How to Travel with Kids: Tips for Road Trips with Toddlers


Tips for Smooth Travel

We love to travel. When I got pregnant close friends tried to tell me that a baby wouldn’t work with my adventurous lifestyle. Looking back, I’m glad I had those unsupportive people in my life because since my daughter was born it has been my mission to prove them wrong. Before becoming parents we traveled as often as possible, spent our weekends climbing, camping, and backpacking. Now that we have a kiddo, it’s pretty much the same story except that we have one extra adventure buddy along for the ride. Here are a few tricks for smooth travels with a baby.


Road Trip Travel                     

  1. Travel while baby sleeps. Our first road trip was the easiest. She was a lethargic 7-week-old infant and slept anytime we strapped her in the car seat. As she grew we planned more carefully so that we drove during nap time, and after bedtime but without over-exhausting ourselves. This requires excessive amounts of coffee… 
  2. Break up the drive. If possible aim for only 4 hours of travel time each day. It’s easier on the little ones, easier on those driving and you get to do more exploring. We like to stop at parks and ponds, funky roadside attractions, and rely on free camping once we get tired. 
  3. Consider your kids’ interests. If they’re old enough, let them help plan, even have them pick the routes and learn how to read the maps (that way when you hear the dreaded “are we there yet?” you can have them check a map and see for themselves.) If they’re too little for that, try to plan rest stops around things they would like to do, we try to stop at parks and playgrounds and restaurants that serve our daughter’s favorite food (pancakes). 




  1. Fly minimalist. I hate carrying a carseat around. If you can, leave the carseat at home and rely on public transportation. 
  2. Wear your baby. I really like the versatility of a wrap carrier or sling. Anything that keeps your baby close to your body makes airports less nightmarish. Strollers are just extra bulk to worry about. 
  3. Cloth Diaper. For my daughter’s first flight adventure (six-months-old) we took her to Chicago and stayed in an Airbnb with a washer/dryer. We carried everything in a backpack, took the Metro everywhere and only brought 20 cloth diapers. With cloth diapers, there is no need to stress about finding a store to buy more.  Additionally, they are much more versatile than disposables, a clean pre-fold can be used to wipe messy faces, play peek-a-boo, and clean up spit up. 

Does a baby really “work” with an adventurous life? 

The first time I took my daughter hiking, I stopped to nurse her. While we snuggled I sat on a rock overlooking Sedona, dusted with snow. Wisps of clouds flirted with the tops of sandstone towers, under a sky the same blue-grey as my daughter’s newborn eyes. Before having a baby I rarely stopped. Without her, I would have kept hiking. Before becoming a mother, I obsessed over the destination and never the journey. Adventuring with a baby forces me to slow down and notice the details that make these days memorable. 


Do you travel with your kids?