Breastfeeding on a Road Trip and Other Travel Tips
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 91% of Americans prefer to hit the open road for their long-distance holiday travels, and it’s easy to understand why. A road trip is not only a fun vacation in and of itself but it’s also prized for the scenery, sights, and spending quality time with loved ones.
However, adding a nursing baby to the mix can open a whole different kettle of fish. Traveling with a baby can be stressful and challenging, especially if you’re a breastfeeding mom — but your road trip can still be easy and fun if you plan ahead.
Whether it’s a cross-country family vacation, a short visit to grandparents across town, or any other reasons to bring the baby along, here are top breastfeeding travel tips to help make your road trip easier and more hassle-free.
Pre-Road Trip Checklist
When it comes to road trips with a breastfeeding baby, a little preparation before you hit the highway can go a long way. First things first, you will need to gear up for the trip; having the right set of gear handy will make your travel and breastfeeding on the road much easier and hitch-free.
Here’s an essential checklist of stuff you’ll need to pack or shop for:
A portable pump
There’s a good chance that you already own an electric pump for expressing breast milk. If it’s also battery-powered, that’s good and dandy – just bring extra batteries along with you.
However, if you tend to travel a lot as a new breastfeeding mom, you’d be better off investing in a high-quality portable pump for when you can’t reach an outlet. Make sure to go for a dual-powered model and stay clear of BPA-containing models.
A breastfeeding top or nursing cover
Although it’s perfectly legal and socially-accepted in most parts of the US, some moms don’t feel confident breastfeeding in public. To add insult to injury, trying to find a private spot to breastfeed your baby can sometimes be tricky on the road.
That being said, using a nursing cover, blanket, or top can improve privacy and help you breastfeed in public with more confidence. The best nursing covers are versatile, machine washable, and offer ample coverage. We highly recommend these multi-use nursing covers by KeaBabies – they can also be used as canopy car seats or over a highchair. Plus, they come in a variety of beautiful patterns.
Cooler + ice packs
In some cases, you may not get a chance to stop every 2-3 hours to breastfeed your tot. That’s why you need to have a nice cooler with several ice packs to keep your expressed breast milk safe from spoilage. Don’t forget to pack additional freezable storage bags and bottles.
Car power adaptor
Being able to pump breast milk hands-free can be a game-changer for breastfeeding moms on a road trip. For this reason, you might want to pack a reliable car power adaptor.
Extra nursing nipples and bottles
If you alternate between breastfeeding and feeding your expressed milk to the baby, it’s always wise to bring one or two more bottles and nipples than you often carry in your baby bag.
Fully-packed travel bag
You’ll need to pack a few other accessories and gadgets to make it easy to breastfeed on your road trip. Start with a change of clothes for your little one, as well as an extra set of burp cloths, nursing pads, drool bibs, and so on.
Get all the accessories you need to make your car baby-friendly and ready for the road trip. You will likely need a sturdy car seat, diaper changing mat, baby car mirror (rear seat mirror), seat protection pads, and so on.
Road Tripping Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
Tip#1: Do your research
No matter your destination, planning ahead is key to a successful road. After all, nicer restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and gas stations on your route will make breastfeeding much more comfortable and hassle-free.
That being said, it pays to scope out good spots ahead of the trip. You can take advantage of online review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Reviews, and so on. Keep an eye out for restaurants, hotels, and even gas stations that have baby-changing rooms or dedicated breastfeeding areas.
Tip #2: Two is better than one
Traveling with a baby can be stressful enough, let alone having to breastfeed your little one on the go. This is a task that calls for a tag team. In this way, you can sit in the back with the tot while the other person is driving.
Having someone in the back seat enables you to handle issues as they come up — from changing diapers, preparing bottles, and wiping up to entertaining the toddler with some good old-fashioned tricks. This will not only avoid unnecessary stops but also makes the road trip much more fun for everyone.
This also means that the caretaker in the back seat can rest or sleep when the little one sleeps, so they can be well-rested and refreshed enough to hop on the driver’s seat when the other person gets tired. Now, you can always switch places as you see fit.
Tip#3: Be realistic and manage expectations
There are tons of things that could go wrong on your road trip — bad weather, a flat tire, car breakdown, and so on. Those setbacks can become significantly more daunting with a crying or restless baby. While being well-prepared can help you overcome these hiccups, it’s important to be easy on yourself.
Accept that you won’t be able to plan for every little detail. Maintaining an upbeat attitude towards any mishap can make a huge difference. So, do your level best, stay calm, and maintain a sense of humor about any misadventures. After all, they’ll make for fun stories in the future.
Tip#4: Try to breastfeed your baby before you hit the road
We can’t emphasize this enough. Just like you’d want to visit the little girls’ room before you get in the car, it’s a wise move to breastfeed your little one before you hit the road. The last thing you want is having to stop to feed your hungry baby only ten miles into your fun road trip. This will give you two to three hours of hunger-free driving.
Tip#5: Dress for road tripping success
This one is a no-brainer. As a breastfeeding mom on a road trip, you’ll feel more comfortable nursing in looser clothes made with soft and baby-friendly fabrics. At the very least, wear a nursing bra and shirt designed to make nursing your baby as comfortable and convenient as possible.
Tip#6: Plan to make a ton of stops
If you will be driving, you must plan to make many stops along the way. If it’s a long-distance road trip across the countryside, you’ll probably see more cows and trees than buildings. That’s why it’s crucial that you research rest stops ahead of time.
One of the most useful breastfeeding tips is to keep your child’s feeding routine as much as you can. Whatever the case, it’s not prudent to breastfeed a baby while driving — or in a moving vehicle, for that matter. It’s never safe to unstrap your baby in a speeding car.
Again, having a road trip partner is going to come in very handy here. The other person will keep driving while you express breast milk. As such, they can bottle-feed the baby with pumped milk, so you won’t have to pull over.
Tip #7: Stay well-hydrated
This is good advice for any road tripper, but more so for a breastfeeding mom. Drink plenty of healthy drinks and water.
There you have it -- 7 handy breastfeeding travel tips. Don’t forget that you have a legal right to breastfeed anywhere you’d otherwise have the right to be. That’s true no matter where you may be in the United States. And once again, preparation and early planning can go a very long way.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.