March 05, 2008

Packing for Six People for Six Weeks, Part 1: The Big Baby Things

When I first started pondering what we would pack for our trip, my brain basically shut down. I could not figure out where to begin at first, but slowly things started to fall into place.

I began by taking note of the big items I would need to travel with a one year old -- for me these were a sling, travel high chair, a portable crib and a stroller that would hold him and my three year old. I already had the sling (or three or four, but who is counting?).

I had a pack 'n' play style crib, which I've been toting on trips for the last seven or so years. It isn't small or lightweight and I began looking around to see if there had been any improvements in that area since my oldest child was born. From a New Zealand company called Phil and Ted's, I found just what I was looking for -- it's basically a pop-up tent portable crib, which weighs little and folds up small. I'd rather have not paid $150 for it, but it has been absolutely perfect for our needs and from now on when we travel domestically, I will be able to take both a crib and a stroller, which was before something I had to choose between.

Phil and Ted's also supplied the perfect portable high chair. It folds flat and isn't heavy. It's been great for our trip and will be just right to carry around in the car later for when I need a high chair on an outing.

Here in England I see Phil and Ted's strollers everywhere and I admit to having a bit of stroller envy when I see one, but the stroller I brought with me has probably been about as good as anything. My friend Meredith was going to lend me her Maclaren double stroller and she made a special trip out to my house for me to borrow it. I tried it a few times and found it moved well, but I could barely lift it. I love nice sturdy heavy things, but I had read that most Tube stations do not have lifts and knowing that I would have to carry a sixteen month old, a stroller and a purse up stairs several times a day, meant I had to find a stroller that I could easily carry. Another blog friend, Sarah, strongly advised me to consider getting two umbrella strollers and hooking them together. This is what I planned to do, but the folding and carrying part was again daunting, but mostly, I discovered that unless one bought a Maclaren or something similar, umbrella strollers don't come with any sort of basket. Finally, I discovered what would work best for me -- the Combi Twin Savvy (sort of like this one, but cheaper and not pink). It weighs 21 lbs. which isn't light, but was lighter by far than the other options, it folds fairly small for a double stroller and the real selling point -- it comes with a shoulder strap for carrying it.

It isn't the world's ultimate stroller -- one wheel has already stripped and become wobbly, because I have taken it over one too many cobblestone streets with the front wheels unlocked (I'm hoping to get a replacement when I return home to the States). It's baskets aren't huge, though they do get most of our groceries home unsquished. When you fold the stroller, almost nothing can be left in the baskets either, because they fold in half and everything falls out. It's small enough to fit through most doors, but not every door and when we had an annoying bus driver who wouldn't open the back handicapped door for me, I had to take the kids out and fold up the stroller mid-aisle, because its wheels got stuck. Still, overall, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a double stroller to take on trip -- it folds easily, carries easily and keeps the kidlets moving along.

So there you have it -- my list of essential baby items for overseas travel.


Hi, I am a friend of Meredith's in London and I'm finding your blog very interesting; you are brave doing all those tourist outings with small children on your own.

One thing - had you thought of getting your groceries delivered? It would save you some weight in your stroller? Tesco or Sainsbury let you order online and deliver - to your fridge door they claim - the next day.

Hope you are enjoying London!

Posted by: Henrietta at March 5, 2008 03:45 AM