Sometimes when I walk around airports, I can’t believe the size of some of the strollers parents are pushing around.
I don’t know if those SUV-sized strollers are more for the baby or for the parent. Either way, those are not a good idea for traveling by air – unless you like to have the extra space for extra stuff. When possible, I prefer to travel light.
After flying many times with infants and toddlers, I’ve developed some opinions about the kind of baby paraphernalia that is needed.
Hands down, the best kind of stroller to take when flying is a simple umbrella stroller. An umbrella stroller from a second hand shop will do just fine – as long as it has four wheels that roll well and a place for your child/baby to sit safely.
Advantages of an Umbrella Stroller
1. An umbrella stroller collapses smaller than anything else I’ve seen. When you already have more baggage than you need along with a couple of children to tote around the airport, the last thing you need is a huge stroller. An umbrella stroller scoots easily into most airport restaurants, is easy to maneuver through busy crowds, and collapses easily when you’re ready to gate check it.
2. With the exception of a very small infant, most babies and toddlers can ride in an umbrella stroller. Sure, they don’t look as cozy as they look in their luxurious big stroller, but we’re talking pragmatics here. My children have always managed to fall asleep in the umbrella stroller when they’re tired enough.
3. An umbrella stroller is the way to go when it comes to security. Generally, I’m already wishing I had a few more hands while going through security – between getting everyone’s shoes, jackets, and backpacks off. Collapsing a simple stroller and plopping that lightweight thing with one hand up through the x-ray machine has got to be easier than unloading the cargo from a huge stroller, figuring out how to collapse it, then loading it all up again.
4. When it’s meal time, the stroller is a safe place for your toddler or baby to sit. If you can’t find a high chair at the airport Burger King, your little stroller may be safer than the big chairs.
5. A toddler can push the umbrella stroller when you are delayed and need to waste some time. There are lots of other ways to pass time in an airport terminal too.
6. An umbrella stroller helps you limit your carryon luggage so you don’t have to haul so much stuff.
Disadvantages of an Umbrella Stroller
1. An umbrella stroller is really not suitable for a newborn.
Side note: If you are flying with a newborn, I highly recommend carrying your baby in a Baby Bjorn (or something similar). I’ve used the Snugli and a Baby Bjorn in the past. I prefer the Baby Bjorn because it’s easier for me to take on and off without any help. The straps are also more comfortable to me. I know other mothers who are very happy with their Ergo.
Carrying an infant in a Bjorn is easier for me than a stroller at the airport. It feels like you have less stuff and your hands are free. A couple of disadvantages of not taking a stroller for your infant are: it’s hard to eat lunch in the airport with the baby attached to you, and if you’re not used to carrying your baby for longer time periods you might get tired.
2. You can’t carry as much stuff in the stroller. If you like taking lots of things carryon, it may be a disadvantage to have a small stroller since you don’t have a large basket in which to store things.
3. A simple umbrella stroller only carries one child. If you’re trying to push more than one child at a time, you will have to find a small, compactable stroller that works well for multiple children.
What kind of stroller do you recommend for air travel?