Summer 2020 - woo! Not exactly the summer we were all expecting as we're currently in the middle of a global pandemic, but as a Canadian I will take my summer however it choses to present itself. While we won't be partaking in the usual summer concerts, events and public swims for health reasons, there's one summer traditional that I am excited to (safety) resurrect and that is the summer road trip!
If you guys follow me on Instagram or have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I absolutely love day tripping around Ontario. There's just something about a road trip from the city that just reinvigorates you and makes you appreciate the beauty around you even more. Pandemic aside, I have another change to add to my local summer travels - my 11 month old son Benjamin!
Taking a day trip, even just a quick one, with a baby definitely presents itself with its own unique challenges. You need a lot more stuff, timing is absolutely imperative and there is potential for tears - from both mama and baby, depending on how the drive is going! As we're slowly coming out of months of quarantine and self-isolation, I have to admit that I've lost a bit of my mojo with taking Benny with me. Traveling with a baby can be overwhelming, even if that travel is just a day's road trip.
Thankfully after a few successful car trips with baby Benny under my belt, I feel as though I have a handle on road tripping with a little. Yes there is more stuff that you need to bring and the trip is not as carefree as your childless days, but honestly it's so worth it. Here's my tried-and-true packing list, as well as some tips to make road tripping with a baby as stress free and enjoyable of an experience as it can possibly be!
What To Pack:
- Snacks. So many snacks. At least 3 times the amount you think that you need.
- Soother wipes. It can be daunting trying to keep baby's hands and belongings sanitized (we are still in a pandemic,) so having a pack of soother wipes handy can really help.
- Extra Diapers
- Wipes - not only for diaper changes, but also to clean baby on-the-go (especially after all those snacks.)
- Soft toys that are safe for the car trip
- A picnic blanket (I use this one from Amazon, which is actually a tablecloth.)
- A hat for baby
- A bottle of water
- A change of clothes for both baby and mama
- Anything of comfort for baby - whether that be a pacifier, lovey, blanket, etc.
- Bug Spray (this one is deet-free and is safe for babies over 6 months)
- Travel stroller (we're still loving the Uppababy Minu and it lives in my trunk.)
For me, the source of most of the stress that comes along with day tripping with a baby has to do with gathering all of the stuff and panicking over forgetting something important. To combat any anxiety over the added stuff, I keep a canvas bag filled with all of the above and keep it in an accessible area. That way, it's easy to just pop into either the bottom of your stroller (for anything within walking distance) or the trunk of your car. Just make sure that you're periodically changing the diapers and changes of clothes to match your baby's current size.
Car Ride Tips
- When taking road trips and day trips with a baby, timing is absolutely everything. It may seem like an obvious statement to make, but timing your car trips to line up with your baby's naps will be such a game changer. I even plan to leave about 15 minutes prior to Benny's scheduled nap time because I know that it takes him some time to get settled in the car.
- You know your baby best, so if they have a tendency to get worked up and anxious during car rides then it's likely to happen on a road trip (even if you time naps perfectly.) If you have the option, an extra person to sit in the backseat to entertain your baby can make the difference between an enjoyable drive and a nightmare. Grandparents, partner, big kids - anyone who offers to help, definitely take it.
- Create a rock-solid playlist that's full of songs that you know your baby enjoys. Benny loves watching Mother Goose Club, so I have all of the songs cued up and ready to go for our car trips. Do I love listening to 'The Wheels On The Bus' multiple times a trip? That would be a hell no from me. But, I will sacrifice my typical classic rock road trip tunes for a happy baby any day.
- Skip the drive through and fill up with gas beforehand. I've learned this lesson the hard way, but if you're timing your baby's naps with your driving time then the last thing that you want to do is interrupt said nap. Reduce any need to stop, and potentially wake up and upset your baby.
- Have patience and trust that you're making great memories. It can be so hard to keep your composure when you're in the thick of motherhood and don't have the comforts of home to rely on. For me, my trigger is when Benny is crying in the car and there's no way for me to comfort him. Even in our worst moments, I have to trust that we're making family memories and that I'll forget about any of those hard moments as time goes on.
These photos were taken at quite possibly the most beautiful lavender farm that I've ever visited! Purple Hill Lavender Farm is a picturesque piece of paradise in Creemore, Ontario (about an hour and a half drive from Toronto.) The farm is family-owned, and you can just feel the amount of care and love that goes into the property. The lavender is currently at peak bloom and will remain this shade of vibrant purple until about mid-July. Make sure to visit their website to book your ticket to visit - and bring the whole family. Honestly, you won't regret it.
Road tripping and day tripping with a baby can feel daunting, but it's so incredibly worth it. We may have a very different summer on our hands for 2020, but getting out and exploring nature and what our province or state has to offer is a great way to make lemonade out of lemons. I'm excited for all of our summer day trips to come. Where should we go next?