Travel Gear for New Parents That's Worth the Investment Cost
Make traveling with an infant a breeze with this batch of baby-friendly, investment travel gear that's well worth the upfront cost—and will save you time, money (and major headaches) in the long run.
Travel can be tough on its own; add in a small bundle of joy that somehow manages to require three times their weight in baby items, and it's easy to see why parents get overwhelmed at the idea of going on vacation. To top it off, the baby industry is saturated with products all promising that they are the latest and greatest in the business—and many come with a price tag to match. Then again, avoiding making an investment in the right travel gear can cost you even more money in the long haul.
After all, cheap gear breaks or malfunctions while you're in transit, you end up buying replacements, swapping between brands, and generally spending way more than you'd budgeted for, all because you didn't shell out for the good stuff up front. So, what do parents actually need to make their lives easier when it comes to traveling with an infant?
We've done the legwork for you, navigating through the copious amounts of baby gear to those that are actually worth the investment cost. Of course each family, travel style, and destination will have an impact on what type of gear will work best for you, but you can find our favorites ahead.
The day my little girl outgrew her Doona Stroller was truly a sad day. Not only did it mean she was past the infant stage, but now I needed to think about more gear. This all-in-one stroller and car seat combo was made for travel. Parents can feel comforted knowing that safety is a priority with this company, and the Doona has passed both U.S. and EU certification requirements.
With one swift motion, the stroller transforms into a car seat. In your personal car, a LATCH base is included for easy attachment. But even without the base, it takes less than a minute to buckle the car seat into a car. For travel, you can also buy the Doona travel bag to protect the stroller.
Overall, the Doona is incredibly easy to use and is worth every penny for the amount of time and stress it can save parents during travel.
Guava Lotus Travel Crib
Many hotels offer a complimentary crib or pack 'n' play, but there are a lot of unknowns when relying on this (What if the resort runs out? Is it clean? Will the mattress be too soft? Will my baby actually fall asleep in it? etc). With all these questions swimming around, many parents find it easier to bring their own pack 'n' play that they know their little one is comfortable with.
The Guava Lotus Travel Crib is a go-to for peace of mind and ease of travel. It's easy to setup, has a large zippered opening on the side, a waterproof mattress, and it all folds up in a convenient carry-on sized backpack. Plus, this crib is only 13 pounds—thanks to a sturdy aluminum frame.
The side-zippered opening is great for easy access if your child needs to be comforted at night. But it also locks so that older children aren't able to unzip it themselves. The backpack is comfortable, with padded shoulder straps that can also be tucked away when not using them—or for storing the bag in an overhead bin.
No matter what type of travel crib you opt for, test it out with your child before traveling.
GB Pockit+ All-City Stroller
After being spoiled by the Doona, I knew I wanted another travel stroller, but I also wanted something to last for more than a year. The GB Pockit+ All-City Stroller has exceeded expectations.
This little beauty folds up to fit in a tote bag—meeting hand-luggage requirements for some airlines, and it can easily be stored under the seat in front of you on an airplane. Folding the stroller takes a try or two to get used to, but after that it becomes second nature. And parents can unfold the stroller with one hand—another advantage if you're a single parent or otherwise traveling solo with a little one.
The All-City stroller really excels in three areas compared to other strollers—there's a reclining feature, a full canopy, and overall smoothness. I walked around Walt Disney World for hours on multiple days with my toddler relaxing in this stroller. The seat-recline feature allowed her to take a nap when she needed, and the full canopy offered great protection from the sun. Plus, since this stroller is good for children up to 55 lbs, it has a lot of life in it.
Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer
Although the GB Pockit+ All-City Stroller has a large storage compartment, it's nice to have some things closer at hand. The Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer is the ideal addition to any stroller. There are three compartments—two cupholders and a middle storage area—along with a zippered detachable pocket. The organizer is made out of flexible and easy-to-clean neoprene, meaning parents can leave it attached to the stroller even when it's folded up.
WAYB Pico Car Seat
The lightweight and portable WAYB Pico car seat was made for travel. At only eight pounds, this is one of the lightest car seats. It folds into itself, making it easy to carry through an airport with the rest of your luggage.
Of course, plenty of parents prefer to travel without a car seat, whether they're planning to use public transport and a baby carrier, borrow from a friend, or rent from a car company. But if you defer to the latter option, beware: Relying on car seats from rental car companies is a huge game of chance. Sometimes you'll get one that's brand new; other times, you worry that the seat might be broken, or (worst of all) the company might have fun out of car seats entirely. Bringing your own car seat ensures you'll have a safe and reliable way for your child to travel while exploring new destinations.
Skip Hop Baby Changing Station
One thing is guaranteed when you're traveling with a baby: Your little one will need their diaper changed. And even if there is a dedicated baby changing station in a public bathroom, it's not a guarantee that it will be even remotely clean. The Skip Hop Baby Changing Station fits easily in a diaper bag and provides an extra layer of protection for your little one and the appointed baby changing area. There's a handy compartment to store extra diapers and another zippered pouch to stash away wipes.
Having a reliable carry-on while traveling is important, and the Away Carry-On is a go-to. With the help of some Tom Binh packing cubes, you can pack a whole family's clothes for a week-long trip in this puppy. The durable hard-shell sides help your luggage from getting too battered, and the TSA-approved lock is handy—especially if you need to leave your luggage with a bellhop. The four wheels are also extremely helpful; they glide easily on tile or carpet through an airport, which is super useful when you're also pushing a stroller.
Monos Carry-On Pro Plus
Another fantastic (and similarly priced) hard-shell carry-on option is the Monos—and this one comes with all the bells and whistles. It's the fancier version of Monos' already award-winning basic Carry-On; it's made of aerospace-grade polycarbonate, which means heavy-duty protection if you're traveling with a laptop in there (which, by the way, you can easily insert right into the Monos' front pocket—and take out just as easily while the security officials are glaring you down). That laptop access is a major plus for working parents on the go—who are juggling those devices as well as wriggly babies through security. Like the Away, the Monos has easy-roll wheels for speeding through the boarding process, and it fits in the overhead compartment so you don't have to gate-check more than your stroller.
Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine
Having items that work just as well at home as on the go is key for many busy traveling parents. The Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine is one of those rare gems; it's small enough to fit in the same backpack as the Guava Lotus Travel Crib and can be controlled remotely with an app on your smartphone. There are 11 different sounds to choose from, along with multiple night-light colors. When traveling, it's especially nice to block out any unfamiliar noise (such as loud road noise or construction) that might otherwise wake your little one during the middle of the night.
Nested Bean Zen Sack
Another item that is useful at home and on the go is the Nested Bean Zen Sack. The egg in the middle of the chest is weighted to help provide comfort to your little one, and parents can rest assured that the sleep sack has exceeded the industry standards when it comes to safety. My baby did not like to be swaddled, and we started to use this sleep sack fairly early. By three months old, she was sleeping through the night.
These blankets are lightweight and so versatile. They can be used as a swaddle for an infant (if your child likes to be swaddled), as a blanket for an extra layer of warmth on a cold airplane, as a helpful sun shield while your little one naps in a stroller, or to provide an extra layer of protection for your child if you need to lay them down somewhere.