My point being: I have ordered so many travel accessories and assistants and strollers and carriers that I feel slightly obligated to share my reviews with you. I have taken these purchases on short and long trips, used them with an infant and toddler (same kid, different size) and had successes and failures. I have been asked by many about "what works best" or "what should I pack" so I think you might be interested too.
So, here goes...this is what the Noonans are packing.
|Bound for Jordan. This is what we packed.|
The Bag (I still say it with a Minnesota accent if you are wondering)
My favorite blogger and travel-with-kids inspiration, Hither and Thither, led us to this gender-neutral beauty by Sons of Trade. It is handsome, can be worn as a backpack, has plenty of pockets and is über durable. I use it around Boise and we traveled to Jordan with it as our carry-on and day pack.
Why I like it: The backpack feature saved us while traveling abroad because it allows both of us to have two arms free. The inside pockets allow for functional organization of supplies, toys, food/milk and passports/money. It's really important when flying multiple hours on an airplane to know where pacifiers/stuffed animals/snacks/iPads are in an instant. Downfall: It can be a little too large for simple daily outings around Boise.
Car Seat Transporter
|Go-Go Babyz Kidz Travelmate in Paris (Kiki, 16 months)|
The Go-Go Babyz Kidz Travelmate was a great way to transport a bulky convertible car seat through security and lounges and airports. If you've purchased an airplane seat for your little one and will be using a car seat in that seat, this is what you need.
Why I Like It: It's easy to use, fits most convertible car seats, wheels easily and fits in the overhead bin once the car seat is fastened into the airplane seat. Stewardesses were skeptical, but pleasantly surprised when I wheeled it down the aisle, Dan swiftly unhooked Kiki and her seat and the contraption was stowed in the overhead bin. Boom.
BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light 2
The Baby Björn Travel Light Crib 2 is a terrific travel crib. It really is light and easy to unfold and re-pack. I assume it's comfortable because my child has slept 12+ hours in it before. It's traveled to Sun Valley and Jordan and everywhere in between.
Why I like it: It unfolds in about 15 seconds. This can be a lifesaver when you arrive at your destination, late at night, after a long day of travel. Your baby just wants to sleep and you just want that glass of wine. Packing our own travel crib means that Kiki has a familiar place to fall asleep in, even if her surroundings are brand new.
Traveling Sound Machine
We use white noise as a sleep aid in this house. Both for parents and child. One way to make sleeping easier while traveling is to take some of the comforts of home with you on vacation. We pack Kiki's "babies" (see Pink Monkey above), her sleep sac (this thing is amazing) and white noise. While traveling, we use this cute little giraffe that plays soothing waves to block out car horns, doors shutting or the 4am Adhan (the Muslim call to prayer).
Why I like it: It's small and reminds Kiki of home. It also has a really strong Velcro attachment that is hard for even the sneakiest of toddlers to undo.
The Stroller - to take or not to take
|The UPPAbaby G-Luxe stroller in San Francisco (Kiki, 9 months)|
I debated back and forth whether or not to pack our G-Luxe stroller for Jordan. Strollers are staples of parenthood in America...they go with us nearly everywhere and we have the infrastructure to support them. However, having traveled enough internationally before kids, I know that foreign countries aren't like home. And I am really glad I didn't take the stroller to Amman. We wouldn't have used it.
BUT, that doesn't mean I won't be taking it on our next trip (stay tuned). This lightweight umbrella stroller has been great in American cities and has gone to San Francisco, St Louis, Minneapolis, Duluth, Nashville, Scottsdale and Sun Valley, to name a few.
Why I like it: It weighs in at 13 pounds, reclines, has a sun shade and it's comfortable for both child and pusher (even for tall dads like Dan). We purchased the travel case that guarantees the stroller will be protected during air travel, otherwise it's replaced (as long as it's within the two-year warranty).
Hands-free Carrier (so many options)
I've tried and own the ERGObaby Carrier and BabyBjörn Original Carrier. We also have a hiking backpack, a Deuter Kid Comfort 3, that also works great for traveling.
Depending on how old your child is and where you are going, they all have their pluses and minuses.
|The ERGObaby in San Francisco (Kiki, 9 months)|
The ERGO works great for older babies and toddlers. It is also easy to fold up and stow in a suitcase. As long as your toddler is OK being toted on your back, I can't think of any minuses.
|The BabyBjörn Original Carrier in Park City (Kiki, 8 weeks)|
The BabyBjörn is best suited for tiny babies that need extra neck support and are lightweight. It's not as comfortable with heavy children who are better suited on your back.
|The Deuter Kid Carrier|
The hiking backpack was a new travel option for us and was recommended to me by a great friend (thanks, Laura!). It offered shade in the desert, Kiki could see over our heads being propped up on our backs and it has pockets for water bottles, hats and sunscreen. The only minus is that it's big and bulky (we checked ours, but Laura stuffed hers in the airplane's overhead compartment).
Why I like it: ERGObaby is best for adventures where you aren't carrying your toddler long distances, but want something that is versatile (baby can go on your front or back) and is comfortable. The BabyBjörn Original is best for babies under 6 months of age. Try a hiking backpack if you have an older baby, will be going on long hikes or city tours and could use the shade and extra pockets. Borrow carriers from friends - you don't need them all!
|Packing for her first airplane ride - MSP bound (Kiki, 3 months)|
Packing for a vacation takes planning and research. It's trial and error (even though we all wish to avoid the error on precious vacation time). We can learn from each other and ask questions and take notes. And place plenty of Amazon orders.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your feedback. What other packing questions do you have for your upcoming adventure?