Summer road trip with baby
February 20, 2017 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Our baby was born six weeks ago, and we're saving some of our parental leave time for later this year. We're planning a four week road trip in late June-early July, starting and ending in San Francisco. We'll definitely make stops in Southern BC (Victoria, Salt Spring Island, and Bamfield); Banff, and the Grand Tetons. Other stops are negotiable. We'll probably book Airbnbs (or similar) for most nights, with some occasional car camping. We're looking for recommendations along the west coast, through the interior of BC, and northwest US: hidden gems and sweet spots to stop, to sleep, to eat, campsites that would be ideal with baby, etc.

We'd like to be able to do some hiking after snow has melted, so we're thinking of saving the mountainous parts of the journey for July.
We'll spend at least a week or so on the west coast of BC (Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) since we have family to visit/stay with there.
We'd like to travel through the Olympic Peninsula.
I've read some previous threads with great suggestions about road tripping with babies, but would appreciate any other tips on keeping baby happy, breaks, and just how much slower everything will be with a little one (I know, a lot, but like twice as long? three times as long?)...

posted by purplefiber to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Bring a pack and play, and get one of those washable tote-picnic blanket type things as it's nice to put your baby down from time to time.

I live in Banff and have a been raising a kid here, memail me if you have questions or need help. Be aware that due to Canada 150 there are no national park fees (you can order and print a free pass online to save waiting at the gate) but that things are expected to be a zoo in Banff. Not much Air BnB here so look at getting a site online in advance (like now) or try some of the more out of the way non-advance booking campgrounds such as Waterfowl Lakes or Marble Canyon.
posted by furtive at 9:58 PM on February 20, 2017

We did a big loop a few years back-Oregon to Vancouver BC to Whistler to Jasper and back through Banff and Waterton and Montana. The camping in Jasper was by far my favorite part of that gorgeous trip-quieter and cheaper and less developed than Banff, but easily as beautiful.

Not on that trip, but I've camped with my babies around that age over the years and it's a pretty nice age for it. Old enough to be in somewhat of a routine but not so old and mobile that you feel like they are going to wander off into a creek at any moment. To be fair, all three of my kids were easy car travelers-if you have a baby that hates being in the car, this sounds like pure misery to me. I would bring things to lend some familiarity to the space or routine-e.g. Pak n Play with familiar bedding, etc, so surroundings don't seem different every night-I think you'll find sleep will be easier with that. Perhaps a short weekend trip before you set out to get it dialed in?
posted by purenitrous at 10:33 PM on February 20, 2017

I've never camped at The Snow Slip in Essex, MT, but we had a cabin across the road and it's a gorgeous place. There don't seem to be any airbnbs around there. The Izaak Walton Inn down the street probably has nicer rooms.
If you come through Babb, MT you can drive though Glacier Park. I haven't been to Babb in a long time, it used to be rough, but I've heard it's a really fun place now.
posted by Duffington at 10:40 PM on February 20, 2017

I don't think it's possible to predict how much slower it will go with the baby - there's just so much variation. One big factor is feeding - will one parent give her a bottle while the other parent drives (and baby is in the carseat), or will you need to stop and nurse?

If I was planning this trip, I'd make sure as much as possible of it would be fully refundable. It's totally possible that your baby will be at a great age to travel, but it's also possible that things will change in a way that it's just too much work to be in multiple new places every week. For example, some babies will happily play and sleep in a carseat, and some babies hate carseats and will yell and cry. My baby (now 11mo old) was fine in a carseat until she was about 3 months old, then yelled/cried every time she was in the carseat until she was around 6/7 mo old, and is now pretty chill in the carseat most of the time. Also worth considering - some babies will happily sleep anywhere (in a baby carrier, in a stroller, in a pack n play in a new room), some babies only sleep well in their own crib at home, and some babies just don't sleep well no matter what.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:37 AM on February 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

We did Nova Scotia with a 3 month old - woof.

Get an awesome breast pump with 12V adapter - you might surprisingly find that the pump is *much* more efficient operating off the car than the adapter because the voltage is higher (13.6V or something as compared to AC-DC exact 12V). Figure out a way to store your breast milk by keeping it near-ice cold! Make sure you've got your cleaning methods down for travel.

Babies like to squirm - car seats prevent squirming - no long periods of restraint. Drive during nap times, don't let any nap go tooo long - lots of comfy (maybe think fleece?) blankets so they're not always against the relatively rough car seat fabric- especially the head.

Orr hot springs [might be a bit adventurous for a wee one, but you can have private tubs in case of accidents] (and definitely hike Montgomery Woods state reserve nearby), picaflores,net -- those are our not-so-secret gems.
posted by mrzz at 2:31 PM on February 21, 2017

If you plan to swing through Montana, send me a message and I will give you suggestions.

I've been everywhere, man.
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:53 PM on February 22, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Great suggestions!
posted by purplefiber at 2:30 PM on February 25, 2017

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