You are having a baby… you want to travel… now what? And most importantly, what to take with you? As you have flooded your house with everything that was put on the list of some big baby retail chain of ‘must-haves’, and await the moment to have some much needed maternity leave, you can’t help but wander how you are ever going to travel again with all this stuff you need to take care of a child! In a series of blogs, we will take you through some of these ‘must-haves’ and provide you with tips on how to cover for them while traveling.
To roll or to carry?
In this blog we will take a look at the way to transport your child in those early years. Let’s start with our first ever trip with our son Luc, a 2 week holiday to beautiful Fuerteventura. Sun, sea and a relatively small island to get around and explore sounded like the perfect try-out to take our boy on. Having gotten used to our full-size stroller (a Mountainbuggy Urban Jungle we highly recommend, especially the face-to-face seat!), we figured we should bring the whole thing… So we did…
Why did we think this was a good idea?
- Stability/moveability – Fuerteventura is a rocky place, certainly not one with neat tiled curbs and tarmac roads. While thinking of a simpler stroller type to bring (like our Koelstra), those little wheels shooting in every direction did not seem like a good idea.
- Bed and carrier – The cot of the stroller is of course also a bed, which means you can let the little one sleep comfortably anywhere you go.
- No lifting/carrying – While the little one may only weigh 4kgs, which is fine for a little stroll or cuddle, after giving birth to him you are certainly not up for carrying him a lot. So avoiding this was a great option if you still want to take those walks along the boulevard and into a park.
Why we will never do it again…
- Its SIZE – OMG… these things are massive… then you have to pack it properly so it comes out of the plane unscathed, which adds to the bulkiness. Going from 2 backpacks to the stroller, a large suitcase, the car seat, and then some…. was really a step too far.
- More stable… but still – Yes on many town paths we were fine, but those nice little wanders out to a (soft sanded) beach or up a hill were still VERY rocky… so navigating the stroller was still a hassle.
- Hubby and car to carry – We have changed our public transport backpacking to a rental car to get around. Which is technically already something to carry your child or let him take a nap in. For the rest – the husband has 9 months to become fit enough to carry the little one!
Our verdict: CARRY… Most of the time
So if carrying is the way to go, how to make sure you can keep it up? Beyond ensuring you have a certain level of fitness, make sure you invest in a proper carrier. Remember, PROPER does not have to be EXPENSIVE. Best tip we have is to go to your local eBay type website and find a 2nd hand one, as this is typically an investment that people make for limited use leaving the 2nd hand carrier still in great shape. We bought and sold our carrier for the same price!
What to watch out for / consider
- Front or back? – When they are very little, you of course want to carry them on the front to have that kangaroo like cuddle while you walk. But that wears off quickly as you almost trip when you climb that rocky path down to the beach and realize you could have easily smashed your babies head onto a rock if you did… sorry for the visual, but if you are not so steady on your feet it is a true consideration to make. While you may not see the little one on your back, you will hardly ever be by yourself, so your partner can always keep an eye out.
- Your heights – We are both tall, but have very different upper bodies. While it might feel like a hassle, make sure that you buy a carrier that is suitable for both your bodies, and that you adjust it every time you switch. A properly fit carrier is the difference between a back ache within 10 minutes of carrying and not.
- Hip weight carrier – Like your beloved backpack you want your hips to do the carrying, so invest in a sturdy carrier that has that same feature so you can do a lot of carrying.
- Accessories – Invest in a sunroof you can attach, and with that a rain cap as well. Keeping your kid in the shade and dry are important and easy to do, so worth the little extra investment.
- Never carry when going fast! – Riding a bike, skiing, other fast sports, we have seen it happen and really can not stress enough that a carrier is not for every situation…
So which carrier should you buy?
Our carrier was the Deuter Kid Comfort, a very solid piece of equipment a few benefits worth mentioning:
- Hip carrier – The carrying mechanism on the hips is strong and durable, and adjustable to your height.
- Stand to park – The stand you can pull out, so when you take your child off your back, the carrier stays upright.
- Big back pocket – The space under the seat is large enough to carry all the necessities, from bottle, diaper, food to your own snacks and water. No extra bag needed for a good walk ahead!
- Sun roof / rain cover – Worth every penny, this 2-in-1 cover takes care of any type of weather and is super easy to take off/put on.
But if you must carry on rolling… (pun intended)
If you can not let go of a stroller or simply can physically not carry (and the husband let go those 9 months) we would recommend to keep your stroller as small as possible, and that it can fully recline. This way, you would still have the benefit of being able to put your child horizontally when you take a load off. Our Koelstra Simba T4 was perfect for this and we did take it on trips where we knew the going was easier and the infrastructure was more ‘small wheel friendly’ – mostly Western / European countries. The added bonus is that most airlines let you take the buggy up to the gate and you can take it with you for free. Being Dutch, we even had a super easy buggy-carrier for our bicycles, so we could take it anywhere with us.
Check out our other blogs on traveling with kids, and let us know about your tips for traveling with children!