"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Fun Stuff: Shopping for a Travel Stroller

I know that in about six months I will be sitting all by myself in Russia, we will be a long way away from Christmas, and I’ll be boo hooing because I miss my parents and sister and family so much and sad because Isla will be growing up so fast away from her grandparents… its inevitable that that time is going to come, even though I am sure it won’t be my entire experience. Knowing that, right now I am just trying to enjoy the this super exciting, blessing filled time while it lasts! I know that God is the giver of good gifts and will always look out for us, but you can’t be on the mountaintop all the time. But for right now, there are a lot of fun things to think about and do!

One thing that we plan to do while in Russia is take advantage of all of the places to travel to and visit while we are there. We are close to Europe, North Africa, and Middle East, and I definitely want to do as much traveling as we can afford to do and work into Nick’s time off, plus still be able to come home!

So the topic that I am trying to gracefully segue into (and doing a terrible job) is that we are going to need a new stroller! Our current stroller is the Cadillac of strollers and perfectly suits my needs as an SUV driving suburbanite mom. It is seriously the best stroller for mall and Target shopping, it has a smooth ride and reclines to flat so Isla sleeps in it as well as at home and I can store a ton of purchased articles in the bottom. The down is large and heavy, and I don’t know that I will even be able to fit it into whatever vehicle we are given, let alone use it by myself in airports or use it to maneuver in a crowded touristy city or narrow aisles in tiny little European stores… friends, it just ain’t going to happen! Even Nick is on board with buying a sturdy new stroller, and he hates to spend money.

I was totally inspired by the Daigneaultimate Stoller shopping experience (read about it here, so thorough!)… I had never thought about putting so much thought into buying baby things, but thought is needed when traveling halfway across the world with a little baby.

So, in true engineering fashion I set about making a spreadsheet to help me keep track of all of the features that we want versus the models that I have been looking at. Oh how I LOVE a good spreadsheet!

stoller spreadsheet

After that, in true girl friend fashion, I thought that I would solicit the advice of any friends who care to weigh in, even if you don’t have a child, but you have heard things from friends… please weigh in. I am especially interested in advice on friend who use strollers in crowded cities, subways, and traveling on airplanes.

Some features I am thinking about:

  1. Light weight and small – This means that we are pretty much in the umbrella stroller territory. I would like for it to be able to fit into an overhead compartment on an airplane, and be able to lift it myself when I am traveling without Nick.
  2. Narrow width – This might be something that is silly, but I want it to be as narrow as possible so that I can easily maneuver through narrow places.
  3. Quickly and easily fold – You never know what sticky situations you will get into and need to close it fast.
  4. Recline – At first I thought that I needed a full recline, but the truth is that Isla is a tummy sleeper, and when she wakes up and she is flat on her back, she cries. She does not cry when she is only slightly reclined, so probably we need some reclinability, but not lay flat reclinability.
  5. Smooth Ride – In my head, I picture us walking as a family through cobblestone streets in Germany, with Nick and I smiling, laughing happily and generally looking like American idiots, while Isla sleeps soundly in her stroller. This means we need locking front wheels, front and back suspension, and tall sturdy wheels. Nick is very interested in the wheels of our travel stroller.
  6. Protection from the Elements – At first I didn’t really think about this, but as I was doing my research I thought, “Oh dear, Isla will need some protection from the elements for those rainy days in Pareee (Paris – but in my head I pronounce it all Frenchy and drag out the eee as in WHEEEEE)” or “We don’t want the sun to get in her eyes when we are strolling around Rome in the summer time.” (Please understand… at the moment I am living in fantasy land, I am sure reality will not be quite like what I am picturing) So I am thinking a large canopy and rain protection is a must have, plus cold weather protection. I am still looking to see what generic element protection we can buy that might fit onto a stroller if it doesn’t come with that.
  7. Shoulder strap – I am not sure when we would be carrying this with a should strap, but it seems like it would be good feature to have, even over a handle so we can keep our hands free. Some come with a case that you can put your stoller in with a strap, but it seems like the times we will need a stroller strap, we will not want to take the time to put it into a carrying case.
  8. Some nice to haves – Adjustable handles - but neither of us are very tall so I think we’ll be ok. Kids bar, food or snack tray – that will be great for Isla to keep food and drinks while we are out. Good storage – all come with some storage.
  9. Low cost – I don’t mind paying a little extra if it is a really good stroller, but obviously I don’t want to be in the $500+ range.

Basically our three general categories at Isla’s comfort, portability and maneuverability. Right now I am investigating the following strollers:

  • Maclaren Triumph
  • Maclaren Techno XT
  • Bumbleride Flite
  • Peg Perego SI
  • Combi Cosmo
  • Uppababy G-Luxe
  • Inglesia Trip
  • Inglesia Zippy
***Update: I have added the following strollers into the running (and into the spreadsheet)!***
  • BabyJogger: City Mini
  • Joovy Kooper
  • Bugaboo Bee (but probably not - so expensive)
  • Phil and Teds Smart
  • Mutsy Spider

We are going to Houston the week of Thanksgiving and I plan to take a day to go on the hunt for this perfect and elusive stroller. I can’t really make up my mind nor do I want to spend the money until I have seen these strollers for myself!

But in the meantime, I would love some insight from parents who have lived or heard about international travel and/or city living with a baby, or who have some general good ideas!

7 comments:

  1. WOW, my head is spinning from this post (I imagine yours is too!!!!) Double WOW on the spread sheet (you're getting more like your dad everyday!). I do remember just getting a large clear plastic cover that fits over most strollers when we moved to The Netherlands, I think I even saw them in Toy's R Us. Happy shopping, can't wait to see you all next week.

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  2. I'm just waiting for Melissa to jump in on this. I suspect she'll reccomend a double stroller that converts to a single stroller (or vice versa). But we'll just have to wait and see ;)

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  3. I KNOW! I have been waiting impatiently for her input too :). I am interested in convertibles... but I haven't even entered into that research. There is so much to look into, and I keep finding all of these brands that I never knew existed... like B.O.B.

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  4. Ahhhh, one of my favorite obsessions . . . I'm in my phone, so going to (try to) keep this short. Two most popular we saw in the UK: maclaren--techn, I think, and bugaboo chameleon. But, by far my favorite, the one I really want and think you should seriously consider: baby jogger city select. Google babygizmo and baby jogger city select and you can find a video that shows much of why I am unnaturally obsessed with this stroller. I'll message you more from my computer . . . And I'll totally go stroller shopping with you. ;)

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  5. I love Baby Gizmo!

    So I just went to one of our local baby boutiques to check out the UppaBaby G-Luxe, and I am thinking that I really don't want an umbrella stroller since this one was almost as good as you can get with an umbrella, and it just didn't feel right. I'd still like to check out the BumbleRide Flite though.

    This is what I thought of the G-Luxe:
    The Bad
    - It is light weight, but when it folds, it still felt big and bulky because it didn't fold well and its not very compact.
    - It also seemed like it would be a pain to fold although I am sure I would get better at it. I am beginning to think it might be good to have quick, one handed fold, so I can be holding Isla in one hand and closing it in another (although she will be standing soon so maybe that's a moot point)... like when getting into a taxi.
    - The seat felt tiny, even Isla's little legs were able to bend and dangle... how is she going to fit into that seat when she gets bigger?
    - Crappy wheels, but I am beginning to think solid wheels on my travel stroller are the stuff of dreams!
    The Good
    - 11 lbs
    - Sits very upright with full recline
    - Shoulder strap
    - Adequate storage
    - Stands on its own (very good!)
    While I was there the sales ladies (who I love, but they are good at closing deals) almost had me convinced that I needed the UppaBaby Vista! (Retail: $649 - as an engineer... I respected that stroller, it was awesome).

    The Baby Jogger City Mini Single looks very close to what I need on paper too, which is why I am intrigued that you mentioned the City Select. It has all of the features I want (although almost everything is extra and way more than I think it should cost), including one handed fold and it looks like it folds very compact, although I want to check it out in person to make sure.

    The only downside is that is seems a tad wide, but I am also beginning to think a super narrow stroller is the stuff of dreams too. Even the little G-Luxe got stuck in the aisles of the Baby Boutique. That's fine. That just means that either Nick or I will wait outside stores with sleeping Isla or if we are careful to get one that folds really compact, we can carry it in with us.

    Maybe I do need to start thinking about a double/convertible stroller... do you think the City Select (with the initial single set up) would be a bit much for just me? What do you like about it over the Joovy Caboose that you used in London?

    What did you do with the Caboose when you couldn't bring it inside? Were you able to leave it outside without fear of it being stolen?

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  6. I just sent you an unreasonably long message on FB about strollers. :)

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  7. I have the cosmo. It is lacking in #6 and #8 above but otherwise----fits the bill perfectly. Its also very lightweight. It has a smooth ride because its suspended with straps vs being plastic that "clicks" into place. Because of the way it folds so small it SEEMS a lil rickety but its not, AT ALL. But the element protection it does not have!

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