Buying an umbrella stroller/travel stroller

Last time we went o/s we took our regular stroller with us. It was a relatively lightweight one, and I had bought it specifically for a trip to Melbourne when we were staying in an upstairs apartment – so it was much smaller and lighter than our original stroller. But it wasn’t a small umbrella stroller, and we frequently had to “check” it, and so didn’t have it for moving between connecting flights.

This time we want to buy a ‘proper’ umbrella stroller. The best umbrella stroller for travelling that there is, at a reasonable price (by which I mean under A$100 at most, since we really don’t need another stroller except for travel – though maybe we can resell it on eBay afterwards?).

Chris found a Zulu Zippi upright stroller on sale at Big W, but it doesn’t say on it how heavy it is, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem that much smaller than our normal stroller. Though, I have nothing to compare it to yet. I’ve been googling ‘travel stroller reviews’ and ‘umbrella stroller reviews’ but most of the results have just linked to Amazon or other US sites, which doesn’t help me in Australia. I did find a few  (4 star) reviews of the Zulu Zippy on the Big W website, which may just have to satisfy me, but the main thing I want to know is, can we take it on planes – will they let us take it right up to the door?

Anyway, here is my research so far:

Zulu Zippy:

  • weight: approx 4.5kg with packaging (this is from weighing it ourselves) (so about 10lb or slightly less)
  • rated to carry 17K
  • folds to approx 107x15cx20cm (again, measured ourselves, still in the packaging) (actually, this is a lot smaller than our existing stroller)
  • reviews found: 3 x 4stars
  • carry/transit bag: no
  • carry strap: no
  • sun shade: yes
  • five point harness: yes
  • bag/basket: no basket underneath, small bag on the back

Chicco Ct0.6 Capri Lightweight Stroller in TangarineChicco umbrella strollers

I keep reading references to the Chicco Ct0.6  or Ct0.5 (which I’m presuming is an earlier version), but so far I haven’t seen it for sale in Australia except on eBay (and that was the 0.5). From the description of the 0.5 model, it sounds heavier than the zippy, but probably more comfortable and useable too. So the question is, what are it’s dimensions when folded? The dimensions I found listed said 39″ folded height (which is signifcantly smaller than the Zippy), but it had a similar depth and a width of 19″, which seems unlikely!

Any suggestions or reviews in the comments would be welcome!

We’ve also had recommended

The Esprit Speed Sun Stroller (currently on sale at BabiesRUs for $129.99, down from $160); and the QuickSmart EasyFold Stroller, (also on sale for $129.99, down from $199.99). They are about 8kg & 7kg respectively, but I haven’t figured out what size they go down to yet. The QuickSmart folds down quite small, but wide, with it’s own carry bag, and rain cover and I’m wondering if we could even take it on as carry on luggage (edit: answer: No). It is only rated up to 15kg, which is fine for Elli (who is maybe 9kg I think), but just means it won’t last as long, and Mikaela won’t be able to sit in it. Then again, maybe we’ll just sell it after this trip…

Edited to add: we’re leaning towards the Esprit Speed Sun Stroller now. We tried out a friend’s very basic stroller with no basket underneath or pocket at the back and a very small and flimsy shade, and it drove me mad having no where to put stuff. Being out and about with kids – especially at this time of year – I use the stroller to carry beanies, spare jackets and the nappy bag as much as to carry Eliane! And then to the advice of the flyingwithchildren site is:

“People ask me which stroller I recommend for flying. I always say to bring the stroller you need for the entire trip, not specifically for the flight. Most airlines accept any stroller than folds and I’ve seen too many tiny babies slumped in rickety umbrella strollers in airports.”

So, now I’m trying to decide if we should really bother getting a new stroller at all, or just stick with the one we’ve got. On the one hand, it’s quite a bit heavier than any of the other options we’ve looked at, and while it is an ‘umbrella stroller’, it’s quite long, and we did have some airlines refuse to let us take it to the gate last time. Also, we’re thinking we might want a stroller Eliane can sleep comfortably in, since most of the time we won’t have a car we can all fit in, so might be walking a lot. And we won’t have a nice quiet room for her to nap in either, so walking and stroller napping might be a good solution. Then again, she’s barely ever napped in a pram or stroller, and not for months and months, so who knows if that will even work? Still, she does nap in the car quite often now, so there’s a good chance I think, if we have a comfy enough stroller with a bit of a recline.

The Esprit is quite well padded, goes from upright to full reclined, which also makes it an option for nappy changes. It has a large sun shade and has good reviews.

On the other hand, we already have this stroller, so in terms of our own resources, and the earth’s, can we really justify buying another one? Yes, this one is getting old and ratty, but then, that will work in our favour when we don’t worry too much how they mishandle it on the plane! And, how much of a big deal is it if they insist on checking the stroller all the way through? Well, we’ve got the ergo baby carrier, and if there’s plenty of time and it’s not too hectic, Elli can always walk some. So maybe it’s not a big deal. No matter what stroller we take we’ll need to be prepared for that possibility and make sure any carry on stuff we have, from jackets to kids’ books, can be carried without assistance of a pram.

So the advice to take a stroller that will suit for the rest of the trip, and not just focus on airports is good.

So, points in favour of Esprit compared to our existing stroller:

  • smaller
  • lighter
  • may be more comfortable (definitely more padded and can lie back)
  • bigger sun shade
  • lots of good reviews
  • probably steers better

In favour of just taking our old one:

  • doesn’t cost us anything
  • doesn’t cost the earth anything (slightly more fuel if for the plane, but it doesn’t weigh that much more)
  • did I mention, doesn’t cost us anything?

We’re going to look at the Esprit at BabysRUs today, to make a decision before the sale ends…

Edited again with the decision: We’re sticking with the stroller we have.

We looked at the Esprit and felt that although it is slightly lighter, and significantly shorter when folded (though nothing like the Zippy Zulu) it has

a toddler in a red Esprit stroller
This is Eliane trying out the Esprit stroller. I think you can see from this photo the way she seems to be just sitting on the seat right out form the back, with virtually no side protection or support.
  • a fairly flimsy sun shade attachment  – this seemed almost universal in the umbrella strollers we looked at today, so perhaps it’s not as bad as they seemed, but with the stroller we have now the sun shade is flat, and strong enough that I can put a shopping basket on it. I also routinely drap jackets over the top. I don’t think these fancier strollers would stand up to that treatment (certainly not the shopping basket!)
  • a slightly fiddly buckle – this would certainly not be a deal breaker on it’s own, but when I tried to do up the buckle with a slightly wriggly Eliane in it, one of the shoulder strap pieces slipped off and I couldn’t easily reattach it (probably just takes practice) and then I had a hard time getting one side of the buckle to undo.
  • very shallow side supports/shade – it felt like Elli was just sitting on a seat with a back but almost no sides, when the seat was all the way upright, which at this age would be virtually all the time. Also, while the back was nicely padded (much more so than some of the other ones), the sides aren’t at all. When the seat is fully reclining the sides would support a baby who fell asleep, but with it upright or semi upright, it seemed like as soon as Eliane fell asleep her head would loll to the side and find no support at all. In fact, if anything the padded back almost seemed convex. This was the deal breaker for us. I just couldn’t imagine her sleeping, or even resting, comfortably in this stroller.

To Do List

  • Travel insurance! Must email our travel agent, Emma, for a quote, but from quick perusal of the brochure she gave us, NRMA looks better.
  • Buy an umbrella stroller – last time we didn’t know what an umbrella stroller was, and the stroller we took was big enough it had to be “checked luggage” for a number of our flights, especially on smaller planes. We definitely want to have that stroller with us for the in between flight bits, where we have to get a toddler, two older kids, hand luggage for the lot of us, plus Elli’s car seat (which we will be using for most flights) from one plane to another, sometimes with a couple of hours to fill in. And we’ll be wanting to take a sling to carry Eliane in, cause that stroller is going to be full!
  • Return stroller to friend’s who lent us one that they have used as travel stroller but that we’ve decided is too big.
  • Buy a second suitcase. We have one good suitcase, which was fine with just the three of us last time, but with the five of us? I don’t think so!
  • Consider whether we have appropriate bags for our carry-on luggage.
  • Oh, get passports for everyone (except me, I had to renew mine last time). Getting a baby passport photo done is always fun! (not.)
  • Declutter/tidy house for the house sitters!
  • Organise to use that house cleaning voucher I bought a while ago, before it runs out at the end of August!
  • Decide whether to let the housesitters manage the chooks or ‘board’ them with a friend.
  • Book accommodation for the night we are spending in Athens (part of a night anyway – our flight out is about 5am, and it’s an international flight, so I’m guessing we need to be at the airport by around 3am. Fun!).
  • Write packing list.
  • Buy gifts for people we’ll be staying with.
  • Ask friend’s who own the house on Karpathos whether there’s anything they’d like us to take over for them. Get a housewarming present for their house (which is new) (I’m thinking some kids books to leave there – and maybe some grownup ‘holiday reading’? After all, what’s a beach house without an Agatha Christie novel?)
  • Pick up the tickets from the travel agent.
  • Check with the travel agent about that flight that keeps getting moved up and back by five minutes – should we be worried about the connecting flight yet?  There’s now only 45 minutes between them.
  • Get approval for Eliane’s car seat from qantas and find out whether or not we’ll have to take it off the plane in Singapore.

Hello and Welcome!

So. Welcome to my new blog: narrating kayoz goes travelling (with three kids!). We went overseas once before with Liam, when he was nearly two, and of course we’ve been on the odd road trip with Liam & Mikaela, but this will be the first trip of more than about a two hour drive with all three children.

So where are we going? Well, primarily back to the States. Chris has a lot of family over there, my brother and his wife and their new baby are there, and my best friend is there (with partner and children). So that’s always going to be a regular destination for us – at least in the sense they you can call something regular that you do at most once or twice a decade!

But, this time we are going via Europe. We’ll be spending a week in Barcelona (and maybe catching up with a friend from Lyon, in France, if she can make it down), and then another week on a Greek Island (Karpathos) in a house owned by some friends who have family over there. It’s not enough time, but we’ll have to make do. Then we have a little over a week in New York City/New Jersey/Pennsylvania (in the Pocono mountains), and then a few weeks in California/Oregon. The timing works out the way it does in large part because some of the our flights are using frequent flyer points (saved for years on our credit card, not from actually flying!), so we had to travel when we could get the seats. On the other hand, I would have preferred to have more time in all those places, which we simply couldn’t do anyway.

Are we a little excited? Hell yeah. Is the idea of an (almost) 8 week trip with several very long days on planes with three children, one still in nappies, a little daunting? Uh – yeah! Especially with the first ‘day’ of travel totalling more than 30 hours, taking us from Canberra, Australia to Barcelona, Spain. But it will all be part of the adventure.

Both Liam and Mikaela are really looking forward to visiting Greece, partly as a result of me passing on my interest in Greek mythology. I hope spending a week in a sleepy little Greek village on Karpathos won’t end up disappointing them, but I think everything will be sufficiently different to be interesting even for a five year old. Plus, there are beaches! Actually, I’m probably looking forward to Greece even more than they are, as I’ve never been there either. One week is far too little time of course, but I’ll take what I can get! I’ve never been to Spain either, nor NYC, so lots of firsts actually.

However we’re not actually on the eve of departure yet, and we’ve got lots to do before we get there, beginning with organising passports for all three kids!

So, next on the agenda: write a To Do list.

Edited to add: all those other posts showing on the front page? Under the category ‘Destination’? They’re just pretty pictures at the moment. But in a matter of months, I will be in those cities, taking pictures of my own 🙂