Before we ever traveled by air with our daughter, I remember people telling me not to take our big stroller on plane trips. It will get ruined when you check it at the gate, and it’s heavier to lug around than a small umbrella stroller, they warned me.
Yet I’ve found the exact opposite to be true, and I regret buying a separate lightweight stroller just for traveling.
We’ve been using our Uppababy Vista stroller for traveling ever since our daughter outgrew her Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat and Keyfit snap-in caddy stroller, and the big stroller has withstood gate checking just fine. In fact, we’ve found having it with us when we travel, whether by plane or air, actually makes our trip easier. This is why today’s hint is three advantages to having your bigger, everyday stroller with you when you travel, assuming your little one has outgrown the car seat snap-n-go stroller phase.
1. It can work as a bag cart. When you travel with little children, there’s a lot of gear involved, from diaper bags and coats to car seats and personal carry-on bags. One big advantage our Vista has over our lightweight umbrella stroller is that it has a much bigger storage basket, which we fill up with our carry-on gear while we’re strolling around the airport, saving our backs from undue stress.
Plus, the stroller also works as a bag cart at our vacation destinations, whether we’re lugging gear to and from a beach or pool, or lugging groceries back to our vacation rental. And putting the gear in the large stroller basket — or in the stroller chair itself — is a lot easier than tying it around the handles of our lightweight umbrella stroller, which tips over from too much weight.
2. It can double as a jogging stroller. If you’re like me, you like to get some exercise in while you’re on vacation. However, you can waste precious vacation time if you and your significant other need to take turns visiting a hotel gym and watching the little ones. That’s why my husband and I like to do family jogs on trips, or at least have one of us jog with our daughter while the other hits the gym.
So what does this have to do with a big stroller? As I’ve mentioned before, I wouldn’t feel comfortable jogging with a lightweight umbrella stroller, not least because such strollers aren’t designed for running, let alone trotting. But according to Uppababy, it’s actually fine to jog with my Vista as long as I lock the front wheels, though the stroller is, of course, not technically designed to be a jogging stroller. In addition, a number of other everyday all-terrain stroller models also work for jogging.
3. It can work as a travel high chair. In an earlier hint, I wrote about how a stroller can double as an on-the-go high chair, a great trick I learned from Keryn Means, the travel expert over at Walking on Travels. And an added bonus of having a bigger stroller double as a high chair is that your little one may be closer to the table than he or she would be in a lower down, lightweight model.
To be sure, not everyone is a fan of bringing big strollers on trips, and many travel experts prefer traveling with lightweight strollers. Keryn of Walking on Travels, for instance, says that she has never traveled with a big stroller and instead travels with an umbrella stroller because she can open and close it one handed.
“It’s hard to hold a kid, bags and use both hands to lock a stroller in place. I’m still on the hunt for a better stroller that can handle this requirement and the rest I have for travel,” Keryn says. I’m lucky that I often travel with my husband, so one of us holds the kid while the other folds the stroller. (Though when I did fly solo with my daughter recently, I asked an airline employee to help watch my toddler while I folded the stroller).
In addition, airline policies for stroller checking do vary, as Corinne McDermott of Have Baby Will Travel pointed out a while back. Some will charge you if you bring a large stroller along with you above a certain weight, though the stroller often won’t count toward your baggage count. So, before you bring a certain stroller along with you on your next trip, you’ll want to double check your airline’s policy (we often fly United and haven’t been charged yet for checking our Vista and our car seat).
Also, no matter what type of stroller you bring with you, there’s always the risk that your stroller may sustain damage sometime between when you check it at the gate and pick it up at your destination. This is one reason why some parents prefer to rent strollers at their destinations.
But if you pack up your stroller in a travel bag, it may be less likely to sustain damage, and at least one stroller manufacturer will even cover any damage sustained to strollers packed in its travel bags. Uppababy, for instance, will cover any damage caused to your Vista stroller during air travel, assuming you’ve registered your Uppababy Vista Travelbag with the company.
Finally, as experienced traveler Karen writes over at Rookie Moms, some destinations just plain aren’t stroller friendly, so before packing up your stroller, you’ll want to make sure you’re heading somewhere where the terrain can handle three or four wheels.
But assuming a destination is stroller friendly, I couldn’t agree more with what a former flight attendant writes over at Expat Women: “People ask me which stroller I recommend for flying. I always say to bring the stroller you need for the entire trip, not specifically for flying.” For me, a big stroller covers what I need for a trip — a bag cart, jogging stroller and high chair.
What stroller do you like to bring with you when you travel and why?