I received this email from a mother planning a very exciting Florida vacation with a baby.
We are planning to fly from Israel to Florida for four weeks with our 5 mos. old in January (he will be 8 mos.). We will fly into Tampa, visit the Gulf Coast, then drive to Miami through the Everglades and visit the Florida Keys before flying out of Miami. My question is, should we take our Mamas and Papas Sola stroller which I am worried might get damaged during the flights (4 total) and is a bit heavy/clunky, or should we purchase a light travel stroller upon arrival such as the Mountain Buggy Nano? Both options are compatible with the Cybex Aton car seat we are taking.
This is a family trip right off of our own bucket list! Here are a few thoughts and recommendations per your question and for others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
1) Since you will be flying into and out of different cities, that makes it too complicated to simply rent a stroller in Florida for your visit, but others who are using the same airport/city may prefer to use a Florida Baby Gear Rental Agency for their visit – see listings here in the directory.
2) Consider first whether or not having a stroller at the airports (getting to your gates, during your layover, at baggage claim) would be a helpful convenience or if it would complicate things unnecessarily. Eg. if you plan to wear your baby and place the infant car seat handle over a carry-on suitcase handle to take it to the gate, or if you’ll wear a backpack instead and it would save your back to have the baby in his stroller, which can transport the car seat at the same time. You might prefer to get a travel-friendly stroller at home before your departure to have it both ways. It appears Mountain Buggy does not have a retail store in Israel from what I can tell, but you may be able to find a different option. As well, you might be able to rent a stroller in Israel that will work for your entire journey (see Israel baby gear rental agencies in the directory).
3) If you decide to purchase a specific travel stroller in Florida, contact a Tampa baby store ahead of time to make sure they can have the exact model you need, along with any necessary car seat adapters, ready for you on arrival. You may need to pay for the stroller in advance to have them hold it for you, but that will be far better than spending your precious vacation time driving around Tampa trying to find a travel-friendly stroller (and adapters) that will work with your car seat.
4) As far as the Mountain Buggy Nano is concerned, I think that would be an excellent choice for a travel-friendly stroller that is compatible with your car seat (weighs only 13 lbs. – much lighter than your 22lbs. Mamas and Papas Sola stroller!). Although the Nano can fit in most overhead bins, don’t be surprised if the airline still asks you to check it at the gate, which is still far preferable to checking your stroller through the airport baggage system. As with many travel strollers, the Nano has a modest sun canopy, so you will probably also want to add an extendable sun shade such as the RayShade. See more recommendations of lightweight travel strollers and accessories here.
Hope this helps! If you can, let us know what you decide and how it works out for you.
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks