Road Trips with Baby Tips

Read these 12 Road Trips with Baby Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Baby Travel tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What cities are good to visit with kids?

The City Trip

The city trip is a good bet because you'll have access to everything you need at your destination, and you have a multitude of infant friendly places and activities to choose from. You can be the tourist and go sight seeing or live like one of the locals and immerse yourself in a neighborhood for a week. So where does one go for a city trip? We like the major cities that let Moms and Dads walk out on the town with their infants. It's a great way to explore. Here are some suggestions for our two favorite baby city spots: New York and San Francisco.

New York – New York is jam packed with restaurants and shops on nearly every corner and block – all within walking distance of your stay. Take your stroller with you and explore with your infant. Stay at the Doubletree Guest Suites, which has two-room suites that are perfect for families. Besides the fact that cribs, strollers, and childproofing is offered, you can just walk out and stroll by landmarks like Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center.

San Francisco – Older children and toddlers will enjoy visits to Golden Gate Park where they can enjoy the gardens, ponds, and ducks. A stay at The W San Francisco is worth your while, if you're traveling here. You don't have to sacrifice style at this swanky hotel that just happens to be part of a family friendly group of W Hotels. Cribs and references for babysitting services are available upon request.

Helpful Hint : To find everything and anything there is to do in a city with kids, visit and go to the city you'll be visiting. They've got indoor activities, outdoor activities, classes, museums, and seasonal event listed by an age appropriate category. It's a great way to plan your trip or find something spontaneous to do.

How do I get a better deal on rental cars when I travel?

How To Snag A Rental Car Upgrade

If you're planning on renting a car to get around while traveling, you probably want to know how you can get the most bang for your buck. After all, you don't want to spend all your funds on airfare and hotel accommodations, only to end up paying several hundred dollars for a rental car that can actually fit everyone, the car seat, and the luggage. You can get a free rental car upgrade just by knowing what to book and when. And you don't have to ask for it.

The best way to get a free upgrade is by booking the most popular model of car during the busiest time of the week. If you can deal with the economy class, book that one, since it's the cheapest and one of the first cars to be overbooked. Rental car companies will give you often give you a free upgrade if the car class you booked or sometimes the model you requested is not available. Here's the deal:

  • Rental car companies tend to overbook the car reservations and economy models are the first to go.
  • The most popular models of cars tend to be gone before the other models.
  • If you're traveling to a major city, you can get an upgrade during the middle of the day and early in the week. That's when a lot of business travelers tend to have rental cars.
  • If you're going to a resort destination, the best time to get an upgrade is on a Saturday afternoon, when most of their economy models are rented.

What do I need to consider if I’m traveling by train with my baby?

Railway Travel Basics

Once you've decided that train travel is your vacation of choice with your infant, you'll need to start thinking about the logistics. With train travel, you do have trade-offs to traveling by car. You don't have the flexibility of leaving, stopping, and going as you would if you were driving your own vehicle. However, you have the freedom of spending your time observing the landscape and exploring the train with your infant. Your infant might last for six hours stuck on a train, but you wouldn't be able to do that in a car – at least not very well. With that in mind, here are some railway travel basics you'll need to consider when you're going with baby.

  • The fare for train travel can be relatively affordable, if you're doing a short railway trip and traveling coach. Kids under 2 share an adult seat and don't pay a fare.
  • However, if you're going on an extended trip, you'll likely want to book your own sleeper accommodations on the train. With Amtrak, this can range from the smaller roomette with seats that convert into a bed to a family bedroom, which converts to sleep two adults and two children. The caveat to booking sleep arrangements is that the fares are much pricier.
  • Book your tickets and accommodations early for extended travel. You probably don't want to be stuck with the entire family sleeping a few nights in coach seating – especially with an infant.
  • Find out what amenities will be on your train. Amtrak may have meal services available, depending on the route and length of your trip. Most long distance routes have a dining car that serves hot meals and may require reservations. Some routes also have informal dining like a snack bar.
  • As far as luggage is concerned, you do have a two-piece limit per person for bringing on luggage. You can also check an additional three pieces of luggage if you really need to bring that much with you. As you would expect, it's advisable to pack as light as possible.
  • You do need to bring a portable crib for baby. Remember train accommodations are tight and you won't be able to fit much of anything in your room. For infants, take a look at the Peapod Travel bed by Kidco ($50) for space savings. It folds into a bag for travel and pops open for sleeptime
  • Snacks, beverages, formula, diapers, and other essentials are important as well, since you won't be able to make a stop at a store and you don't want to be without while you're on the train. Though meals and snacks may be available, don't assume they'll have what you need or want to feed baby.
  • We also suggest your bring a baby carrier for younger infants, since you'll want to have your hands free while moving about.

Can I travel by train with my infant?

Train Travel With Baby In The U.S.

The train trip isn't what immediately comes to mind when families think about planning a trip for baby. Still, trains are a great alternative to traveling by car if you just want to travel by road with baby. You won't have to worry about driving, you can have meals on the train, the view is scenic for you and baby, and some trains have on board entertainment.

If you're considering traveling by railway in the U.S. with your infant, you'll most likely be traveling via Amtrak. Amtrak has a network of trains that travel throughout the country. You can plan a vacation package with them which includes a combination of hotel accommodations, car rental, sightseeing, and car rental.

You have a wide variety of Amtrak train trip itineraries to select from. Take a short train ride that lasts two and a half hours from Los Angeles to San Diego. Or take a day and a half to ride up the California coast from Los Angeles to Seattle. You can also venture on a two-day trip across the Rocky Mountains from Emeryville in the West Coast to Chicago by the Great Lakes. In the Northeast, take a train trip from New York to Niagara Falls on a full day's ride. Want more ideas? Amtrak posts their train schedules and travel times on their Website at

What’s an alternative to roughing it in a tent with my infant?

Take A Road Trip With A Tent Trailer

Car trips are one way to get to your destination, but if you have an infant who truly does well on a drive, consider taking a tent trailer on a road trip. You get the benefit of towing conveniences like a sink, toilet, and shower while you trek to your destination. A tent trailer is a great alternative for parents who want to hit the outdoors, but don't want to rough it in a tent – especially with a baby.

For those who aren't familiar, a tent trailer, also known as a camping trailer, is a cross between a tent and a recreational vehicle. Most mid-sized vehicles can tow a tent trailer. However, this depends on the model of car and the size of the tent trailer. They may be as simple as a 12-foot long cabin which provides a place to eat, sleep, cook, and store your food. Or they may be 22-foot long cabins that provide multiple sleeping areas, a sink, kitchen, restroom, and a place to shower.

Helpful Hint: You can find some entry tent trailer models with all the basics that start at $4,500. But if you don't want to spend that much, you can probably find a used one for under $1,000. If you're going on a one-week trip and you want to rent a tent trailer, you have that option, too. You might spend anywhere from a $350 to $600 for a week's rental.

How can I make road travel with an infant easier?

How To Stay Sane On A Road Trip With Baby

If you have an infant who travels exceptionally well in the car, be thankful for your blessings. For parents who dread the thought of hitting the road with your infant, here is a list of things you can do to stay sane on the drive.

  1. Make a pack list and have everything ready one to two days before your road trip.
  2. The night before you leave, pack absolutely everything non-perishable into the car. Food, milk, and other items should all be ready in their containers so you can just grab and go when you're ready.
  3. Pack the necessities in a separate, easily accessible bag – like your diaper bag. Diapers, diaper cream, wipes, milk or formula, snacks, disposable bibs, plastic bags for trash, and utensils should all be within easy reach. A small cooler with ice also helps for storing perishables.
  4. Don't forget a change of clothes in case of spills and mishaps. Bring one for baby and one for you.
  5. Plan to leave so that baby will fall asleep during a naptime. Or try leaving in the early evening if your little one will sleep through a good portion of the night. The longer your infant sleeps in a car during a road trip, the better. However, don't wait so long to leave that by the time you're ready to go out to the car, your infant is tired and cranky.
  6. If you can spare one parent or adult, have that person sit in the back with baby to attend to her needs and entertain her.
  7. If you're driving during the day, make appropriate rest stops for baby for feedings, stretching out, and enjoying the view.
  8. Have toys and music on hand to soothe and entertain baby. You know what calms her best, so don't forget to pack what will keep her occupied and happy. When all else fails, singing works quite nicely with a lot of infants.

How can I make traveling alone with baby easier?

Traveling Solo With Baby

If you're a single parent or just heading out on a trip with baby on your own, rest assured that getting to your destination is not only doable, it can be a great, liberating experience. In case you're planning out your journey with some trepidation, we've put together some helpful hints ease your worries.

  • Pack the bare minimum. Especially if you're going by plane, you only want to pack the essentials you'll need to get you through the trip. Think long and hard before you decide to lug that portable crib with you. Maybe you borrow one at your destination or can you rent one for use when you arrive. It helps to be prepared, but when you're transporting an infant and 35 pounds of gear, you might think some things were best left at home.
  • Plan your route. If you're going by plane, identify your gate terminal, connecting flights, and destination as much as possible beforehand, rather than scrambling around to find out where you're going as you're trying to soothe your cranky infant. If you're driving, figure out where your rest stops will be ahead of time, so you don't end up stopping in the middle of nowhere to tend to baby.
  • Bring hands free gear. Whatever you can to keep you hands as free as possible, do so. Use a baby carrier so you can have hands free for your luggage or carry your luggage in a backpack if you're going to use a stroller.
  • Put it all on wheels. Don't lug around that fancy leather overnight bag when you can pull luggage much more easily on wheels. The less weight you'll have to bear, the better. This includes items like the car seat as well – put it in a bag, get a wheeled attachment, or get a convertible car seat stroller.
  • Elicit the help of others. Traveling on your own is no time to be shy. If you need someone to help you put your luggage in the overhead compartment so baby doesn't fall out of her still unstrapped infant seat, do so.
  • Keep documents in on place. Passports, boarding passes, identification, and other papers should all be in one easy to reach place so you're not fishing for them while trying to keep one arm around your sleeping child.
  • Keep in touch. Let friends and family members know your itinerary and where and when they should expect you to be.
  • Keep an open mind. Traveling with young children can be challenging – more so if you're doing it on your own. But expect the best and be prepared for the worst and you'll do just fine.

How do I make a visit to friends and family go more smoothly?

Six Rules For Visiting Friends And Family

Once there is a new addition in your fold, it's likely friends and family will want to make plans to spend time with you and the baby. If Grandma and Grandpa are 300 miles away, or if your best friend lives in another time zone, it's possible you'll be called out for a visit. If that's the case, we've got some ideas that will make your journey and stay to go as smooth as possible.

  1. Communicate - Regardless of whether you're visiting with parents, in-laws, or a college buddy, make sure you communicate your plans and needs ahead of time. Though it is convenient to stay with loved ones, it's easy to let a lot of details fall by the wayside because you might expect everything will be in place. Here are the essentials: accommodations, childproofing, childcare, house rules, and itinerary. If you can more or less agree on all those things or at least know what to expect, you're in good shape.
  2. Pack the Basics - When in doubt of what you need to bring for baby, think of your packing needs this way – food, clothing, shelter, sleep, and poop. Think about how baby will eat, what she'll wear, where she'll be staying, how she'll sleep, and how you'll handle her diaper changes. It's a lot, but necessary for baby.
  3. Don't Forget Travel Gear – This task shouldn't vary too much from the travel items you'll need if you're going on vacation somewhere. If traveling by car, you'll need a car seat. If traveling by plane, you'll need a car seat or child approved harness safety device for the plane. Don't forget to asses whether you need a stroller or baby carrier as well.
  4. Bring Only What You Need – You don't have to pack up your entire house when traveling to your visit friends or family. You'll be much less stressed with less to carry and your hosts will appreciate less clutter. If you can buy an extra case of diapers when you get there, do so. If you can borrow a stroller instead of bringing your own, do so.
  5. Be gracious – Even staying with your own parents requires a certain level of appreciation. Though grandparents are more than anxious to spend time with their grandchildren, having an infant or toddler around can be tiring. Plan to have some time where everyone will have a break if you're going on an extended stay. Pitch in and help out with chores and groceries where you can.

What should I do if I need hotel accommodations at the last minute?

What To Do When You Need Last Minute Accommodations

Once in a while, you're going to be traveling and you'll get stuck in a situation where you're with baby and you need to get accommodations at the last minute. There's no need to panic. Instead, some carefully placed contacts and access to the Internet should save the family from an overnight stay in the rental car.

Have a list of hotels in the local area you'd like to stay at. Rather than calling the toll free number, you should dial the hotel directly to inquire about accommodations. Why? Because management at the hotel could make a decision that could snag you a last minute room, but the customer service agent at the toll free number can't. If you make a few calls to various places and you're still out of luck, see if you can get online and book through a travel site. Places like and get a share of the reservations available at a hotel, so you might just find an opening there.

What is a good alternative to the zoo to bring a toddler?

The Zoo Alternative – The Butterfly Habitat

The zoo can be a wonderful educational experience for young children
and adults alike. But there is an alternative to taking your little ones
to the zoo. For young toddlers and infants, a trip out to a
butterfly habitat is an even better idea. You'll enter a world
surrounded by vibrant colors and lots of motion – two things babies and
toddlers love. Don't know where to go? Here are a few ideas for a
stopover on your next trip.

Butterfly Pavilion (– Located in Westminster,
Colorado, the Butterfly Pavilion is actually an insect zoo. Not only do
they have 1,200 butterflies from around the globe, the 30,000 square
foot facility houses tarantulas and scorpions as well as sea urchins, turtles,
and fish.

Mackinac Island Butterfly House (– This
Mackinac Island, Michigan butterfly facility has 1,800 square feet of
space to house 40 species of butterflies amid a tropical garden. In
addition, there is an exotic insect display featuring larger than life
insects like the Rhino Beetle and 14” Walking Stick.

Butterfly Conservatory ( Located a few minutes
from the famous Niagara Falls, there are over 2,000 butterflies in a
rainforest setting. Visitors walk along a 600-foot pathway to view over
50 species of butterflies in a warm, climate controlled environment.

Is there a way to watch movies and bring my infant?

Three Places You Might Not Have Thought To Take Your Baby

If you're in the city and trying to come up with some ideas on where to take your infant for a few hours, there are an abundance of places that are tailor made just for you and baby. Going out to the park or out for a stroll are just a few ideas, but these places do welcome babies, too:

The Library - Many parents might imagine hushed silences and stern librarians when they think of libraries. However, many libraries do, in fact, welcome babies and even have children's sections stocked with plush animals for younger tots and babies as well. The best time to go is during a storytelling session geared just for babies and toddlers. Check with the local library in the area to find out just when they occur.

The Movie Theater – It's true. Movie theaters are baby appropriate zones. At least during designated days and times during the week. Theaters like Loews and Mann in some cities have opened up their facilities to accommodate parents with infants who want to watch a current film on the big screen. Though you'll have to contend with the sound of crying babies, no one will care if your own baby makes any noise.

The Yoga Studio - It's not quite the same as having a meditative moment on your own, but it can be a fun and relaxing way to bond with your child. A number of yoga studios have programs incorporating classes for moms and babies. For the Pilate's fan, try a class created for you and baby.

Is it a good idea to take my baby to the theme park?

Going To The Theme Park With Baby

Some parents simply cannot wait to take their children to a theme park. If your child is not uttering words more than “Gah” or “Coo”, we suspect the theme park experience is more for you than for baby. At any rate, though your visit won't be quite the way it was before baby, here are a few suggestions on taking your little one to a theme park.

  • Don't plan too much in a day. If you've booked a nearby hotel, you can take a few days to explore the major theme parks. If your baby is cranky, no one is having a good time.
  • Bring a stroller or rent one. For smaller babies, consider a baby carrier. If your infant will sleep in the stroller or carrier, you can take some time out to relax. Take a stroll through the shops or find a more scenic area of the park to enjoy.
  • A number of theme parks have baby care centers. Check if the one you're traveling to has this feature. They're cozy places where you can change diapers, breastfeed your baby, or kick up your heels with baby in a rocker. Disneyland, California Adventure, and Legoland all have baby care centers.
  • Use the fast pass service. Theme parks can come with the problem of long lines. A number of theme parks offer a fast pass service. This pass allows you you go about explore other areas of the park until your designated time. You then get to speed through the line to get on a ride. This works nicely if you want to switch off looking after baby with your spouse.
Helpful Hint: If you have a toddler aged child, consider Legoland in Carlsbad, California, which has toddler appropriate rides and attractions. Sesame Place, which is in Longhorn, Pennsylvania, is a themed park with water attractions that tots will enjoy as well.

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Guru Spotlight
Christina Chan
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