New parents learn very quickly that going anywhere with a baby requires a lot of “stuff.” If you’re going out to dinner and bringing a diaper bag packed with supplies, that’s not so bad, but family vacations are another story. If your destination is nowhere near friends or relatives with baby gear that you can share or borrow, you’re likely to find yourself with a long list of things to take with you: carseat, stroller, baby carrier, Pack ‘n Play, etc. That can be a huge hassle, especially if you’re flying with kids. Have you ever used a service that rents baby gear for travel? What did you rent? Do you have any other strategies for dealing with a need for baby gear on a trip? As the holidays approach, we thought we would round up three companies that rent baby gear for traveling families:
Baby’s Away: This company only operates in 28 states, and its website doesn’t go into as much detail about the rental process as Rent the Baby Gear’s does. (From now on, I’ll just call them RtBG). They’ve been around since 1991 (!), however, so they must be doing something right. Parents visit the site and reserve what they want, and then a “local operator” sends an email to confirm the item is available in the chosen area and to indicate the price, sales tax, and delivery fee. At that point, you can pay online. The company’s website notes that all items are cleaned and sanitized before going to the next customer and that everything “is either new or in excellent condition (gently used).” Unlike RtBG, Baby’s Away allows parents to rent baby gear for less than a week at a time, although the advantage that RtBG has over Baby’s Away is that parents know which brand they’re getting when they reserve an item.
Here are some sample items and rental costs for New York City:
- High Chair: 1-day rental, $7 / 1-week rental, $42
- Pack & Play: 1-day rental, $7 / 1-week rental, $42
- Infant Car Seat: 1-day rental, $9 / 1-week rental, $54
- Jogging Stroller: 1-day rental, $12 / 1-week rental, $72
Babies Getaway: To rent from this company, which was founded in 2012, customers visit the site three to four days before they need an item, enter their travel dates and preferred delivery/pickup times, then click on “Rent Now” to find out the cost. Babies Getaway can deliver and pick up baby gear in the continental U.S. and charges $20 for airport delivery, which is only available in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The company offers competitor price-matching, a 24-hour hotline, iOS and Android apps, and a thorough maintenance program it boasts about on the site: “Unlike our competitors, we take great pride knowing that our fabrics are washed extensively with products such as Dreft and Natures Organics. Items are sanitized, steam cleaned, inspected for loose bolts and screws, and checked upon for expiration dates.” Babies Getaway provides more products (and brands) than the two websites mentioned above, including gliders, diaper pails, changing tables, potty seats, baby monitors, humidifiers, white noise machines, and even bikes and scooters.
Here are some sample items and rental costs, with the caveat that “1-day” appears to mean same-day return:
- Fisher-Price EZ Clean High Chair: 1-day rental, $8 / 1-week rental, $60
- Pack ’n Play On The Go Travel Playard: overnight rental, $12 / 1-week rental, $45
- Graco Snugride Infant Car Seat: 1-day rental, $6 / 1-week rental, $45
- BOB Sport Utility Stroller: 1-day rental, $12 / 1-week rental, $91
Side note: As a grammar geek, I simply can’t ignore this company’s name. If a bunch of babies are going on vacation, it’s a “Babies’ Getaway” (which sounds like a bad ’90s movie). If you are observing that babies can crawl away when you’re not looking, you can say, “Babies Get Away.” If you’re tired and just want a nap, you can use the phrase, “Babies, Get Away!” But “Babies Getaway” is incorrect. (This is starting to sound like the classic SNL sketch Robot Repair.)
Rent the Baby Gear: (2018 Update: Unfortunately, this company is no longer in business.) Although it would take a miracle company to actually accomplish Rent the Baby Gear’s goal — “make travel with children safe, simple and hassle free” — their service does sound pretty great. At least four business days before you need a baby-related item for your trip, reserve it on the website and Rent the Baby Gear will ship it for free (via UPS) anywhere in the continental U.S. (You can take it abroad if needed.) When your trip’s over, you choose to either drop off the items at a UPS location (a prepaid return label is provided) or have them picked up. Don’t expect pristine baby gear — “Our gear is best described as ‘Loved,'” the FAQ page admits — but the company says it cleans and checks everything when it returns to the warehouse.
Here are some sample items and rental costs:
- Joovy Nook High Chair: 1-week rental, $60
- BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib Light 2: 1-week rental, $60
- Forward-Facing Diono Radian Car Seat: 1-week rental, $75
- BOB Sport Utility Jogging Stroller: 1-week rental, $90
Do you rent baby gear while traveling (or for any other reason), or do you usually travel with all of your own things? Have you ever used one of these companies to rent baby gear? If you’ve taken a plane trip with items like a carseat or Pack ‘n Play, how did you keep them from being damaged?
- Flying with Car Seats: Seven Easy Ways to Get Your CRS to the Gate [Travels with Baby]
- A Parents’ Guide to Packing Light: Baby Gear For an Easier Vacation [Wall Street Journal]
- It’s Not Crazy If It Works: Tips for Sharing a Hotel with Baby [Suitcases & Sippy Cups]
- Travel Mamas has a long list of regional, national, and international companies that rent baby gear, ranging from Mountain Baby Gear Rentals (“Essential gear for Aspen’s littlest visitor”) to UPABABY, a rental company in Portugal (not to be confused with UPPAbaby, the high-end stroller and carseat brand).
Picture via Stencil.