Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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Tips for traveling for the weekend with a baby or toddler

I had the idea for this post more than a year ago when, first weekend in March 2020, we took a little weekend trip to a beach rental with some of Jason‘s friends. We brought Otto along and used a few practices I’ve been using on other trips, and I wanted to share my tips with you guys! But then a week later, everything shut down for COVID and nobody was traveling so I didn’t think it would be that helpful! Well, now it’s even more complicated because we have a 9-month-old as well! We recently did our first trip with both of them and it went well! Sharing a few tips for making traveling was little kids much easier! 

Tips for making mini-vacations with babies and kids easier

Plan to stop often 

Shorter road trips are doable! We’ve done several drives/road trips with the kids, 1 to 6 hours long. This most recent trip to Central Oregon was about 3 1/2 or 4 hours if you don’t stop, but with little kids and a breastfeeding baby we had to stop off a few times and each stop was pretty long. It took us more than 6 hours to get there the first day and we were so exhausted. (Some of that was shopping for groceries once we got into town, but still.) Wouldn't want to do much more driving than that in one day.

We’ve done a couple short trips with Otto right after he potty trained and it went really well, we just had to stop often. Also is much easier with boys to pee pretty much anywhere, so we have definitely done a couple of "outside pees." Now he's old enough (just turned 3) and experienced enough with going potty he even tells us, "Don't pee in the car."

Bring familiar things from home (but not too many) 

I think this is probably the hardest thing about traveling with kids: weighing how much to bring! The checklist of last-minute things to pack is pretty long when they use or play with some essentials every day (white noise machine, lovey stuffed animal, breast pump for me, etc.). Their bags also get full pretty fast with sleep sacks, crib sheet for the Pack 'n Play, diapers, and wipes. 

Definitely research the place before hand; the easiest places to stay are the ones that already have some kid stuff. We stayed at this Airbnb in Central Oregon and they had a Pack 'n Play, high chair, baby gate, plastic dishes, and a bunch of toys and books that made things so much easier. We put Lucy in the Pack 'n Play in the master bedroom closet and made a bed for Otto and one of the bedrooms. I brought a sheet for the Pack 'n Play just in case but other than that, didn’t have to bring much. I also brought some toys and books, like we do when we visit Jason‘s grandma, but thankfully this Airbnb had a bunch that we could play with which were way more exciting for Otto because they were new to him! 

Set up a nursery just like at home

On baby sleep setups: We own a Pack 'n Play we've set up in hotel bathrooms, grandparents' spare closet, etc. for Otto just to get him a private sleep space. Whatever works!!! This long closet was great and we unpacked Lucy's bag here too and set up a little diaper changing station with wipes, disposable diapers for the drive home, and cloth diapers which we used while at the house (we could do laundry there). Most of those makeshift nursery spaces don't have windows and most bedrooms at a hotel or Airbnb will have blackout curtains, but this window's blind wasn't very light-blocking so we draped a blanket over it from the rod to the hooks. You can also take aluminum foil on any window to make it darker in there. 

We plugged her white noise machine in in the hall right outside the closet and just put it on the floor by the diapers. 

This closet was right off our bedroom, so convenient and only we could hear her if she cried (and funny story, the toilet was right on the other side of the closet wall by the Pack n' Play so we quickly learned it was probably best not to use it while she was trying to go to sleep!). 

This was the first time Otto had slept in a bed other than a crib or Pack 'n Play, and we only recently took off the side rail of his crib at home. He fell out the first night at home so we put a bumper under the sheet (an old foam roller cut in half), but you can make one out of yoga mats or rolled up towels. The Airbnb we stayed at had yoga mats and even a foam roller so I put some on either side of the bed and he slept happily and safely!

I laid his sleep sack out just like at home, and he prefers a small blanket so we gave dual purpose to the one we used for Lucy in the car. We put his white noise machine on the side table just out of this shot.

Stick to a similar routine, but don't stress about it

It's basically impossible to do any more than an hour drive without hitting a nap when you have a 2+-nap/day baby. And Otto still naps (2-4pm) but unless you leave real early, it's not possible to do a 6-hour drive before that and still nap at the destination on time. 

Lucy fell asleep in the car a couple times both drives, but Otto didn't and skipped his nap the first travel day. Then next couple days of the trip we scheduled activities where Lucy could sleep in the baby carrier while we walked around the High Desert Museum, and we got back in time for afternoon naps at the Airbnb.

We kept bedtime and morning wake-up times the same as at home. Naps just won't be as long or good but I dunno, our kids didn't seem too stressed out or acting up this trip despite starting it with a travel day of bad or no daytime sleep. I imagine adding that up over a few days could get to them, but sticking with regular nighttime sleep and naps when possible helps!

Just don't stress in general

The few days leading up to the trip are hard and of course it's always nice to have a day or half day off when you get home before going back to work. They say traveling with kids isn't relaxing; it's just parenting somewhere else. Which is true. But we had enough downtime while on our trip that we did feel a break from the routines of our busy weeks and weekends. I enjoyed having NO plans the first whole day, and just some easy sightseeing the second (three nights). 

Hope these tips are helpful and hope you get some nice time off even with kids!

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