Minimalist Active Traveling (plus a side-hustle)
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
First, let me admit that I overpack. When I travel, I generally choose a suitcase that I am willing to haul, and then I fill it to the brim. I get unnecessary anxiety about leaving outfits behind, as if they have feelings. This includes outfits that I do not wear while at home on a regular basis. More on the closet later….
But this post is about traveling with a baby, especially if you are a runner, generally active or just hate traveling with baby gear.
First, know that if you are traveling with strollers, large car seats or pack-n-plays, I am standing in the airport judging you. I see parents hauling all kinds of crap on an airplane and I just cringe. Is that fun?
To be fair, I never bought into using a car seat on the airplane, and I do not judge people who use car seats on the plane for safety reasons (just because I ignore safety warnings, doesn’t mean you should). I also had a friend send me a snapshot of her baby’s car seat nestled comfortably on the floor between seats in first class (in the air, not during takeoff and landing). I was jealous that her hands and lap were free.
Safety and comfort aside, what I am talking about here is convenience in traveling while still being active.
The adventure started when my son was just 4 months old and my husband decided to run the Dopey Challenge at Disney World (5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon over four days). Of course my son and I tagged along because January in New York is most likely going to be awful and also because going to Disney is a thing you do when you have kids (however, it should be noted that I also tagged along the year before sans kids, so I can’t pretend to use my son as an excuse).
With my husband running "48.6 magical miles" in just four days, I was going to be on my own to fit in my runs. I was on a mission to get back into shape, so my weekend goals included a 90 minute long run.
We were proud owners of a Bob running stroller by the time we had our son and started using it when he was about six weeks old (this is not advice, this is just my experience). I didn't want to travel with baby gear, though, so I rented a Bob from Kingdom Strollers. We paid $78.23 for a total of five days. The experience was almost perfect. We landed in Orlando, collected our car seat (which we sealed in a very large FedEx envelope and included with our checked luggage) and took a shuttle to our resort. The Bob was already waiting for us when we checked in. The only hitch was that I requested a 2012 model so that it would work with our car seat adaptor (which I also traveled with) and they instead delivered a 2013 model, which did not work with our adaptor. I sent the company a text and they swapped it out the same day.
I spectated one of my husband’s races with the stroller, but decided against the early wake-up call for the rest of the weekend. Instead, I slept in and then headed out for an endless series of loops around the monstrous resort for a total of 89 minutes of running. Why not 90? My son was incredibly patient during the run up until minute 88 when he started to just lose his mind. I decided that 89 minutes was long enough and stopped for breakfast.
Over the next couple years I rented jogging strollers in Albuquerque and San Francisco, and a hiking backpack in Hawaii. In the case of Albuquerque, I was traveling with my son, but not my husband, and I knew I would want to run. The stroller I got was not a Bob, but it did the job. It was waiting for me at the reception desk when I checked in. In San Francisco, my husband and I were staying at my sister-in-law's and the running stroller was dropped off at her front door. In the case of the hiking backpack in Hawaii, my husband and I were just starting to contemplate getting a hiking backpack and this was a great way to try it out. Also, we only needed it on one of the three islands that we traveled to, so picking up a pack in one location and then leaving it behind was clutch.
There are several sites that aggregate baby rental gear, and it has been too long since I have done this for me to recommend one. So, instead I recommend googling it. Or, you can try out what I am about to experiment with. It’s called goBaby and it calls itself “Airbnb for Baby-Gear-on-the-Go.”
Expert mom-hack: Whether or not it's worth it to spend nearly $80 for the convenience of not traveling with a running stroller is definitely an individual decision. Some people will think this is absurd while some will think it's genius. There was one trip where I actually researched buying a Bob and then reselling it on craigslist. That might have been financially smarter than essentially buying 1/3 of a Bob for the privilege of using it for five days. The takeaway from this is how easy it would be to monetize renting baby gear!
My next move is going to be to list my own baby gear on goBaby. I have a couple strollers that I never or rarely use: a Bob (obviously) and a City Mini, plus a few other random things. I am a huge fan of offloading at garage sales, so I don’t have a lot of stuff to rent out, but someone with storage space and a lot of baby gear who lives next to a popular tourist area could probably pull in some decent side-hustle income with this service.