Forget about getting away from it all. Traveling with a baby is often about getting away with it all. To lighten your load and make your next family trip truly a vacation, these tips on renting baby gear are just the ticket.
The perks of renting
Less hassle. Whether you’ll be staying at Grandma’s or a vacation rental property through an outfit such as VRBO or Airbnb, imagine getting there and having the crib and changing table already set up in the bedroom, the high chair at the kitchen table and toys in the living room? Ahhh. That’s what it can be like when you rent baby gear.
Cost savings. These days, you can lease everything from a full-size crib, play yard, high chair and booster chair to a car seat, stroller, bottle warmer and even toys at a weekly rate that’s typically less than it would cost to fly with them. A basic Pack ‘n Play, for example, can cost $25 to $75 to check at the airport (fees vary per carrier), which can add up, especially if you have lots of non-carry-on baby gear.
Travel with all of the comforts
Rental companies such as Babierge (as in baby + concierge) make it possible. “We can make sure you have all the comforts of home,” says Kerri Couillard, Babierge’s founder. The baby gear rental company is based in Santa Fe, NM. Couillard, a former web developer, started Babierge almost five years ago when her two boys, now 5 and 6, were really little. She had two of everything and it was taking up valuable space in her garage.
“One day, my husband tasked me with selling it. He wanted us to be able to park our car in there,” Couillard says. With the possibility of a third baby, however, Couillard decided to try renting her gear out instead. “Within three days, I had my first order,” she says. In other words, a business was born.
Through Babierge, you can rent big stuff, such as a full-size commercial crib (it doesn’t require the detailed assembly of a regular crib), a stroller or double stroller and a car seat as well as smaller items, such as toys, a step stool, a potty chair, a sleep machine, an Exersaucer and a wagon with a canopy.
Renting makes travel convenient. “We can connect with whoever you’re renting your home from, get the key and into the property and set everything up for you before you arrive,” says Fran Maier, former co-founder of Match.com, now Babierge’s CEO.
Babierge isn’t a franchise per se. Rather, it uses local “Trusted Partners,” independent representatives of Babierge to deliver, setup and pick up baby items. Trusted partners are other parents just like you, with stuff to rent out. Think Airbnb for baby gear.
Rental fees vary per item and vendor. Each Trusted Partner establishes his/her own rates and inventory. Renting a full-size crib in Santa Fe through Babierge will cost you $14 per day, for example. Delivery and set up fees vary too, ranging from $20 to $45, depending on if you’re traveling where there’s lots of road traffic. But the delivery and setup fee is all-inclusive, not per item.
You can avoid the setup fee by get the stuff from your Babierge trusted partner and setting it up yourself. Because of liability, rental vendors won’t install a car seat for you, however. You’ll have to do that yourself.
Babierge currently has trusted partners in Albuquerque, Chicago, Kalamazoo, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles, Orange County, Roswell, Santa Fe, San Antonio and San Francisco.
Before renting baby gear, ask…
“Is your gear clean?” You want to get the sense that the products are spotless and sanitized. Sarah Wyles, owner of Toddlers Travels, a baby equipment rental company that caters to travelers to the San Diego area, does a safety check on all returned rental items. Her team wipes cribs and crib mattresses with a sanitizing solution. She also uses an air compressor to blow off Cheerios and other debris from high chairs and car seats.
High chairs and strollers get wiped down with hot, soapy water and a sanitizing solution. Car seat covers get tossed in the washing machine between rentals as do all soft toys. All car seats are within their expiration dates and new products are continually added to the mix.
“How do I know your gear is safe?” The best answer here is that the rental vendor has checked that all products are not on the CPSC’s recall list and are in excellent working condition.
“Which brands do you offer?” Some vendors focus on offering top brands because they know that’s what their customers want. Wyles offers Joovy, City Mini, Britax B Agile and BOB Revolution all-terrain strollers, which are popular with travelers to San Diego. She offers Britax infant and convertible car seats too. Her cribs are LA Baby’s commercial line, which comes preassembled and folds open. She offers an organic line of linens and crib mattresses, because some parents are asking for them.
“What’s the policy if I break or lose something?” Bummer alert: If you lose or break something, most rental contracts will stipulate that if the baby product is damaged, lost or stolen, you’re responsible for replacing it.
“What if I’m not satisfied with the product?” Know before you go–your recourse if you don’t like a product. Can you get a replacement or a refund?
Coordination is key
To make renting baby equipment go smoothly if you’re flying, consider meeting your baby gear rental agent/Trusted Partner at the airport. Wyles has her renters call from the airport baggage claim. “We’ll meet them at their car rental and hand over items such as a car seat, stroller and pack ‘n play,” she says. The items are returned to Wyles the same way.
For bigger items such as a crib, Wyles and her team will often pre-assemble the crib at the vacation rental property where her clients are staying, for an added delivery charge, which varies per on location. “When your baby is overdue for a nap, it’s really nice to get off the plane and get to your accommodations, with the crib already set up,” she says.
Baby gear rental companies
Baby gear rental is a burgeoning industry. Besides Babierge and Toddlers Travels/San Diego, check Toddlers Travels for links to other baby gear rental companies in the U.S. and Canada as well as Mexico, France and Argentina. Rental prices, products and rental agreements vary per vendor. Popular items to rent include a full-sized crib, stroller, high chair and car seat.
Become a Babierge trusted partner
On the flip side, if you have spare baby gear, contact Babierge if you’re interested in becoming a Trusted Partner. “We’re expanding,” Maier says. Trusted Partners get to keep 80 percent of the rental fee and 100 percent of the delivery fee and you sometimes get tips too. You can make $500 to $600 or more per month in a medium to large market, Maier says. Let’s face it. Having a family is priceless and pricey. “Why drive Uber when you could be doing this?” she says. For more information, visit http://www.babierge.com/partners/faqs.
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