Vancouver to Calgary: traveling with a newborn

When I look back now, nearly a year on I think to myself how the hell did I do that?

Living in the US you only get so much leave after having a baby; Jimmie was due back to work in 2 weeks and having lived in Canada previously and driven this route I thought, “let’s go to Vancouver and drive all the way to Calgary, it’ll be fun!”

I booked Augustine an early immunization appointment at 6 weeks, we got the shots and 1 day later we (myself, jimmie, Ophelia (4) and Augustine (6 weeks) boarded the plane.

There were a few bumps along the way, including some of the worst wild fires BC had experienced. We got stuck behind a horrific motorcycle accident on our 3rd stop and had to reroute a few times due to wild fires blocking our path, in addition to having a few extra stops due to breastfeeding a newborn. I think if we did it again I would split it up over 3 weeks rather than 2 as we were always on the move.

Our route looked like this and we drove over 2,500 km:

Vancouver (1), Whistler (3), Lac Le Juene (3), Revelstoke (1), Kicking Horse (1), Banff (3), Calgary (1).

Canada is one of the most pristine clean beautiful countries out there. Coming from New Zealand and my husband, Sweden it reminds us of our home countries. Out of all the locations my husband liked Kicking Horse/ Nelson the most and I really enjoyed Lac Le Juene (mainly because I had never been there).

We were extremely lucky and avoided the smoke during our trip. 2 weeks later and it would have been a different story but we got lucky with the winds. I did think about canceling the trip numerous times, mainly because we were traveling with a newborn and smoke inhalation can be an issue. Despite my anxiety, it all worked out. I think the biggest lesson learnt was take the stops you need, be prepared to reroute if needed and don’t prepay accommodation like I did without buying travel insurance upfront that covers you for natural disasters. Booking it the day before when the fires have been burning for weeks isn’t going to cover you.

Essential items during a road trip with such a young baby?

#1:Plenty of diapers, not all countries have the same brands and generally they are always a lot cheaper in the US.

#2:bring your own car seat (and base) and gate check it. We made the mistake of not bringing the base and it was a pain. We also spent 30 mins trying to figure out the locking system of the seat belts for our SUV. Also note in the EU seat belts don’t lock like in the US so you need the base and ISO hooks.

#3: stroller (either second hand or a travel stroller you don’t mind getting banged up).

#4:plenty of changes of clothes, you don’t want to be doing laundry during a 2 week trip and newborns have those blow out runny 💩 also make sure you have options in case it’s super hot, raining or freezing.

#5:back facing car seat mirror. You want to make sure you can see your baby if you can’t sit in the back seat.

#6: gate check bags for the car seats. These bags save your car seats from some serious dirt.

#7:pack and play. When traveling off the beaten path, not all accommodations have a crib. I also preferred my newborn in his own bed each night to keep one thing consistent.

#8: water bottle, for yourself if you are breastfeeding. You want to ensure you are constantly hydrating. If you are bottle feeding enough formula and some more for your journey. Like diapers most countries have their own brands of formula and you don’t want to get caught out without enough.

#9: visas and passport for your new bundle? We fast tracked our sons US passport and got it within 2 days. In the US the biggest problem is waiting for the SSN and then getting a copy of the birth certificate. In our case it was fast but I’ve heard it can take months to come through. Booking ahead can sometimes be an issue due to the logistics surrounding these documents.

#10: plane pillow. Perfect size for breastfeeding on the road with a newborn and their head just fits perfect when on a plane.

Family of 3 becomes 4- Top 5 travel items with a newborn

Gone are the days of grabbing one car seat and a stroller and heading off to the airport. Traveling with 2 kids makes the complexity of traveling with kids all the more difficult and throwing a newborn into the mix means a number of items to think about packing. We just got back from a 12 day road trip from Vancouver to Calgary across Canada, some of the must have items below saved my family from unnecessary stress and meant my little man was comfortable.

1) Travel cot: many hotels have a crib or cot available however if you are going to be heading off the beaten track it’s worth the hassle to lug one of these along. You can pick one up on Amazon or the likes in other countries. I also like taking my own crib traveling because i feel like it’s a little bit of normality for baby and it means he’s sleeping in the same bed each night regardless of the location. I also FREAK out about SIDS so knowing he’s safe in his bed each night makes me sleep easier.

2) Car Travel Mirror: I cannot recommend travel mirrors enough! We just drove 2,500km across Canada and it was great to be able to look back as see Augustine and whether he was ok. A lot of SUV’s you rent when doing a road trip may only have 2 seats or there are three but the two car seats take up most of the room. It means you can see your rear facing child and talk to them through the mirror. The version i have just clips onto the head rest of the back seats and you have the ability adjust the position.

3) Pram/ Stroller: When I first had my daughter 4 years ago i flew to New Zealand from Australia with my Baby Jogger Summit X3 and stuffed the wheels therefore I highly recommend NOT taking your expensive stroller traveling, even when you gate check it. My recommendation when you have an infant is to buy a second hand stroller that is compatible with you car seat capsule. Jimmie and I were thinking of just taking the carseat and our baby bjorn on holiday however i cracked last minute and looked on facebook market place and managaed to pick up a Bob stroller compatible with my Britax B Safe 35 capsule. It was a life saver on vacation as we were able to go out for dinner with friends in Whister and Calgary for a number of hours but it also means Augustine was able to sleep in it during the day as he refuses to sleep in hs crib unless it is night time.

4) Airplane pillow: Not what you would generally use this for but I used my airplane pillow for baby head support while breastfeeding on the plane. It means baby’s head isn’t hitting the metal headrest, it’s slightly more comfortable and a support for you and once he is done he continued to sleep comfortably

5) Car seat gate check bag: these things are a must, whether you are gate checking or counter checking your car seat, these bags keep the dirt and dust off your car seat. You can buy these on Amazon really cheap, a definite must have!

The last point is to take it easy and breath. The airport experience can be painful, especially with 2 kids but it doesn’t last forever. The memories you make on the road are always more memorable than how you arrived at your destination so breath through and try to think of that cocktail in the lounge!