Traveling with kids – tips, trials and terrors

March 16, 2011

Jen is an environmental blogger at Jen and Joey Go Green. She blogs about the small day to day changes her and her husband Joe are making to reduce their impact on the environment. She is also Canadian which will mean there will be u’s in her words, the occasional use of the word ‘eh?’ and this silly thing called the ‘metric system’.

Joe and I knew we would want to continue traveling at the same pace when we had kids as we did before kids.  B is 18 months old now and we have taken several trips with him including Niagara Falls, New Jersey, camping and a cruise that left out of Ft. Lauderdale. Clearly we had lost our marbles when we decided it would be “smart” to drive to Florida (from Toronto) with a 6 month old. Here is what we learned on that trip.

My kid turns into a gremlin when he is in his carseat past 8PM.  He screams, he cries and he becomes a stinky poop machine.

Somehow he has figured out how to take up an entire king sized bed. I hugged the edge of that bed every single night.

People will judge you when you walk into a Cracker Barrel for lunch and your kid is still in his pj’s.  That is until they hear your sexy Canadian accent and realize you are one of the many crazy people making the trek to Florida with kids…..then suddenly you become a special brand of “normal”.

Breastfeeding becomes really interesting on the vacation. I nursed in Target parking lots, gas station parking lots, while sitting by the pool and on the beach. I pumped while we were driving down the highway.  The best experience was in Cracker Barrel. I took B to the bathroom to nurse but I also had to pee. What the hell am I supposed to do with a 6 month old that wants to eat NOW and my bladder is screaming at me to open the flood gates? And how on earth do I get my pants down when I am holding my kid? And where do I sit to nurse him when there is no lid on the toilet? So I stood and nursed him while doing the pee pee dance.

Do not trust technology! We had a GPS, we had our BlackBerry’s, we had printed directions from CAA and we had my vast experience from driving to Florida a million times as a kid.  We put our trust in the GPS and it led us horribly wrong on two occasions. The first being when we were trying to get from Port Canaveral to our hotel in Plantation FL. For some reason the GPS kept us on a street that followed the shore and not the highway that was just a few short miles away. The second time it led us astray was on our way home. The GPS defaults to no toll roads and we forgot to reset it when we started it up. So it took us up the east coast of Florida and Georgia before cutting across to Atlanta……all to avoid a 25 cent toll road. It tacked 2 hours onto our drive that day and caused the gremlin to make another appearance.

We have lots of great things to laugh at on our trips so far and can’t wait to take B to many more places. There are several things that we always bring with us when we travel that really are lifesavers.

Our baby carrier – we have a moby for when he was younger and now we have the Oh Snap. It is great for getting places that a stroller won’t go easily (the beach, on a trolley, hiking).

New toys – when you are going to be in the car for a long bringing some new toys and giving them out over time will really save your sanity.

Beach tent – we have the pea pod tent and it works great for naps on the beach or for hi to play in and not be in the sun.

A road bag – We pack a bag with just what we need for the road trip. This way we don’t have to bring our full suitcases into the hotel every night.



  • Amber

    March 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    We drove from San Francisco to Homer Alaska (over 3000 miles) with a 3 month old. It took us two weeks of driving almost every day. I nursed in the back seat anywhere we stopped and changed diapers on the seat because if there was a bathroom, it frequently didn’t have a changing station. I’ve never used so much hand sanitizer in my life. And I’m sure you can guess that our little one is still not a fan of being in the car. We must be crazy though, because we plan on doing it again. This time with two kids.

  • rose

    March 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    That is a great post. I love traveling and since we have a 5 year old and a 3 year old it has become a lot harder to do long car rides. I like to bring plenty of snacks with us and games, toys, and books. I bring my Ipad for emergency when they are getting really restless. I work for DISH Network and have the TV Everywhere option with them. I can access any of our DVR recordings and live TV shows from anywhere else. It will get the kids to calm down and put them to sleep if it’s getting late. It is a lifesaver.

    1. Jen

      March 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm

      It really is about keeping them busy! I remember as a kid we used to play all kinds of games in the car (I-Spy, license plate game etc). We always had a blast (except that one time we got stuck in a storm in Alabama and my brother had to pee into an icecream container in the seat behind me).

  • Samantha

    March 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Great post! We are big travelers as well, I never know what to do in the bathroom. Airplane ones are the WORST.

  • Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife

    March 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    We have yet to travel with our LO, but this has definitely given me some food for thought as well as a few laughs!

  • kim

    March 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

    The adult pee-pee dance. Not something to be missed. Also? I have nursed WHILE peeing. In my own home . . .what does that say about me?? Those were some seriously great tips — the gremlin? LOVE!!

    1. Jen

      March 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

      At least it was while pooping!

  • Alexia

    March 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

    And I thought I was crazy for bringing a 12 month old on a 10 hour road trip. You are a brave woman!!

    Great tips Jen! We bring a new toy and pack just a hotel bag (in plastic grocery bags since the bed bug scare). But here’s a tip for the potty situation. Bring your wrap/carrier with you into any restaurant/rest stop/bathroom situation. That way you can two hands to pull up your pants and wash your hands. Learned that one on the train to Chicago…

    Happy Trails!

    1. Jen

      March 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

      Great tip about the carrier! I totally should have done that and saved myself a lot of grief that way (including have to hand him off to someone so I could wash my hands and then hearing her tell me that I am clearly overfeeding him because he has kickassawesome arm rolls)

      1. Alexia

        March 16, 2011 at 9:28 am

        This really nice lady on the train told me she always wore yoga pants and her Baby Bjorn on every trip. So the next train trip I planned ahead, and, it was SO much easier. And screw the stranger and her judging. Arm rolls are healthy and delicious!! I miss my little one’s arm rolls!

        1. Jen

          March 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

          You know what else is delicious? Leg rolls. I could nom them all day long!

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