Traveling with a baby is hard. I won’t sugar coat it… it is harder than traveling as a couple. You are more tired than you used to, baby’s sleeping routine will be disrupted (more on that below), and baby may not love sitting in the car. It is also the most beautiful experience and you may even find that your baby does better with being around and about all day, versus sitting at home, requiring your attention for entertainment.
We have traveled with our kids since they were just a few days old. Today, they are 10, 9, and 7, and travel is second nature to them, and us. We always thought that mommying and daddying on the road was super fun. It does require some extra logistics, but the earlier you start, the easier it becomes for everyone. Let’s look at our top five tips for RVing with a baby!
Guest Post and Photos by Laura Georgieff
Pack All The Baby Essentials (Not More)
The beauty of RVing with a baby, is the ability to move around with your house on your back! Pack all of your baby essentials – those are things you have to have to keep baby happy and safe on the road – but not more.
There is a wide range of needs in babies, depending on their age, and they change very quickly. I can’t give you a list since every child, in every month of life, will have very different needs. You, as the parent, however, know exactly what your baby needs.
Some essentials should at least include:
- car seat
- cot + sheets to sleep in safely (nights can be hot and fresh in an RV, plan on layers)
- pacifier / safety blanket
- nightlight / white noise machine
- baby bottles / breast pump / cream for your own breast care / bottle warmer
- baby tub (though your RV sink does a beautiful job!)
- baby’s own soaps and lotions
- teethers / baby’s toys and entertainment
- somewhere to put baby down: chair, pack ’n play, seat, play mat
- baby utensils
- baby carrier / stroller
- baby sunscreen / hat / sunglasses
- layers and muslins (conditions can change quickly, nights can be fresh, etc.)
Pro Tip on RVing with A Baby
Make sure not to overpack. It can be easy to bring all the things, when in reality, babies need a lot less than you think, especially when your days are spent adventuring and outdoors.
Many parents will pack enough diapers and baby food and formula, to last the duration of the trip… don’t do that. Remember that anywhere you will be taking your RV are stores and parents raising kids. If you forget anything, you will be able to run to the store and get it. Packing entire shelves of baby food will only add weight and take up precious storage space. Do not sweat packing for your baby, they needs a lot less than you think.
Entertain Baby On Long Driving Days
The single hardest part of RVing with a baby are the long road trip days. If your child does not love driving, those days can seem even longer than they already are.
Make sure to have plenty to entertain baby on long drives – this is where traveling with a younger child is actually easier than a 10-month old on the move. If you have an active baby, plan on stopping every couple of hours to let some energy out. If you can find a rest area with a little playground, great. A national park to get lots of fresh air, even better. The goal is to tire baby out by letting them explore and have fun.
Some babies might do well with music, others may want to a story book read to them by a parent, etc. You know your baby best, but making sure long driving days include entertainment is paramount to a successful trip.
Set Yourself Up For Success
If you are RVing with a baby, I am assuming you enjoy the outdoors. Do not let having a baby prevent you from participating in your favorite activities. We have done it all with a baby – kayak, paddle board, hiking peaks, bicycle, etc., and you can do it too. It’s possible with a clear mindset and good preparedness!
Leave home with the right gear and equipment:
- A high-quality hiking backpack (i.e., Deuter) will change your life on the trails. Baby will sit comfortably, be protected from the elements, and the backpack disperses the weight of the child around your waist, giving you a padded experience on your shoulders, and allowing you to hike the extra distance.
- Good hiking boots will never be overrated. If you are carrying a child, make sure you are wearing the right footwear to get the support your feet need and prevent slips and falls.
- Sunscreen for everyone is important. Babies’ skin is fragile and they burn very quickly. They may be easy to forget as you carry them, so make sure to lather them in high SPF sunscreen before loading them up. While on the sun topic, have everyone wear hats and sunglasses! Baby sunglasses with a soft neoprene back work best.
- Pack a lot of water and make sure to give baby plenty to drink. If you breastfeed, feed the baby more often while on trails. Your milk will be more watery as your baby gets dehydrated, providing baby with the important hydration they needs.
- Layers are critical for baby! Whether in a stroller, a hiking backpack, or a carrier, your child does not move as you do, and will become cold before you get chilly. On a cold day, cover hands, feet, and head with baby mitten, booties, and beanie. On hot days, pack a muslin to protect baby from the elements, warm air, or sun.
- Depending on baby’s age, snacks! Don’t overdo the snacks, we always told the kids it is a good thing to learn to be hungry. Just don’t let them get hangry 🙂 Snacks are a beautiful thing!
- Portable white noise machine or music player. If your baby falls asleep to a specific sound, feel free to pack it up and attach it to his/her carrier during your hikes. You will notice that your child falls asleep very easily on trails, with a feeling of being lulled to sleep in his/her carrier. But if a little sound helps, by all means, pack it up. Just keep the volume down as to not disturb other hikers or wildlife.
Get A Little Baby Time in Every Day
Do not underestimate this one. If you ask me, I will always tell you that you can do anything you would have done before kids, with your kids (outside of extreme sports). However, your schedule may need to get slightly adjusted.
By building in a little baby time in your schedule every day, you will have a much calmer and happier child. It is as simple as spending 30 minutes at a local playground or local library. Sometimes, it is about walking outside the RV and playing in the campground’s pool or throwing a ball for 15 minutes. Gather sticks, draw on rocks, build up blocks…whatever it is that your child finds entertaining, spend a little time doing it every day. They are little people and RVing with a baby is asking a lot of them. They will be much easier travelers if you spend a little time doing things they love doing everyday.
Teach Them To Fall Asleep Anywhere
This one is natural if you get your baby used to traveling and RVing from a very young age. I am not telling you to throw your well-oiled routine out the window… but kinda. Babies will nap anywhere if that is your expectation. They do not have to have their own bed, silence, and darkness to nap.
Teach them to fall asleep in the stroller and the baby carrier. If you’re out at night, lay them in a carrycot. Again, it is about having the right gear to set yourself up for success, and getting them used to the lack of routine. Very quickly, you will notice that your child sticks to their schedule on the road, no matter what. We had VERY fussy sleepers but they quickly learned to fall asleep when tired, no matter the environment around them.
Taking baby with you no matter the napping / sleeping schedule, will save you headaches and teach your child flexibility. As baby grows into a toddler and a child, you will have built a beautiful foundation for a wonderful little travel buddy!
Tips For RVing With A Baby
If you are wondering if your baby is old enough to start RVing, this is your authorization to start planning immediately. Traveling in an RV is the easiest way to travel with a young child. You are able to recreate a familiar environment for your baby, with his own cot, toys, familiar smells, and foods.
Do not delay your first family adventure. RVing with a baby is a beautiful thing and the earlier you start, the more “second nature” it will become to all!
Laura is a full-time RVing mom of three. After traveling around the world, Laura and her family started touring the U.S. in their fifth wheel, before settling on a Tiffin Phaeton Class A found at La Mesa RV. They are chasing the national parks and you can follow their adventures on Instagram and on their family travel blog.