Driving across the country with an infant...advice please — The Bump
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Driving across the country with an infant...advice please

I wanted to ask this question early on because all the time I think about it is causing me so much worry.  My husband and I will be moving from North Carolina to California next year for our next duty station with a baby only 3-5 months old.  We are going to be driving a UHaul (I heard there are ones you can get a carseat in) and I will be breastfeeding.  Now, if we have to stop every 2 hours to breastfeed, it will take us forever to get there.  Could I pump ahead of time and pack a cooler of breast milk (frozen) and thaw out as I need them?  Then, there is the issue of warming it up....don't I have to warm it up?

Is there some common sense stuff I am missing here?

Sorry, I am a total newbie to all of this and I don't have my mom to ask so I am relying on some gals with experience. :)

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Re: Driving across the country with an infant...advice please

  • The average for babies to eat is every 3 hours I thought. I guess it depends on how much you are feeding LO when he/she is that old.

    I will be driving (moving) from Washington DC to Phoenix AZ in October and with a 3 month old as well, I was planning on pumping some and putting them in a cooler just with ice. Only a couple frozen ones, but mainly with just cold ones.

    I am planning on using the playtex drop ins and so all it takes to heat up the milk would be warm water running over the top of the bag. I was maybe thinking of using a thermos with boiling water so that it stays warm for atleast a while. Then we would just have to stop at reststops/ fast food places for the other breaks.

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  • NSLNSL
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    Take it from an experienced mom of two--that drive is going to be miserable. If your baby can tolerate being in the carseat for that many hours at a stretch (neither of mine would have been able to do it at that age) you could easily wind up with a wide awake infant all night because he/she slept in the car all day. If the baby hates being in the carseat, you'll likely have hours of screaming to cope with every day of the trip. At least consider buying a plane ticket for you and the baby to fly to your next duty station rather than driving with your H.
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  • Ditto NSL. We recently moved from NY to Texas. DH and his brother drove, LO and I flew. You could not pay me enough money to make that drive. Reconsider.
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  • J+MSJ+MS
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    Seriously, fly. We only drove from LA to MI and it took 6 hours longer than it should have and LO was miserable, so not worth it.
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  • Oooooo-kay.....so maybe I'll fly?  I've only flown twice in my life.  Only once by myself and missing an overlay with an infant terrifies me....probably because I am so stupid to how all the flying stuff works.  Everybody else I talked to about flying said not to fly alone, which I didn't want to anyway needing help with an infant, having luggage and whatnot.  Perhaps I could fly out a week or two early, find a place to live (which we have to do anyway), then have my husband fly back and load up the Uhaul to drive cross country by himself.  That I could see happening. :)
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  • image arcook0307:
    Oooooo-kay.....so maybe I'll fly?  I've only flown twice in my life.  Only once by myself and missing an overlay with an infant terrifies me....probably because I am so stupid to how all the flying stuff works.  Everybody else I talked to about flying said not to fly alone, which I didn't want to anyway needing help with an infant, having luggage and whatnot.  Perhaps I could fly out a week or two early, find a place to live (which we have to do anyway), then have my husband fly back and load up the Uhaul to drive cross country by himself.  That I could see happening. :)

    Definitely fly.  When we moved from VA - CA, DD2 was 2.5 weeks old and flying was the best thing to do.  The easiest thing to do would be to check one large suitcase for you and the baby, as well as the infant car seat.  Wear the baby in an Ergo or similar carrier and have a backpack or diaper bag as a carry-on.  The less crap you lug through the airport, the better.  You could use a travel system/snap and go and check the stroller and car seat at the gate, but that'll make going through security and getting on the plane more of a pain.

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  • I would suggest flying.  I flew 4 times across country by myself with my daughter before she was three months old and at four months old I drove.  The flying was so much better.  I wore her is one of those front sacks and took a stroller with infant carrier.  Basically I tossed all the bags (diaper, book bag and carry-on) in the stroller and rolled them around while she rode in the sack while we waited for the flight.  Than I just handed my stroller to the stewardess as I got on the plane.  The stewardesses where awesome and I walked around the plane while it was in the air and they would hold her while I went to the bathroom, brought juice and water for me anytime they saw she was fussy and even warmed her milk for her.  When I got off they had my stroller sitting right outside the door ready to go.  I did check one large suitcase in which I basically also put on the stroller when we were walking in and out of the airport.

    Flying is not bad with a child who can not crawl/walk.  Now I have a toddler and it is not so easy.  Just make sure you are feeding your child on take off and landing or they may get an ear ache.

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  • I'd also fly. I drove from NY to OK with an 8 week old and it was miserable. We did have to stop every couple of hours because he needed fed or changed. Even if you do the bottle thing, your LO will need diaper changes frequently because BF kids poo pretty darn often. There's really no way around the frequent stops. I also flew with an infant by myself and it was a breeze compared to the drive, especially if you are BFing and don't need to keep track of bottles and whatnot. Just don't over pack and you'll be fine.
  • I flew with my son by myself when he was about 8 months old and it was waaay easier than flying with him as a toddler, so I can only imagine flying with a 3-5 month old is easier still.  It's an option you should consider, and just look into getting connecting flights with a long time in between if you think that will give you more peace of mind.

    If you do drive, can you space it out over a few days?  Not that that's fun either, but I agree with PP who said your LO may not tolerate the carseat for long stretches.  You can also pump in the car and put it straight in a bottle to feed the baby on the spot, rather than deal with trying to thaw out frozen breastmilk.  I drove from DC to MI with my dad and my son when he was 5 months old and we basically just had to stop more than we wanted for diaper changes and other feedings.  One of us usually sat in the back with him to keep him entertained and it was pretty stressful at the end.

    Ugh, I am doing the drive from Norfolk to MI this time with my now 27 month old and a newborn when this one shows up and my husband deploys.  Thanks for making me even more nervous about it!  haha.

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  • Thank you SO much ladies.  I really want to get one of the Ergo carriers you all mentioned.  They look AWESOME!  I talked to my husband about flying last night.  He is not one to want to make a million stops, at least not with a 27 foot UHaul towing a car!  My husband is leaning towards having me fly so I was happy about that since he is often slow to get on board with my ideas....  I am starting to think I could make the flight by myself!  Thanks for the kind words and encouragement sweet ladies!  You made my day. :)
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  • image arcook0307:
    Thank you SO much ladies.  I really want to get one of the Ergo carriers you all mentioned.  They look AWESOME!  I talked to my husband about flying last night.  He is not one to want to make a million stops, at least not with a 27 foot UHaul towing a car!  My husband is leaning towards having me fly so I was happy about that since he is often slow to get on board with my ideas....  I am starting to think I could make the flight by myself!  Thanks for the kind words and encouragement sweet ladies!  You made my day. :)

    I forgot to mention you should be able to include the receipt for your airfare in your travel claim.  Also, you can check with airline on how many pieces of luggage you can check for free.  I think the military will reimburse you for the cost of 3 bags (I may be wrong on this), but some airlines won't charge you at all, if you are traveling on orders.  Delta will let you check 4 bags for free: http://www.delta.com/help/faqs/baggage/index.jsp#military  The less stuff you travel with, the easier it will be for you, but it is always good to know your options.

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  • I was hesitant to fly across the county because I had only flown a few times before I started dated my now husband. We started dating while he was on leave in NY. He then had training in TX and stationed in CA. There was no way I could drive to visit him every month. Of course I was flying alone and not with an infant. I get to experience that joy next Spring when I fly home to visit.

    I just suggest making sure you have plenty of time in between flights. That way you aren't rushed to get off the plane, get your gate checked luggage and find the next gate. I'm the type of person who would rather wait 2-3 hrs for my connection than try to rush and make a 30 min one.

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  • We just PCSed from TX to VA, and I remember asking on the boards advice on making the trip. Everyone advised me to fly. It was very easy, baby slept the whole trip, and we were there in 6 hours instead of 3 days. It sucked that my husband had to drive the truck cross-country without me, but it was worth it. I am still very glad we made the decision to fly.
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