A reader got in touch last week with some questions about renting baby equipment on her next family trip. Her queries were simple. Can you do it? If so, is the equipment safe?
The short answer: It depends on where you’re going and what you need.
Turns out there are dozens of companies all over the country that specialize in renting baby equipment to travelers (and locals in a pinch). The catch? Other than word-of-mouth—or page-by-page examination—there’s no real way to determine how reliable these operations are, and how safe and clean their equipment really is.
What’s out there
I spent the last week researching the subject and found a handful of sites that seem to rate highly among travelers in the know.
On the national scale, Baby’s Away, Traveling Baby Company and Travel BaBees are three that receive generally favorable reviews. Regionally, others scored pretty high; Baby’s A-Go, in the Boston area, seems relatively popular; while the Santa Barbara Baby Company serves the tourist zone in and around Santa Barbara, Calif.
According to websites for many of these companies, prices vary from $12 per day for strollers to as little as $5 per day for high chairs. Many rental outfitters have a minimum order amount, and most will deliver the equipment to hotels, airports and other common travel destinations.
(FWIW, outfitters will NOT install car seats, and customers usually have to drop off equipment at pre-established locations.)
Safety and cleanliness
In terms of safety, all of the rental companies I’ve mentioned seek out products satisfied by the Juvenile Product Manufacturer Association, register all products with their manufacturers and keep track of product recalls.
All of these outfitters also “sanitize” products and re-check them for safety after each use.
These last points arguably are the most important; if an outfitter’s web site doesn’t specify safety and sanitizing policies, be sure to call ahead and ask.
Despite what you likely have thought for years, you don’t have to schlep your own strollers and car seats and high chairs and pack ‘n’ plays the next time you head out on a family vacation. Just be sure to do your research on the alternatives and make reservations so you’re not shut out.
Do you have experience with any baby equipment rental companies? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it!