Whether you’re planning to travel by train, plane, ship or car this holiday season, it’s best to be prepared. “In my bag, I always have earplugs, an eye mask, ear buds and music and noise canceling headphones,” says John DiScala, a.k.a. “Johnny Jet,” a travel blogger who has ventured to over 100 countries. When you’re venturing out with little ones, your gear, of course, can multiple.
Extra stuff isn’t so bad, considering that lots of products are available that go the extra mile to help head off potential problems that can arise from everything from flight delays and long lines to snack attacks and diaper blow-outs.
Which gear goes the distance? Babyproductsmom did the ground work and trekked to the ABC Kids annual trade show in Las Vegas to check out the latest in travel accessories for families. These products, which are on the market now, can help make getting there with kids–and back again–less of a stress fest.
Go-To Travel Stroller
The Baby Jogger City Tour is just 14.21 pounds and folds and fits in the overhead compartment as well as small-car trunks. Bonus: It comes with a travel bag with straps so it can become a back pack. These add-on accessories are available for the City Tour (sold separately) to make your stroll even more comfortable:
Universal parent console (for your phone, keys, wallets, beverage)
Cup Holder–good if you don’t get the parent console or need an extra cup holder
Belly Bar–gives your child something to hold onto and a feeling of security
Weather Shield—to keep the rain out.
You might also like:
The gb Pockit or the gb Qbit+. The gb Qbit+ is a compact, fully reclinable stroller that fits in car trunks and under train seats that–bonus!–you can use as a travel system.
It’s compatible with the gb Asana infant car seat (adapters sold separately).
The BabyTrend Trifold stroller with strap. It fits in the overhead; available at Target.com.
Car Seat Smarts
Bring Your Own infant or convertible car seat
If you’ll be flying with a child under age 2, buying your child his/her own ticket and using a FAA approved rear facing infant car seat (for children less than 20 pounds; install it without the base) or a forward facing car seat (for children 20 to 40 pounds) that’s approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the safest way to go in the event of turbulence or worse. Look for a label on the seat that says: “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
Bringing your own car seat is a sanity saver too because kids have been known to be calmer in their own familiar seat. And when everyone gets their own seat, you can get a break. You also know that baggage handlers won’t get the chance to bang around your car seat and that there’s no chance it’ll fall off the conveyor belt (it happens) because it’s with you. Tip: Measure the width of your car seat. It should fit in most airplane seats if it’s 16 inches or less.
Smart pick for travel: The Diono Radian R100 Convertible Car seat; it can be used rear facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward facing from 20 to 65 pounds. It folds and can be worn as a backpack.
You might also like: BabyTrend Yumi Folding Booster. The forward-facing booster seat can be used for kids 30 to 100 pounds and it fits in the overhead bin.
Skip the convertible seat: Use the CARES Kids Fly Safe Vest
Children over age 2 will need to have their seat and their own airline ticket. (What if you baby turns 2 during your trip? Can she still be a lap child? Check your airline for their policy.) For babies and toddlers 22 to 44 pounds, the Kids Fly Safe Vest is the only FAA-approved child safety harness that can replace a forward-facing car seat with an internal harness, saving you from having to lug your car seat through the airport and onto the plane.
The FAA has more info about the CARES flight vest and flying with small children in general. The CARES flight vest isn’t approved for use in cars. You’ll still need a forward-facing convertible car seat if you’ll be driving when you land.
Protect Your Cargo: Stroller/Car Seat Bag
Keep it Clean on the Scene: Microwave Sterilizer Bags
Sterilizer bags are an easy way to steam clean glass and plastic baby bottles, breast pump parts, pacifiers (bring at least three) and cups when you’re out and about without lugging your sterilizer (you’ll just need access to a microwave). Fill each bag with the requisite amount of water (generally ¼ cup), zap for several minutes and viola! You’ve killed 99.9 percent of bacteria. You can get up to 20 uses out of one bag, too.
Some sterilizing bags are super speedy. Philips Avent Microwave Sterilizing bags, for example, get the job done in as little as 90 seconds.
Tantrum stopper: Surprise toys
Your child’s favorite stuffed animal is a comforting travel companion. But travel is the perfect time to break out new travel-friendly toys your baby/toddler has never seen before, such as the Tegu Pocket Pouch, an eight-piece magnetic wooden block set, which comes with its own travel pouch (for 12 months+) or the Melissa & Doug K’s Kids Take-Along Shape Sorter (for 9 months+). The novelty of something new might keep babies and toddler entertained and quiet longer.
Gate Your Community
The Navigate Travel portable travel gate can help you baby and toddler proof as you go, if say—you’re visiting friends or Grandma and you want to keep your toddler from crawling into an area of the house that’s not childproofed. The Navigate features squishy pads that mold to any non-conforming surface, such as stairway banisters; you don’t need a straight wall to use it.
Each side of the gate can be a different width or length. Made for children age 2 and under, it holds 50 pounds of pressure and features a safety lock and release mechanism, see-through nylon mesh panels. It folds easily and weighs only 5 pounds. It extends from 30 to 45 inches. Bonus: You can hold your baby with one hand and install it with the other. Because it’s not hardware mounted, don’t use the Navigate at the top of stairs, as tempting as it may be.
You might also like: The North States Supergate Portable Travel Gate.
Some diaper bags are just made for travel, like the Pacapod Picos Pack Baby Changing Bag. It features a 3 in 1 pod organization system that serve important purposes. The insulated feeder pod holds up to four bottles and keeps contents warm for up to three hours and the changing pod and mat lets you stow your diaper stuff away from everything else. You can take the pods with you or not. You can pack the pods flat if you don’t need them. The innovative diaper bag has a gender neutral design so that everyone can feel good carrying it. Hang it from your stroller with clips. For tips on what to pack in your diaper bag for travel, be sure to check out this post.
Been there, done that? Which family travel gear do you swear by?
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