When I was single, I’d fancy myself the type of woman who would dash off to Paris at a moment’s notice. Now I’m a mom, I can hardly make it to the supermarket without three hours advance notice and a tranquilizer. But old habits die hard, and after three months of intense nesting, this new mom was going stir crazy.
So, we didn’t make it to France this year, but we did make it to the Paris Hotel in Vegas. (After five hours in the car with a little kid, trust me, it was a triumph.) We traveled, we packed, we cried, and we learned. And here are a few of the affordable products that made the journey a little easier on the traveling mom’s soul.
The First Years On-The-Go Booster Seat/High Chair
We love this seat! It’s lightweight, easy to clean and was by far the cheapest of all we scoped. And … our son can’t wiggle his way out of it.
We’ve used it at picnics and now even take it to restaurants since half of the highchairs in restaurants have broken straps.
It’s easily portable (it fits in a medium-sized suitcase), which makes it perfect for both short and long trips. Additionally, your kid will fit securely in the seat, making it a safe choice even if you’re just going to Grandma’s house. To top it all off, it’s a great value, available on Amazon.com for just $22.95.
Kelty Transit Carrier 2.1
This backpack is a great way to bring your little one along on day trips, hikes, or even to navigate your way through the airport. It’s even excellent for transporting your tot through airplane aisles.
I recommend this when your child outgrows the Bjorn-style carrier (around 1 year old), for kids up to 40 pounds.
This child carrier is comfortable and convenient for parents with its torso-length adjustment. It also offers plenty of storage space and compartments for diapers and other supplies.
Only drawback: You may not want to keep your kid in there for more than a couple of hours, especially on a hot day—or your little one might get a bit sweaty and uncomfortable with all that packing surrounding them. However, we scoped a bunch of similar styles and our son was by far the most comfortable in this one. $120; www.UpsideOver.com
Eagle Creek Pack It Cubes
Most challenging part about traveling? For me – it’s packing. We take one large bag for the entire family (less luggage to keep track of).
We use these Eagle Creek bags to separate our clothes. Each family member has a designated color (mine is red) and we each take three or four of these along. Keeps everyone packing light and works like a charm.
These “Pack It” cubes come in four or five colors and we each get four in “our” color and pack ’em all up in one suitcase. $12; www.eaglecreek.com
Graco Ipo Stroller
This compact, lightweight stroller is super convenient and ready to go anywhere and everywhere. Weighing in at just 17 pounds, you won’t break your back schlepping it around, and it can be opened and shut with one hand.
There’s a roomy, completely accessible storage basket, a canopy with peek-a-boo window and tinted sun visor. Most importantly, the seat reclines for your child when it’s time to nap—priceless. $79.99; www.gracobaby.com
Car Seat Cover by EmmaLu, LLC
Love this product – a waterproof removable car seat cover! Any traveling parent knows how dirty the car seat can get and usually manipulating the manufacturer’s car seat cover time-consuming hassle.
These swank and fashionable car seat covers easily slip on and off, give you a waterproof cover, protect your original car seat (or give your tired ugly one a whole new look) and best of all, they’re super easy to keep clean. Hallelujah! $69.99; www.Mom4life.com
My Baby Float by Intex
We used this little blow up tube to put our 9-month-old son in the pool with for the first time and it worked great! Most importantly, he loved it.
It’s easily inflatable (it took us three minutes) and features tiny criss-cross seat inside so they baby doesn’t fall out. Un-inflated it folds right up to pack away. That’s my little one in the middle of it. $9.95; www.amazon.com
Ergonomic Diaper Bag for Dad
Super groovy and cool diaper bag for dads! (My man has one and I’m damned proud.) Guys hate carrying a woman’s flowery bag, so if you want him to change his share of diapers, the trick is to get him a bag he wants to carry.
This diaper bag for dudes comes in basic black and camouflage. The ergonomic, across-the-chest design is designed for parents with their hands full, and it features an adjustable comfy wide strap and lots of pockets. A changing mat is included, but the baby is extra. $70; www.FredaLA.com
Clean Well Hand Sanitizer Pack
I looove this stuff. It’s all natural and I spray it everywhere—restaurant tables, rented car seats, airline trays, port-a-cribs, shopping carts—just about everywhere I plop my child. Germs begone! $16.99; www.Cleanwelltoday.com
Get more information on helpful travel gadgets and gear.
Take it easy on Mom with Taking the Kids: How to Make Sure Mom Gets a Break on Vacation.
Give back with Taking the Kids: Family Voluntourism.
By Margot Black for PeterGreenberg.com.