Firstly, I want to preface this post with the fact that I absolutely love our current carseat and stroller for daily life. They’re both perfect for our needs. However, we have found that with our fairly frequent travel we would prefer to have different products that are better suited for that kind of lifestyle. These are the things that you can’t anticipate when you are putting your registry together because you just don’t know what life will be like with your little one!
Now that we’ve had Sophie in our lives for a year (!!!) we have a better idea of what features and aspects of baby gear would make life easier for us and what products we will get the most use out of. For our family, that means they need to be travel-friendly. Sophie was born in the middle of a pandemic and we had absolutely no idea what our family’s lifestyle would look like since the world was still so very topsy-turvy. When Sophie was born, people still weren’t flying very much, and honestly, I wasn’t leaving the house very often when I was pregnant or while I had a newborn, so baby gear that was related to travel was the furthest thing from my mind! Now that the world is reopening and our family has the flexibility to travel it’s become quite apparent that while we love our current products for living our daily lives, they’re just not quite *ideal* for schlepping through an airport or trying to cram into the back of a rental car along with all of our luggage.
Sophie has officially outgrown her infant car seat 😭 and that was pretty convenient for travel because it was an all-in-one system with our stroller, but now it’s time to make some replacements within our on-the-go gear. I know that most families only want to have one of each product (one car seat, one stroller, etc.) so I thought I would share our experience just in case your family is shopping for the next stage of your baby’s life and also plan to do some traveling or want the option to easily do so! The following are the products we landed on (pun intended… 😉):
I think this may be my husband’s biggest gripe as he’s “the muscle” when we travel (and just in general — thanks, babe! 😘). I originally chose this travel crib and while it’s really deluxe and awesome (so sturdy and easy to pop open / collapse), it’s also pretty cumbersome (at 27lbs, according to the airport scale) to carry through an airport. I would say that it would be the perfect travel crib for taking on road trips or basically any driving situation where you’re just transporting it in-and-out of the car and not trying to carry it for long distances. It’s excellent quality, just not ideal for air travel.
Our family members in Maine that we frequently visit are kind enough to allow us to store a variety of baby items at their home so we don’t have to bring as much every time we visit so we had this travel crib shipped to their house. It’s ultra lightweight (only 13 lbs!), especially by comparison to the heavier one that we have carried to multiple destinations since Sophie was born. Shaving off that extra ~14 lbs makes such a difference! I think that the next time we visit those family members we’ll swap travel cribs, leaving the heavier, more deluxe one and bringing the lighter weight one home with us for future flying adventures.
I will say that unless you’re staying in Airbnbs (or with friends / family) when you travel, most major hotel chains offer a crib option so bringing the travel crib with you is a lot less necessary. However, every time I have called to confirm that the hotel does have cribs to borrow and to request one for our reserved room, the employees are always quick to caution us that while they do offer them they can’t guarantee that one will be available during our stay (lol; then why am I making a reservation?). So, to err on the side of caution I prefer to bring our travel crib along with us no matter what because then I can rest easy knowing that we will for sure have a place for Sophie to sleep, but honestly, it’s probably overkill (for hotel stays).
All of that to say, each travel crib is excellent and I would highly recommend both, but my suggestion would depend on what kind of travel you’re planning to do (by air or by car)!
We have a deluxe convertible car seat in our vehicle, but it’s pretty heavy (35+ lbs!), large-and-in-charge, and a bit of a pain in the neck to install (all kinds of anchors and straps and proper angles, etc. to achieve ultimate safety) so even though we *could* technically bring it with us for travel days, I’m glad that we found an alternative that’s a bit more jetsetter-friendly.
This is the carseat that meets all of our requirements: (1) safe, (2) lightweight-yet-sturdy, (3) can hopefully last for a long time (re: height / weight growth), (4) isn’t too complicated for quick installs, (5) is FAA-certified, (6) can fit in a three-across situation if we ever needed that, and (7) is able to fit in economy seats with major European airlines (such as British Airways, AirFrance, etc. as Europeans always seem to make spaces as economical as possible). This also means that we can leave our perfectly positioned regular car seat in our vehicle and not have to worry about reinstalling it every time we return home from a trip.
The official car seat website page talks specifically about all of the measurement requirements for baby and the height / width measurements of the product, but not about the car seat weight. I even scoured their product instruction manual, but nothing about the dimensions of the car seat itself. I have seen conflicting information on other retailers websites that share the carseat weight stat that ranges between 10 to 13.5 lbs, but even at 13.5 lbs it’s still a 1/3 of the weight of our daily use car seat and that’s a win in my book! I was able to easily carry it through the plane with one hand (with Sophie in her carrier and her diaper bag in my other hand). I do highly recommend having a car seat travel bag (with wheels!) that will help you get through the airport and will easily fit in an overhead bin when not in use; it has made maneuvering all of our baby gear sooo much easier. We love the ease of this one!
I will say that just like any new product, I recommend becoming familiar with it before your trip so that you aren’t scrambling to figure out where the seatbelt paths are, etc. as you are loading baby onto the plane or into a rental car. I also recommend making all of the adjustments necessary ahead of time for the car seat to properly fit your little one. Sophie is quite tall for her age (99th percentile!!) so I had to make sure that the harnesses were all at the appropriate settings for her before we left for our recent trip. Doing this saved me so much frustration than if I had waited to do it in real time. It wasn’t hard to do, but there were quite a few steps to configure the car seat for our baby.
I used this travel car seat course to help me make the decision (highly recommend her infant car seat course too, especially for new parents!). I will say that if I *knew* going into our pregnancy that we would be traveling with our baby as much as we did when she was an infant I would have definitely considered the Doona a lot more heavily. All of my mom friends that have it absolutely swear by it and love the convenience!
Our existing stroller is great because it collapses flat enough to slide under a standard bed frame, but it’s still not as compact as we would like. If it could fold up small enough to practically fit in an overhead bin on an airplane that would be ideal for our travel needs. I don’t think we’d actually ever utilize that feature (even though magical strollers like that actually do exist!), but that’s the general size we are looking for when the stroller is collapsed.
Our preferred brand just recently launched a new-and-improved version of their travel stroller: the UppaBaby Minu V2! The gestures on how to open / collapse it are a bit different than the ones for our full-size stroller so we found that there was a bit of a learning curve when using [gentle] force to pop it open or scrunch it up, but otherwise it has been a very intuitive product. It’s so light and portable! I love the size that it collapses to (which can be done with just one hand if you’re juggling!), the built-in shoulder strap, the easy-to-adjust recline, the extendable shade cover, and the general quality you expect from UppaBaby. I do miss the larger storage basket and the extendable handle bar of our full size UppaBaby Cruz stroller, but I’m happy to make those sacrifices for the compact size!
The Nuna TRVL stroller was my runner-up, and while it had a lot of desirable features and was pretty comparable in its specs to the UppaBaby travel stroller the determining factor for me was compatibility. The Minu is not only compatible with our infant carseat, but can also be used with a handful of other popular brands’ infant carseats (with the proper adaptor purchase). I like having the flexibility and I feel like it just makes sense to have the option!
I’d say “lesson learned” regarding our original gear purchases, but I honestly don’t feel that way about any of our decisions. Given the opportunity I’d still make all of our same product choices all over again. It’s impossible to know exactly what you’re going to need in the future so just do your best to guess, hope for the best, and pivot accordingly (you can always resell a product that isn’t serving you, somewhere like FB Marketplace, if you really needed to — especially if it’s been gently used!).
Lastly, if traveling with baby gear isn’t for you, try renting via programs like BabyQuip!
Hope this information was helpful for you. Happy travels to you and your littles!
Sending hugs —