So you’ve decided to drive, avoid the airports and stick to the four wheels you know – but it’s still a long way and unchartered territory for you and your little one together!
So what’s the best way to cover the miles and still arrive safe and sane after a long car journey with baby?
Here’s our top tips:
Time your journey
Try to work with your baby’s routine wherever possible and plan to travel when they’re most likely to be sleeping. This could mean setting off straight after bath time, so that you can cover a fair few miles while they’re snoozing.
Consider driving at night
You can enjoy benefits such as clearer roads, plus you can avoid potential jams and thus having to spend additional time in the car. It also measn that baby stays with their normal sleep patterns. It also means that when you arrive, your little one will be ready for action- but do take length of time in car seat into consideration, plus when driving at the end of the day, make sure that the first driver gets plenty of rest beforehand and share the driving where you can.
If you choose to drive during the day, plan breaks around parks and stop offs which will be interesting for you all; making your journey part of your holiday rather than a means to an end.
Preparing your car
- Position your baby behind the driver so that the passenger can easily keep an eye on what your little one is up to
- If your baby is in a rear facing car seat, consider fitting a mirror to the car seat; not only can you see more easily but it’s great entertainment too
- Pack a good supply of toys in the front with you, to replace those which get thrown and dropped in the back
- Leave an easily accessible space to do a quick nappy change if necessary and leave a good supply of changing gear to hand
- Use a car seat that your baby is familiar with and comfortable in
- Position window shades, ready for potential sun and for lights when driving at night
- In-car bottle warmers can make life a lot easier for quicker feeds when you stop
- Take time to know your speaker system and how to balance front and back speakers; it’s good to know you can still share a conversation during the umpteenth repetition of ‘The wheels on the bus…’
If you’re driving in Europe, remember to check the requirement of the countries you’ll be driving through. In France for example, you need light adjusters, first aid kit, emergency triangle, fluorescent jackets, breathalysers, GB sticker and spare bulbs. It’s also worth checking your insurance and break down cover before you set off and make sure that European travel is included.
Prepare your baby
Temperature in the car can fluctuate quite significantly, so light layers of comfortable clothing are a good idea. If your little one likes a dummy, have a good stock of replacements to hand.
If you’re using formula milk, the ready-made cartons can make life easier – just remember to pack some scissors!
During the journey
- Plan your breaks around your baby’s sleeping patterns and keep an eye on how long they are comfortable in their car seat
- Have a blanket to hand so that they can have a good stretch out on it during breaks
- Keep your baby’s bowl and feeding utensils available for service station stops
- Share the driving
- Have a good combination of songs ready to go to suit everyone’s taste in music, and if you’ve got older children travelling with you too – some good audio books