Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Packing Dilemma: Car Seat and Strollers

Every time we are about to go on vacation I spend days having the same conversation with my husband about what baby gear we need to bring with us. It ends up mostly being a discussion about the car seat and stroller: Do we want the umbrella stroller? The jogger? The UppaBaby Vista? Should we bring the car seat on the plane or check it? Or gate check it? Should we have my mom buy a car seat in Florida? Should we buy a smaller one to bring on the plane?

For this last adventure to Florida we had purchased a seat for M, so we had the luxury of bringing the car seat on the plane with us. But my husband brought up the the question - do we really need to put her in the car seat on the plane? After doing some research, and talking to other Mamas, I decided that our best (and safest) bet was to bring the car seat with us on the plane and strap her in.

Now, we use the Britax Boulevard car seat in the car. And if you haven't seen it before, it is freaking huge. The reason we got it is because we needed one for very tall children, and this seemed to have the highest height allowance of all on the market. Plus, most of my friends have it, so we got it and she seems to be very comfortable in the car. I was worried that it wouldn't fit in the airplane, but checked with a friend who had recently flown with the same car seat and we were golden.

Since we were bringing the seat on the plane, I purchased the Go Go Babyz Travelmate that attaches to the car seat and allows you to pull it through the terminal like the baby is a piece of carry-on luggage. And thankfully we had this nifty piece of equipment because it made life much easier with all of the baggage we had with us. I had read that you would have to detach it from the car seat at security, but this ended up not being the case, as it still fit through the scanner with the Travelmate hooked on.

But here is the catch - the Britax/Go Go Babyz combo does not fit down the aisle of the plane. You must disassemble it before boarding the plane and carry the car seat onto the plane separately from the wheels, which is very awkward. There is no way that one person can carry baby, car seat, carry on and the wheel attachment themselves, so if you are traveling by yourself this is not ideal (as I discovered for myself). You will have to have someone help you down the aisle of the plane to your seat.

AND if you are traveling with the Britax Boulevard car seat your child will be able to kick the seat in front of them. We flew on JetBlue and had "even more legroom" seats (my husband is 6'9" tall) on the way down, and in these seats M didn't reach the seat in front of her. On our way home in the normal seats, all she wanted to do was put her feet on the seat in front of her, which was very easy to do. And I know JetBlue has more legroom in the normal sections than regular planes, so be cautious!! Having a kid kick the back of my seat on the plane is one of my biggest pet peeves ever.

As for the stroller, we have done every combo there is and this time we brought the umbrella stroller and gate checked it on the way down, but put it under the plane on the way back. Both times I put it in a Gate Check Stroller Bag that I purchased online, and thankfully I did because the bag came back all ripped and dirty - I can only imagine what the stroller would have looked like without it! A word of warming about the Gate Check Stroller Bag - If you use it and check the stroller with luggage under the plane, BE SURE TO TURN IT INSIDE OUT!! Multiple times we have checked it with luggage and they see the "GATE CHECK" writing on it and it ends up being brought to the gate instead of the baggage claim. Which is a huge pain in the balls.

So what will I do next time I travel? Probably buy a smaller car seat and use the wheel attachment. And maybe bring the jogger as we have yet to throw that in the mix!


  1. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

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