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Baby Travel Gear Review (tried out in Greece, May 2011)

Baby Travel Gear Review (tried out in Greece, May 2011)

Sep 9th, 2011, 07:03 PM
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Baby Travel Gear Review (tried out in Greece, May 2011)

Howdy all,

I've been absent from Fodors for quite a while as life has had many changes in store over the past couple years... a cross country move, new jobs, and a much longed for baby and the transition to being a SAHM. We took our precious son Alexander to our favorite country, Greece, in May 2011 when he was exactly 7 months old. We had a wonderful, wonderful trip and Alexander was quite the little travel pro . We found that he was very mellow about all the unfamiliarity and very interested in the new routine (we were careful to ensure he got plenty of sleep at night and naps during the day, so he was almost always well rested). Here are some reviews on some of the baby travel items we purchased.

Baby Bjorn Travel Crib - we purchased ours on Amazon for significantly less than the Babies R Us price. PROS - Alexander slept wonderfully in it (it has a thick, comfy mattress), it seems very sturdy and safe, it was light, it's big enough that I think he will be able to use it to approximately age 2. We could always find a corner of our hotel room to set it up in even though we had some typical small European hotel rooms . CONS - it is too big to fit into a suitcase so you have to check it separately which eats into your luggage allowance (too big to carry on). Also, the sheets are quite expensive. We ended up purchasing some cheap portable play yard sheets that fit it perfectly and were a soft jersey material. I got 3 for about $20. If you have a really tiny hotel room, it may not fit.
Overall, we are glad we bought it and hauled it around. Even though our hotels advertised having portable cribs available, we checked them out and most were dirty and several seemed downright unsafe.

City Mini stroller by Baby Jogger - we also purchased this on Amazon. PROS - it handled the uneven streets and paths that are so common in Europe really well and is silly-easy to fold and unfold. Alexander slept in it when fully reclined. The sun shade is massive and very moveable which comes in handy in a sunny country like Greece. It provides plenty of support for a young infant. It is easily maneuvered with only one hand. CONS - it's somewhat bulky and took up a lot of room in the rental car, certainly more room than an umbrella would take. NOTE - we purchased it in the cute red color. I love it but we found that it attracted bees!

Beco Butterfly II Baby Carrier - the MVP of the trip! PROS - Alexander weighed about 18.5 pounds and this carrier is so well built that I was comfortable carrying him in it for hours at a time. It also adjusted to fit my husband quite well. Alexander loved, loved, loved being carried right next to mom and frequently took little naps while in it. It was easier to have him in the carrier in crowded places (markets, public transportation, museums) than to mess with a stroller. As an FYI, you can convert it to a backpack for heavier kids up to 35 pounds. CONS - the only one I can think of is that this isn't one of the carriers where you can turn baby around to face out. Babies go through a phase where they really like that (3-4 months).

Babies R Us Disposable Bibs - 36 large bibs for $4.29 - these were indispensable as "outfit savers". Our son frequently goes through several outfits a day due to either soaking them with drool (teething) or spitting up on them (reflux). We kept him in these bibs pretty much all of the time and they really, really helped cut down on the amount of clothes he went through which helped a ton with luggage space. They didn't cause any irritation of his skin whatsoever. I should add that I'm normally not a fan of disposable anything (my son wears cloth diapers at home), but for travel, disposable stuff is a godsend.

Best Travel Toys -
Nesting/Stacking Cups - useful at bathtime and for a normal toy. Lots of toys without taking up much room. Baby will love knocking over the towers of stacked cups.

Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Camera - we brought this one out on the plane for the first time and Alexander was completely fascinated. It never failed to entertain him.

Nuby singing star teether - this is a small BPA-free teether that sings "You are my Sunshine" and has a blinking light and lots of different colors and textures. Lots of bang for your buck and it doesn't take up much room.

Sophie the Giraffe - B.E.S.T. teether on the planet. Period. Other European babies will likely have one and your baby can laugh and coo at the other baby with the same toy.

Lamaze Mortimer the Moose learning toy - also bought on Amazon. Lots of things to keep baby busy.


NOTE - we didn't purchase a portable high chair even though we knew high chairs are really rare in Europe. Our son was still almost exclusively breastfeeding at the time and the small bits of food he ate such as mashed banana were easy to feed him while my husband held him on his lap.

I'll be happy to share more about our trip and tips/tricks on traveling with an infant if there is interest... just post to let me know. Overall I would heartily recommend it!
TexasAggie is offline  
Sep 9th, 2011, 09:23 PM
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Thanks for posting this info. We have a grandchild due soon and this was really helpful information.
elnap29 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2011, 07:27 PM
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Great advice. I would love to hear more. We are planning a trip with our 6 year old and 18 month old to Germany and we might also go over to Spain. We'll be there 2 weeks. Do you think you could've done without the stroller? We have a wrap much like the carrier you mention and I am just trying to decide if I can do without a stroller.
Jennifer_Hansen is offline  
Sep 14th, 2011, 12:32 AM
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Nice reviews! We have Sophie the Giraffe and she has been much loved and chewed on by my seven month old (and her 3 year old sister before her).

I definitely agree with the baby carrier idea. We have a Patapum which is similar to the Beco (but shorter in the body - also cheaper!) and I wouldn't dream of going on holiday without it. You might also be interested to know that the outward facing position isn't really recommended by many baby carrying "experts" as it's not great for babies' spines and hip bones, apparently.

We have always taken some form of stroller with us because a baby carrier isn't always ideal, especially for long walks, meals in restaurants, etc. As our youngest is still little, we take the baby car seat (Maxi Cosi) and a stroller frame that it clips onto directly, which is very handy. The Maxi Cosi also doubles as a nice "rocking chair" for baby when we're at the hotel in the evenings and she won't settle, or wants to sit and look around.

When baby gets older we'll switch to a Maclaren stroller (already tried and tested with older daughter) which folds small and is light and easy to carry.

The other useful item we often take with us is a travel booster seat. Ours has an inflatable cushion inside and folds flat for carrying, but can be fitted to most chairs. Very useful in restaurants/hotels where no high chairs are available.

I love travelling with my girls and I think it's great that there are so many products out there these days that make it easy for us
hanl is offline  
Sep 14th, 2011, 03:41 AM
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Hi TexasAggie,

We're way past the baby stage (ours just left for her freshman year of college!) but just wanted to say it's great to see you back here on Fodor's! Congrats, and I look forward to reading about more of your travels with Alexander.
ms_go is online now  
Sep 14th, 2011, 06:50 PM
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Hi ms_go! Oh my goodness, I can't believe your daughter just left for college!! Congratulations . I'm sure it is bittersweet. Thanks to her parents and grandparents, she has a wonderfully broad world view.

We are having a ball with Alexander! He's been on 2 roadtrips, to Greece for a couple weeks, and just recently to Chicago. We're fortunate that he is such a good traveller! Maybe it was in his genes, haha We're now planning a trip to Rome and parts of Umbria/Tuscany for next spring.
TexasAggie is offline  
Sep 15th, 2011, 08:54 AM
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Thanks TexasAggie. We head to Paris in less than a month with our now almost 5 year old (a veteran of several trips to Europe) AND our new baby who just turned 6 months. I am just as nervous about this trip with two kids as I was the first time we took our older daughter. I appreciate the post as I have forgotten some of what it was like to travel with a young baby. Glad to see you got the little one traveling early. I think if you don't do it early, traveling with kids becomes too scary and you never try it.
Sally30 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2011, 02:31 PM
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Great information! I am very envious of you! While I would absolutely travel to Europe with one infant, I could in no way ever imagine traveling abroad with my twin daughters for quite awhile! I remember when I was pregnant, before I found out I was carrying twinkies, trying to talk DH into booking a trip to Ireland. LOL!!

Congratulations on your son, by the way! My girls are going on 23 months, so they are very close in age. I'm a SAHM too...never a dull moment around our house!

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Oct 12th, 2011, 02:37 PM
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I meant to add that I get a good laugh just thinking about my double stroller bouncing around the cobblestoned streets of Rome!
tcreath is offline  
Oct 13th, 2011, 02:34 AM
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Long past baby age and even our perfect granddaughters are beyond Alexander's stage, but I wanted to thank you for a model review that is really useful; your model could be applied to a variety of subjects.

I wish there were someplace young parents could read travel oriented reviews like this before spending lots of money. We see them with "double-wide" strollers here in Nantucket, where they literally cannot walk down the narrow sidewalks, nice for babies in a big city but the tandem (fore and aft) strollers work much better here. By the way, the cute shops here don't allow any strollers at all since they are mostly tiny, but there are lots of benches for Dad to wait while Mom does her thing. But how would anyone know thoose things unless experienced users like you post.
Ackislander is offline  
Oct 13th, 2011, 07:16 AM
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We live in Munich and I have a 6.5 and 17 month old. When I am at home, I use my big air tire job, but when we travel, we take our umbrella stroller with us. I find our umbrella more than adequate for cobblestone. Of course, a baby carrier is also great, and I use my Ergo a ton.

Jennifer_Hanson: when are you planning to visit Germany? I think you can get by without a stroller, but I think it will depend on the weather. As you know, 6 month old is perfectly portable in a carrier! Probably an ideal time to travel with,too. However, in the winter time, I prefer to use my stroller, as it too slippery with the ice/snow and I find carrying the baby in my Ergo to be more stressful (even though the baby is nice and toasty against mama). So, pros and cons, again! At least here in Munich, most of the U/S bahns have escalators or lifts, so it is not horribly inconvenient. And everyone here uses big strollers, so restaurants/shops are used to dealing with them.

We also have the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib. *SO* much better than our older pack n play. Though, I have been know to travel without the crib, too. Most of the places we have stayed have decent enough baby cots and I feel fine letting the baby sleep in it.
eluckhardt is offline  
Oct 13th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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Get a combi stroller - less than 1/2 the price of the jogger, folds into almost nothing and weighs less than 12 pounds.
BigRuss is offline  
Oct 13th, 2011, 06:51 PM
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Tracy! Oh my goodness, how are you? You have no idea how often I wondered how you and your DH were doing during my Fodors hiatus. When we had last "talked", we were both planning to start a family . Twin girls... what a wonderful, wonderful surprise and blessing! I bet you are one BUSY lady though! ;-). Travel with just one little one was challenging at times... I think if/when we have two, we will definitely be enlisting the grandparents to come with
I would love to catch up more and see pics of your little girls. I bet they are just darling, like their mama! My email is jillbriesch @ yahoo if you ever have a free moment to drop me a line. Take care!
TexasAggie is offline  
Oct 14th, 2011, 04:08 AM
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BKP
 
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Great trip report! We love traveling with our little one and love seeing other parents that do too. Ours is a little too old to make use of your product recommendations. We're more into the electronics stage to keep him happy and busy.

Hopefully since you had such a positive experience you'll keep traveling with your son. If you do, take a look at the CARES harness. It's a 5 point harness that you strap onto the regular airplane seat. It basically turns an airplane seat into a car seat without the bulk. We loved it! I recommend it here all the time, I should be getting some sort of kick back!

Have fun.
BKP is offline  
Oct 17th, 2011, 08:40 AM
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We are just back from 10 days in Paris with a seven month old and her almost 5 year old sister. Thought I would add a few more items that we found very useful:

For changing - disposable changing pads (http://www.diapers.com/p/Munchkin-Ar...-10-pack-36097)

For feeding (non-breastfed baby) - take and toss spoons which you can reuse but are cheap enough that no big deal if you lose them. Squeezable baby foods (like Plum Organics but they sell similar in Europe so I'd just buy there). It is much lighter to carry than glass bottles. Also, a formula holder (http://www.diapers.com/p/Munchkin-Po...mbo-Pack-18124). We did bring a booster seat (the Phil and Ted Me Too model) which clips onto the table. We planned to use it in restaurants but the tables are just too tightly backed and too small to use it. We ended up mostly keeping the baby in the stroller and sitting outside with the stroller rolled up to the table. For a grabby, squirmy baby like ours, this worked much better. We did use the booster in the apartment but I wouldn't recommend this model as you are paying for the portability and if you don't carry it around with you, you can get a cheaper but comparable one.

Stroller - we needed a stroller that would fit two kids because we did so much walking but our older daughter is tall and really too big for most double stollers. We didn't want to take a huge jogging stroller either given that we were going to Paris with many narrow streets and wanted to bring the stroller into restaurants. We got the Joovy Ultralight Caboose and it was great (http://www.amazon.com/Joovy-Caboose-...8868803&sr=8-1). It is easy to push (even one-handedly) and steers very well. We had 60lbs of kids in there plus a bag and many of the strollers we tried were too hard to push. It is also pretty lightweight, folds up fairly compactly and isn't huge when opened so we were able to roll it up to the table eat outdoors in many cafes. And it doesn't cost a fortune. The downside is that the older kid in the back cannot sleep in the stroller and is not super comfortable but our kids had fun being right on top of each other. If you have an older child who does not nap, I recommend this as the older kid can sit when very tired, can stand in the back when she doesn't feel like walking and can get on and off when she likes.

Diaper Bag - we brought our very lightweight Patagonia bag that converts from a backpack to a shoulder bag and can be clipped onto the stroller as well (http://www.zappos.com/patagonia-ligh...-bougainvillea). I appreciated the convenience of switching from shoulder bag to backpack when one body part started to hurt.

Miscellaneous - I would bring several pacifier clips like these (http://www.diapers.com/p/RaZbaby-Kee...r-Pink-17949); we bought several more while away in pharmacies after leaving a trail of pacifiers throughout the 6e arrondisement. In general, I wouldn't bring anything you can't bear to lose. We lost a LOT of stuff along the way!
Sally30 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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Great tips, Sally30! Thanks for sharing!
TexasAggie is offline  
Oct 17th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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One more - instead of buying a stroller bag which can be expensive and/or if you buy a cheapie one, rip before you make it from the parking lot to the airport (like ours did once), we just used very large trash/storage bags. These are the big plastic bags you can buy in the hardware store to cover furniture you keep in storage or a Christmas tree bag works too if you are traveling in January. They keep the stroller covered so straps and other pieces don't get caught when the stroller is checked and also keeps it clean. Bring an extra for the way home as you will just rip it off.
Sally30 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 08:13 AM
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TexasAggie, i hope you will teach little Alexandros some Greek, for his next trip to Greece
clausar is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 08:49 AM
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Hi clausar,

We are working on teaching him Greek! So far, all he knows is "yia sas". We are going to Italy for our holiday this year, but plan to return to Greece again in 2013. We want to explore more of the mainland and visit friends who live on Evia .
TexasAggie is offline  
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