Gear rental and luggage forwarding ease the burdens of family travel
The logistics of traveling with children can be more than a little daunting. It’s not necessarily the kids themselves (that’s a whole other issue), but the entourage of equipment, supplies, gear and paraphernalia that comes with them.
Sure, you can try to pack light and forgo some of the luxuries of home when you’re on the road, but some items are essential must-haves or nice-to-haves that can make or break the trip.
Babies in particular seem to require a disproportionate amount of “stuff” to keep them on an even keel when traveling, and families with multiple kids can easily be overwhelmed excess baggage. Sometimes it’s a matter of cargo space – trains, planes, ships and automobiles only have so much capacity or allotment per passenger. Sometimes it’s a matter of portability – some equipment is simply too heavy, bulky or cumbersome to take on a trip. Sometimes it’s a matter of manpower – there are only so many traveling adults or able-bodied offspring around to carry the load and often one parent has all limbs otherwise occupied with kid carrying and hand-holding responsibilities.
The solution? Baby gear rental agencies and luggage forwarding services can help lighten your load so you can focus on transporting the most precious cargo of all – your children.
Baby gear rental agencies are popping up in every major city, resort town, island and family-frequented region around the globe (see www.baby-equipment-rental.com, www.beha.co.uk, www.hireforbaby.com or just google “baby gear rentals” or “baby equipment hire” and your destination and see what pops up).
Most offer a menu of items like cribs, car seats, strollers, safety gates, high chairs, bedrails, swings and exersaucers – the bulky stuff that’s hard to bring yourself. Others also offer baby proofing kits, beach supplies, monitors, toys and the like. Make sure the company you use supplies quality brand-name equipment that passes the latest safety regulations and that items are thoroughly sanitized between each customer use. Lead times can vary from two weeks prior to the day before.
Some companies even ship personal items like diapers, baby food and toiletries to your hotel or destination, saving you the hassle of lugging them along or shopping for particular brands and basic supplies day one.
Note there are some restrictions on what can be shipped across borders, and customs and duties fees may apply, but Jet Set Babies , Babies Travel Lite and Tiny Tots Away cover the US, the UK, most of Europe and many other international destinations.
Of course, there’s a charge for the renting or purchase of each item plus shipping, taxes, fuel surcharges and other miscellaneous fees – not necessarily a cheap proposition. However, the convenience of having these items delivered to and collected from your destination can be well worth the expense, especially if you are flying. Many airlines are reducing luggage allotment, eliminating free passes for child equipment and are quick to demand overweight/excess baggage charges these days. On the other hand, if you plan to visit friends or relatives repeatedly or with subsequent children as your family grows, it may be more economical to simply buy (or borrow) a set of baby gear to store there.
If convenience is paramount and money no object, luggage forwarding services can be a godsend for traveling families.
Once the exclusive domain of expense-account wielding business travelers, now solo parents traveling with multiple kids or any couple bedraggled with belongings might consider the splurge.
These services will pick up your suitcases from your doorstep and deliver them right to your hotel, villa, cruise line or home away from home, and vice versa. Now, if only you could outsource the packing…
Door-to-door customs clearance is facilitated for international deliveries. This eliminates the time, bother, muscle fatigue and chaos of shepherding the kids through baggage check-in lines and waiting around the baggage claim carousel (or trying to stop junior from jumping on the carousel, as the case may be). You can just breeze through the airport with a small carry-on and yourselves.