I am not a fan of long car rides. I don’t like being in a car for that long. It feels like a complete waste of a day and you only get so many days in your life, you know? Anyway, my parents recently moved to Tampa and we decided to go visit them during my maternity leave and for baby girl’s first Christmas. The drive from Louisville, KY to Tampa, FL is about 13 hours without a newborn. I know… WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, KELSEY??
All I can say is that I planned this before baby girl was born & as the days got closer and closer, I dreaded the drive and wished we had bought plane tickets 6 weeks out. I know flying in a plane has its challenges, but I felt that it would have been easier with a shorter time frame. The grass is always greener, right?
Anyway, the drive went smoothly with only a few hiccups. Our baby is such a good girl, she didn’t really complain. Here are my tips:
- Have one parent sit in the back with the newborn. In this situation, that parent was me. My husband prefers driving and other drivers don’t cause him road rage like they do me, so this was an easy decision. I sat in the back with baby girl and was there to tend to her needs and try to get her to sleep.
- Pack snacks. I packed several snacks to eliminate additional stops for food. We only stopped for food during lunch & dinner. I kept a cooler in the back with me & was able to hand Beau any snacks & Diet Dr. Pepper during the drive.
- Let go of all expectations. As much as I tried to do this, I fell short. I really wanted to get there within an hour of the original time amount causing me severe anxiety when we didn’t make that goal. All self-inflicted.
- Bottle-feed if possible. This saved us a ton of time, since I could feed baby girl while we were driving. Like I said above, I kept a cooler in the back with me and just kept making bottles in the car when needed. This may not be possible, in which case see tip above.
- Stop every two hours (ish). The biggest issue that poor baby girl faced was my fault. She fell asleep after I had fed her two bottles, so I told Beau to go on. We made it four hours without stopping and felt really great about it. That was, until we stopped and we couldn’t get our poor baby to stop crying for about 30 minutes due to trapped gas. You live and you learn. We made a rule to evaluate how baby girl was doing every two hours OR immediately after baby girl finished eating. We also tried to combine stops. For instance, Beau would pump gas and run to the restroom while I burped & changed baby girl. Then I would hand her over to Beau who would continue burping her (we really wanted to prevent that first breakdown from happening again).
- Bring a few toys & books. I packed a few toys to hang on baby girl’s carseat to entertain her during the drive and packed a few books to read. I really did not plan on using them. However! When we got stuck in traffic and were not moving at a smooth clip, baby girl got a little fussy. She likes to move! So, I read her a book and it seemed to work to get her calmed down. I only packed two books and two hangers on. After all, she was only 6 weeks old!
- Give yourself time. I had built in days for travel when I planned this trip, so if things went to pot completely, we could just stop halfway through and stay at a hotel. It wouldn’t have been ideal, but it gave me peace of mind to have that exit strategy if we needed to take it.
It ended up taking us 16 hours to get there and 14 hours to come back (back is supposed to be 12.5 hrs). Atlanta traffic KILLED us. Thanks a lot, ATL.
Hopefully these tips help you to make a decision on whether you can brave the road trip with a newborn. I’ve heard mixed reactions in regards to taking babies out on the road that early and for so long, but I am only listening to the people who say it will make her a better traveler. Positivity, baby! Let me know any other tips below.