We're about to spend two months road-tripping with our baby

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Would this work? By: torbakhopperCC BY 2.0
I'm about to embark on a two-month road trip with my husband, seven-month-old baby, and our two 90-pound dogs. We'll be living out of our car and tent hiking and camping across the United States. We decided to test the boundaries of what having a baby in your life means and want to introduce him to the world early. My husband and I used to travel in our car for a couple months at a time (pre-baby), so why stop now?

We have tons of questions (can we hose the baby off when we hose the dog off?) and would love any tidbits of advice fellow Offbeat families might have.

Have any of you lived out of your car with a baby? How did it go? — Melissa

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  1. if you were to roadtrip with a baby now is a good time. Well, imho, under 6 months is the best time when you are breastfeeding – no need to think or bring anything food related, just yourself ๐Ÿ™‚ Under-1s still usually snooze on car journeys (my toddler screams now…), light enough to be carried in a carrier or backpack, happy just observing and hanging out with parents. Enjoy! x

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  2. Our sons first camping trip was at 4 months old. Camping while they are under two is really no big deal. It is when they are learning to use the toilet rather than diapers that makes it less easy (car rides while learning to use the toilet equals a stressed out kid). Baby wearing and breast feeding were our best friends for camping and traveling. Though you do have to make more nursing pit stops than potty breaks. Keeping a small bucket or a large bowl making cleaning the baby up a snap and having a good diaper rash cream are my two best pieces of advice. Best of luck on your travels!!

    2 agree
  3. Our biggest challenge in road tripping with a baby thus far has been timing. Driving long distances when my son would like to be playing and moving around is not optimal. He is very agreeable but only wants to look out the window or play in the carseat for so long. Our last big trip was from SC to VA when he was 7 months. We are about to travel again for a 12 hour trip and we plan to leave at night when he would normally be settling into his crib. Hopefully it will work out in a way that gas stops coordinate with nursing/diaper changing stops. Another great thing we learned is the art of side of the road/parking lot picnics. Bring a big blanket, mom/dad food, baby food, and a few toys and you can create playtime on demand in the most unlikely of areas!

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  4. look up children's libraries, children's museums, playgrounds (malls can be a good source of indoor playgrounds) etc along your route so your little one has a chance to explore and play every day. check into a museum membership, they often come with reciprocal benefits (for example, our local science museum membership gets us into science museums all around the US).

    make sure the amount of time spent in the car is broken up. your baby's going to need 2-3 hours every day to play around the floor/ground, and extended time in a car seat isn't good, neither physically nor developmentally.

    6 agree
  5. We haven't done any continuous road trips, but have made many, many 4-6 hour drives and a few 9 hour trips. We've been doing this since she was 3 months; she's now 18 months and is a great traveler. Our daughter loves the journey as long as there is lots of music. Our dog often travels with us, providing good baby company.
    I would also add that http://www.localharvest.org/ is a great place to find healthy grocers/co-ops, farms/farmstands along the road.

    1 agrees
  6. Our son will be 4 in September and each summer we pack the prius for eight weeks and head around the country for adventures with our two 45 lb dogs in tow(both my husband and I teach- and I teach online in the summers). Things that have worked for us:
    -unless seriously dirty, the child gets washed about once a week
    -especially as he gets older taking along his favorite pieces of his bedroom have helped him be ready to sleep anywhere
    -he has a routine focused on events rather than times of day (eat lunch, take a rest) sometimes this happens at 11, sometimes at 3
    -if you have family or friends who want to dog sit for a week or two it can be a nice reprieve mid travels
    -wilder has been handling 13 hour car trips since he was 3 months so now it's the norm– but find an hours/day that is happy for everyone. Pre baby 15 hours was no big deal– now 10 makes everyone happier
    –as he got older i had to think outside what had been the standard car food snack arena. His favorites: plain aldente Bowie pasta, shelled edamame, croissants with peanut butter smears.
    –the "your doing what?!!?"s from family start to turn into "I wish we had done that"s after the second or third year.
    –occasional separate adventures have been a must for our sanity. Every so many days my husband will drop me at a coffee shop for a nice long zoning session while he and small pod have their own adventure– and vice versa.
    –I thought I had gotten rid of lots of "shoulds" I got rid of a lot more our first summer on the road.

    I hope you all have a great adventure!! We're 3 weeks in on our ten week tour of the country this summer ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Don't know if you use cloth or disposable diapers, but if you use cloth, I recommend taking flats and a camp-style bucket washer.
    Also, take lots of baby wipes! Camping is DIRTY.

    2 agree
  8. You're doing it right! Start traveling early, so that it's the normal. Our 4 year old is a champ traveler – no need for DVD or video games. He entertains himself innumerable ways. We now have an 8 month old too and the only headache we have is mobility. Crawling in the dirt & putting everything in his mouth. A pack n play or chair to strap a Little in is nice to have.

  9. I am always SUPER intrigued by these kinds of posts. I'd love nothing better than to take a month or two off to travel around the country. Actually, it's been a dream of mine for decades! I just wonder, though, how on Earth do people pay for this sort of thing? I mean, other than the extremely fortunate ones who can pay for their travel via blog funding (insert whole new batch of questions that would stray this quest into eighteen different directions), how do "regular" people fund this sort of adventure?

    5 agree
    • My husband is a high school teacher and until this past year I was only teaching as an adjunct–

      We have one car– a Prius–so fuel expenses are relatively minimal. We are fortunate to have lots of family and friends spread around the country, so it's easy to intersperse camping with real beds. BLM land, National Forests, and Wilderness areas cost much less for camping fees and are usually less crowded. We budget very carefully and are selective with eating out. Lunch is less expensive, so if we want to try some local food we usually do that midday. Motel 6 is our go to motel, and the refinished ones are quite nice. This summer we are going to try out airbnb on our dog-free time. IDK if that answers any of your questions? I'm happy to share specific budget numbers if your curious.

      1 agrees
  10. When I was a toddler and my brother was a baby, we went on a camping trip. I don't personally remember, but my mom tells me it was a living hell. My baby brother cried non-stop for the entire 9 hour drive. So this isn't really advice, but more like me saying that I really hope this doesn't happen to you. Good luck!

    1 agrees
    • This was me as a baby. I cried nonstop on a 8 hour road trip. Some children just do not like the car.

  11. My sister did this when my nephew was 6 weeks old. In fact, her husband used up his paternity leave to do it! They camped the whole way and had a great time. They just made sure they had a reliable vehicle with AC, since they were going to be in the south alot. My husband and I were happy to trade our newer car for their car for the couple of months.

  12. what an awesome thing to do! we've been considering doing this over the winter months when my husband is off work. (We have a 3 and 5yr old so playground breaks area MUST every few hours). I wouldnt worry about bath time this young. Baby wipes are sufficient in between deep cleanings.
    if any one can point me in the direction of logistically and legally living out of a car (specifcally in Cali) or perhaps farm working with houseing would be awesome.
    i think you guys will do great and figure it out as you go…babes are adaptable most of the time.

  13. Don't underestimate the power of a McDonald's Play Place mid drive. You can take your own snack and grab some water. They are a goldmine to cramped, bored kids; don't hesitate to use them.

    Edit: I just reread that your kiddo is only 7 months. So… not applicable yet, but one day ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. The best bit of advice for bathing baby is to have one of those storage totes. While in the car it can hold needed supplies, but when at a camp site you can fill it with water and give the kiddo a fun tub to splash around… not only that but you can totally do it whilst hosing off the dogs!

  15. I have no advice, but we're about to do the same thing! We'll be on the road for six weeks at the end of the summer. Ours is partially a research trip (grant funded) and partially to bring him to see friends. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one schlepping a baby cross country this summer. I have no idea how mine will like the car as his only other car trip so far has been home from the hospital in February.

    1 agrees

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