June 09, 2011,
T.H. asks from Davis, CA on June 07, 2011
Traveling with 2 Kids--how to Manage the Gear?
At the end of July, I'm going to be flying cross country by myself with my 14 month old and 3.5 year old. I will be staying with childless friends while away. I've already asked if they can find anyone to loan us baby equipment while we're there and they said they can't get a hold of any. At a minimum, I need two car seats and a pack 'n play. I plan to bring an umbrella stroller and an ergo for carrying one kid. My question is this: how do you recommend I get all the gear I need there? I'll be renting a car when I arrive and they are charging a whopping $75 per kid for renting a car seat for the week. It would also cost $25 each way to bring my pack n' play. Not to mention that I might be a wreck trying to manage all the gear and kids by myself in the airport. How do I do this without spending a fortune or killing myself with all the stuff? Do I buy a cheap-o crib when I get there?
I am also soliciting suggestions on how to survive a red-eye flight with both kids. Should I bring a car seat on board for the older kid or have him just curl up on the airplane seat? I'll have the 14 month old on my lap.
Pour out your mommy wisdom, ladies!! I know some of you super mommas have already done this!
C.M. answers from San Francisco on June 07, 2011
first off, congrats on this adventure! you are an amazing M.. i would never think of traveling solo with the kids! i would try to have your friends get as much stuff as they can before you get there. it's tough traveling with kids let alone all the gear. i would pay the extra money for the plane seats, get the 14 month their own seat. then rent car seats when you rent the car. we did this on our last travel and it made it much easier at the airport, changing flights, and then traveling to and from airport. good luck!
E.S. answers from San Francisco on June 08, 2011
Hi there! Good luck on this trip!
I think I have two products (find these @Amazon) that will make your trip:
1. Gogo kids for the larger car seat- basically a carseat carrier modeled after a luggage carrier. This doubles as a stroller during the airport portion and allows you to use the car seat until you board!
2. Cheeky Monkey Pac Back- straps that enable you to carry a carseat on your back. Note, child cannot ride in the carseat while it's on your back, Ergo up front?
Those products get you the two carseats to the plane so you don't need to borrow or rent. That leaves you with the stroller and PNP to acquire by craigslist or loaner.
By the way, another mom recommended wearying the baby during the flight- they did not allow me to do this last summer. In the event of turbulence, the baby would be smashed by the momentum of my body. (the alternative that the baby would fly about the cabin was not good either... But it is airline regulations- look into it, because flying with a lap child is cheaper but has trade-offs).
A.G. answers from San Francisco on June 08, 2011
CRAIGSLIST!!!!! I have used the rental companies before and most of the time you pay more than you would for the item on craigslist (obviously depending on how long your stay is). Is someone dropping and picking you up at the airport? If so have them come in to the ticket counter with you to help carry the car seats. The airlines do not charge to check them in and they will go into baggage so who ever picks you up can come in and help you too or you can just get one of the carts.
As for where they will sleep I am all for rolling up blankets on the floor to create your own make shift crib. Take a comforter and fold it until it creates a nice cushy bottom. and then use pillows or rolled blankets to surround the comforter. The kids will love it.
I traveled with one child three times (1, 18 mo, 2) and that was not easy. I would recommend asking for an extra seat when you get to the airport. If they have one they will gladly give it to you. Also pay the extra $$ for the upgrade to bulk head seats. No one is in front of you and they can play on the floor. It's also a great place for them to sleep. My doctor suggested Benedryl for the over night but I never had to use it. Depends on how well your children sleep trough noise.
Less is more when it comes to gear and make sure your stroller is easy to open and close since your hands will be loaded down with kids & carry ons.
T.L. answers from St. Louis on June 07, 2011
I would not take the pack and play for $50. You can always just build a soft bed on the floor for the kids. If you MUST take two kitchen chairs and lay them on their sides and make a make shift area that is harder for your LO to get out of. The 3.5 year old should be able to sleep with you or on the floor. As far as the car seats I wouldn't pack them on the plane with you just check them and get them back once you get there. If the plane crashes chances are a car seat won't help them. Rent a cart when you get there to help lug your stuff around the 3.5 kiddo should be able to sit on the cart and our airport has carts with kids seats attached for the 14 month old. Hopefully it won't be too bad for you. I took 3 kids by myself to L.A. to meet up with my parents and had to lug three car seats, stroller and a pack and play (long ago before they charged) and the cart was a life saver!
You may also look into mailing the pack and play ahead of time to see what it would cost. Another idea is to buy one from Wal-Mart use the $.97 shipping to the store closest to them and them return it when you are done with it. I know kind of wrong, but so it charging $50 for a pack and play on an airline.
M.K. answers from Chico on June 08, 2011
Hi T.! I flew from Sac to DC when my kids were 2 (just barely) and 4, and I would recommend not taking the car seat on the plane unless your child REALLY loves it!! My kids have never loved theirs, and sitting in the seat curled up on my lap was the seat of choice for my 4 year old. I also recommend getting a seat for your younger child if it's an option, because a cross-country lap seat is so restricting. When I went, they didn't charge me to check the car seats and stroller. As far as once you are there, I wonder if your friends would be willing to go on Craigslist or Freecycle for you to get a pack-n-play? Then you could give it away again when you are done. $50 and the pain of hauling it around makes me think that even buying a new one and donating to a shelter or something when you are done with it (or leaving it with your friends for your next visit?!) would be more cost effective than taking it. Another option might be for you to search the net (or ask your friends to) for a mother's group in their city/town. Maybe one of the local moms would be willing to lend you gear?
When I flew with my kids it was just me and them going, and my husband (their dad) joined us for the flight back. It was easier on the way there :o! I hope it's a pleasure trip that you are taking and that you have fun! Happy travels.
B.R. answers from Sacramento on June 08, 2011
I would look online for that area and see if you can't find their equivalent to Child Action. Call, email or write to those folks and explain your situatioin and see if they have equipment your friends could borrow for you, and bring to the airport. That way you won't have to worry about packing all the stuff along, and you will have a pretty good guarantee that the stuff you borrow is good quality and safe. You might want to call a Child Action office here and ask if they have a listing of their equivilant agencies in the area to which you are traveling.
R.D. answers from Richmond on June 07, 2011
You're brave ;)
You could ask your childless friend if there are second hand kids consignment shops in the area... you could probably buy most of that stuff used for cheaper than you would rent it!! Then donate the stuff or sell it back to the store.
J.F. answers from Boston on June 07, 2011
Ask your friends to post on Freecycle in their area for a pack n play, booster seat (for feeding little one), and maybe some kid toys (might be nice since they don't have children). They can give away whatever they get after you leave.
I traveled (husband was with me) with my 2 boys in March (18 month was on my lap, it was fine) and my 3.5 was not in car seat on plane and was fine...watched movie and fell asleep, but an umbrella stroller is absolutely necessary in the airport....you have to remove their shoes, etc... and you need a place to "put" the little one...