The more you travel, the more you grow to hate the idea of schlepping a big stroller. Sure, the thing is good to tote your stuff (including kids) every now and again. But the behemoth is an albatross at security checkpoints, takes up truck space in the rental car and spends most of your vacation folded up in the hotel closet.
Thankfully, there are some alternatives that I and other traveling parents have used with considerable success.
First on this list: the Maclaren Volo, a collapsible, lightweight umbroller that usually sells for $125 or less. We like this model for its water-resistant hood and its ample under-seat storage. We also like the portability; compared to the 22-pound Chicco model we use at home, this one weighs in at less than 9 pounds, a welcome change.
For facilitating airport transit, a number of friends suggested Trunki suitcases ($39 apiece) from Melissa & Doug. These contraptions are painted to look like animals and designed in such a way that kids can straddle them like bicycles while mom or dad pulls ‘em through the terminal (or, say, a shopping mall). The downside? They’re not exactly practical for serious transport outdoors.
Another favorite (provided your child is at least six months old): Backpack-style kid carriers.
We use the (discontinued) Kelty FC 2.0—L loved it when she was little, and R hearts it now. The new model, the Pathfinder 3.0, is just as good, and the $239 Kid Comfort II pack from Deuter has received endorsements from trustworthy friends. Both packs have oversized pockets and pouches in which you can stuff everything from snacks to changing pads and extra diapers.
(Whichever pack you buy, be sure to invest in an $8 retractable rearview mirror from Chums; it helps you gauge your baby’s happiness as you move along.)
Finally, though wraps and lightweight carriers aren’t always comfortable for us dudes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend at least a few. Powerwoman, my better half, prefers the Ergo (starts at $115) and the Moby (starts around $60). Another mom whom I respect swears by the Boba, which comes in both carrier ($120) and wrap (about $55) form-factors. It’s worth noting that all of the products in this category lack storage, which could be a deal-breaker, depending on where you’re headed, how light you like to travel, and how willing your partner is to carry a backpack.
In general, my advice with all of these products is to try before you buy. For some, this might mean an extended visit to the nearest Babies ‘R’ Us or REI; for others, it might mean a Facebook- or Pinterest-inspired call to friends for an interactive stroller-alternative fashion show.
Ultimately—especially for longer trips—you might find that two options work better than one. Don’t resist what feels right; even if you support the American economy and double up, you’ll still be lugging less than you did with that bulky stroller.
What are your favorite stroller alternatives and why? Please share your insights in the comments field below.