Road Trippin’ With A 6 Month Old: A Parent’s Guide To Sanity

Does the thought of driving for 17 or more hours with a 6 month old screaming in the backseat unrelentlessly in the middle of an Arizona summer sound like the scariest story ever told (just in time for Halloween)? Well I don’t blame you, that does sound scary, but luckily this is not that tale. This is the tale of one of the funnest, most relaxed vacations my husband and I have taken in a long time, complete with a happy, bouncy baby living her best life the entire time. And now I’ll tell you how we did it…..

When one of my best friends invited us to stay at her parent’s cabin in Evergreen, Colorado I immediately said yes we’ll go! The impulsive YES was quickly followed by several days of panicky Oh NO’s as it began to dawn on me that A) flights are expensive and B) I have entirely NO idea how to travel on a plane with a tiny human. Lugging a caravan of bags and carseats and toys into the airport felt daunting and so I shifted my focus to the seemingly “easier” option of driving from Arizona to Colorado. Easy-peasey right? We’d already driven to San Diego several times with the baby. How hard could it be? As it turned out–not that hard. We wound up having THE BEST TIME and the baby was an absolute dream. Below are my best tips for road trippin’ with a baby in tow:

Be Flexible and Patient

If you take nothing else away from this guide remember these four words, be flexible and patient. Even if you normally have a Type-A personality, throw those traits out the window cause you won’t be using them on this trip sister. Your sanity will be best served by giving yourself and your family the flexibility to stop when you need to stop and detour when you need to detour and avoid sticking to some kind of rigid schedule. Rigidity sets you up for failure, flexibility sets you up for success. In being flexible with our timeline we stumbled upon great things like the best Thai food in a tiny town in southern Colorado and the entrance to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Had we been laser focused on some kind of schedule we would have missed out on these great memories with our little one. Secondarily from this is patience. Remember that it’s okay if your baby is fussy, it’s okay if they’re tired, it’s okay for everybody to be a little “off.” Be patient and soak in as much natural beauty that your eyes can handle while driving, it’ll give you peace of mind.

Travel With People You Actually Like

This is a big one–taking a long road trip is no walk in the park so it’s important to travel with friends or family who you actually get along with and LOVE spending time with (because you’ll be spending a LOT of close-knit time together while crammed into a crossover SUV). There’s nothing wrong with opting to meet your family at the destination or politely declining a ride with friends if you think it will bring on more stress. We were lucky enough to travel with my sister and brother-in-law who we not only adore but who are so helpful and loving with our baby that it was like having a second set of hands the entire trip.

Sit In The Backseat

Do you love your husband? Probably. Do you love your sanity more? Probably. If at all possible, try to sit in the backseat with the baby instead of up front with your significant other so you can quickly offer a pluggie, a bottle, a sweet cooing sound, etc. to keep your little one comfortable and happy. It sounds a little strange and you might feel a bit like a celebrity being carted around by your chauffeur husband but trust me, IT IS WORTH IT.

Keep Snacks, Baby Food, and Diapers Ready AT ALL TIMES

This one is pretty simple, keep enough snacks, diapers, formula, etc. in a separate bag with you rather than packed neatly away. You don’t want to have to pull over or hurl yourself over the back seat in a precarious position to hunt down a baby wipe while the driver speeds along at 90 mph. Even if you wind up doubling up on the stuff you’ve brought to keep one set free and readily available and one set packed away, do it.

Change And Feed Baby At Every Single Stop

Have you pulled over for gas? Is baby asleep? Are you afraid to wake her? Let me tell you right now, it doesn’t matter. Wake that tiny human. Get out that bottle. Wipe that butt. It’s tempting to let a sleeping baby sleep and all that jazz but it’s much easier to settle a recently fed baby than to ssssshhhhh away the blood curdling screams of a 6 month old in the middle of a New Mexican highway with no signs of civilization in sight.

Enjoy Every Minute

And last but certainly not least, enjoy every single minute of your trip. If you’re driving somewhere for vacation it’s probably the case that you’re seeing new sights and exploring new cities which is awesome! Make the most of this time with your family, it’s fleeting.

*One final pro tip: Don’t let your husband eat an entire bag of chicharrones in the car, he’ll fart you into oblivion. 

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Arches National Park, Moab, Utah Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Red Rocks Amphitheater