Since my two boys have been born, we’ve done a lot of traveling.
The year that my older son (let’s call him Squeak) turned two, he saw both oceans and the gulf, all in the same year. By the time he was three, he had his first frequent flyer reward. If you consider that we didn’t buy him tickets for the first two years, that’s a lot of plane time for such a small guy.
So how did we do it and retain our sanity?
There was a lot of trial and error involved. Not everything worked (hello, 7AM flight), and so we changed our tactics. We still run into the occasional travel glitch, but for the most part, our family is a well-oiled traveling machine. Squeak can now get through the airport lines better than some adults, and his little brother (we’ll call him Fuzz) is on his way to being a travel veteran as well.
I know a lot of people shake their heads in amazement when we tell them all the places we’ve schlepped our kids to. Many of those people stare in horror, other look on in some sort of awe.
Really, the secret to retaining your sanity while traveling with kids is all in the planning. By nature, I like to plan. I like to research and figure out all my options and then line everything up neatly. From here on out, I’ll be posting hints and tips, travel merchandise reviews, and even guides to some of the places we’ve taken our little guys.
One of my favorite hints is to look into baby rentals if you’re traveling a long distance for a long period of time, especially if you’re traveling by air.
Let’s face it, with airlines tacking on extra fees for baggage, it can get pretty expensive to pack the travel crib and all of junior’s gear. Even if you fly one of the few carriers left that don’t charge you for your seat cushion, getting all of that stuff through the airport, through security, and to your final destination can be as difficult as handling an extra child.
This is where baby rental companies come in.
If you’re traveling to a large city or a tourist destination (like Disney World or the beach), there are companies that will rent you baby equipment on location. Most of the companies will even come and set up the equipment in your hotel or condo before you arrive, so that a crib or highchair, even food and diapers, will be waiting for you.
Baby’s Away and Visiting Baby, Inc. are two of the larger baby rental companies across the U.S., but there are other smaller companies that can be equally as good. For a more complete list of baby rental options by state, you can check out this site.
Most rental companies require a bit of time for a reservation, especially in the high season. Some may ask for a deposit or for the payment in full before the equipment is delivered.
Before using a rental company, you’ll want to look over their website carefully for their policies and fees and ask the following questions:
- What equipment will they deliver? Has it been checked against recall lists?
- What is the delivery charge?
- What is the process for delivery and pick up of the equipment?
- Is there a cleaning fee?
Be sure to look at package options that each company offers. Many locations near the beach, for example, will offer packages that include beach toys and umbrellas at a cost far below renting equipment on the beach or buying expensive equipment from over-priced souvenir shops. You may also want to compare the difference between rental options. A travel crib may be a bit small for your toddler, but for not much more you can get your child a full-size crib.
So before you worry about how you’ll get everything through the airport or about how you’ll fit everything into your Prius, think about renting instead of lugging. You’re going to have enough to worry about with the kids, leave the gear at home.
by Lisa D.
Photo graciously provided by dav, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved