One of the biggest shocks that come with the transition from travelling without kids to travelling en famille is the ridiculous amount of stuff you have to take with you. Our first trip with our four month old daughter involved two nights away from home and enough baggage to pack the back of our SUV to the roof. Of course the fact that we brought the dog along that time didn’t help. By the time the second came along we were up to our ears in stuff. When the kids were one and two we went on a family trip to Los Vegas. My poor brother became our designated pack animal and I don’t think we could have made it through security without that extra set of hands. Over the years we’ve been able to prune down the luggage as the kids have gotten older and although we’re still far from being that lean, mean, travelling machine I dream of becoming some day, we are making progress.
The one thing that always seems to trip us up, though, is the carseats. If we want to rent a car, we need to either pay $10 per day times two for rented carseats, or drag our own along. So far, it’s always made more sense to drag our own along, but boy, do I ever hate those things by the time we’ve dragged them through the airport. They’re awkward, heavy, hard to carry and just plain annoying. I remember returning from Orlando once at ten o’clock at night and trying to get to the shuttle pick up. I had a two carry on bags and both carseats balanced on one stroller, piled so high that I had to look around the load to navigate through the airport. My husband was dragging a huge suitcase and pushing our sleeping son in the other stroller when our four year old daughter suddenly decided she couldn’t walk another step. To be fair, we had gotten off a cruise ship 18 hours earlier, followed by a day at the NASA space centre, then a six hour flight. I was about to tell her that there was just no way to let her ride in the stroller and get through the airport at the same time when I turned around to find my husband coming along behind me, pulling the bag, pushing the stroller and carrying the four year old on his shoulders. If we hadn’t needed the carseats for the drive home that night I’m pretty sure I would’ve ditched the stupid things then and there.
Fortunately for us, the end of our carseat years is now in sight. Our daughter is almost a year past being old enough for a booster seat, but she is managing to remain a couple pounds shy of the minimum weight to move up. I’m hopeful that by the time we need to rent a car again we’ll be able to travel with a booster for her, if not both of them since her younger brother has almost caught up to her in size. Of course booster seats are still a bit of a hassle, but after four plus years of dealing with carseats it will be a lot easier.
One product that I’ve been keeping an eye on is the BoostAPak, make by the same company that make the cute Trunki rolling suitcases that you can find everywhere these days. It is basically a hollow shell booster seat covered with a fabric cover that converts into a backpack. It’s a little hard to describe so here’s a picture to help.
See, so much easier to look at a picture than try to read a thousand words.
They’ve been out in Europe for a while and just recently got safety approval in the United States. They are being distributed by Dorel and retail for about $70 US. I emailed the company recently and was told that they had applied for Canadian approval and were hoping it would be coming soon. I’m really hoping that this will happen since I could see myself making good use of this product over the next few years. Not only would it be a great travel booster, but it would be handy to have for the grandparents and for carpooling. My plan is to order one as soon as it is approved in Canada and if it works out well for us, order a second to make a complete set for travelling.
The days of kids bouncing around the back of the station wagon while driving across the country are long gone, and I have to admit, this is a good thing. But I’m hoping that the days of dragging carseats wherever we go will be coming to an end soon as well.