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Step 1: Pick A Destination & Research Your Rentable Options

The first step to any good trip is to figure out where you want to go. Even if you’re just visiting family there are a few tips that you might need. Most grandparents are going to rush out and buy some of the essentials like a pack 'n play, baby soaps, a high chair, or some little toys but not everyone will be able to accommodate you and your tiny person the same way. If you are off to visit family that doesn’t have the essentials or you’re heading to a neutral location you can either A) rent a pack 'n play, bouncy chair, car seat, etc. or B) you can bring it all with you. We have done both. For the most part, the rent-able items are pretty good but a car seat is the one thing I will never rent again.

Image result for j.l. childress ultimate backpack padded car seat travel bag, black

I know the bag is expensive but chances are you already paid a pretty penny for your car seat. I have taken this bag on most of our trips and we don’t have as much as a scratch on the car seat… except for the place where my son chewed on the restraints.... We typically use sky cap at the airport and even still the car seat is in perfect condition. The reason I went with this bag was because it can fit anything from an infant seat to the forward-facing booster so I won’t have to buy a different one down the road.

On our very first trip we rented a car seat. You should have seen my face when I first saw it. It was a cross between utter disgust and me calculating how many diseases my child would get if he touched it. The first thing I did was check the expiration date because this thing looked like it was from the 1990's. You know that car seat you saw when you went out shopping for one the first time that cost $30? Yeah, it was that one covered in sticky mess. He was still a squishy 2-month-old baby who had only had a few vaccinations! I did not want to put him in there but since my choices were to rent this one or buy a whole new one, we used it and I purchased the car seat bag on Amazon so it would be there when we got home. I have since talked to other moms about renting car seats and the consensus has been that they are all gross. My husband’s cousin even went to a car wash to spray one down after renting one because it was that gross.

I have to say, however, in Europe when we hired drivers and they brought car seats with them, they were clean, and cozy, and perfect. I have no idea what it would be like to rent a car and a car seat in Europe but if you are getting a shuttle from the airport to a hotel or vice versa, those ones are nice. We did it in Germany and Czech Republic and both times were the same. Uber also now has an option to request a driver with a car seat as well. Look up the city that you are going to and if you feel OK with riding in a taxi without a car seat this could be an option for you. New York City for example allows you to ride in a taxi without a car seat. Some cities in Europe are the same. Many taxi services in cities also have an option to add a car seat if you book ahead of time. I wouldn’t recommend this if you are planning on taking taxi’s the whole time you’re on vacation but sometimes it’s the better option than trying to lug around a heavy car seat with a pissed off toddler in it.

We have also rented a pack 'n play on most of our trips. There are endless companies that rent out all the necessities to make your trip easier. Everywhere from Ski Town USA to the Outer Banks in North Carolina have these companies. Some are most definitely better than others but looking at reviews should be able to help you find the right fit. In Florida we rented bouncy chairs, and high chairs, pack 'n plays, and beach toys. We had a few issues with the bouncy chair because it didn’t have the right cover but for the most part this rental was a win.

If you would rather bring your own items here are a few product tips. After buying a pack 'n play and never using it because it was complicated and heavy, we purchased the jetsetter pack 'n play. This one fits into it’s own backpack and is much lighter than other pack 'n plays. It is a little smaller than others but our baby has slept great in it at parties and on trips. Bonus! It also has a bassinet/changing table option.

Image result for jetsetter pack n play

If your kid is a little older but you still don’t want to sleep with them we also purchased the sleep cot that our son sleeps on at daycare. It fit perfectly into my bag along with all of our clothes. The only challenge was trying to keep him on it long enough for him not to pull my hair and play “mommy jungle gym” with me because he never goes to bed that easily on vacation. The bonus for this one though is you can bring it to the beach and use it to sit on! 

Image result for Regalo My Cot Portable Bed

We typically bring our own high chair, mainly because it’s so small that it packs super well. We bring this one to BBQ’s, on road trips, birthday parties, etc. This high chair can be strapped to a regular chair for the trip or put on the floor and it works perfectly. 

If you’re going to be staying somewhere that you need a baby monitor we have tried 2 different things. If you have an old cellphone that you can hook up to the internet you can bring it and either facetime or skype call into the phone and leave it on a nightstand in the room. You will be able to hear your kid cry if they need you. The other option is to bring a foscam webcam with you. This is a wifi webcam that can be left in the room so you can essentially have a video monitor of your kid sleeping. You will need to set this up before you leave to make sure it works but once you download the app and set the camera up in the room you will be good to go! We use this at home as well as on vacation. 

Image result for c1 foscam

Try to stick to the essentials. Many times on our trips I have had to figure out what we didn’t use. I have always brought tons of extra clothes, diapers, toys, and books but the truth is you can pack pretty minimally if you want to. In my next blog post I will go over how and what to pack to make your trip the most efficient. More is not always better!

-Lauren Browne

Mom of a Toddler  Frequent Traveler  Avid Reader  Lover of All Things  NPR Listener  Wanderlust  Dancer  ASL  Frequent Click List User  Pie Baker   Sushi Obsessed  Humanist  LGBTQ+ Supporter  Hot Air Balloon Lover 


  1. Thanks for sharing all these amazing ideas with us! I completely agree that it's so important to choose the right pack'n'play model in order not to be disappointed. This web-site helped me a lot in finding the best possible option. We also travel a lot so it goes everywhere with us. Plus when she stays at my parents' house, my baby still sleeps in it.

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