If you’re preparing to fly with a baby or toddler this summer, particularly on American Airlines, the news that “you’ll no longer be able to gate check your large stroller” may have you wondering what that means exactly—and how you should plan on getting your family through the airports and between terminals (AA stroller disclaimer here).
In a nutshell, this news is no news for those of you already traveling with a compact-folding travel stroller (often called an umbrella stroller) or lightweight stroller frame you use with your infant car seat. However:
- If you travel with a compact-folding twin travel stroller, however, even the weight of the compact folding Maclaren Twin Triumph is technically just over the official limit of 20 lbs., weighing in at 21.6 lbs. without accessories.
- If you’ve been traveling with a jogging stroller, even one that folds to fit through the X-ray scanner at security or releases wheels to fit into its own travel bag at the gate such as the classic Phil & Ted buggy, it’s time to make a new plan for that next flight. Even the B.O.B. Summit single jogger weighs in at 23 lbs. and the Classic Phil & Ted (without doubles kit) weighs 25 lbs.
What’s a parent to do—especially one with two tots to get to the gate? Here are five tips for getting your little one(s) to the gate without that large stroller from home:
1. The obvious: Get a lightweight travel stroller if you don’t already have one (my recommendations here). Your back and your relatives greeting you at baggage claim will thank you. And if you’re renting a car on the other end, you’ll thank yourself when you see the tiny trunk of that rental car (especially overseas!).
2. If you’ll be traveling with twins or two young children close in age, consider getting two lightweight travel strollers—and a set of stroller connectors like these from Prince Lionheart or Munchkin “stroller links.” Some parents actually prefer having the option of splitting apart the strollers when needed, and sightseeing with only one stroller (or narrow clearance) at times during their vacations.
|GoGo Kidz Travelmate|
3. Get a set of wheels for your car seat and check that stroller you can’t part with in a sturdy travel bag or simply rent the jogging stroller or twin you want at your destination and don’t risk damage to your own stroller. If you’re already taking your toddler car seat onboard for your flight, you can simply wheel your child to the gate in it with the addition of a GoGo Kidz TravelMate handcart or budget-savvy Traveling Toddler strap that attaches your forward-facing car seat to your rolling carry-on and quickly separates when needed at security.
|KangaKid backpack carrier|
4. Wear your child in a child carrier or “baby backpack.” Once your child tips the scales at 20 lbs or more, it may no longer seem the obvious (or preferable) choice. Especially if you’ll be spending long periods standing in long lines. If your child is 20 lbs. + and you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet, make sure you use a carrier rated for your child’s weight with extra support such as a chest strap and padded hip belt, such as the Ergo, or take advantage of the 2-in-1 benefits of a combination daypack carry-on and child carrier as with the Kanga Kid or Kelty Transit.
|SafeFit backpack harness|
5. Use a safety harness and “leash.” If your child is old enough to walk it, but still too young to be trusted to stay by your side when a world of excitement beckons beyond the sea of rolling suitcases, or when you’ve already been standing in the same line for 20 minutes, don’t take chances on losing him—or your place in line. The SafeFit backpack harness looks like a mini daypack two of my kids have no been quite proud to wear during travel, and I love that you can fit a few diapers, travel pack of wipes, and board book in it for convenience. (I use a carabiner clip to hook it to my belt loop at times and keep both my hands free.)
For more help planning your airport strategy, see chapters 16 and 17 in Travels with Baby, and for help passing the hours at the airport and on the plane see the Air Travel and Entertainment to Go sections of Take-Along Travels with Baby. Additional tips and resources below. Good luck!
Related posts and pages:
Best Lightweight Travel Strollers and Accessories
Stroller accessories and travel bags
Car Seat Travel Bags and Carriers
How to keep your toddler or preschooler entertained at the airport – while you enjoy a cup of coffee
Cost-saving tips for families packing checked baggage
Tip #47: Baggage fees and babies
Ask Shelly: Advice for flying to India with a 2-year-old
Ask Shelly: Which car seat compatible stroller for travel to Paris?
See more Air Travel FAQs and Popular Topics
Author of Travels with Baby and the new Take-Along Travels with Baby
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