The Best Baby Travel Equipment For Location Independent Parents?
We travel with less than 40kgs between the three of us. And that includes our handluggage too. Ok so it’s nearer 50kg if you include the baby car seat but for the 3 of us for 3+ months (or an indefinite) period of time, that sort of adheres to the “no stuff” mentality which I believe is quite important if you want to lead a nomadic, location independent life.
“But what about all the baby stuff you need?” is usually the question we’re asked most frequently. “You know all the nappies/diapers, the buggy, the car seat, the travel cot, the toys?”.
We like to think we’ve been quite smart about the purchases we’ve made – knowing in advance that we’ll be travelling and that weight & luggage will be at a premium. But we’ve made some mistakes and bought things that we barely used, left things behind that we should have taken with us and generally, as is always the way, learned as we’ve gone along.
I wanted to list the key baby travel equipment items we’ve purchased over the past 9 months and summarise my thoughts on them so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes we did…
Koo-di Popup Cot
We bought this a couple of months before we hit the road, thinking it’d be a great solution.
It’s light, easy & quick to assemble and would work really well…if you had a baby who slept well when put down in a cot!
We didn’t and found this a bit of a nightmare to try to get her to sleep in on practice runs.
By the time we hit he road when she was 4 months old, we’d moved to co-sleeping and then transitioned her to the travel centre (see below) because she became mobile so quickly and we couldn’t chance her rolling out of this (the sides are quite flimsy). All in all, I think we used it about 3 times so not a great investment!
However if you do hit the road earlier or need something for short trips with a young baby, this would be a good piece of equipment because it’s so very light and easy to assemble.
NScessity Travel Centre
We got this before we actually purchased the Koo-di cot but Mali looked so ridiculously small & lost when we first put her in it (at about 3 months) that we didn’t use it at first.
For smaller babies who need to be rocked to sleep (or, like Mali, bounced to sleep!), it’s a bit of a nightmare to use because you have to firstly get on the ground (unless it’s perched on something – which is only suitable if your baby is still immobile), then zip up the thing once you’ve managed to place the sleeping baby in it, without waking them. Quite a feat and one we rarely achieved in the early days!
However, we started to use it again once Mali was about 5 months old and now she absolutely loves it. It’s great because, wherever we go, her “bedroom” looks & smells the same so there’s the element of familiarity at bed time which works well.
It’s far lighter than the pack-and-play type travel cots, is quick & easy to assemble and, once you’ve got the hang of it, pretty quick to pack up too. It comes with a blow-up mattress which makes most floor surfaces comfortable enough. As I mentioned, it’s wise not to put it on anything other than the ground as soon as your baby is mobile and able to stand up, since Mali used to stand & beat her hands on the side, almost toppling it over. I’d highly recommend this as a travel cot solution – my only bugbear is that the mattress thing which sits on top of the blow-up one doesn’t stay in place well at all.
Grobag Sleeping Bag
The grobag-type sleeping bags are great for babies – especially when you travel.
So much easier than sheets & blankets and the travel-specific ones mean you can keep your baby harnessed without disturbing them by having to remove the bag to put the harness on & off (there’s a hole in the back though which you can slip the seat belt).
The only difficulty we found was trying to figure out which tog sleeping bag would be suitable since they’re quite bulky things to pack and you don’t want to have to take a range with you to cover all temperatures.
We plumped for the 2.5 tog in the end – which has so far been fine for winter (dry) season in Thailand, spring in Dubai (air-conditioned rooms), end of winter in the UK and spring in Turkey.
They work well with the travel centre (above) because the centre isn’t great for fitting sheets & blankets to since there’ nothing to tuck them into.
TotSeat Portable Chair Harness
I saw this on a whim when Mali wasn’t sitting up yet and thought it might be useful. It’s supposed to fit a wide range of seats and we’ve only found a couple which were too tall for it to fit so it’s pretty versatile.
What’s great about it is that it’s very light & small to pack and the fabric is washable.
What’s not so great about it is that, while it does fit most seats, it can cause your baby to sort of slouch or slump down if there’s no solid back to the seat – not the most comfortable position.
We’ve also found that it can be quite tight under the armpits which again, isn’t so comfortable and it depends upon how wriggly your baby is, since this isn’t the most sturdy of frames to restrain them!
All in all, we’ve used this a handful of times so it hasn’t been a waste of money (they’re not terribly expensive) but given the choice, I’m not sure I’d purchase one again. Instead, I’d probably consider one of these.
Baby Björn Sling
Lots of people recommended we use a sling before we had Mali. So after buying around 4 different types of slings and returning them to the shop when Mali screamed every time we put her in them, we finally persevered enough to get her into one without the tears – and this is the one we stuck with.
We opted for the “active” version because the lumbar support was better – and it served its purpose really well while Mali was light enough to go in it.
She’s still not at the weight limit for this sling but as she grew beyond 7-8kgs, it became increasingly uncomfortable and put massive strain on our shoulders & necks. It got to the stage where I couldn’t carry her for more than about 10 minutes before I had to stop. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t continue to use it because Mali absolutely loved the face-forward position.
So I’d recommend this if you have a small, light baby (Mali was 8lbs 110z at birth so not exactly light & has been a good eater ever since so she’s still not exactly small nor light for her age!) as it’s one of the more comfortable slings of its type available. It’s ok for travel although slightly bulky if you do want to put it in a bag/carry-on bag.
This is the sling we graduated to about 6 weeks ago once we decided we could no longer use the Baby Björn. I did quite a bit of research beforehand and this one seemed to come up trumps.
So far, it’s been excellent. Travel-wise, it’s lighter & easier to pack up in a bag than the Baby Björn and it’s far more comfortable for heavier babies & toddlers.
Mali’s almost 10kg and I can carry her round in this for 1-2 hours before tiring or feeling the strain too much. The only drawback is that the baby can’t face forward which we thought Mali would miss but turns out she loves facing inwards almost as much and falls asleep pretty quickly in it.
There’s a built-in sunshade for over the head and which also provides a little support if your baby goes to sleep.The straps are relatively easy to adjust – the only thing we’ve found difficult is putting it on if you’re on your own because the upper back strap is tough to reach. It can be done, it’s just harder.
On a side note, I’ve also found it an excellent way to nurse when out & about without exposing yourself too much – quite a handy feature, especially when you’re in a Muslim country!
Baby Jogger City Classic
Some people will argue that you don’t need a stroller – and in some respects I agree. In fact, we don’t have ours with us this time round but then we’re currently in a small Turkish town where we don’t need to walk for more than 10-15 minutes to get to anything or anywhere.
Whether you need a stroller or not will also be determined by your destination – some places are totally unsuitable for strollers (e.g. there are no decent pavements in Chiang Mai) so it’s a waste of time taking one.
When we have take it with us however, we’ve found this to be an excellent stroller for travel. It’s super light, folds away within a few seconds (this is seriously the fastest & easiest folding one we’ve ever seen – everyone who sees it is impressed!) and the back goes practically flat so is great for sleeping babes.
It also has a really good sunshade which pulls all the way forward and blocks out almost all the light. It’s been with us on a few flights so far and has stood up to the baggage handlers although we do sometimes get it wrapped for extra protection.
What equipment purchases have you made and regretted? And what equipment could you not live without when travelling with your baby?
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