“Do we need to pack the stroller?”
Chances are if you are traveling with young kids you’ve asked this question time and again.
Unfortunately there’s no easy answer that’s going to be right for everyone. There’s a lot of factors to think about when deciding if you should travel with a stroller.
Being able to let your little one rest in the stroller while you explore is going to be invaluable, especially if they are smaller and tire quickly.
But if your accommodation is up a few flights of stairs, a stroller is going to be an awkward item that needs to be carried up and down every day. And then there’s the matter of flying with your stroller.
We have put together a handy guide which will help you decide whether a stroller is going to be more of a help or a hindrance on your next vacation.
The Pro’s and Con’s of Strollers on Vacation
- Somewhere for your little one to sit if you plan on doing a lot of walking
- Cooler than a carrier in warm climates
- A place to sit your bags if your stroller has a shelf
- Frees up your hands more than carrying you baby
- A spot for your bub to take a nap while you are on the go
- A stroller will not be much use if your destination has bad footpaths or you are visiting attractions that are not stroller friendly
- If you are staying in accommodation with stairs, a stroller could make life difficult
- Taking a stroller on a flight can be a drama with some airlines, and it could get damaged
- It will take up extra room in your car
Check out our guide to the best baby strollers for traveling.
Questions to Consider Before Deciding to Travel With a Stroller
Before you travel, run through these questions and you’ll have a much better idea if you should pack your stroller.
Where Are You Going?
If you plan to travel somewhere within your own country, you will have a good idea of how stroller friendly the accommodation and footpaths are likely to be.
Generally countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK share a similar standard when it comes to ease of accessibility for strollers.
Some parts of Europe can be 50/50. Cobbled roads look wonderfully romantic and historic, but the bouncy ride is probably not going to go down well with your baby or your stroller.
If you are venturing further afield, then don’t assume the roads and footpaths will be stroller friendly.
In some places footpaths are in bad condition, if there are footpaths at all. In other parts of the world, the footpath will disappear at certain times of the day to make way for markets or parking.
Similarly, if you are heading to a location surrounded by beach or forests, you are likely better off leaving your stroller at home.
What Type of Travel Are You Planning?
A stroller is going to be most useful if you are embarking on a trip along a well beaten tourist trail. Since these vacations traditionally involve walking along well paved roads and sipping lattes, your baby will appreciate the chance to nod off when they have seen enough galleries and museums.
If you are backpacking around Asia however, perhaps give the stroller a miss and opt for a carrier.
If you are taking your car, a stroller is easy enough to throw in the trunk if you have the space.
On the other hand, if you are visiting family or friends, they might have a spare stroller you can use while you are there.
If you are travelling by plane (add link), your destination will largely dictate whether you should bring along a stroller.
If you plan on a long term trip which will include multiple destinations, you might even consider hiring or purchasing cheap strollers as you need them.
Hiring is ideal, as you don’t need to work out how to dispose of it when you are done. This post has links to hiring baby gear in a range of popular destinations.
How Long Can Your Kids Walk, and Do They Need a Stroller at Home?
The age and normal energy level of your child is an important factor to consider. If they have energy to burn, then forcing them to sit in the stroller is not going to make for a peaceful expedition.
However, if your little one tends to flake half way through the weekly grocery shopping, then a full day walking is not going to end well.
As Christine Leger from TappedOutTraveller.com puts it:
“Can they walk that 10km needed per day to cover all of Epcot or will their little legs tire between the room and the hotel front door? What about days on end, are they able to keep up during the whole 2-week vacation or will they need to rest, days in between?”
So don’t forget to take into account the length of the trip overall. One full day walking might be a novelty at first, but 3 weeks of pounding the pavements day in, day out might be pushing the friendship. So consider pushing a stroller instead.
Do They Like Using a Baby Carrier?
Like us, kids have their preferences. Work with them!
Some kids love being strapped in a carrier, which really is a win win as your hands are completely free, the carrier takes up less room in your luggage, and you don’t need to worry about the condition of the footpaths.
Problems arise if:
- Your baby hates being in a carrier.
- Your destination is stinking hot.
Our little one loves being in a carrier normally, but we found it a bit difficult during our time in Japan when the temperatures were getting over 93°F (34°C) every day! Funnily enough it didn’t seem to bother him, but having a hot baby strapped to your body in hot humid weather is not a lot of fun.
If you haven’t tried using a carrier yet, why not borrow one off a friend.
Carriers can also make getting through the airport easier, you can read more about flying with a baby (ADD LINK) here.
We have a full guide to the best baby carriers for travel.
Do They Nap During the Day?
If your baby loves napping, a stroller provides the perfect spot for them to do so while you carry on with the activities you had planned.
However, there are other factors that come into play. If you are travelling to a stroller unfriendly location, there are napping alternatives.
If you have opted to take a carrier, and your baby is familiar with sitting in it, they are probably used to taking a nap while strapped in as well.
This works great for us because our son loves sleeping in his Ergobaby 360 carrier.
Alternatively, you might just want to pop back to your hotel room at some point during the day and let your baby take a nap there. In fact, after all the walking, don’t be surprised if you end up nodding off as well.
Wrapping It Up
It would be nice to be able to offer a black and white answer to this question. It would leave you with one less thing to have to think about before heading off on your next trip. Sadly, we can’t.
In some cases, a stroller will make life much easier, especially if your bub is a fan of the stroller and your destination has good roads.
If you are going off the beaten track a little, however, a carrier is likely a much better option.
What do you think? Have you traveled much with a stroller? Do you have any tips you would like to add? Let us know in the comments section below.