Quick tips for your upcoming road-trip

Kudos to all the parents taking a road trip with your tots this summer. We love parents that travel at TitterTot. We recently drove to Boston with Devam – our now 2 year old son. Devam is a particularly good travel buddy, we sang “Jingle Bells” – yes that is his favorite, I made up stories, we passed by a deer that got him terribly excited to see more animals along the way (which did not happen) and we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts as he was curious about donuts (thanks to all the billboards along the way). He surely didn’t like the donuts, did not want to have lunch, but was happy to just chow down his Goldfish and take an hour nap. Right about 45 minutes before we got to Boston my wonderful boy turned into a voracious, insatiable bazoo. Nemo (the movie) saved us and we made it to Boston in great spirits.

Tools to ensure a fun ride

It is such a challenge to take long road trips with kids, but here are some ideas that could make it fun for all and keep the fuss out:

1)    Keeping your tot entertained:

  • Take music that your tot enjoys, you can sing-along
  • Take books that your tot can read/flip & books that others can read to the tot
  • Take favorite toys. Travel accessories made by companies like Ben-Bat are great to keep your tot entertained.
  • Take media players like a DVD player (when patience runs extremely thin) or an iPad. You can find a case for the iPad that attaches to the back of the front passenger seat, so your tot can watch movies on it.
  • Pre-select good spots to stop at E.g.: Playgrounds with jungle gyms where you can take a break during your trip, farms, rest-stops etc.
  • In regards to snacks, take low calorie and high protein snacks that will not fill her/him up and keep her/him light and happy
  • Install a baby car mirror so you can keep an eye on your tot while driving. Safety 1st makes a good car mirror

2)    Keeping your tot comfortable: No matter what age they are, they need to be comfortable for a long ride. If your tot is still riding in his car-seat make sure that he is comfortable in terms of the seats recline position, make sure his harness is snug and loose and that he can look outside the window. If you are traveling during summer, cover the seat with a cotton sheet to make sure your tot is not hot. Keep the sun out – use a window shade. Keep it cool in the car. Make sure your tot has his favorite nap-time lovee with him to keep company, be it a blanket, Elmo or big bird.

3)    Nursing:  If you are still nursing, you will need to make frequent stops unless you have a substitute driver on the trip. If you do have a substitute driver you might be able to pump and feed. Getting your tot on a predictable nursing schedule will help you on your car trip.

4)    Eating out + Celiac disease: I will suggest carrying pre-packaged baby foods based on your tot’s eating stage and foods that usually suit her/him. It might be best to not take a chance with foods prepared in random restaurants along the way especially if your tot suffers from Celiac disease. You can also pre-select restaurants along the way that work best for everyones appetite, we don’t want upset stomachs (be it your tot or yourself) on a long car ride.

5)    Keeping it clean: Between kids, pets, friends and family traveling in your car, keeping it clean is a challenge. Carry spill free drinking and snack containers (snack traps are a great option). Make sure you are traveling with garbage bags and wipes. Take a break for meals to keep the crumbs and the smell out. And let your tots carry their own back-packs so all their toys can be stored in there. We will write a more detailed blog on this shortly.

I often travel to Boston, which is a 4-5 hour trip with my 2-year-old son, I take off around his bed-time (6:30PM) and am able to get to Boston while he is still napping. If you are going to be traveling for longer hours you should not drive late nights for your and your tot’s safety, but you could travel a part of the way while your tot is napping, take a break at a hotel along the way and travel the rest early in the morning. It always helps to avoid traveling during your tot’s lunch or dinner hours.

I hope that all you parents traveling with your tots you have a fabulous time and wishing you a safe journey.

Let us know if this was helpful, leave us a comment below.

Staying in a hotel, B&B or renting a house this summer? You must read this.

With spring setting in and as we get ready for summer, we all are (I hope all my fellow moms are) either traveling or getting ready to travel with our tots. You have packed all the necessities and gathered all your gear. You have made sure that you are carrying all the necessary medicines and prescriptions so your tot (and you) can combat any sickness on the trip. Despite of this, the last thing we want is us or our tot/s getting sick from viral infection that lasts more than a week. If you are planning to stay in a hotel, a B&B or renting a house this summer with your tot/s you must be aware of hidden germs in rooms. The 2006 ABC News video discusses how 90% of travelers are surprised by cleanliness in rooms .

As the video suggests we could take simple precautions by doing a quick housekeeping service of our own before you settle in your hotel room. Trust me this took me less than 10 minutes to do:

  • Carry antibacterial wipes, before your tot/s enter the room, wipe down all the accessible table tops (side tables, coffee tables, desks, TV stands, shelves, bathroom counter-tops). If you see dust on your wipes on the first surface you clean, you want to be a little more detailed in your clean-up process
  • Wipe down the remotes and video game console gear (if your tot is a video game junkie like me)
  • Wipe down the handles on the room, the bathroom, the doors/drawers
  • Wipe down the toilet seat
  • Do your own turndown service, take off the heavy bedspread, store it away in the closet where your tot cannot access it. Put away all the decorative pillows, they have probably been gathering dust for a while
  • Make sure you and your tot/s are not walking barefoot in the hotel room, keep socks or slippers on at all times
  • Carry hand sanitizer and make sure your tot/s are sanitize their hands before enjoying a gluttonous meal
  • Rinse the drinking glasses, or bring your own disposable drinking glasses
  • If you are traveling with very young tots, please bring your own sheets and a light blanket

With this basic housekeeping you can keep ensure that all members of the family are safe and healthy during your stay.

Also review the TripAdvisor.com list of Top 10 dirtiest hotels in America for the current year and make sure that you are not staying at one of them. This list is culled from reviews written by real travelers. The news report from ABC News includes the 2011 list of the dirtiest hotels and a short helpful video on personal housekeeping.

Happy travels and do share your experiences with us on TitterTot.

Flying with your infant made easier – great video by Health Science Channel.

I wish I had seen the instructional video below prior to planning my first on-board trip with my son. Now having taken a few flights with my son, I find this video extremely accurate in terms of pre-planning the trip, taking all the necessary medical steps before getting on a flight. The only piece I find missing is about maintaining hygiene at all time while on-board.

Chris you can do it! – Basic advice for parents traveling with tot less than 1 year old

After failing on my attempts to install a plug-in on my word-press site I hopped into my friend Gagan’s officeto see if they had a magic wand to make this happen. While showing him my blog, his colleague Chris expressed how he and his wife cannot imagine traveling with their child. Now if you have seen, met or talked to Chris, you like me would have thought that he was barely 18, I could not have imagined him being married or for that matter being a dad. I might need to find out his secret to looking young, fit and always so very energetic.

I am writing this blog post for Chris and for many others that have just given up on the thought of traveling once they have children.

Traveling early on has huge pay-offs (4 months – 1 Year)

Timing it

While most of us cannot time the stock markets right, you can time your travel with your new-born or your toddler to make sure an overall pleasant experience. If you have just had a child, congratulations, it might just be easier to travel with your tot when they are between 4 months to 1-year-old. Reasons:

  1. By 4 months you and your child would have established a natural sleep and feeding cycle, so your day is quiet predictable now
  2. This early on, your child is mostly likely dependent on mother’s milk or on formula which is easy to carry with you wherever you go. Baby foods come in nice compact jars or no-mess squeeze pouches
  3. Your car seats will fit in any size car, most seats in airplanes and with a GoGo Travel mate you will be able to convert your car seat into a stroller so you wont have to carry a separate one with you
  4. Your tot is not very mobile and you will be in control
  5. With a baby carrier like the Ergo Baby carrier or the Baby Bjorn, you can stroll with your tot in ease
  6. Cost savings: Your tot will travel for free for long airplane journeys. Many friends have traveled to otherwise expensive-to-get-to locations like Hawaii before their tots turned 1.5 to 2 years old

Gear 

When traveling with a much younger tot you are most likely to carry very little gear, things I would take with me:

  1. A carry-all diaper bag or substitute with a roomy back-pack
  2. Rear-facing car seat
  3. Go Go Travel-mate
  4. A light travel crib – many companies make these, but check out the Kidco PeaPod or the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

If you are traveling to a hotel/B&B/resort call in advance to see if they can provide with a cot. If you can, inquire in detail on the make, model, year of manufacturing to make sure that you can trust the quality and safety of the cot. If you are satisfied – don’t carry the travel crib with you. I would still carry your own sheets and a small pillow for your tot.

Nursing on the Go

If you are breast-feeding, you can take the following with you:

  1. A stylish nursing cover to nurse in peace no matter where you are
  2. Burp cloths and wipes

If you are bottle-feeding then you need to carry a few extra items:

  1. A. If you are bottle-feeding mothers milk, you need can rent or buy a small and lightweight breast pump, Medela’s Freestyle pump is a great option. It comes with 4-5 oz storing containers and a tote with cooling elements
  2. If you are feeding formula, based on “the number of ounces your tot drinks in a day” x “the number of days you are traveling”, you might want to carry as much supply of formula with you in your bags. If you can buy this brand of formula at your destination, just carry enough for the journey. In your diaper bag you can carry a powder formula dispenser
  3. You need to carry bottles and disposable bottle feeders are a great option. With the Playtex’s Drop-in system you can avoid carrying multiple bottles and save a lot of time on cleaning
  4. You will still need to sterilize spare-parts of your breast pump, nipples of the bottles and small items like pacifiers. For this you can carry microwave sterilizer bags that are compact and can be used multiple times on a trip. Most hotels are very willing to take your items in this bag and sterilize it in the microwave for you
  5. Burp cloths and wipes

As you can see if you travel with your tot while he is breast-feeding you will be carrying less gear and spend more time having fun.

Feeding on the go (here is an excerpt for my prior blog)

In regards to solids, it’s best to research before-hand to see if you can rely on solid baby foods available at your destination. Research organic processed baby food products that could be available. Many of us would consider carrying food processors etc. to prepare our own baby foods on the go. But this can get rather cumbersome. Focus on the solids available at your destination that you could rely on. Also let your tot enjoy more local foods like cheese and yogurts (as long as they are organic).

If you don’t have an option for solid foods at your destination, travel with non-perishable, easy to carry solids like oatmeal packets, rice cereal packaged in small ziploc for individual feedings or the newly available squeeze food products available from companies like Plum Tots, Happy Baby, GoGo Squeez. You could always rely on easily available fruits – bananas, apples, avocados etc. If your child likes these fruits it will be easy and stress-free for you.

Other things to think about

At this early age, parents are generally concerned about tots being allergic to certain compounds in clothing, soaps, lotions etc. You will prefer carrying products you trust and use on an every-day basis. Check in advance if these products are available in shops at your destination, if yes, carry fewer items.

  1. Clothing: Take appropriate units of onesies, pajamas and outfits based on the several changes you generally do in a day. If you are going for a longer break to a destination where you can wash your tots clothing take a small container of detergent with you and less units of clothes
  2. Bathing: Towel, soap, lotion. Take travel-size containers. If you are traveling in big car, take your bathing tub, but I generally kept it to giving sponge baths on the go
  3. Diapers and wipes by most companies/brands are available everywhere, in case of doubt, carry as many as you can. This will take up most room in your bags
  4. Medicine: Always carry your tots medicine in your handbag and not in your luggage. Carry extra supply of your tot’s medicines with extra prescription. Also make sure you have a list of local providers at your travel destination.

While all this might look/sound overwhelming, if you are organized in your approach, you can get all this packed in an hour or so. I would make a list of all you need before hand, shop for everything you don’t have and gather everything before you start packing. Keep the most critical items, like diapers and formula, most accessible (at the top of the bag) and the rest below.

Once you take a trip, you will see how much fun it is to take a break with your tot. A change of air is as important for you as it is for your little bundle of joy.