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.

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