Tips for Traveling with a Baby: Road Trip Style

by Meghan Yost

Planning a getaway with your little one? I’ve put together a few tips for traveling with a baby to help make your vacation go as smooth as possible.

My husband and I recently took our three-and-a-half month old daughter Grace on her first big adventure. Our destination? Downeast Maine, which is about a four hour drive from our home in Connecticut.

We were pleasantly surprised with how smooth our vacation ended up going with a baby in tow. The drives to and from were easy and there were no embarrassing public meltdowns in restaurants during our time away. Albeit there was a bit of taking turns holding and walking the baby while the other one scarfed down food.

While I’m no expert on parenting, here are the things that helped us on our road trip with Grace.


If you’re taking a road trip, I highly recommend you hit the road at either the time your baby typically goes to bed or early in the morning. If you choose the latter (like we did), that means waking the baby up earlier than normal and going through their usual wake up routine. So for us, that meant feeding her and then playing. When Grace started to look drowsy, we popped her in her car seat and she was lulled to sleep by the drive.

During our recent trip to Maine, we set the alarm for 3:45am (our baby normally wakes up anywhere between 5 and 6:45am). We got ourselves ready to go and then I fed her at 4:15am. We were in the car by 5:05am.

To our pleasant surprise, our plan worked perfectly. Grace slept the first two-thirds of our trip (two-and-a-half hours). She woke up about 10 miles before the Kennebunkport, Maine rest stop where we took a break to change her, feed her and then eat some breakfast.

After about an hour out of the car, we hit the road again and she slept the entire rest of the way (an hour-and-a-half).

The plan worked perfectly on the way home too. In fact, it was as if Grace was in on it because she woke up on her own at 3:45am on the dot! (She normally sleeps through the night so she must have heard mom and dad talking. Hehe.) We drove about three hours before stopping, and then only had about an hour to go!

Leaving either really late or really early also helps you avoid traffic, because who wants to be in the car any longer than they have to? Plus, our little lady starts to stir whenever the car stops moving.


If you’re breastfeeding and have a slow eater like my daughter, who can sometimes take 45 minutes or even longer to eat, one solution is to bring a bottle of breast milk. That way your baby can drink it at your first stop and you can pump in the car when you hit the road again. Obviously, that works only if you are open to giving your baby a bottle. Another option is to pump in the car just before stopping and put it right into a bottle. This is a great way to expedite a feed.

Also, whenever we’d head out and about to sightsee, I’d bring a bottle with us. I’m a little shy about breastfeeding in public and haven’t quite mastered using a cover. So during the drive back from our destination, I would pump. That way I didn’t feel like I was wasting precious vacation time hooked up to a machine.

I’m lucky enough that my husband has an electrical outlet built into his car, but if you don’t have one, you can also purchase an adapter.


While a car serves as a nice white noise machine during drives, it’s good to have one on hand to help baby sleep peacefully during naps as well as overnight.

My favorite is the Hatch Sound Machine, but if you’re planning on using it in the car, it requires an outlet. I have heard good things about the battery operated Rohm.


Our trip to Maine consisted mostly of hanging out at our family vacation house with small jaunts to visit town or eat. So to make the most of those outings, we would leave the house as baby was getting sleepy. As mentioned earlier, we find the lull of the car helps put her to sleep (typically after a bit of crying). Once asleep, she would stay down long enough for us walk around and sometimes even eat a full meal out.


Speaking of eating out, we would usually try to dine at off hours — typically a late lunch or early dinner. That way we’d be less likely to bother other diners if our little lady started getting fussy. Thankfully for other vacationers, she mostly saved that for when we got home.


This may seem obvious, but it was so helpful having blankets on hand. We would spread out blankets indoors, outdoors — wherever we wanted to play with baby. It’s also helpful to throw a few in the car. That way, if you’re out and about, baby can stretch her legs as well as have some play time.


Obvious, but diapers, wipes, burp clothes, muslin blankets, anything you use on a daily basis. Babies are messy. Nuff said.


I had purchased a bunch of IKEA Skubb box sets to organize items in Grace’s nursery dresser drawers. I also purchased a bunch of extra ones to use around the house. So when I was packing things up for our trip, I just threw items directly in there. I had a larger box for toys and books, a smaller box for pacifiers, and a medium box for baby health items. It was so much easier to see the items in the boxes versus rummaging through a suitcase to find them.

What are your tips for traveling with a baby? I’d love to hear them! Cause this whole parenting thing basically wouldn’t be possible without tips and tricks from those who previously survived mom and dad life. 😉

Oh, and one last thing about traveling with baby: Don’t be a afraid … just do it! After our trip, my husband and I feel so much more confident about going out to eat and taking our daughter out and about for the day.

Now we’re looking forward to our next big adventure in the fall to Florida/Mississippi. But this time, we’ll be flying to our destination, which is a whole other ballgame!

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