I got married on a Monday, hit the road for Pittsburgh, PA by Thursday and returned home two weeks later ... July was quite a busy month for our family.
This blog post shares my experience traveling with a baby (7 month old) and a pre-teen (12 years old). It felt like the good old Griswold Family Vacation (National Lampoon's Vacation) ... My pre-teen complained a lot on the ride up and our baby lost his mind on the way back. I have never seen so many SCARY country rest stops in my life. Traveling with a baby anytime soon? Forget about bringing all of the clothes and baby stuff that you think that you'll need and take a flight to your vacation location. I think it is MUCH better than taking a long road trip with a baby.
Anyone remember that National Lampoon movie?
I know that family vacations are supposed to be awesome experiences, but I gave up on them a few years ago. Our last family vacation was when I took my mother and sons to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a CRAZY week of the boys blowing money and nitpicking with each other, mom and me. Prior to Myrtle Beach was when my mother took us to vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia. Both vacations were stressful because no one wanted to do the same thing at the same time. All I kept thinking was that I should have spent that money on charm school and boot camp for boys ... I never traveled that far again until I took my 12 year old to Florida.
Vacation is still a "bad word" to me ...
I had to mentally prepare myself for this road trip. I thought that I knew what to expect because my two older sons traveled well as babies. Plus, Max is typically a happy boy, so how hard could it be to vacation with him? HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! ... I totally overlooked the fact that Max started crawling and cutting teeth before we left. Plus, he is used to moving at a relaxed pace and having, at least, 6 hands available at most times. This road trip totally PISSED HIM OFF and left me having heart palpitations ... The ride up to Pittsburgh was O.K., so long as we stopped as soon as our baby expressed discomfort and had supplemental formula bottles ready before hunger hit him. The drive home was filled with crying that we could only comfort with songs #3 to 7 on his Christian music CD, breast feeding at the gas pump, longer rest stops that included checking out tourist attractions and a whole lot more supplemental formula bottles. We could not wait to get off the road and it took 2 days to get him settled back into his routine once we got home.
I did find a few advantages to traveling with a baby ...
Do not stop at just any old exit!
Yes, it may have blue rest stop signs but it does not mean you should stop. We found ourselves passing through some very "strange" locations that wasted our time because there was NO WAY we were getting gas or peeing at those rest stops unless someone paid us a million dollars for the dare!
Formula will not kill your breastfed baby / public breastfeeding is a breeze.
Breasts do not burst, nor shrivel up and dry out, if you do not nurse for a day. On the other hand, no one stares if you whip it out at a gas station, rest stop, hotel parking lot, etc. People were so busy with their plans that they barely glanced out of their target locations. If someone is staring at you when you stop at a location, it might be a sign that you should not be there to begin with ... some exits are just plan scary.
Older children are only but so helpful when on 17 hour road trips.
My pre-teen complained about car sickness so badly that took Dramamine on the way back home and was not able to help with details and picking up bottles (our baby has been able to hold a bottle well since the beginning of his 5th month, but took to throwing his bottles on this road trip).
If you think West Virginia is long on the way up, it can be torture on the way back home.
After seeing palm trees and flat lands for so long, I was excited to reach West Virginia on both the ride up and while traveling back home. All of the green trees and mountains were beautiful, but the high altitudes were a killer on our bodies. The ride back through was torture ... just too long and becomes "the same old thing". Thankfully, I knew to fill up with gas before the long stretch with no gas exits and we had lots of snacks / drinks. Make sure to do the same if you're ever taking that ride. West Virginia is a state where I prefer to hit the "official" rest stops / visitors areas and not the back woods.
Snacks, Drinks, Snacks, Drinks, Snacks, Drinks ...
Take LOTS of snacks and bottled water in the car for older kids and Dad 1) snacks save money / time and 2) your baby's sleep schedule might change while on a road trip, therefore you do not want to stop and take a meal break once she / he has fallen asleep. Snacks hold everyone off during this time and then restaurant times are much more comfortable once the baby has had a good nap.
Schedule a flight instead of a road trip with a baby...
FORGET about taking all of the extra clothes, baby swing, toys, personal items, etc. that prohibit you from booking a flight to your target location. Taking a road trip with a baby is not all that it's cracked up to be, so you will save time and money that you can use to buy used or rent any baby equipment needed during your vacation.
Take time to smell the roses and watch for changes!
Although driving was a pain in the butt, the sceneries were beautiful and our little family did bond further. I learned all of the articulation points of my tween's action figures and how to keep him happy during long trips. Max's physical development was much more apparent to us during this time. We watched his hair and tooth grow in within days. We learned what music he prefers in short and long spells, as well as what music he does not care for at all. It was fun watching him meet our family members and explore new surroundings.
Why traveling on the road with a baby is NOTHING that I will do again ... ?
Although we were all excited about visiting family/ friends, I was a little apprehensive about traveling with a baby. I should have followed my instincts, but we had planned this vacation long before he started "moving and shaking". Our road trip was estimated at around 17 hours each way, therefore I was nervous about how to handle feedings, diaper changes, naps and temper tantrums. I have learned that traveling with a 7 month baby was not as difficult as I thought it would be, though it felt longer than I could have imagined. It was HARD ON OUR BABY'S ROUTINE ... Long road trips with a baby are just TOO much ... I am trading in our extra necessities for a 1st class ticket to fly next time!!!
In Motherly Love,
Mother Baby Child