Do bring extra clothes
When traveling by car, you’re likely to have suitcases with extra clothes for your destination. Great, but do you want to be digging through suitcases in a gas station parking lot after baby spits up or has a blowout? Nope.
Having clothes easily accessible will save time and stress if you or baby need to make a quick change.
Do plan to stop more often
Is there a specific time that you need to arrive at your destination? If so, work backward to determine when you should leave, building in plenty of time for stops.
When breastfeeding on road trips, it’s important to consider the age of your baby. Very young babies will need to nurse every 2-3 hours, while older babies don’t nurse as often. Think about how long your baby nurses for, and figure that into your plan. And, then build in extra time for a diaper change, which often happens with a breastfed infant.
Your baby needs to be in a car seat anytime the vehicle is moving, so take that into account even if you are not the driver. Think about stretch breaks, too.
You may be tempted to drive straight through to your destination or drive for longer periods of time, especially if you have a very young infant. Here’s something you might not have thought of. You need to get out of that seatbelt from time to time. The pressure exerted on a lactating breast can be a setup for a plugged duct.
Frequent stops will also help you to stay alert and not drive when you’re overtired.
Do bring snacks and food
I don’t know about you, but I get cranky when I’m hungry! And I’d say the same goes for children, regardless of age.
Older babies will need easy-to-eat snacks to keep them satiated between meals.
I like to pack healthy snacks and even meals for car trips to avoid pulling through drive-thrus. Give a little thought to some easy-to-pack foods in a cooler.
Good example could include cubes of cheese, cut fruit, dry cereals, and one of my personal favorites, ebars. You can even put hummus in the bottom of a jar and add carrot sticks or celery ribs vertically. It’s a great snack when you have a stretch break at a rest area. When breastfeeding on road trips, think about easy snacks and meals to keep you fueled.
If you’re pumping and bringing stored milk with you, I wrote an entire post on how to travel with milk!
Do bring water
I can almost hear you saying, “Nooooo. I don’t want to stop for a restroom!”
But think about this. If you’re lactating, that means you’re losing fluid from your body. The human body requires a delicate balance of intake and output. If you’re not taking in enough water, you experience a throbbing headache, constipation, brain fog, joint pain, and more.
Lactating women commonly experience thirst with a let-down. So be sure you pack some water.
Don’t assume you’ll have access to electricity
If you plan on pumping, you may think that you can just plug into your car’s USB port or auxiliary power. But remember that if your car isn’t running, you’ll be draining the battery. Or worse yet, what if you break down?
Don’t feel the need to pack light
Unlike air travel, with road trips, you have a little more room to bring along more.
When breastfeeding on road trips, think about what you might need in addition to what you must have.
In addition to your pump, bring extra parts.
Sure, an umbrella stroller takes up less space, but if your baby is more comfortable in a larger stroller, consider your travel circumstances when deciding what to bring.
Pack extra food and water for everyone. Delays can and do happen. Should you find yourself on the side of the road broken down, or stuck in endless traffic, you’ll be happy to have extra food and water.
Bring extra diapers! Whatever you think might be enough, bring a little more.
Don’t feel daunted by the thought of a road trip, regardless of distance. A family road trip can be very rewarding and memorable, for a variety of reasons! Plan ahead and hit the open road! Read my top tips for taking a road trip with a nursing baby for more ideas to make the trip as easy as possible!
Is a car trip in the future for you? What are your favorite tips and tricks for breastfeeding on road trips?