10) Backpack carriers are a must if you like to spend time outside. We used the backpack for everything: hiking on the beach, touring museums, playing mini golf. Tavish loved being up high and seeing everything and you have much more mobility than a stroller. Also it’s much easier on your back than a front carrier.
11) Bring your own high chair (if you have one, and preferably one with toys). We had bought a travel high chair just for the trip. We never had to wait for a high chair, it was always clean and we never had to worry about picking toys off the floor.
12) Dining tips with a 6 month old – we always fed him just after we ordered so by the time our food arrived he was done eating and happy to play with his toys and we could enjoy our meal without having to feed him every other bite (note: this will not work with older babies especially ones who eat normal food).
13) Finally remember that you are on vacation and it’s okay to spend a day doing nothing. My favourite day was we just hung out on the beach (I think Tavish liked it too – can’t beat sand for a yummy snack)
We had a great trip, we had just the right amount of planning and free time. With the lists we made for packing we did not forget anything (over packed just a little – we only used our stroller once and it took up a lot of space). Tavish seemed to enjoy the trip and 6 months is a great age to go on a road trip. He was happy to be in the car, happy to see the sites, slept in the carrier or stroller when he was tired, and easy to feed. We have no plans to take him on a long road trip anytime soon as I think it would be much different with a 13 month old but we do have other trips and our first camping trip planned so I will post more travel tips soon.