I used to wonder why people had those “Baby on Board” signs hanging in their cars. Was it to inspire me to be more aware of my driving? As if I was driving around cutting off people and driving like a jerk to those who may not have notified me of the fact that there is a child in the car ahead of me? After having my first child earlier this year and just having completed our first road trip as a family, I now understand that those signs where not meant as a commentary on my driving but to warn others around those drivers that they are traveling with a baby, and depending on how long that trip has been in progress the driver may or may not be at a point of complete break or melt down and perhaps it is best not to agitate said driver of the “Baby on Board” sign car.
In preparing for our first road trip with the baby I surveyed the massive expanse of our SUV and felt certain that the cavernous back seat would allow for an easy day of packing. I mean after all sans child we had slept comfortably in the back on many a road trip, when we needed to catch a few winks. We where traveling for a week so I knew we would be adding some additional luggage as we are now a party of four, dog gets counted. Plenty of space right? What could go wrong?
You ever go to the circus and wonder how they get all of the clowns to it into that tiny little car? That is how I felt trying to pack for our trip. Frustrated that they can get 20 clowns into a car and I can not even pack for a weeks trip. In the end, it all boiled down to what can we get at our destination and is everything secure enough so that our cargo will not shift. And really who uses the rear view mirror any how? I look back on family road trips as a child, I had two brothers and we did not have SUV.s back then, my father must have been either a magician or holding an advance degree in engineering as I don’t ever remember him having a complaint on packing the car. I hope he does not read this as my packing would surely be a shame on the household legacy of family travel.
It’s a long drive, get a map. We chose our route this year not based on the sights to see or the shortest drive time but the places we could stop and let the baby out of her confinement and feed and change her in peace. Where we perhaps coddling her in this regard? Maybe, but in the end this was decision based on keeping the sanity of mom and dad should said toddler decide that the only game she wants to play is how loud can I scream to get out of my car seat. It worked well for us we think giving her these breaks, the resulting additional time it took to get to our destination certainly was worth the happy baby for the majority of the trip. I never really comprehended the patience that my parents must have had to have to road trip with three small children. Now I do, lucky dad that I am, I think our little one is going to be a traveler and I am so excited at that prospect because as she grows I want her to be excited about exploring the world around her. I am sure I will someday have the “don’t make me pull this car over” moment, and to be honest, I look forward to it, as it means that I will at least be on the road with my kid, showing her the road less traveled and of course the road more traveled with plenty of places to stop just in case.
I have been lucky to travel the country solo, with friends, with strangers, with my wife and my dog and I never thought those experiences would ever be beat. I was wrong, traveling, although I only have one trip under my belt, with my daughter has been the best experience of my life. At the end of the day, no matter how much you research, get advice on, or read about traveling with your kids, it will always be an adventure with very little control of their mood, just make the best of it and remind yourself that there is no place you would rather be, even it in the moment you may feel otherwise. And just as a precaution, if you see that “Baby on Board” sign swinging from that suction cup in the rear window, perhaps just that one time, be patient with the driver, they may need it.
Traveling with your family? Red Roof Inn invites you to be our guest and we understand that mom and dad and even baby needs to pull over and take a break.