I have few mommy friends that travel as much as I do with baby, and even fewer that travel that much by themselves with baby. But when I get a chance to connect with the select few who do, I’m always interested to see how they manage on their own. I have found a system that works for me, but I’m never quite sure whether there are more efficiencies to be gained.
So, when my grad school friend decided to check out of the West Coast for a few weeks in favor of a whirlwind East Coast tour with her son, nearly a full-fledged toddler, I was excited to learn that she was planning a pit stop in D.C. Not only could I not wait to see her, catch up on all the news, and, of course, meet the not-so-wee-anymore one for the first time, but I was super curious to see how she managed when traveling long distances with baby.
My friend is a very efficient traveler by nature. But having a baby in tow is definitely challenging this aspect of her. I actually got a message from her a few days before her flight, telling me that she was trying to get all her and baby’s stuff into a suitcase small enough to carry on. It was a very admirable goal, one that I admittedly have toyed around with and failed at achieving, so I was prepared to be seriously impressed (and take notes) if she did indeed edit their accoutrement to fit into a carry-on suitcase.
Despite her greatest efforts, it didn’t happen. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Even if it cost her the $25 or so to check her suitcase, she had plenty enough else to deal with–baby, stroller, diaper bag/purse, and car seat.
When she told me she was going to bring her car seat, I really started paying attention. I have only bothered with bringing the car seat on my travels when baby was in his infant car seat. I could clip the seat into his Snap ‘n’ Go stoller and then leave it all at the end of the jet bridge before boarding the plane. No biggie. But now that baby is bigger, there are no simple clip-in solutions like the Snap ‘n’ Go.
To date, I’ve always found a way to work around lugging the bigger car seat. When we went to El Paso, we rented a car seat from the car rental company. Contrary to rumor, the car seat we ended up with was the exact same one as one of the car seats we own. And it was new–or nearly so. It was still wrapped in plastic and in mint condition when we got it out of the trunk. When we went to Chamonix, the shuttle service from the Geneva airport supplied infant car seats and then we traveled by foot, train, or bus after that, so no seat was necessary. And then when we went to South Carolina, Ian’s mom decided to just buy a cheapie car seat to have for such occasions. It was going to get additional use from some of the other grandbabies that would sometimes visit.
Needless to say, I do everything I can to avoid having to sherpa the car seat. And I still feel like I’m totally bogged down. So, I had to find out how my friend managed. Turns out it looks something like this:
The thing I want to most highlight is how she deals with the car seat on top of the stroller, roller bag, and shoulder bag. Basically she just uses a bungee cord to strap the car seat to the stroller frame. It’s pure genius.
I mean, I think I would’ve have found a bag/cover for the car seat and tried to slide a handle over the telescoping handle of my roller bag. Of course, with my luck, it would be flapping around, throwing the whole bag off balance and making me struggle. But the bungee method is so much more secure. She just nestled a front edge of the seat under the stroller so it had some bottom support, stretched the bungee cord around the stroller and seat, clipped it to the back of the stroller and–voila, voila, voila–momma is good to go.
Granted, even with this innovative thinking, traveling with an infant is still not easy. Most umbrella strollers, which are a travel must given their compactness, have two separate handles over a single bar. This makes steering the baby vehicle significantly more difficult with one hand, especially when you are running to your gate, as I most often am. The other hand is usually busy dragging the roller bag with diaper bag sitting on top.
But we’re all about efficiencies here, so I thought this was some seriously smart travel thinking and figured I should share with other mommies trying to sort out out how they are going to take everything they need on their next trip. Happy packing!