The only rule we've ever had for trips was- we can only go where we've never been before. Ever heard that rules were meant to be broken? We make some repeat trips over night, and some day trips where we stretched the rule since we'd never been there TOGETHER.
Day trips started to breach our cardinal rule about the second or third year we were married as we began to have favorites. Mostly places in around Asheville, NC. A few down on the coast of SC as well. There was one week we went from the sea to the mountains! (Not a difficult feat for someone in the Carolinas.)
Now that we have someone traveling with us who new to everything all is up for grabs! Traveling with an infant gets interesting. We have yet to go on a plane with the baby, but several road trips have been made!
The first out of town trip was to Kentucky for a wedding at 2 months old. We packed up the rental car with enough stuff for a night in the mountains and headed up the day of the wedding. Sans baby, the trip is 4 hours from our home in South Carolina. With an infant who was breastfeeding every 2 hours, it took us a bit longer. Leaving in the morning, we stopped 2 hours in to feed baby and do some quick shopping. Johnson City Kohls provided the perfect place for my husband to grab a shirt for the wedding while I popped into the dressing room and nursed the sleepy/hangry baby.
By the time we were back out at the car- time to change a dirty! Note: SUVs are the best for road trips with babies. Much easier to change diapers in.
From there it a straight(ish) shot to Harlan.
Going on a road trip to the mountains is not what I would recommend for a baby's first trip. As you ascend or descend the air pressure change affects them, building up inside their ears causing pain/discomfort. For older children it may not bother them, and growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountain range I've never thought twice about it. My infant definitely let me know her discomfort. Before this trip she was really great in the car! By the end of it, she began to fuss anytime you set her in the car seat.
Add an hour or two to your travel time. Don't just expect to stop to care for the baby. Plan to stop around the time they usually feed. Don't rush anything. Make sure your car has plenty of space. Pack what you need, but don't overfill the car. Space is more important than stuff you can do without or buy once you get to your destination. (ex: disposable, one use items.)
I can't remember if we took the pack n' play with us, because we didn't use it. Since we stayed with family, they held her a lot and let me sleep for a while after the wedding. (oh sweet bliss!!) When I got up to nurse her, I just stayed out in the living room with her since she was sleeping so well on the couch. By sleeping well, I mean she was on her stomach arms out, completely relaxed and not going anywhere. Up till then she had slept swaddled in her bassinet, but her favorite place to nap was spread eagle on top of someone. (usually mom, dad, or grandma)
The trip back the next day was pretty uneventful till it started to get dark. For some reason, the later the trip lasted, the fussier she became. Again, stopping every 2 hours was necessary and this time I rode with her in the back towards the end to try to keep her calm.
So overall- great trip! I woudl definitely recommend visiting family for their first road trip, extending your travel time, and packing light to conserve space. If you can, make sure you don't have drastic elevation changes or travel during the evening/night.
For those of you who have traveled with infants- what were your experiences? Where did you go? Would you do it again? What was a game changer for you?