Have young kids? Long gone are the days of you and your partner heading to the airport with nothing but your carry-on luggage, breezing through security and skipping the baggage claim completely. Traveling with young children frankly means toting more stuff – car seats, strollers, pack-n-plays, not to mention all of the tricks to keep them entertained and fed in-flight. How you manage the gear is completely up to your individual family, and varies widely depending on personal preference. Some family travelers swear by minimal packing, renting all their kid gear at their destination. Others bring everything and are not bothered by hauling half their house to the airport. We fall somewhere in the middle. The only requirements? All the kids’ gear we travel with has to be light, portable and of course, stylish.
Here is how we manage traveling with kid gear with young kids in-tow and a list of some of our favorite hip travel gear:
Hip Kids Travel Car Seats: While it is a pain to travel with them, we take our own car seats traveling because we know they are safe. For our 6-year-old, we travel with and check the Safety 1st Go Hybrid Convertible Booster. It is lightweight and comes with a travel bag and is perfect for families on the go. Because our 2-year-old is still very wiggly in-flight and will only settle down in her car seat, we bring her airplane approved Safety 1st Air Protect Seat (which I won in a drawing at BlogHer 2009) through security with the Go Go Kidz Travelmate stroller attachment and take it off at the gate. Note: you will need to remove the Go Go Kidz Travelmate attachment from the car seat, or have them hand check it to get it through security. We take it off when we get to the gate and store it in the overhead compartment. Let me just caveat that hauling a carseat through security is not fun, however if you are planning to bring a stroller anyway and want a car seat in flight, this combo is a great alternative.
Another option would be to simply strap the car seat to your carry-on roller luggage, which works well if you don’t need or have the stroller attachment.
Hip Travel Stroller: We travel and check our Maclaren Volo Stroller in its travel bag. It is lightweight, packs up small and has a canopy to shade little ones in sunny destinations.
Hip Carry-On Bags: Our Deuter KangaKid Carrier doubles as one of our carry-ons and easily totes our youngest on hikes, in crowds and exploring. We also just bought these fun Heys USA Kids Wheeled Luggage for our recent trip to Disneyland which I filled with new toys and treats and used as their carry-on bags to keep them entertained in-flight. If you don’t like the Disney prints Heys USA has some fashionable and lightweight luggage for all ages.
Hip Family Luggage: Depending on your family’s style, you can splurge on a set of designer luggage, or pay for more practical pieces. We love the Eagle Creek Travel Gear HoverCraft line. It comes in a one of my very favorite colors (HipTravelMama orange), is super lightweight, and easy to spot on the baggage carousel.
Hip Baby Gear: Traveling with a baby presents its own unique challenges. Early on we traveled with our Graco Pack N’ Play, but have since grown weary of towing it around. There are lots of new options if you prefer to bring your own baby bed. The KidCo PeaPod Portable Self-Inflating Bed in lime green is one of my favorite alternatives. Or you can skip it all together and do what we do now, which is request a crib at the hotel, or if you are renting a home, use a service like BabysAway that will deliver baby gear and supplies to more than 70 destinations in the US. For highchairs, we occasionally travel with the Phil and Teds Me Too Chair which packs flat and weighs less than three pounds. It doesn’t always fit on all tables, so we end up using restaurant high chairs (along with a big pack of Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes).
For a fashionable alternative to the diaper bag, I love Petunia PickleBottom Bags and Clutches. They come is a wide selection of fashionable styles and designs that include the Heirloom by Petunia collection to Cross Town Clutches that hide the diaper and wipes pocket and fold out diaper pad.
And don’t leave home without your Baby Björn or other baby carrier, which makes moving in and out of planes, around airports and your cobble-stoned destination so much easier than bringing a stroller if you can avoid it. One of our favorite stylish baby carriers is Beco Baby Carrier. It comes in a wide range of fashionable patterns, is light and packable and can be worn as a front or back pack for babies and toddlers 7-45lbs.
In short, the key to managing kid gear when traveling with kids is to know your personal travel style – making gear fun, cute and lightweight is sure to lighten the load.
What is your favorite kid gear?