Tips for Renting Baby Gear in San Diego and Beyond

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My directory of baby gear rental agencies has been buzzing with hits from all over the globe as families gear up for holiday travels. And with good reason. With reduced baggage weight restrictions from most airlines, new fees for checked baggage, and a growing desire to lighten one’s load on road trips for extra gas savings, baby gear rental agencies are generating more interest than ever before.

Baggage fees, gas bills, and gear schlepping aside, there’s a lot to be gained by renting good gear at your vacation destination, whether its for a holiday at a relative’s home, an escape to the islands, or an overseas apartment stay. Just think about it. What do you really want to do during your time off with your family?

Rest Well?
Rented cribs, bassinets, pack ‘n plays, and toddler beds or bed rails can vastly improve the sleeping arrangements and quality of sleep families get during a vacation. Not having your child play with your hair and engage in wrestling matches with you all night as you share an unfamiliar bed, or knowing your young toddler can’t roam unsupervised after waking from his nap can be a tremendous benefit.

Visit with a Vengeance?After you spend Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws not eating but bouncing your fussy infant as long for the baby swing at home, or tracking your toddler as she obsesses over the un-childproofed kitchen or looming flight of stairs, you’ll especially appreciate a rented baby swing, exersaucer, safety gate, play den, or other child safety equipment.

Travel with Twins or Multiples?
Need I say more? One mom I heard from said she never would have made it for the annual visit to Grandma’s during the baby and toddler years without the help of a local baby gear rental agency.

Embrace the Outdoors?
If you’re vacation takes you to terrific hiking country or miles of scenic trails, consider how much more you might be able to explore and enjoy your destination with an all-terrain stroller, jogger, or framed baby backpack carrier.

Make the Most of Your Destination?
On our recent trip to San Diego, part of our budget-saving strategy was to make the most of the great beaches, a free and natural resource and quintessential part of the San Diego experience. Not to mention, a place toddlers and preschoolers can spend glorious hours on end as their parents relax.

Toddler’s Travels, a San Diego baby equipment rental company located near the airport, outfitted us beautifully to do just that. While their most popular rented items are cribs — especially their full-size cribs many parents appreciate having for older babies and toddlers, pack’n plays, their BOB single jogging strollers and Duallies, car seats, high chairs or dining boosters, and not surprisingly: exersaucers, they offer a tremendous variety of other items that may enhance any family’s trip to San Diego.

As we checked into our hotel, the lovely Hyatt Regency Mission Bay I landed for a song through Hotwire Limited Rate (see my hotel review here), I explained we had a delivery from Toddler’s Travels waiting for us. In a moment, the receptionist returned from the baggage room with a stunned expression. Rather than the red carpet, she rolled out the red wagon for us. It was beautiful, loaded with a small cooler, beach umbrella, beach mats, basket of beach toys, and then some, plus a pair of deluxe beach chairs with built-in sun visors. We got a lot of looks from the mostly business traveler crowd in the lobby, but it was clear that the looks were those of surprise…and envy.

There was also a huge sack filled with great indoor toys, bath toys, and books hand-picked to suit my daughters’ ages and interests — which they most certainly did. And what a relief to have such novelties to occupy their energies in the room rather than the buttons of the hotel telephone and the minibar. Thankfully, Daddy was happy to have a tea party while Mommy read a grown-up book for a change! And the Baby Bjorn training potty, I’m happy to report, was also met with with enthusiasm by my toddler (many marshmallows were earned).

As I’d predicted, our little red wagon was just the conveyance we needed for this trip (I admit I was tempted by the BOB Duallie). Whether loaded with beach gear, one or both children, getting pulled by an adult or a child (now there’s a perk!), it put on many happy miles during our stay in San Diego (the sides slip out and it slid right into the trunk of the rental car). The comfy pair of reclining beach chairs were another item that made our supervisory time on the sand all the better, particularly for me at 5 months pregnant. (Tim loved the flip-up sun visor as well.)

Now to answer some common questions about renting baby equipment and gear:

So how do I arrange for a baby gear rental on my next trip?
All baby gear rental agencies (a.k.a. “equipment hire services”) are different, so start by finding an agency at your destination in the online directory. Most will deliver gear, and even set-up items like cribs and swings, right at your destination. When staying at hotels or vacation rentals with a reception office, you should contact the front desk ahead of time to let them know you expect a delivery. At other rentals, cabins, or cottages where there isn’t a reception or office, you can arrange to have the delivery brought after your arrival, or possibly pick up the items yourself directly from the agency. Pick up and delivery policies vary, so be sure to read their policies and agreements thoroughly.

What about renting car seats?
In this case, Toddler’s Travels will actually deliver your chosen car seat or safety booster to your car rental agency at the airport before your scheduled arrival. Or if friends or relatives are coming to pick you up, they can pick up your car seat on their drive to the airport, and just as easily drop it off after your return (Toddler’s Travels is just 5 minutes from the airport). Check with the particular agency at your destination for their own procedures for renting and delivering car seats. Unlike renting car seats directly from many car rental agencies, you will have much more say in what type of car seat or safety booster you rent from a baby gear agency, and much more assurance that it will be there for you on arrival.

How can you get the best value from your baby gear rental?
Think through the typical days you’ll spend at your destination: where will you be eating, sleeping, what activities do you most look forward to, and think about which items would make a big difference in your ability to enjoy all of the above. Then look for a package option that may combine key items at a savings to you. Toddler’s Travels, for example, offers great packages where you choose any 4 key items from a suggested set of products and get them at a savings — with a waived delivery fee. In some cases, you’ll actually save money by renting 4 items as a package with the waived delivery fee versus renting 3 items with the delivery fee. Or if you only want one item, for example (a jogging stroller, play yard, etc.), consider picking it up yourself to save the delivery fee. Many rental agencies give you the option of picking up your items yourself, or offer other ways in which you can save on your rentals, so do check for details. The further in advance you place your order, the more likely you will save on any delivery or convenience fees as well. And finally…

Save 15% on your Baby Equipment Rental in San Diego with Toddler’s Travels!
Toddler’s Travels has very generously offered a 15% discount to my readers on any rented items other than their already very discounted package offers. To get your discount code, see their listing in the Worldwide Directory of Baby Gear Rentals at TravelswithBaby.com.

Toddler’s Travels is a fully insured baby equipment rental company serving the greater San Diego area, offering carefully chosen JPMA-certified products that are always safety-inspected and sanitized according to the California Department of Health’s regulations for children’s products. Located just 5 minutes from the San Diego airport, Toddler’s Travels is an easy pit stop to pick up that pack ‘n play, stroller, or other items on your way to your hotel.
For travel outside of San Diego, browse my online directory of baby gear rental agencies where you’ll find baby gear rental agencies from Tucson to Thailand and beyond.

Safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
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