Sunday, 16 June 2013

Holidays (Pt1) - baby + driving holiday = good combination?

We went to America when Doof was 4 months old - I've been meaning to write about it for ages but somehow other things kept happening instead!

Anyway here is the first of my "holiday posts" - things we found useful, did or didn't work or that I wish I'd known before we went...

This week is about travelling in cars.



We got a few taxis - mainly from home to airport to hotel. The one thing that I found really useful to know is that lots of minicab firms in London have baby and child car seats available and so if you just tell them when you book, they'll make sure one is in your cab. HOWEVER massive caveat - always double check the seat securing a before you go anywhere. On the journey to the airport the can arrived with seat in position, the driver told us to put Doof in, so we did and off we went. It didn't even cross my mind to check that the seat was secured properly... Until halfway through our journey when I suddenly realised his seat was more wobbly than his usual car seat. on further inspection I realised the car seat was not secured at all! The cab driver had just plonked it on the backseat! Arghh. Luckily we got to the airport safely and I learnt a very valuable lesson - trust no-one!!

In America it was harder - instead we had Doof strapped onto one of us in the Ergo and then put the "lap" bit of the seatbelt on underneath his bottom, with his legs over the top. Note we only did short journeys like this - probably the longest was 15 minutes through city traffic. I won't have felt comfortable doing this for long stretches on the Interstate for example.


We hired a car and drove (in a rather long-winded loopy route) from Las Vegas to Los Angeles via Arizona. Having not been in the car much before (a result of living in London), this was probably not the best time to discover Doof is not a big fan of being in the car...

Here are my car tips:

- we bought a new baby car seat in Walmart when we arrived. It cost $79 new, which was actually cheaper than renting a used one from the car hire company. And of course there were then no worries about its previous track record - had it been dropped/involved in an accident/had its internal integrity messed with etc

- be prepared to be flexible. Once we realised Doof was not going to have nice long 3 hour naps in the car while we cruised through the countryside we completely overhauled our proposed itinerary so we only drive a maximum of 2 hours a day (in 1 hour stints during his mid morning and after lunch nap)

- if visiting a sunny country then have something in place to provide shade. Nothing annoys a baby more than the sun shining in their eyes. You don't need to buy a special window cover - we just used a muslin. By hooking a centimetre or so through the open window, and then closing it, we had an instant "blind" which was the perfect size to cover the window but which could be easily lifted out of the way or removed if needed (just visible in top left of photo above)

- have a separate drawstring bag with a few toys in that you keep in the front. Then if he got cranky or accidentally dropped a toy over the edge of the car seat I didn't have to fiddle around trying to find it but could just pass him another one

- think about clothes, especially in hotter countries. We typically dressed Doof in a vest only when in the car seat even if he needed more clothes when we got out the car. We found the car to be warmer (even with aircon) so found under-dressing him kept him much more comfortable. It also meant his feet were always exposed - provided at least 3 minutes of entertainment (and therefore quietness!) as he played with his toes

- finally read any car seat instructions really carefully. In the UK manufacturers advise you to travel with the handle in the "carrying position". In the USA this is a complete no-no and you have to have the handle behind their head (see below). To me the car seats in both countries looked identical so I have no idea why the different advice but suppose there must be a reason!

Has anyone else got any other tips or tricks for travelling long distance in the car? We're thinking about driving through France next month so any other ideas gratefully received!

Next “holiday posts” will include my tips on long-haul flying with a baby and my "top ten travel essentials" :)

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