Travelling without children is easy, add children into the mix and it becomes a new challenge as any parent will know. Planning a trip where you are leaving the car (or more importantly the boot of the car) at home, and you are suddenly plunged into a whole new ball game.
Picture the scene… a couple with a new baby are travelling by plane for the first time. They saved for months to buy the travel system of their dreams, it cost them a small fortune – and now they are going to take it around the world with them and subject it to the stereotypical heavy handedness of airport luggage operators, bumpy tracks, sea and sun cream.
We have invited Jo Studholme, parent and founder of Pushchairtrader.co.uk who have used and reviewed pretty much every pushchair on the UK market and beyond to share their advice and make some recommendations for when it comes to travelling with a pushchair.
There are options which can make travelling a little easier and can get rid of some of the worry – no one wants to be stuck in a foreign country at the airport with two suitcases, a hand bag, a changing bag and a tired baby or toddler without a pushchair. However, travelling is not just about getting through the airport – it’s about the whole two weeks and what that involves.
At the airport.
You need to transport your little one through the airport whilst also keeping a close eye on your massive suitcase (filled with far more than you are ever going to need), older children and of course your wandering husband as he decides to buy a new iPod in Dixons. Airports are busy places and it is always advisable not to lose your children there! Pushchairs which will glide over the shiny floor and can be steered with one hand is always a bonus.
For some, a sling or baby carrier is the answer and the pushchair is booked into the hold. If this is what you prefer, we recommend that you put it in a substantial travel bag, the manufacturer specific ones are as a general rule very good – there is nothing worse than reaching your destination to find that your pushchair is damaged. If you are checking in your pushchair (and car seat) – you generally take it to the ‘over-sized baggage check-in’ where it is taken to the plane manually rather than on the conveyor belt.
For many, checking in your pushchair a few hours before departure is not an option. Personally I have always kept my pushchair after check-in and taken a carrier/sling in my hand luggage. Most airlines will allow you to take a ‘1 piece’ pushchair to the gate. That is, one which will fold with the seat in situ. I always take a travel bag with me and as we approach the gate, little one is taken out and the pushchair popped into the travel bag to keep it clean more than anything. As long as you have a travel bag, ‘most’ strollers will work here such as the Britax B-Agile or the Baby Jogger City Mini. However, over the last few years, there has been an influx of pushchairs designed to take on the aeroplane with you. We recently took a Quinny Yezz on a plane and this worked like clockwork as we folded it as we entered the plane and stored it in the overhead locker. If you need a reclining stroller for a younger child, take a look at the Babyzen YoYo.
Arriving at your destination airport with a tired baby and tired parents
If you checked your pushchair in with your luggage, you won’t get your pushchair back until you reach the luggage carousel and this can be a long walk combined with a long wait for passport control. My advice here is to use a carrier or a sling! You will potentially have a tired and grizzly baby, and could be in for a long and hot wait.
If you took your pushchair to the gate there are two options and this largely depends on the airline. Some airlines will give you your pushchair back as soon as you get off the plane, and others you have to wait again until you are through passport control. Again my advice is to have a sling in your hand luggage just in case. If you have taken a compact stroller in to the cabin, it’s easy – unfold and you are away.
At your destination
You will potentially spend more time using your pushchair at your destination rather than just at the airport, yet it is that part of the journey that most people worry about. Your little one has to be comfy – if they are a young baby, they will probably want to nap in the pushchair as usual routines are no doubt turned upside down whilst away.
You have a few choices here :-
- Using your usual pushchair – we would recommend buying a liner if you are planning on visiting a hot country to save your pushchair from sun cream and ice cream (liners wash easily and dry quickly in the sun).
- Specifically buying a new or pre-loved pushchair for your holiday – think carefully about how you will use the pushchair on holiday – for day trips you may need a larger than usual basket – the basket on the Graco Evo Mini is immense for such a compact stroller. If you are on a beach holiday or snow holiday, consider an all-terrain. Brands such as Mountain Buggy really do build their pushchairs to last so I would be quite happy purchasing something like the Urban Jungle IF you have the space! If you have an older child and it’s just for transporting them from A to B, then some of the cheaper strollers are a good option, such as the Obaby Atlas. Always buy a few weeks before you go away so you can become familiar with the fold and if pre-loved, you have time to clean the fabrics if necessary. It is also advisable to get your little one used to their ‘holiday pushchair’ before you go away.
- Hire a pushchair – many of the theme parks now give you the option to hire a pushchair but check before you leave. There are also companies in the UK and abroad who can deliver a pushchair to your destination saving you the hassle at the airport.
- Think about the sunshine! There are a number of products which work better than a traditional parasol. Consider a Shade-Me for use with an older child who might be jumping in and out of the buggy or with a younger baby, Snoozeshade, Sleep Pod or Protectishade – all are universal fitting and will provide some protection (don’t forget sun creams in addition of course).
- Think about the cold! If you are travelling to a cold climate, makes sure your little one will be warm. There are many brands of cosytoes available and I would recommend one where the front zips off so that when you enter a heated building you can unzip the cover. Buggysnuggle offer a wide range, as so Cosyozko – for those who are really ‘hitting’ the slopes, take a look at the 7am range.
Finally – don’t be scared – you hear so many horror stories about taking a pushchair on holiday – but you don’t hear from the hundreds of people who each year travel with their pushchair without issue. So far – I have never had a problem. Just check with your airline for any specifics and you should be fine.
So which pushchairs would I personally take on holiday? Here are my top five suggestions:
- Money no object – Babyzen YoYo (suitable 6 months plus) from £309
- Budget buy – Maclaren Volo from £85
- Best all rounder – Baby Jogger City Mini from £249.99
- Toddler – Quinny Yezz from £175
- Travelling with 2 – Phil & Teds Dot from £409