A comprehensive guide to travelling with strollers
International travel is back on the cards again, hurray! Whether you’re going on a family vacation or heading back to see your family, travelling with kids can be pretty daunting, especially in today’s climate. The thought of towing your luggage, carry-on bags, car seats and strollers makes you nervous. And you’re probably fretting over whether you should take your everyday stroller or if you need a compact cabin-sized stroller.
Travel strollers are not like passports; they’re not a mandatory component of each holiday. Depending on your destination, itinerary, and your child’s habits and preferences, you may actually leave your (travel) stroller behind or take your everyday stroller (plus a travel bag) with you. We’ve broken down the essentials you need to know, so sit back, relax and read on!
Heading to resorts/somewhere not stroller-friendly? Leave your stroller behind.
For starters, if you’re going to a resort and you’re only staying at a resort, that resort might have a stroller you can use when you get there. So do check in with your resort beforehand for the sake of your sanity.
Secondly, some trips aren’t stroller friendly! Take note if you’re travelling through South East Asia, other than Singapore and Kuala Lumpur; Cities like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, and Hanoi are not safe environments that are very conducive for pushing a stroller. They’ve got awful footpaths for walking, let alone for pushing a stroller. You’d constantly have to push the stroller onto and off the road again. Also, places like Hong Kong have crowded and narrow sidewalks and heaps of stairs, making it challenging to navigate with a stroller. You’d be baby-wearing for most of the holiday in those instances, which does make car seats difficult, but we’ll get to that in a separate article.
Assess your itinerary & child’s preferences.
If you’ve decided you need a stroller, the next thing you’ve to consider is if a travel stroller will be suitable at your destination.
Firstly, you’ll need to look at your tour lineup and think about what you actually need at your destination. So, for example, if you’re going to Margaret River, somewhere at the beach where there’s not going to be heaps of footpaths, then perhaps you’ll need something a little more rugged or with a bit more storage.
So there are a few things to check: what kind of terrain (sand, snow, cobblestones, grass, concrete etc.) are you going over? How much storage capacity do you need in your stroller for your day-to-day activities while you’re on holiday?
The second thing to check is your child’s needs and habits. For example, does your child take a lot of day naps in the stroller? If so, is a partial recline okay? Or is a full recline important? Are they going to be okay with a small stroller?
If your child isn’t fussy about their stroller and you don’t need that much storage space, then perhaps a travel stroller is suitable for you. P.S. if you’re bummed about investing in another stroller, don’t be! Travel strollers aren’t just one trick ponies that fit in the overhead compartments. Instead, it complements your larger comfort stroller, and its compact nature makes it easy to whip in and out of taxis, on the bus or wherever you need to take it.
So based on the above guide, decide whether you need a travel stroller or whether it would be better to look for a travel bag for your everyday stroller that you’ve already got. To clarify, travel bags are not the same as the storage bags that come with your stroller. Travel bags are designed to keep your stroller protected, and they come in various forms (i.e. backpacks and trolley bags like the Nuna Stroller Wheeled Travel Bag which fits all Nuna strollers and car seats).
To check in or not?
If you’ve decided to take your travel stroller along, the next question is, do you check it in or bring it on board? Now, not everyone takes their cabin-sized stroller on board. A lot of people choose to check it in anyway, and the fact that it’s small and compact just means they have less luggage holistically, but they’re not actually using the cabin-sized feature on every holiday.
Say, for example, you’ve booked an infant ticket with Singapore Airlines. They’ll give you ten kilograms of additional checked luggage plus a car seat and a fully-collapsible stroller for checking in. Alternatively, you can carry on a compact, lightweight foldable stroller, and they’ll increase your carry-on allowance by six kilograms (if you’re departing from Singapore). However, they don’t increase the number of bags you’re allowed to carry on with the baby.
You have two options to check in your stroller, either at the check-in counter or at the gate before you board. The latter means you’ll use the stroller all the way to the gate, through the aero-bridge, where you pack up your pram, put it in the travel bag and pass it to the staff. They will then put it underneath the plane. However, very few airlines will give it back to you at the aero-bridge at your destination (take note if you’ve a tight layover, you can’t risk waiting for the stroller). Most airlines will put it through luggage claim, as usual, so you won’t have it at the arriving airport until you get through baggage claim. If it fits the carry-on size limits, you can carry the stroller on board.
Now, which should you do? You’ll already have a lot of stuff, so you may not have enough carry-on luggage allowance to let you take the stroller on board. So it might be quite simple; you might have to check it in.
Another element to consider is whether you’ve layovers and whether the airport offers rental strollers or loaned strollers. And to be honest, even if they do have strollers for loan, do you want to use one of those loaner strollers in the current climate? In this case, a baby carrier—assuming you have one; if not, buckle carriers tend to work best for holidays—would be a lifesaver! It’ll do the lion’s share of holding the baby in all those transit scenarios around the airport.
So it’s feasible to check in your stroller—either at the gate or check-in counter—and you really want to think about whether you see any value in carrying it onboard and forgo one of those carry-on bags instead of the stroller.
Are all cabin-sized strollers allowed on all flights?
The answer is absolutely not. Every airline has its carry-on policy, so you really need to check and be sure what your specific airline and your flight’s specific regulations are. Now we’re going to talk about Singapore Airlines for a second. Singapore Airlines will allow compact, lightweight strollers that are folded up so long as the total dimension (length plus width and height) is within 115cm. That’s incredibly small, and I sincerely doubt that any of your carry-on suitcases/bags are within 115cm. That said, carry-on rule, period; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a stroller or suitcase. If you add the length, width and height, it must not exceed 115cm. The BABYZEN YOYO² 6+ Stroller is the only one out of our lot that meets the requirement.
Also, it’s not uncommon for airlines to change their infant and checked baggage policies. All the travelling with children policies tend to change, and they certainly differ from airline to airline, so make sure you double-check when you book your ticket. Here’s a tip: print out the information available online when you booked your ticket and double-check that it’s still accurate a month or even a week before you travel. Then, if it has changed and really ruined your plans, you can email the airline’s customer service. And if they do kind of give you an exemption from any of those requirements that have since changed, try to get it in writing from them and print that out. This way, you can show it to the check-in staff and the cabin crew on your actual trip, which will help to smooth things down.
Alright, it’s time to get cracking and planning! It’s go time!
Check out our stroller buying guide or book an appointment with us if you need help choosing a stroller or baby carrier. We’re all about the personal touch! This is, hands down, the easiest way to get the right baby gear without being stressed, overwhelmed, or doing 100 hours of YouTube research.
BABYZEN strollers images taken from BABYZEN Facebook Page.