We traveled from San Diego to Vancouver, Washington. Without stopping, Google maps predicted it would be a 16 hour trip. Aside from the occasional bathroom break and meal or two, we planned to tackle the drive in one trip. Here's what we did to prep.
Packed a car kit. We have a compact car. And with the stroller in the trunk, we knew it was going to be packed to the brim. I wanted easy access to anything we may need while on the road, so I took an empty diaper box, cut off the flaps, and stuffed it with potential necessities like: paper towel, toilet paper, tissue, baby wipes, Burt's Bees face & hands wipes, lotion, lavender and muscle relaxing lotion (anxiety), hand sanitizer, extra bottles, band aids, Tylenol, baby spoons, baby nail clippers, and eye drops. I was happy to have all that I packed, but I was especially happy that I remembered the hand sanitizer. I'm not one to have it on me at all times, but when on a plane or on the road for hours I like having it with me. And some of those rest stops were out of soap...
Got Ella a new toy. Ella was starting to grow out of the couple toys she had, so we decided to get a new toy and save it for the road. It occupied her for the last couple legs of the trip.
Prepped for the "what if's". Usually, we're told not to worry about the "what if's". But as parents, we have to think about them. What if we get stuck in traffic for hours? What if my kid spits up everywhere? You get the idea. I packed extra bottles, food, diapers, changes of clothes. And it paid off. On the way back, we were stuck in hours of stop and go traffic. It took us almost 10 hours longer to get home than it took us to get Washington.
Planned to leave at night. Since we wanted to make the drive in one trip, we planned to leave around Ella's bedtime. We got on the road around 9PM, she fell asleep, and she woke up at 6:30AM. By the time she woke up, we were in Northern California. We freshened up, grabbed breakfast, and got back on the road.
Found a podcast. I had heard a million good things about the new podcast Serial. We decided to wait to start listening until we were on the road. If you've listened, you know this is an excellent podcast. It kept us well entertained for a good nine hours.
All of these things helped to make the trip go smoothly. And the low gas prices?! Icing on the cake. Overall, it was a great experience, we'd make the trip again, and we've already talked about doing so.
(Something I didn't do that I wish I would have is prepare for the last hour. After 19 hours in the car, you're not a happy camper. You're tired, hungry. And so is your baby. But you're so close to your destination that you don't want to make another stop to eat. Pack a little treat, make sure you're in arms reach of deodorant, bring a baby treat your kid likes. Do something that will get you through the final stretch. And then reward yourself with a hot shower and some delicious take out.)