We’ve had a bit of a journey and it’s time to look straight ahead and describe what children’s gadgets were completely useless or so little used that their purchase was uneconomical. Yes, this list will be subjective like no other on our blog :)
The period of pregnancy and the first months of parenthood are a huge amount of decisions to make. Parents-to-be want to provide the best for their child, and since everything is at their fingertips these days they buy on a whim. They buy because friends recommended it, they buy because they were told so in the birthing school, they buy because, after all, if a famous parenting blogger has something, it is surely a must-have, they buy…. because they believe that by doing so they will provide happiness and smiles to the baby, and reassure themselves that they are the best parents in the world.
Our blog is not a parenting blog, and posts about traveling with a child make up only about 10% of all posts. However, it is natural that we write about traveling with a child, attractions for the youngest, interesting places and, finally, many practical aspects that will make many people decide to go on a trip with their kids (which we mega recommend! :)).
We like to make life and travel easier, we’re a bit of a gadgeteer (okay, more Paweł, especially when it comes to technology) and because of our passion, it’s natural for us to keep our finger on the pulse and watch what’s in the grass in the travel and parenting meadow. Before Olive came along, we searched, compared, discussed what stroller to buy, what sling, what crib, what toys, etc. etc. Later came the first travel plans so we also began to look for what would be most useful to us on this trip.
Now, after two years, we look with reserve at everything that is recommended. Every now and then, new approaches emerge, new companies that outdo each other with innovative approaches to child development, design or materials. Everyone has their own research and their own rationale that shows that their product is the best, safest and healthiest for the baby. This does not mean that we completely disregard opinions or recommendations, because they are very often valuable, but they must be approached carefully and even critically.
The following list is very subjective. We didn’t have everything, but we also never had the need to buy them just because someone recommends them. The list is made in terms of travel (with a child under two), not everyday life. This is very important, because some of the following items we like to use on a daily basis, but when going on a trip we unscrupulously leave them at home. And most important: each child is different and each has different needs. Something that didn’t work for us may be a hit with others – and that’s the kind of comments we expect from you :)
Looking for a complete list of things to take with you on your trip? We recommend our post
What to take on vacation?
where you’ll find more details on how and what to pack. In addition, you can download there a free packing list template for yourself and/or the whole family.
Then we’re flying with a list of travel gadgets that didn’t work for us at all, or that we didn’t need, and that everyone on the outside recommended to buy.
Table of contents
Boom! Surprised? ;-) Didn’t you expect? :) And yet, a stroller bag is something we don’t recommend taking, although there are a few exceptions when it can come in handy, but about that below.
I once read a story somewhere on Facebook about how a fresh mom buys a regular stroller bag to start with, and mostly uses the one that came free with the stroller. Then he finds that he needs a larger, more manageable one with pockets, so he buys some well-known, recommended model. Moments later he comes to the conclusion that he needs a bag that he can treat as an everyday bag, so he buys a more fashion or designer bag, and as the child grows, runs away it is not always a large bag is convenient, so the best is a backpack…. Do you know it? The method of trial and error, constant changes, getting lost in the maze of lauded products, resulting in the purchase of several things with the same purpose. When buying the first things “for the baby” we are constantly looking for something that will work best for us.
So why do we consider the bag an unnecessary gadget? And what then does a bag hanging from a stroller do in our initial travels with Olive! The bag comes in handy if we will always travel with the stroller. Always. However, if you plan to go on the road with the baby in a sling or carrier, the bag will only become a burden for you. It is definitely better then to pack everything in a backpack and/or a kidney.
Also, when flying on an airplane, you may find that the extra bag is just an inconvenience, because someone nevertheless has to carry it, unpack it for inspection, etc.
And I admit here, you can look for stroller bags that are both backpacks, but unfortunately as something is for everything it is for nothing…. We travel for several hours at a time on our feet and our backs thank us at the end of the day for comfortable, balanced backpacks with extra fasteners on at least the hip belts. We also focus on functionality and what we really need – we don’t need a thousand bottle compartments if our daughter doesn’t accept a bottle. Instead, we need a backpack that can be opened all the way to easily get to the stuff at the very bottom. Well, and water resistance matters too ;)
Also an important thing – however, if you decide on a bag, it is worth noting whether it can be placed on the stroller at all. On our wonderful Yoyo (seriously it’s great! :)) can not, because it can easily overload the stroller to the rear.
So what is our advice? Don’t take any dedicated bag or backpack for your child. Take only luggage that will not weigh you down. We go on the assumption that we take two backpacks on hand, and in this we have to pack all three of us, because in practice our hands will be missing to carry all the bundles.
It was also nice to have such a mini bag next to the stroller, which we had in Vienna. It only packs the essentials in there, it’s lightweight, and it’s not extra luggage – it’s kind of like part of a stroller ;)
Travel cot/tent for baby
Here we mean both large collapsible pens and such small collapsible tents that can be closed, often with a mosquito net. In general, this point is all about what the child would sleep in on the trip.
First of all, in most hotels we had no problem getting a crib in the room. Even when we did not ask for one, at the time of check-in we were asked if we needed a crib. Aside from hotel listings on Booking.com, it is also very common to find houses and apartments on Airbnb, where free of charge the owners will also prepare a special playpen for the baby. Worth asking.
But what if finding accommodation with a crib borders on the miraculous? Or does it cost so much that it’s already more economical to buy a new crib? We just sleep together! Yes, we admit that on trips we often sleep three :-P I won’t write much about the theory itself regarding co-sleeping, but it’s safe as long as you stick to a few basic guidelines, which you can easily find on the Internet.
We also often combine – we make small pens from available blankets, pillows, remembering that safety always comes first.
Playing and singing toys
Especially the loud ones, with melodies that follow the parents half a day later, and they eagerly sing them at work.
We always take into account that we are not alone on a plane, train or bus, and such toys are not only noisy, but can irritate fellow passengers. Well, so we took them initially and used them only in the hotel. Occasionally. In the hotel on trips we stay only enough to sleep and rest for a while, so here too there was no room for improvement. These toys, while they may be fun for kids (although it’s also worth reading about baby overdrive), are also often heavy, requiring spare batteries and screwdrivers – because what if the battery in your favorite toy suddenly runs out?
In our two-year parenting history, we haven’t come across a playing toy that is cool enough for Olive to want to play with it every day for at least 15 minutes. Especially since on trips everything around is new, so children also prefer to explore the unknown rather than play with what they already know very well.
Non-drip cups/teacup bottles
As I mentioned Olive did not accept any bottle, so we went away from the topic of buying and carrying bottles for the first 6 months at all. Later we introduced water and it is water that Olive drinks most often on trips ;)
Of course, we tried the popular cut cups, non-cap cups, but what worked best for us were simply bottles with a sports stopper. Later the bidon was added and it has accompanied us ever since. Currently, we only take this one bidon with a tube on each trip.
In restaurants or bars if we buy Olive something to drink, instead of pouring we simply ask for a straw, and anyway drinking from an ordinary cup is no mean feat anymore. Because after all, whatever we would buy, the best thing is still what the parents drink, right?
With all this, we do not make a tragedy if a little of this water spills out. Water on clothes is not the end of the world, and often provides a nice cool down ;)
Included with the first bag was a changing mat, which we eagerly took with us at first. We did not use it once. Not once! First of all, our mat was too small (narrow) and while it was enough for a newborn, it was not necessarily enough for larger children. Second, it did not at all have some kind of unique surface to prevent absorption of anything that might be on the changing table, so any “accident” would involve washing the entire mat (which is quite thick and slow-drying).
I know that there are bigger and better changing mats on the market, but they also take up more space then.
So what do we take on the trip? Either disposable changing pads (which can really be used several times!) or a reusable changing pad bought at Ikea – it’s easy to wash, takes up little space and is more eco-friendly than reusable pads.
Container for wet wipes
We thought it would be a hit. It happened to us before that the wipes dried out because we forgot to close them or the packaging got dingy.
Wet wipe containers appeal to many parents, but not to me. They take up a lot of space and are rigid. It is much better to buy even a small package of wet wipes – it will take up much less space and is easier to squeeze in somewhere.
Here I am referring to such a fabric “chair” that attaches to a normal chair.
Yes, we bought such before the trip to the Azores, because it was the time when Olive was more and more willing to sit at the table with us, and we were worried that there would be no chairs for children on site.
The problem with this chair is that it takes up little space and we often just forgot about it ;) Once we remembered and installed it, Olive refused to sit in it. And guess what? I’m not surprised by her at all. The child sits much lower, barely reaching the table. It is not very comfortable, and also with getting up from it the child is unlikely to have a problem – so it works poorly.
It hits the blacklist ;)
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All of the above gadgets for us turned out to be unnecessary, even though there was always someone who highly recommended them. We managed without them, and some of the handouts were an additional burden for us.
Of course, a lot depends on your way of traveling and your and your children’s needs, so you don’t have to take the above list as the most sacred truth :)
Nonetheless, we have one request: instead of going shopping and scouring the internet for the best things for our child, it is better to spend this time in other ways.
Just spend it with your child – that’s the one thing you can never miss, whether traveling or everyday life :)
As Paweł wrote in this post, when we travel we finally have ourselves 24/7, we don’t have to go to work, we don’t have to clean and cook. This is when we can spend the most time together and it is worth making good use of this time :)
No, but no gadget can replace a child’s time and closeness with a parent.
We also recommend you other interesting articles about traveling with a child: