road tripping with a baby, our advice.

we are headed out for another road trip this weekend.  i'm incredibly thankful to be blessed with a husband who loves to hit the road as much as i do, and for a baby boy who travels really well in a car. we are headed off to southern indiana for a whopping nine days, and plan on making a bunch of stops along the way.

 we travel to evansville every year for a big christmas soiree with my dad's side of the family. it's a long drive, and with an ever increasingly mobile nine month old, ten hours is an extremely long time to be in a car, so you have to be prepared for everything, including lots of stops along the way.  because we hit the road often (cohen will have visited 15 states by the end of this trip), we have learned first hand about what to do and what not to do when travelling with a baby.  here are a few things we have learned along the way.
one. plan ahead.  i cannot stress this enough.  you must plan ahead with a baby. at least a week before your departure, write a list of everything you need to pack. make plans ahead of time for keeping your baby on a some what consistent sleep schedule, snack times, meal times, emergency plans (hotels, roadside assistance, weather, etc), activities, sightseeing, and so on. everything must be planned.  even planning for the unexpected should be planned. i know this sounds stressful, but believe me, being organized makes for a much smoother trip. here are a few of my favorite websites to help plan ahead. roadside america- this is one of my favorite road trip websites.  it has thousands of easily accessible road side attractions. all you have to do is type in your route, and thousands of roadside attractions are listed in a map fashion, so you can easily see what is closest to your route. if you have to make a pit stop, you might as well see a famous site while you stop, right? bathroom diaries-i know. who knew there was even a website out there for such a thing, but there is, and i take full advantage of it.  i will never forget the first road trip chris and i took with cohen, he was only six weeks old and we were driving to oregon from iowa (that's a long haul). we stopped at numerous places for diaper changes and many of them were not equipped with changing tables or clean areas to lay him down on, it got really frustrating.  this website helps with all of that.  you just type in your location, and the highest recommended bathroom pops up.  sounds stupid, but it's really helpful. mom's minivan- especially helpful when your kids are a bit older, this site offers tons of free printables and activity ideas to make the road trip fun. chris and i even print out cheesy games like travel bingo, just in case we need a little something to do on long stretches of the drive.

two.  pack smart.  early on, we would take road trips and pretty much pack our entire nursery.  the activity mat, bumbo, swing, vibrating chair, and everything else just in case. our poor little car was packed to the brim, occasionally we'd even bring our car top carrier, because we were packed so full.  this got old really fast, and we learned quickly what we really needed and didn't need at all. i know it's hard, but try to only pack the necessities. also, make sure you have the things you need most right at hand so you don't have to make extra stops to dig in the trunk to find what you are looking for. keep snacks, toys, and other baby distractions right at hand.
three. make time for fun.  road trips are all about seeing the country, so take time to eat at a great restaurant, explore a new city, take a swim in a near by lake, and try something you've always wanted to try.  listen to an audio book, download songs or buy a new cd, buy your kiddo a couple new toys and give them out along the way, visit friends and family, try to be creative, the sky is the limit. if you make trips fun, your kiddos will likely want to take more of them.  here are some fun stops we've made on recent road trips.
left-catching up with my life long friend ericka in chicago, right-tigers game in detroit with family
even the dogs need a break from the car. our dogs loved running on the oregon coast.
left-stopping for dutch letters in pella, ia. center-waterfront walk in milwaukee, wi. right-cohen on first base at the field of dreams in dyersville, iowa.

happy thursday! {monica}

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