Travel with a baby can feel overwhelming when you start to compile that mental note of all the baby travel essentials you have and use. You see the question asked in mom groups on Facebook all the time – “What was the #1 thing you used all the time with your baby” and inevitably the comments are flooded with answers that are all different.
We use a lot of stuff with our babies at home, because why not? Why not make our life easier and baby’s more enjoyable with baby swings, high chairs and play mats when we are at home. When it comes to travel though, you really can get by without most of that stuff.
And I’ll go one step further to say that you can travel to your destination with little more than a baby carrier (we think babywearing at the airport is a must!).
How you ask? One simple answer – rent your baby gear! Baby gear rental companies make it so easy for traveling families. They are quality providers of baby equipment and can often arrange delivery to the airport or your hotel.
We have successfully traveled several times with only a baby carrier (plus the all our airplane travel toys and snacks, of course). In fact, our first trip to Barcelona with a baby was with only our luggage, a Baby K’Tan and an Ergo Baby carrier. When we traveled to Sedona with a toddler and baby, we again brought only those two carriers mentioned above.
5 Reasons Why We Rent Baby Gear
Sure, it’s a personal preference for us to travel with as little baby equipment as possible. This family travel packing strategy may not be for everyone, but let us try to convince you with the reasons why we like to rent baby gear for our trips:
1. Packing Lightly
You know that amazing feeling when you drop off your luggage at the check-in counter at the airport? There’s something very freeing about dropping your luggage off, which many new parents miss out on when they keep their stroller and other baby gear with them.
Planning to rent your baby items at your destination allows you to continue enjoying the benefits of packing lightly.
2. No Stress About Lost or Damaged Baby Gear
All new parents know how expensive baby gear is, especially the stuff we like to bring while traveling, like car seats and strollers. One of the major reasons why we choose to rent baby gear while traveling is we are afraid the careless baggage handlers will break our expensive baby equipment.
Renting baby gear at your destination frees you from the expense and stress of dealing with damaged car seats, or waiting at the carousel for your travel cot which doesn’t look like it made it off the plane.
Gate checking expensive baby equipment is one way to help protect your gear, but then you have to lug it all through the airport (see #1 above).
3. Convenient Delivery
Most baby equipment rental companies will arrange delivery of your baby gear right to the airport, rental car counter or even to your hotel, depending on your needs. Some may even deliver your baby gear to the location of your choice before you arrive!
4. Clean, High Quality Equipment
A reputable baby gear rental company will provide you with clean, sanitized baby equipment from top quality brands.
5. Less Stuff to Forget
This is related to our love of packing lightly, but this reason is mostly due to a parent’s frazzled state of mind. There is a lot to think about and remember when you travel with a baby, especially if it’s your first trip with a baby.
Inevitably you will leave something behind. It happens. The one time we decided to fly with our own pack n’ play (because we had a short, direct flight and a car rental) we ended up leaving it on the baggage carousel! Once we got to our hotel, we had to return to the airport to get it…
Which Baby Gear Items Should You Rent Instead of Pack
Rent a Stroller?
Many parents prefer to have their stroller at the airport. Sure, bringing your stroller is convenient for carrying all your stuff and maybe your baby will sleep in it, but it’s also possible (and more enjoyable) to get through the airport without it.
We have four reasons why we like to rent a stroller on family vacations:
- One reason we prefer to rent a stroller on family vacations is because our stroller at home is a large jogging stroller. Maybe you’d feel differently with one of these lightweight travel strollers, which can fit in the overhead storage compartment on an airplane.
- We also prefer to simply use our baby carrier in the airport as both of our kids were more likely to nap in a baby carrier.
- No matter what type of stroller you have, leaving it at home and renting a stroller instead allows you to travel much more lightly.
- We didn’t want to risk having the airline damage such an expensive piece of baby gear. If you do decide to fly with your stroller, be sure to protect it with a travel stroller bag.
Rent Car Seats?
Car seats are another piece of baby equipment we traditionally prefer to rent vs. bringing our own. As with our preference to rent a stroller, we are worried about having our expensive car seats damaged during the flight.
Another reason why it’s nice to rent car seats is how big and awkward they are to carry around the airport. Car seat travel bags help, but we still prefer to leave ours at home.
If possible, we prefer to rent a car seat from a baby equipment rental company instead of the car rental company. Firstly, car rental agencies will rarely guarantee the availability of a car seat rental (what will you do if they are out of them??).
Secondly, you never know the quality of car seat rentals from the car rental shop. For example, on our most recent trip to Mexico, the rental car company misunderstood that we were waiting for car seats to be delivered and brought us out a couple of theirs. We were shocked at the poor quality and were so glad we had arranged ours through Riviera Maya Baby Gear for Rent.
To be fair, we did rent car seats from a rental car company once in Norway when we had no other options. Thankfully, we were quite pleased with that experience. But, our Mexico experience shows you never know what you will get with car seats from your car rental company.
Related: 5 Things to Think About Before Traveling with Car Seats on an Airplane
Rent a Crib or Travel Cot?
Before you decide to fly with your pack n’ play, we would first recommend checking with your hotel or vacation home rental to see if they can provide a crib, pack n’ play or travel cot for your baby to sleep in.
If you aren’t able to get a suitable crib provided and you will be travelling frequently, you might want to invest in a very lightweight travel bed or a KidCo PeaPod toddler travel bed (for older babies and toddlers).
If your hotel doesn’t provide a suitable crib for your baby, then renting a crib one is a great option.
If you have more than one destination, then it may become easier to bring your own portable baby bed for travel or one of these toddler travel beds.
Rent a High Chair?
If you are staying in a self-catered apartment and are traveling with a baby eating solids, you might want to consider renting a high chair. We also had good success with a portable travel highchair which packs down very small.
Other Items to Rent when Traveling with a Baby
Depending on where you are going and how long you are traveling, other baby gear items you can rent are safety gates, baby portable bathtub, swing, bouncy seat, toys, even some of your baby beach essentials like sand toys… the list goes on!
6 Tips for Renting Baby Equipment
1. Compare the Cost of Renting vs. Replacing
Depending on how long your family trip is, the cost of renting baby gear can add up. Always compare the cost of renting your baby gear vs. the cost of replacing it if you break our own gear on your trip. One way to reduce the cost of renting baby gear is to see if the company offers discounts for renting multiple products or for long term rentals.
2. Review Online Images & Get Digital Installation Instructions
It’s worthwhile taking a look and confirming which brands of baby gear the company has available to make sure you are comfortable with them. If you plan to rent car seats, request a digital version of the installation instructions to make sure you know what you are doing before you have to install them.
3. Request Testimonials
If you have any hesitations, you can ask the baby equipment rental company for some testimonials. They will often have testimonials their website, but they should be more than willing to put you in contact with some customers as well.
4. Don’t be Disappointed with the Quality
Make sure they make mention of cleaning and sanitizing the baby equipment. Also, just confirm that you will be given equipment that is the same as the pictures on the website (i.e. brands and style).
5. Confirm When and Where
Make sure you confirm exactly where and when you will have the equipment delivered/picked up and if there are any extra delivery fees. If you are having your baby equipment delivered before you arrive, make sure you inform the hotel or car rental agency.
6. Provide Your Flight Information
If you are meeting the baby equipment rental company at the airport or rental car counter, provide them with your flight information so they can check for any delays.
To make it easier to find baby equipment rentals, we are working on a worldwide directory of baby equipment rental companies. If you have used a baby equipment rental company, please share your experience with us!
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.