A few months ago I wrote some tips when traveling with your kids in tow, and I received a bunch of questions about the specific type of gear we use. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned while traveling with our boys is the gear you bring can make or break your trip. Carrying too much or ill preforming gear is sure to break your back (and your patience), and forgetting a key item can be an expensive mistake. We’ve been on both sides. We love to travel as a family and we really have our routine down. Here’s a list of our must-haves:
1) J.L. Childress backpack style car seat carriers (my handsome husband is wearing one in the picture above). These are a MUST have if you are bringing your own car seats. There are several types of car seat bags, and these are our recommendation. The bags are padded and fitted so your car seat is protected, and the back pack style keeps your hands free for pulling your suitcases or pushing a stroller. They are huge, it’s true. I’m only 5′ tall and I look like a turtle with an oversized shell when I wear it, but it’s surprisingly comfortable and easy to put on and take off.
2) Maclaren Triumph single and twin stroller. The Maclaren is easiest, lightest, most durable umbrella stroller out there. It’s not an inexpensive stroller, but it will save your back with its high handles and lightweight frame. I can easily fold up the twin and stick it through the security scanner with one hand. Our twin stroller lives in the trunk of our car and is used several times a week. For the last two years it’s been thrown around on airplanes, trekked through museums, held up while I attempted a baby bootcamp, and it’s STILL going strong. TIP: We received our single stroller as a shower gift, and we found our twin stroller for a bargain at Home Goods. I’ve since seen them many places online for half the price (or more), so look around and find a good deal. And if you have your choice, go for a gray color – the best for masking the dirt from the wheels and other scuff marks.
3) Boba carrier. We absolutely LOVE our Boba brand carrier and can’t imagine traveling without it. This carrier is my top recommendation to new parents. I have tried many carriers and slings, and the Boba is by far the most comfortable, for you AND your baby. Your shoulders and your baby’s hips will thank you for keeping them out of a front-facing dangler. I used the Boba wrap when Graham was an infant, and moved him into the carrier when he was around 4 months old. At two years old, Graham now weighs 27 lbs and it’s still comfortable for me to carry him, but he mostly rides on my husband’s back. These teething pads are great accessory if you want to avoid milky mouth marks on the straps.
4) Skip Hop diaper bag. I’m guilty of owning way too may diaper bags. When I was pregnant with my first son, I easily fell for the cute and hip designs and didn’t even think about functionality. Overall, the best, most efficient use of space, most comfortable, and easiest to carry is the Duo messenger style by Skip Hop. We’ve been schlepping this bag around for four years now and there isn’t any evidence of wear. I especially like that it can be carried messenger style, or you can use the clips and attach it to the back of your stroller.
5) Baby Bjorn travel crib. This travel crib is incredibly lightweight, unbelievably easy to set and pack up (especially when comparing to a Pack n Play) and most importantly, comfortable for the baby. It’s also roomy – Graham recently slept in ours for almost two weeks straight without complaint. The mattress is super soft – not that hard board with the crease in the middle of it found on other travel cribs. TIPS: 1) This crib is pricy, so is a great baby registry item as some folks may chip-in on it for you. 2) The mattress is an odd size so Baby Bjorn sells the crib sheet separately. You’ll want to be sure you get this so the sheet is snug and safe for your little one. 3) We only bring our travel crib if we need to. Almost all hotels provide cribs, and most other vacation rentals have one available. Be sure to call ahead and confirm before you take yours with you.
6) Travelpro 28″ rollerboard suitcase. This larger suitcase is a new purchase for our family and I’m so happy with our decision to buy the Travelpro. It maneuvers like a dream, easily pulling/turning it with one hand despite it’s size. TIP: This baby is huge and it is very easy to fill up – too easy. Most airlines charge you if your bag is over 50lbs, so we pack this bag with light items only, like clothes and diapers, then fill a smaller roller bag with our shoes and toiletries. At this point in our lives, we fit all of our family’s items in two suitcases for our trips. That’s all we can carry so that’s all we bring!
7) Kidz Gear headphones. These small sized headphones are volume limiting so the kiddos can’t blow out their ear drums just yet. They work with all apple products we have, and likely other eReaders and phones, too. Also, it’s super cute when they SHOUT to talk to you for the first time with them on, hee hee. Be sure to check out our list of our favorite apps!
Now, how to carry all of this through the airport? We each wear a car seat backpack, I push the twin stroller with the diaper bag slung on the back, and my husband pulls both roller suitcases with the travel crib clipped to the front of the Travelpro. We check the suitcases and the roller suitcases, so once we’re headed to security we only have the stroller and a diaper bag. Light and easy – it’s the best way to travel!
That’s our routine – what’s on your must-have list? xo