That being said, I am extremely inexperienced in traveling with a baby/toddler. When Ward was an infant, I felt like I had to stay cooped up in our house and we rarely went anywhere! We made one trip to the beach when he was 2 months old, but that was it.
A couple weeks ago over Labor Day weekend, we took a family trip to the beach. This was our first long drive in the car with Ward since that trip when he was 2 months old. After talking with some friends, we decided to leave around Ward's bedtime to ensure a smooth and quiet ride.....didn't quite go that way!
The first hour was great...Ward babbled in the backseat and I thought for sure he would fall asleep at any minute. Instead, things took a surprise turn for the worse and he screamed for the next 3 hours straight. When I say scream, I don't mean cry. I mean S-C-R-E-A-M. Oh.My.Goodness. It was not fun.
We finally arrived at our hotel about an hour from the beach (couldn't check in until the next morning at our rental). I thought, Surely he will CRASH in the pack 'n play since it is 2am AND he didn't nap today." (I forgot to mention it was a no nap day.)
The only place for the pack 'n play was next to our bed, tightly squeezed between the bed and the wall. Every time I laid him down he would hysterically cry and/or reach over and hit me in the head.... not exactly ideal. However, every time I got him out and laid him between Trey and I, he would calm down. Finally, we threw in the towel and let him sleep in the big bed....and here's what ended up happening.....I'm sure many of you have seen this nice illustration:
I'd say Ward's favorite positions were "The Roundhouse Kick", "Snow Angels", "H is for Hell" and...."The Stalker".
He would randomly sit up and lean over to Trey and say "hi dada" and give him a kiss. It was actually really adorable, but at 4:30am at this point we were just delirious.
So, in the end we have a lot to learn about traveling with babies/toddlers! Here are some tips I've gotten from friends since that fateful day....
1). Invest in a TV for the car! Play Baby Einstein and keep them occupied. We are doing this on the next trip!
2). Do NOT (I repeat, Do NOT) put the pack n play where your child can SEE you (or is close enough to hit you repeatedly on the head).
3). Have lots of (new) toys available. I have a friend who suggested going to the dollar tree and stocking up on cheap new toys. Keep them wrapped up and then have something new for them to explore/play with every couple hours.
4). Don't think that because you can ride 7 hours in a car without stopping, they can too. Trips will always take longer than you think. Just stopping once at a gas station and getting him out of the carseat or 20 minutes so he could look at the cars and trucks really calmed him down for a bit.
5). If times are getting tough, roll down the window. At least the white noise helps drown out the earth-shattering screams....and may even calm them down a little. (This worked for a good 15 minutes).
Any other ideas? I'd love to hear....I know babies fly free 2 years and under, and we want to utilize this before he gets too old, but I have to muster up the courage!
In the end, the rocky start was worth our beach trip. Albeit there was little sleep that first night, he made up for it the rest of the trip getting worn out playing on the beach! :)