With just five months of parenting under our belts, we still have so much to learn. The one thing we may have perfected so far is what works well for us when traveling with Reese, especially daily travel on the train. We still have to see how all this translates on a longer plane trip, e.g. our trip home to the US in mid-March, but so far these principles and products get us through every day trips and on weekend getaways.
(1) Travel with a sturdy stroller you love. When it comes to daily travel in Europe with a baby, the most important thing is the stroller. Here in Switzerland, train and tram travel is an integral part of our regular routine and days out generally do not involve our car. This means that each time we’re out we need to have everything packed in with room to spare, and the stroller must be able to stand up to the daily rigors of a mostly walking lifestyle, carrying the weight of the baby and groceries across multiple terrains.
We first tested a stroller against life in Zurich when my cousin visited in summer 2014 with her five-month-old in an UPPAbaby Vista. The stroller was comfortable for baby Anna, rolled with ease over the rough terrain of our wooded trails and the cobblestones of old town, and was easy to handle on/off trains and trams. Plus, it still fit in our elevator.When it came time for us to choose our stroller, we were a little overwhelmed by the options. Here, Bugaboo strollers definitely dominate on the street, with Stokke and Mountain Buggy strollers not far behind. But Bugaboos are really expensive and felt harder to manage and some of other strollers we tried felt too big. So, we went with what we knew already worked, the UPPAbaby. Martin liked that the handlebar adjusted to heights comfortable for him and that it folded easily. I liked that it came with both a bassinet and toddler seat, and could be adapted for multiple kids down the road.
So far, our UPPAbaby has handled the heavy usage with aplomb and has served us well in town and on the trails. When we flew to London, the stroller also checked nicely with the UPPAbaby Travel Bag and we knew it would arrive clean and protected. And, when we use the car, we also love the ease with which we can transition from bassinet (and now toddler seat) to our car seat which clips right into the stroller with UPPAbaby Maxi-Cosi adapters. We also use the UPPAbaby Parent Organizer which is perfect for my keys, spare change, and iPhone, and can be easily washed, although we may try this Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer in the future as I’m still looking for a solution which better holds my coffee.
(2) Keep your diaper bag minimal. I love a great handbag, but I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of a diaper bag and more stuff to schlep around. When I found the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station (I have black) it exactly fit my idea of what I wanted perfectly. And, in practice, it has turned out even better than expected. The Skip Hop Pronto holds all the essentials and transitions easily from use alone or inside another handbag, tote, or one of Martin’s bags. Inside, I can easily fit diapers, wipes, an extra outfit, and a Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag, perfect for stinky diapers or dirty clothes until they can be tossed/cleaned. (These bags are absolutely essential when we’re out, especially after plane travel, to keep the post-blow-out clothes stink-free and contained until we get home.)
Currently, I primarily use the Skip Hop bag inside my Freitag Sally tote. I also cannot exclaim enough about the benefits of a Freitag bag as a diaper bag, especially in winter; the tarpaulin material means that it can be easily wiped and washed and so I have no qualms about setting it down on the pavement, under an airplane seat, or taking it out on a rainy day.
(3) Divide to conquer, when packing. When we packed for London, all our clothes went into one big suitcase and Reese’s things were kept separate in several packing cubes (the Eagle Creek half and quarter cubes are my favorite, but the Baggu zip bags also work well). This made it super easy to find her clothes, burp cloths, and accessories, and also kept them clean and compact. I also use a similar approach when packing her toys and accessories around town.
(4) Carry the baby. For me, the easiest way to navigate airport security (and afternoon errands with a cranky baby) is to carry her in the Ergobaby or Solly wrap. I find the Solly easiest when I’m alone (as I still struggle with the back top clip on the Ergo), but the Ergo is definitely more comfortable on longer outings.
(5) Wear a scarf, and bring a bottle. I couldn’t have gotten through my early outings or around London without my Lululemon vinyasa scarf. The scarf is easy to wear (or carry) and is seriously multi-functional for a mom on the go. I regularly use mine as a nursing cover, blanket, and emergency burp cloth. And, for longer outings, it is nice to have a bottle prepped for impromptu snacks and feeding on the go. We prefer the Comotomo baby bottle as it is easy to clean and Reese easily adapted to the feel from birth.
(6) Don’t forget a few toys. This is obvious, but Reese’s favorites right now include the lighted Noggin Stik (perfect for small hands, especially on planes and in the dark), the Skip Hop Rattle and Play Stroller Toy, Tug and Clatter Key (we keep this one attached to the stroller and it entertains her for hours), and this Jellycat Zany Giraffe Rattle with soft limbs for grabbing, shaking, and munching.