Traveling by car with a child is always a matter of increased concern for parents. Especially for Mom, as the main organizer of this event. Today I want to tell you how to organize a trip by car if there is a small passenger among the travelers. I hope this article will help you avoid unnecessary worries if you are traveling by car with a child.
Firstly, it is necessary to start with the fact that, perhaps, a traveler under the age of 5 causes special anxiety. And not in vain, because the organization of a trip for a baby under one year and a three-year-old baby differs significantly.
No one will argue that it will be the mother who will prepare the trip for the child, and it is better to think over all the details of such an event in advance.
So, it was decided to go on vacation to the south. And it was decided to go by car.
I will tell you about our experience. We twice made the way from St. Petersburg to Soroka and back, traveling with a child. The distance in one direction is about 1800 km, the travel time is 32-38 hours.
Let’s remember what awaits us on the trip, besides the romance of long-distance roads.
First of all, a long stay in a confined space with the inability to change the position of the body.
It is also the monotony of the interior and exterior.
Among other things, this is the creation of a special microclimate and the exchange of bacteria, not to mention eating dry rations or in roadside cafes.
This is using a public toilet or stopping “in the woods”.
This is the lack of full sleep (night rest) or an overnight stay in a motel.
All this is quite simple, although sometimes with some risk, is tolerated by adults, which cannot be said about a child. Therefore, of course, we want to provide the baby with comfort on the trip, at least close to home. It is clear that it is impossible to do this, but we are quite capable of making a car trip for a child relatively easy and pleasant.
When we were going on the road to Moldova for the first time, my hair stood on end at the very thought that a six-month-old baby would be on the road for 32 hours. When we were going on the road for the second time with my almost two-year-old son, my heart sank into my heels and beat there until the first night, after which it felt a little better.
For the first time, it seemed to me that a six-month-old baby was so fragile that any discomfort would threaten his life. The second time I was afraid of the impossibility of satisfying the need of this little ego on the road in motion. Thank God, both times everything went well (almost), and therefore now I will share with you the experience of how I organized a long-distance trip by car with a child.
By the way, let’s admit to ourselves because we are also afraid that the baby can turn our trip into hell with his whims.
- How to make it comfortable for a child to stay in a confined space for such a long time?
- How not to catch a cold?
- How not to catch an intestinal infection or avoid an intestinal disorder?
- How to entertain the baby?
- How to organize the transportation of things?
Let’s start from the beginning. For me, the most important thing was to bring my son healthy. This means avoiding snot, cough, and diarrhea. I hope you think the same.
It turned out that these two tasks are performed differently depending on the age of the child.
A small child with the status of a “lay person” is very dependent on the microclimate in the car. Since his place of residence is extremely limited on the trip, it is extremely important to consider the following points:
- how to organize a place for a child;
- how do maintain an optimal temperature in the car? So that it is not cold and not hot;
- how to organize the changing of the child, if he still sweated? This also includes changing diapers;
- how to organize a child’s walk in the fresh air.
We are all concerned about the question of how to organize a comfortable space for your baby. In my opinion, as long as the child fits in the cradle from the stroller, this should be used. Naturally, it should fit there freely. In our case, we had an Inglesina stroller, and we placed its cradle across the back seat so that it rested against the back of the driver’s seat. In it, the baby not only slept but also played. With the hood, it was possible to regulate the microclimate. If there is a choice between a car-carrying cradle and a wheelchair cradle, then definitely for a long trip you should choose the latter.
In addition, it is not necessary to reinvent the bicycle – now there are special kits for installing and fixing the cradle in the car. By the way, I found information on the Internet on one of the forums that Inglesina has such fasteners in its arsenal. But here we must understand that even a “recumbent person” will not be able to keep in such a position for thirty hours. Therefore, it is better not to think about the horrors of crash tests with unbuttoned babies in my mother’s arms, but to make sure that the driver of the car does not get excessively tired, rests more, and certainly does not set high-speed maneuvering records.
Our second long-distance trip by car with a child was already with a “walking man”, which means that he was sedentary. Therefore, there was no question of whether or not to be a child car seat. Of course, to be. We had a simple version of Infinity, which, however, was not so simple.
The fact is that its rather primitive design allows, however, to bring it into a horizontal position, and, having secured it with seat belts, to organize a tolerable place to sleep in the car. Nevertheless, it is precise because the child now travels almost on a par with adults, i.e. sitting in a chair, we could no longer neglect an overnight stop. If in the first case we do not cause inconvenience to the child when he wants to sleep, then in the second we simply have to stop so that the baby has a full rest. By the way, for him, an overnight stop will be another new experience. I remember we found a decent motel only around 2 a.m.
Up to this point, my son was sleeping in my arms, and I had to wake him up to get dressed, walk to the overnight and settle down on the roadside beds. But not once did he express dissatisfaction, although it was clear how sweetly he fell asleep. We also rested.
Despite the ability of our car seat model to unfold, it has a significant disadvantage (unfortunately, I have nothing to compare it with, because this is the only chair we have) — it is made of synthetics, which is why the child simply sweats during a long stay in the chair. A simple cotton-paper diaper helps a little, which you need to cover it with.
However, let’s move on.
Our experience has shown that if you are traveling by car with a child, then, definitely, there should be a minimum of passengers in the car. Ideally, if it’s just mom, dad, and baby. In our situation, since the first trip was made on a Volkswagen T4 minibus, then, guided by the desire to save money on the road, we took three more relatives as passengers. Never repeat this mistake for anything. Firstly, it gets hot and stuffy in the cabin very quickly, not to mention the constant exchange of microbes.
Because of this, you have to make stops more often for ventilation or turn on the air conditioner. In this regard, the question arises about the time of year in which it is better to organize a trip. Certainly, it should not be winter and the height of summer. Best of all, the end of spring or the beginning of autumn, when the daytime temperature does not rise very high but does not drop sharply in the evening. As you know, overheating a child is much more dangerous for a child than hypothermia. A cold gust of wind is much more likely to catch a sweaty child than staying in a cold salon with periodic access to the street. I generally consider air conditioning to be evil not only for a child but also for an adult. Well, tell me, which of you has never caught a cold under the air conditioner?
The sun can’t always be our friend on the road either. But, of course, it is better when it is there than when it is not. In case of the sun, you need to stock up on curtains or tinted windows. Don’t be afraid of tinting, as I was afraid of it. It turned out that looking wide-eyed at the white light, it does not interfere at all, but it saves from the heat. Moreover, only the rear windows can be tinted.
And of course, no drafts. It’s not even about the air flows themselves, which we call drafts. Just they are not so scary. The fact is that, again, traveling by car, it is much more difficult to protect a child from overheating than from hypothermia. And just when overheating, a draft can be dangerous. When we first went on a long journey, our son was six months old. Already on the way, we found that the interior overheats during the day, and at night it blows from the window. The solution was primitive to the extreme but very effective – we just covered the window with an Arafat handkerchief, stretching it a little and thus getting a homemade curtain.
- we travel by car with a child in late spring or early autumn with a minimum of passengers;
- we use air conditioning minimally and curtains as much as possible, or we prepare the car for the trip with the help of tinting;
- we use the stove minimally, the optimal air temperature in the car is no more than 20 degrees Celsius;
- we make frequent stops.
These tips are relevant not only when traveling with a “recumbent person”, but also with a “walking person”, i.e. an older child. So, you and I have understood how you can organize a comfortable place for the baby in the limited space of the car interior. Now let’s figure out how to use this place. We remember that our main tasks on the road are to feed, change clothes and entertain our main passengers. And before feeding him, I’ll tell you how we coped with the task of dressing up.
Firstly, no matter how comfortable the child’s place is, he still sweats during a long stay in the car. This is not very good, although maybe someone will disagree with me, saying that there is nothing wrong with this. Maybe it is, but it’s still unpleasant for the child. Therefore, there should always be a bag or bag at hand, which has the necessary minimum of change of clothes. The stop for changing the baby should not be accompanied by dad’s “well, okay, I’m going to smoke/drink coffee/pee.” A stop for changing clothes is closed doors and windows until the child is in dry clothes and preferably in some kind of cap.
This is especially true for babies up to one and a half years old. Perhaps we will never worry too much about a sweaty child under normal conditions, but on the road, “it’s better to overdo it than not to do it.” Only after the child has changed clothes, you can start opening the doors, going out, airing the car a little, or just immediately put clothes on the baby according to the weather and take a little walk with him in your arms or let him warm up under your close supervision. In general, I believe that stops should be made only in specially designated places – at gas stations under the sign “Parking” and along the highway at exits designated as “A place to rest”. It’s safer and calmer this way.
If in a normal situation the baby is used to walking while still in a stroller, then you need to plan the duration of the trip, taking into account small walks in the air with a stroller. On our first trip, it was she who saved us at the moment when the child was so tired of the road that, despite the desire to sleep, he could not fall asleep, and we just stopped and walked with him in a stroller for an hour in the air until he fell asleep. By the way, we did not take the frame from the cradle, but it probably depends on the age of the child and his actual needs.
So, in the first part, we figured out how to organize a trip by car with a child in terms of organizing comfortable external conditions for him. In the next part, I will tell you how to organize baby food and basic hygiene procedures. Stay tuned!
P.S. I was driving home from work today and remembered: if you have the soul of a nomad, then long before a little ego and a lover starts traveling with you, you need to choose a car in which there is a possibility of forcibly locking the rear doors from the inside so that the child cannot open it on his own. For me, this is the No. 1 safety principle, and the car seat is only the second priority.
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