Road trip

James Mehring

This weekend I packed the car for a family trip to the Pittsburgh area. It was time for other members of my family to finally meet my daughter. Lyn and I sat down ahead of time to come up with a schedule that we thought would not be too rough on our nearly six month old baby.

The Monday holiday made for an especially busy Friday. Even so, Lyn and I decided that leaving in the evening would still be better than waking up at the crack of dawn to begin our trek on Saturday. After all, our baby could sleep on the trip out. And since she is a real morning person, it would be nice if others got to see that wonderful morning smile.

Here’s a piece of free advice…

Before the baby falls asleep, check/change her diaper. Even if you think all is O.K., doing this is way better than waking up a baby with the bright lights of a Burger King dining area. I would even suggest keeping her awake until the next rest stop as long as you aren’t traveling through the middle of nowhere with signs saying next rest stop 100 miles.

Always, and I mean always, take a foldable changing pad into a restroom with you. It is surprising how many restrooms do not have a baby changing station. Besides, how often are those tables really cleaned and who is doing the cleaning? I can remember my teenage minimum-wage job and I never excelled at lavatory maintenance.

Our daughter told us how much she disliked being jolted out of her peaceful slumber. This went on for about 20-30 minutes. She didn’t calm down until we pulled out the John Denver CD. By the way, make sure you don’t pack the music in the back of the car.

Three hours into the trip and we were already off our game plan…surprise, surprise. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our daughter back on track. She didn’t get to sleep in the evenings by 7-8 p.m. as she typically does at home. And the visiting meant that naps were less frequent. It doesn’t help that our baby hates to miss anything. This made for more restless nights and more difficult afternoons. It also sowed the seeds for a big meltdown when our daughter met my brother on Saturday evening.

Even though we stayed at my mother’s home all day Sunday, our daughter was still not herself. The trip home was also tough on our daughter but she really was a trooper. For those of you traveling through the middle PA, there is a section of I-80 under repair just above State College (between exit 161 and 147) that was backed up for miles. Avoid that section at all cost.

It’s been nearly two days since we got home and my daughter is still recovering. I am hoping she gets back into her previous sleeping pattern. I am recounting our weekend because we are planning two trips to Vermont and at least one more to Pittsburgh before the year is done. We have learned that trying to get a jump on the weekend by traveling at night was not a good idea. In the future we will try to do a better job at carving out times for naps and will be more mindful of her bedtime sleeping patterns. I would love to get any other advice on how to manage such road trips.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.