We have logged hundreds of hours on flights. Hundreds. Did you know that we moved so far away that if we went any further we would be coming back? Who does that? We do, apparently. And with five, now six kids, logging those long hours can be challenging BUT doable.
Let’s talk gear. Now I try to keep things simple. I try not overload our family (or husband) with more than we can handle. Too many gadgets and gimics can over-complicate an already crazy situation. I learned the hard way when we first moved abroad and I loaded down my husband with way too many carry-ons. I thought he was going to kill me. Really. I was fearful for my life. Also, I need my gadgets to be multi-functional. They have to work for around town, not just for the big jumps over the pond.
Here are my Five Faves for Traveling with Small Ones. I’m going to be honest, these things aren’t cheap but I am only recommending tested products. Things I have used for years and years!
1. Baby Carrier(s)
I have two ultimate faves. First, the Ergo. It is a very popular product and Moms all around the world love them. They are great for gate to gate races and leave your hands free to push luggage. I have had mine for almost 10 years AND I bought it slightly used. You would never be able to tell. My husband is known for taking toddlers on bike rides with it. It is sturdy and strong. Just like my man.
(Please do me a favor if you have an Ergo or are going to buy one and watch this video on how to use it properly. I don’t know how many times I have resisted going up to strangers and adjusting their carriers.)
My 2nd favorite carrier is an Indian Gauze Ring Sling. I ordered mine many years ago off of Etsy. It is light and easy to put on and is perfect for rocking back and forth with a crying baby in the small space next to the airplane bathroom or for walking through the rice paddy to the neighbors. It also keeps the baby close when I don’t want folks grabbing and pinching him/her. I love the gauze because it is light and cool (well, as cool as it is going to get) for me and the wee one.
2. The Stroller.
I really am not a huge baby carrier, honestly. Which brings me to No. 2. The stroller. We have a very expensive, worth every penny (though it was a gift), Phil & Ted’s Stroller with Doubles Kit. It corners like a race car for when you have to curve around and around in the immigration rope line. It’s narrow enough to fit through doors and most store aisles and bike-like tires that make it easier to use off road…or on road because our roads are bumpy and pot hole ridden. I know it seems extreme and expensive but we got ours 4 years ago and it has been wonderful! Wonderful, folks.
Look how sweet these kiddos are sitting after passing through airport security.
I also recommend a good umbrella stroller if this double is just not in the cards. Plus, it is pretty big and heavy even when you take the wheels off. Kimberlynn has the Summer Infant 3-d Flip and I was impressed by how it can change from forward to rear facing. Very easily. Maclaren, also is a brand I see expats sporting a lot. When you see something often, you know that it is bought because it works well in overseas’ contexts.
3. Car Seat.
I know that not all people use car seats when they are overseas because of the lack of seatbelts or the fact that you never get past 10 miles per hour, but my family does use them. They are probably “expired” because I hear that is a thing these days. We have two Britax Roundabout seats. The are convertible and work for small babies up to fat toddlers. Also, TSA approved. #Winning. The only way to travel for 36 hours with a toddler on an airplane is via carseat. Remember my motto: Strap-em-down. All my kids have been able to go straight to a booster seat from this Britax. It also isn’t as big as the Marathon which works well for our SUV that isn’t very spacious. No Honda Odyssey with sliding doors and tons of leg space here.
Remember how I was talking about those carseats on airplanes. Sure you are thinking, “No way am I lugging car seats onto an airplane.” Guess what? You don’t have to thanks to the Go-Go Baby Travelmate. This contraption is lovely. It turns your carseat into a stroller. You can roll your sleeping baby right onto the plane and right into the seat. We just bought a new replacement one and the design has changed so much and is so much easier to use. Really a great investment.
Notice on the far right the 5 year old pulling the toddler with the Travelmate in the Britax Roundabout Carseat.
Sorry for the blurry photo, but I wanted to show you it in action.
5. Diaper Carrier/Changing Pad.
I don’t carry a diaper bag. I gave up on that thing several kids ago. I want something practical and simple that I can put in my book bag, purse, or under a small airplane seat. I’ve used different type diaper carriers over the years but my sister surprised me with a baby gift at the hospital, the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station, and I LOVE it. L.O.V.E. It is perfectly sized, a favorite. There is also a front pocket big enough for my cash and phone if I don’t want to take a purse at all. I brought one back with me to give as a gift to another expat friend and she loves it as much as me. It works well for around town, too, because baby changing tables are not part of my world.
I know this list seems crazy. It is probably more than $1,000 worth of gear but I promise, all this stuff travels well and I have used each of them for many, many children. I’m not a very smart woman, but I know how to travel with kids.
What about you? What is your must have when traveling with toddlers/babies? Don’t be stingy with the info. Share in the comments below.