Take time to find a good portable stroller for your holiday
When you’re traveling with children between infanthood and age 4, there may be times when you want to push them around – on wheels, that is. Having some sort of stroller, pram, pushchair, carriage or buggy can be a godsend in airports, restaurants and museums plus on beach promenades, scenic walks and shopping excursions.
If you are traveling to any place where the sidewalks are smooth and the paths are paved then give your arms or torso a rest and bring along a stroller. Not only will you be able to comfortably cart your cherub from place to place, you might even be able to tuck a diaper bag, camera case or souvenir purchase in there too.
There are about as many makes and models of strollers as there are cars, and choosing one that’s right for your family can be rather daunting. What’s good for zipping around your hometown might be too cumbersome for an overseas jaunt. What’s ideal for an active toddler might not accommodate a sleeping newborn. If you are planning to have two or more children close in age, a whole other set of issues comes into play.
Here are some practical considerations when choosing the right stroller for your traveling family.
Small umbrella strollers are a convenient choice for most travelers as they are designed to be lightweight and compact to fit in car trunks, public transportation, airplanes and hotel rooms.
These no-frills foldable pushchairs forgo things like padding and suspension in lieu of portability. They don’t offer the comfiest ride and won’t necessarily double as a napping spot or restaurant perch, but they sure come in handy when those little legs tire of traversing the concourse, platform or streets.
The most basic, economic models are little more than a sling of fabric on wheels but some deluxe brands are more feature-rich and built to last.
Note: Most umbrella strollers are not suitable for infants as they don’t recline fully or support a wobbly head. Don’t use one until your baby can sit up, usually around the six-month mark.
Sturdier standard strollers have a range of bells and whistles depending on make, model and price point. It’s worth investing in a quality brand if you want one to last – a good one may even go the distance for a subsequent child.
Look for things like a one-handed folding mechanism, locking wheels, an adjustable reclining seat, washable padding, an all weather canopy, a snack tray and activity bar, a sizable storage basket and height adjustable handles so both parents can push in comfort. Standard size strollers fold up remarkably – not quite as compactly as umbrella strollers, but they can still be stashed in a car trunk etc, albeit with not much room for other bulky items.
If you anticipate your trip will entail a lot of walking and you need a handy sleeping or eating spot for your child, it’s worth taking your stroller with you. Just note that some airlines are getting stingy about gate-checking larger strollers – you may have to check it with your baggage and then carry your child to the departure lounge. Call ahead and make sure you’re aware of and prepared for the latest regulations.
It’s a wonder how people ever got around before the travel system car seat/stroller combo was invented. If driving is going to be a part of your daily life and travels, you’ll need a car seat for your young child so it might as well be one that snaps into a compatible stroller mate. Then you can simply detach the car seat from its base without unstrapping, disturbing or waking your baby and then stroll to your heart’s content (and vice versa).
The baby will most likely be in a rear facing position so you can coochie-coo as you amble along. Once your baby outgrows the infant car seat (typically around 22 lbs, which can be anywhere from six to nine months), you can simply use the accompanying standard sized stroller as a stand-alone unit. See above for recommended features and airline caveats.
Rugged three- or four-wheeler all-terrain jogging strollers are the SUVs of the pram world, and make for a comfortable ride both for the baby and the pushing parent. Durable frames, heavy-duty suspension and large 12- to 20-inch wheels with air-filled tires can handle off-road conditions including grass, sand and snow as well as potholed city streets and busy shopping malls.
A five-point harness, ergonomic handles and front locking wheels for fixed forward pushing are common features. Travelers should look for a relatively lightweight model with a quick release wheel for easy storage, but even the most compact jogging stroller will be bulkier (and pricier!) than most standard or umbrella strollers. You might find a selection of jogging strollers from Wayfair.com that fit your needs.
Be aware that many all-terrain strollers are not suitable for infants under six months of age.
Classic baby carriages let the baby fully recline in canopied comfort, either in a forward or rear facing configuration. Larger wheels with great suspension lead to a smooth ride. Carriage-styled prams are oozing with retro-style and sophistication, but are a bit too bulky to be an optimum travel choice, unless you opt for a design with a foldable chassis plus removable bassinette.
There are some new sporty models that pay homage to the traditional carriage form but incorporate modern, urban sensibilities and practicalities as well (see UPPABaby, Firstwheels, Peg-Perego and Mutsy for starters).
Whether you’re blessed with a multiple birth or siblings close in age, you’ll be in the market for a stroller built for two (or three…). Many big-name brands have options for double strollers these days (some have triples and quads too!), either in a side-by-side or tandem style.
Many parents prefer a side-by-side model as both kids get a front row seat to the world. The drawback is they can hog the sidewalk and be rather cumbersome to push through tight doorways or store aisles.
In a tandem model (the stretch limo of strollers), one child is in front of the other but it’s a standard width – the biggest drawback to the tandem style is listening to your children whine about who gets to sit in front. Some tandem strollers have staggered stadium seating or can convert to a face-to-face configuration.
Test drive a few models as some are pretty awkward to push while others are surprisingly nimble. With either style, check that there is infant seat compatibility if you want to use it as a travel system. Both types fold up for travel and storage, but of course not as compactly as a single stroller. You’ll be hard pressed to fit much more in a taxi trunk once you’ve stuffed a double stroller in there.
If you’re juggling a baby and a toddler, you might consider getting a “boogie board” attachment for your standard stroller – this is a wheeled standing platform that rolls behind the stroller so your older child can casually hop on for a ride when the need arises. The Lascal Kiddyboard , Bugaboo Wheeled Board and Valco Hitchhiker are a few options, but note it can be kind of cumbersome to push your child on it for long distances. Baby Trend makes various models of Sit N Stand strollers that have a more comfy perch for the older sibling to piggyback on.
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