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In March, we chose to drive instead of fly to my dad’s wedding in Arkansas. Living in Pennsylvania, we knew this would be quite the adventure, but decided to give it a try. We drove straight through to Arkansas in 1.5 days, stopping for a brief overnight stay somewhere in the fine state of Ohio. After 3 whirlwind days of wedding hoopla in the Fayetteville, AR vicinity, the return leg of our journey commenced.
Rather than drive right home, we opted to turn the trip into more of a vacation and took 1 week to spread out the 1,200+ mile trip. We spent an entire day in Memphis, TN (Graceland, Sun Studios, March of the Ducks at The Peabody Hotel, Lorraine Motel, Beale Street). We also spent days in Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, and Lexington, KY before setting the car on autopilot back home.
After traveling 3,000+ miles in 10 days (over 30 hours of car time) with a 6 month old, Biker Bob and I compiled a list of the absolute must haves for any trip (especially a road trip).
1. Baby Carrier of Some Sort Whether we were strolling through Graceland or touring a plantation, the carrier was the perfect way to give Lily Bean a break from the car seat. It allowed her more mobility than with a stroller.
2. Pack ‘N Play Not only did this serve as the perfect crib size, it was super easy to take down and put back up (literally, took about 30 seconds). It also gave us the piece of mind in knowing that it was clean- something you can’t be sure of when borrowing a crib from a hotel; we also knew that it was safe and hadn’t been recalled. It folded down into its own carrying case and hardly took up any room in the car.
3. Snap ‘N Go Stroller Frame This lightweight stroller frame is so perfect for short and long trips alike! There are several different brands, but all are very similar. Most standard sized infant car seats simply snap right into this frame. No worries, no fuss.
4. Bag of Toys No need (or room in the car) to pack everything but the kitchen sink that baby might want to play with. Instead we packed a smaller bag (like the reusable grocery bags) full of Lily Bean’s small toys. We had enough to rotate them to keep her from getting bored. She got so excited when we would pull a new toy out for her to play with!
5. Inflatable Bath Tub Lily Bean LOVES her baths! We picked up this inflatable bath tub at a consignment sale for $1.50. It folded up to a fraction of its size for easy packing, blew up in under 5 minutes, and let Lily Bean enjoy her bath in the hotel!
Top Five Items to Bring When Traveling in General
1. GPS Seriously, if you don’t have one of these, you should really consider buying one. The price has come down substantially over the past few years. Ours has gotten us out of more jams than I can count. Great for directions, mileage, time estimates, or even finding points of interest, like gas stations.
2. Cooler I’ve said it before, this thing can save you boatloads of money. Load it up with drinks from home, keep it cold with free ice from your hotel, and enjoy plenty of beverages while traveling!
3. Snapp Capps Love these!!!! I got them for Biker Bob for Christmas as a joke because he loves soda so much. We are quickly learning that we can’t be without them! They snap right onto any can beverage, turning it into a bottle with a lid! They prevent spills and keep drinks from going flat. A must have! Check them out on Ebay for about $3/each!
4. Travel Mugs Another great money saver and overall convenience! Fill up your mug with the free coffee offered at the free continental breakfasts served at many hotels. It will stay hot and is much nicer than the small, often lidless Styrofoam cups that most hotels have.
5. iPod or MP3 Player You can probably imagine that when you are driving 3000+ miles, you are bound to lose radio stations often and get plenty of static. Consider downloading your favorite albums onto an MP3 player for hours of great music! We used an FM transmitter (about $6) to play the iPod songs on our car stereo.
Do you have travel tips to share? I’d love to hear them!