I am so glad that we found your website and were able to buy your book! We are planning a big trip to Europe this fall and will be visiting several countries with our 2 children (3 months old and 2 1/2 years old).
My biggest question is what kind of stroller would be best to bring. We would like to have a double stroller to have the option of putting both kids in the stroller. Our baby is too heavy to ‘wear’ all the time but our 2.5 year old often needs to sit in the stroller when he gets tired, etc. At home we use the Phil & Teds Sport Buggy and love it. However, it is very heavy and bulky to bring on several long flights. We are open to taking it, but have been considering buying a more light weight double stroller for our trip.
You recommended both the Maclaren Twin and Joovy Caboose Ultralight on your website. We are trying to decide between those but are not sure which would be best for Europe? I know there are special considerations for Europe such as smaller doorways and more public transportation. I know we will be happiest if we are prepared with a great stroller and would love your advice on which double stroller would be best for us.
Thanks so much for your question! I would strongly recommend a Maclaren twin stroller for your trip, either the Maclaren Twin Techno or Maclaren Twin Triumph (Triumph is lighter, but no leg rest for the baby). With the independently adjustable (better reclining) seats, napping on the go will be much easier, and either should fit through doorways. Wheels are sturdy, too. I say that having had a Phil and Ted double buggy myself–great for some applications more than others.
I’ve also found that with my Maclaren Twin (and also single Triumph), I can push the infant car seat handle all the way back and hang it over one of the hook handles as we make way through the airport. If your infant car seat can travel without its base, this may be a great option for you. Have fun!
Any other “twin stroller travelers” with tips for Rachel?
Giveaway reminder – Where will your “travels with baby” take you (or where have they taken you already)? Post to the Facebook fan page by midnight tonight (8/25/10) and you may win a signed copy of the book!
Southwest Airlines has for years been regarded as one of the more family-friendly airlines, and I believe it continues to serve families well with respect to low internet fares, discounted infant fares for children under 24 months in seats, and perhaps most significant to families these days: two free checked suitcases per paid traveler. For this reason alone I have renewed interest in flying our brood on Southwest, and frequently.
But there’s been a big change. When families with young children used to take advantage of “family preboarding” on Southwest flights, it made little difference that Southwest seats are not pre-assigned. Preboarding was the only way a family could be sure it would be seated all together on a Southwest flight. Now? We marveled on a recent flight as “Group A” began to board, and continued to board, with the attendant assuring us families would indeed be allowed to “preboard”—as soon as the rest of the long line of travelers were all onboard.
As we finally boarded with two children and a lap child, the seat rows were a checkerboard of travelers flying solo. My hubby found one of the last rows left with 3 uninterrupted seats, and I sat with our lap child next to a window, hoping a chatty neighbor would not thwart my plans for the baby’s in-flight nap. Parched, I also wondered if I could impose on my fellow travelers to set a Southwest-issued beverage on one of their trays as I might have done with my husband or older child next to me since my tray was within full reach of my lap child.
And although two of our family’s full-price passengers weigh a mere 40 lbs. and occupy little over half of an airplane seat, I did not have the advantage of the extra room on their seats beside me as usual for the legs of the overtired baby, as he instead sprawled across my lap and played footsie with my neighbor’s white-trousered thigh. Fortunately for all of us, she liked children—and did not order hot coffee on that early morning flight. Nor did she set an enticing laptop computer on her tray, like many passengers on that flight.
Meanwhile, on a different row, my husband kept the girls entertained by making cards for me to tell me how much they were missing me on the flight. These were delivered as they all three made way to the tiny lavatory, no one wanting to be left behind at the seats alone.
All-in-all, it was a good refresher on some of the finer points of flying alone with babies and young children, and made me appreciate how there are some aspects of flying that are easier now as a family of 5 than in the earlier days as we got our bearings traveling with just one baby—with most airlines.
On our return, we were a little luckier, and smarter, and muscled our way in to get 4 seats across. With my two daughters beside me and the arm rests up, we had plenty of room—enough for the baby to sit comfortably beside us on the seats and share toys and snacks with his sisters. Trips to the lavatory were made only two at a time. I got my complimentary beverage—and did not end up wearing it.
However, as the final passengers boarded the flight, an announcement was made: Anyone who was willing to change seats so that a mother could sit beside her daughter would be rewarded with “a free adult beverage.” One passenger apparently benefitted from the Southwest “family post-boarding,” but I have to wonder how many Southwest travelers will grow to resent this new system of boarding, where families are more likely to get split between rows and fellow passengers like my neighbors who boarded the aircraft solo are even more likely to end up “traveling with children”?
Is there really that much benefit to having families with children under 5 years board the aircraft after earlier groups—as many airlines now practice, while giving priority to their highest-paying travelers and high-status loyalty program members? I can understand the advantages when the first to board are seated in a specific section of the aircraft—like an elevated business class on a jumbo jet. But when those seated on the aisle in First Class receive the gentle thuds of car seats passing by, I have to wonder who’s really benefitting from family post-boarding?
How about you?
Has your family been separated on a recent flight? Do you take advantage of family preboarding—before or after the Gold Members? Do you think Southwest should give seating priority back to families?
Related posts and pages:
5 Ways Airlines Can Help Make Happier Travelers of Us All
While doing research for their new Jaguar Stones series of children’s novels (you may have seen the first in the series, Middleworld, featured on the Today Show), authors Pamela and Jon Voelkel, along with all three of their children, visited numerous Mayan sites—from the most famous to some of the most remote—throughout the Yucatan and Central America. Pamela was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions about their family’s travels, and offered her own commonsense tips (see below) to those of you who may be considering more adventurous travel to the region with your own young children.
Q: How old were your children the first time you took them to Central America?
Pamela: The first time we traveled to Central America to research The Jaguar Stones Series, our children were ten, eight and two. I was extremely worried that the youngest would get eaten by jaguars or something, but in the event, the worst thing was trying to make her swallow the anti-malaria medicine before we went.
Q: Had you traveled much with your children before that?
Pamela: We’ve always traveled with our children, right from when they were born, because Jon’s family lives in Arizona and mine are in England, so we’ve flown to and fro zillions of times. Our first major adventure as parents was a 36-hour, 3-leg flight from London to Fiji when our oldest child was 18 months. He was never a sleeper, so we took it in turns to have two hours on and two hours off. During your shift, you were responsible for baby’s every need. But during your blissful two hours off duty, it was all the other parent’s problem. That worked very well and it set the pattern for future trips. Now our two oldest help us keep the little one amused.
Q: What was your most challenging moment traveling with young kids?
Pamela: We’ve definitely had some rock-bottom moments, mostly involving projectile vomit, but I believe that travel has brought us together as a family.
Q: What do you think has been the best thing about sharing these adventures with your kids?
Pamela: At home, everyone has their separate friends and interests. But when you’re huddled together in a thatched shack as a troop of howler monkeys scream like banshees on your roof in the middle of the night, it’s quite a bonding moment. For adults, the big bonus of traveling with children is that it’s easier to get talking to the locals. If you don’t feel like taking in the sights, just sit in the park or the town square – you’ll make new friends and learn a lot about local culture.
Related posts, pages, and chapters:
Food and water safety tips for travel with babies and young children
Healthy travels with babies and young children + in case of illness
Chapter 8 of Travels with Baby: Going farther afield
Good morning! If you noticed things got a little quiet around here, you can probably guess why… the little guy just slept in 6 different portacribs / Pack ‘n Plays as we traveled by plane, car, passenger ferry, car ferry, monorail, and our travelin’ feet. Great new tips to come!
Meanwhile, I’m happy to announce the winner of the Safety 1st Go Hybrid travel car seat + booster! Congratulations to akritical, who wrote:
“The Go Hybrid Portable Car Seat would make travel for my family oh-so-much easier when we fly to Louisiana. All of our family is there and we make the trip 3-4 times a year.”
If you landed here because you want more information about the Go Hybrid booster, be sure to check out the detailed review here at TravelswithBaby.com. You can also purchase the car seat online here. Thanks again to Safety 1st for sponsoring this giveaway!
I’m giving away a free, signed copy of my guidebook Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children with 300+ pages of tips to help plan trips to the in-laws, developing nations, the woods, the beach, and more. Those of you who already have a copy know it also makes a good baby shower, birthday, or holiday gift, so I will inscribe the book to you or to the recipient of your choice if you so desire. To win the book, head over to the Travels with Baby facebook page and enter your comment:
My “Travels with Baby” will take me (or have taken me) to… [your destination(s)].
Note: This contest is open to readers in all countries! One comment / entry per fan, please. I look forward to reading your responses! Post your comments before midnight Wednesday, August 25.
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