The Gadling young family travel gift guide

If you are traveling with a baby over the holidays, visiting with children on your next trip, or just hoping to convince a new parent that you don’t have to hand in your passport once the new addition arrives, we’ve compiled a gift guide for families traveling with babies. Traveling light is the best advice you can follow when traveling with a baby (even without a baby, it’s just good sense) but there are some gear and gadgets that make the road a little smoother for family travel.

family travel gift guideBoba baby wrap (formerly Sleepy Wrap)
One of my favorite purchases so far in Turkey is the Cybex first.go baby carrier, unique due to the horizontal infant insert used up until 3-4 months. The lie-flat insert allowed me to set the baby on a flat surface without worrying she’d roll over (with constant supervision, of course), perfect for traveling. Everywhere I went with it, we got comments and questions. Unfortunately, it’s not available in the US, but if you can get your hands on it, I recommend it. My other favorite carrier is the Sleepy Wrap (now called Boba), suitable from birth without any special insert, up to 18 months. It’s very easy to pack in a handbag or tie around yourself without having lots of straps to get tangled in. Since it’s all fabric, it works well for airports and metal detectors, and unlike other wraps, the stretch means you don’t have to retie it after taking the baby out. Choosing a carrier is different for everyone, a good comparison chart is here.family travel gift guide
M Coat convertible winter coat
Leave it to the Canadians to make a winter coat that can stretch (pun intended) to accomodate a pregnant belly, a baby carrier, and then return to normal, while keeping you both warm and stylish. While not cheap (it retails for about $366 US), it’s a good investment that will work for many winter trips, and potentially, many babies. Filled with Canadian down and available in a wide array of colors, it would suit any pregnant or babywearing traveler.

family travel gift guideTraveling Toddler car seat strap
For the first year or so, most car seats can fit onto a stroller, creating an easy travel system. For older babies and toddlers, having a gadget that makes a car seat “wheelable” frees up a hand and makes airport transit easier. This strap essentially attaches your car seat to your rollaboard, creating a sort of hybrid stroller-suitcase. Now you probably won’t want to carry your suitcase on the street throughout your trip, but at under $15, it’s any easy way to get through layovers until you reach your destination. If you want a car seat that can do double duty and then some, our Heather Poole recommends the Sit ‘n’ Stroll, a convertible stroller-car seat-booster-plane seat. It’s certified for babies and children 5-40 pounds, but as it doesn’t lie flat, may be more appropriate for babies over 6 months.

family travel gift guideKushies easy fold baby bed
Most so-called travel beds for babies are about as easy to pack as a pair of skis, more suited for road trips to Grandma’s house than increasingly-restricted airline baggage. Not every hotel has baby cribs available and sometimes you want something that works outdoors as well to take along to a park, beach, or on a day trip. The most useful travel product I’ve bought since my daughter arrived was the Samsonite (now Koo-di) pop-up travel cot; it’s light, folds up like a tent, and takes up less room than a shoebox in my suitcase. The Samsonite cot is not sold in the US, but Kushies Baby makes a similar product for the American market. Their folding baby bed weighs only a few pounds and can be collapsed into your suitcase. It also has mosquito netting and UV-protected fabric for outdoors, and loops for hanging baby toys.

family travel gift guidePuj and Prince Lionheart bathtubs
With a steady set of hands and some washcloths for padding, small babies can be bathed in most hotel or kitchen sinks, or even taken into the shower (beware of slipperiness!). For more support, new babies can lie in the Puj baby tub, a flat piece of soft foam that fits in nearly any sink to cradle your baby. Children who can sit up unassisted can play in the foldable Prince Lionheart FlexiBath, which can also serve as a small kiddy pool. While both products fold flat for storage, they may be too cumbersome and take up too much room in a suitcase for airplane travel, and thus may be better for car trips.

family travel gift guideLamaze stroller toys
The best travel toys are small, attach to a stroller or bag so they don’t get lost in transit, and don’t make any annoying sounds to bother fellow passengers (or the parents). Spiral activity toys can keep a baby busy in their stroller, crib, or in an airplane seat with no batteries required. Rattles that attach to a baby’s wrist or foot take up little space and are hard to lose. Lamaze makes a variety of cute toys that can attach to a handle and appeal to both a baby’s and parent’s visual sensibilities. We’re partial to this Tiny Love bunny rabbit who can dangle from her car seat, makes a nice wind chime sound, and can fit in a pocket as well (we call him Suleyman since he’s from Turkey but I’ve seen them for sale all over the world).

family travel gift guideThis is…books by Miroslav Šašek
Get your child excited about visiting a new city, or just add a travel memento to your library. Originally published in the 1950s and ’60s and reissued in the last few years, these are wonderful children’s books visiting over a dozen cities worldwide (plus a little trip to the moon) as Czech author Miroslav Šašek originally captured them. Fun for children and adults to read and compare the cities in the books to how they’ve changed. Going to Europe? The Madeline books are French favorites, Paddington is essential London reading, and Eloise is a great companion for Paris and Moscow. For more wonderful children’s book ideas published this year, check out Brain Pickings’ Best Illustrated Books of 2011.


family travel gift guideSnuggle Pod footmuff

In a perfect world, we’d always travel with children in the summer while days are long, you can sit at outdoor cafes, and pack fewer layers. Adding a warm footmuff to a stroller makes winter travel more bearable for a small child or baby. While not the cheapest gift, the Snuggle Pod adapts to any stroller up to age 3, and can be used in warmer weather with the top panel removed, or as a playmat when unfolded. It’s also made of Australian sheepskin, which is safe for babies when shorn short and used on a stroller (babies older than 1 year old can sleep directly on a lambskin, younger babies can lie on one for playtime or with a sheet cover for sleeping). A more budget-friendly option is the JJ Cole Bundleme with shearling lining.

Have any favorite gear or gadgets to add to our family travel gift guide? Tell us about your favorites in the comments and happy shopping!

Hotel Madness: Bad water pressure vs. Small towels

hotel madness bad water pressure small towels
This intriguing Hotel Madness contest is a battle of bathroom bothers. The #7 seed Bad water pressure tries to drown #10 seed Small towels. Whether you’ve spent your day at the beach or need to clean up before a full day of business meetings, bad water pressure can make your shower useless and leave you a smelly mess. On the flip side, getting out of the shower only to discover that your towels are smaller than a handkerchief is a problem that leaves you wet and shivering.

Read the full bios for each of this peeves below. Then be sure to vote for the one that makes you the maddest! The winner advances to the second round.

(7) Bad Water Pressure
Waking up in hotel rooms can be confusing. You’re not 100% sure of where you are and the comfort of your morning routine has been disrupted. Surely a shower will help you shake the cobwebs out of your head. Not so fast. Your hotel comes equipped with a moderate trickle of water with which to wash off the memories of last night’s corporate team building karaoke or the smell of livestock that has permeated every pour of your body since you hitched a ride in that horse trailer. Hope you don’t get any soap in your eyes.

(10) Small Towels
You’ve stepped out of your quasi-refreshing shower and need to towel off quickly because the default setting on all hotel thermostats is “Arctic.” Before your skin freezes solid, you wrap a towel around your…thigh. You’d like to get it around your entire torso, but, quite frankly, you have napkins larger than this back home. You double-check to make sure that you didn’t grab one of the hand towels or washcloths. Nope, this is the bath towel. You sneak a peak of yourself in the mirror. Sure, you ate a lot at the dinner last night but you’re no fatter than you were when you left home. It’s just a small towel that kind of feels like sandpaper.

So, which bathroom bother gets your blood boiling? Vote now!

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First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

They threw out the bathtubs!

No more bathsI hope you weren’t planning on a nice, leisurely bath on your next trip to Australia.

The Rialto in Melbourne has done away with bathtubs. They just underwent a $60 million renovation which included the removal of the bathtubs! What? $60 million to downgrade their amenities?

According to their research, travelers only want showers anyway. I’m guessing some dudes didn’t fess up that they love bubble baths. I know y’all are using candles, too. Well, now you only get a bath if you sleep in one of the hotel’s 9 suites (not the 253 other rooms).

At least they’re now offering an Enomatic, an Italian machine that prevents wines from oxidization. This way, you don’t have to order a whole bottle of top shelf wine; you can just have a $175 glass of Grange (for example).

We hope this isn’t a trend. The bathtub should be a standard. Why not do away with the TV and the ice buckets, while you’re at it?

[via The Sydney Morning Herald]