Today’s Hint: The Free Travel Crib

Before we left for a recent weekend giveaway to Seattle with our 23-month-old daughter, I set about trying to find a cheap travel crib for us to rent during our stay.

The condo we had rented didn’t offer crib rentals, and renting one from the local baby gear rental agencies I checked with would cost us anywhere from roughly $40 to $70. To me, this just didn’t make financial sense to do, considering that a basic playard can cost that amount.

So, instead, we opted for a free travel crib using a strategy that is today’s hint. Our tactic: We brought our Chicco playard with us on our trip, and we checked it at no cost on both legs of our Delta Airlines journey.

According to the Delta employees we spoke with during our trip, the playard was a baby item, and they check all baby items for free (read Delta’s exact policy here). So, we were able to check the travel crib, along with our car seat, at no cost, and then we gate checked our big stroller, also for free.

To be sure, this trick won’t work on all airlines, as some put quotas on the number of baby items you can check for free or just allow strollers and car seats to be checked at no cost.

So, depending on what airline you’re flying, how helpful the airline employees you deal with are and the cost of renting a crib versus renting a car seat at your particular destination, it may be more economical to check your car seat and or stroller instead of your travel crib.

If you’re traveling on an airline with such a quota, here’s another great hint: You may want to consider stowing two of your baby items in one travel bag, if possible, as Keryn Means of Walking on Travels cleverly did a while back, to avoid extra baggage fees for bringing a travel crib.

In addition, if you’re traveling to a destination you’re going to visit often (like grandma’s house), it may make even more financial sense to buy a cheap pack-n-play just for your destination, as Leslie Neeland Harvey of Trips With Tykes has pointed out.

Finally, of course, there’s always the chance that your travel crib will come out of baggage claim broken (we haven’t had this problem, knock on wood), and lugging around a travel crib isn’t necessarily easy. On our recent trip, in addition to our playard, we brought a car seat, our stroller, two suitcases, three backpacks and a purse with us.

Luckily, we had our big stroller, so we used that as a luggage cart of sorts. And considering the money we saved on a crib rental, we’d do it again, assuming that we find ourselves in a similar situation, i.e. the hotel or vacation rental that we’re staying at doesn’t rent out cribs.

For more on what baby gear to bring with you – and how to travel lighter – check out a hint I wrote last October on why to order diapers and related items ahead of time to your destination.

What are your strategies for cutting the cost of – and hassle of carrying — travel cribs?

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