Traveling Toddler Review

For my trip to Ohio, I was taking Elizabeth, her car seat, and all the luggage myself.  I was also driving myself to the airport and parking in economy parking.  (Not only economy parking, but like Extreme Economy Parking.  I parked in row 73.  And then walked past all the other parking lots.  There was no bus.)  So I needed to be able to haul all the luggage and the baby myself.

Enter the Traveling Toddler Car Seat Strap.  I read about it on a blog somewhere.  (Blogs, what would I do without you and all your information?)  It is a strap thing that attaches your car seat to a rolling suitcase.

Here is a picture of me testing it in the kitchen:

In that picture, I strapped it to our rolling luggage cart thing that we never use, since all our suitcases have wheels.  When I actually used it, I strapped it to my (VERY FULL) suitcase and pulled her that way.

My basic review is: flawed, but still better than the alternative.

First of all, you are paying fifteen dollars for a strap.  If I had known exactly what I was getting, I probably would have tried to make one myself.  When their patent runs out, this thing is going to be widely available and a lot cheaper.

It does strap a car seat to a rolling suitcase and that works pretty well.  I didn’t have to take a stroller and it allowed me to only pull one thing, instead of trying to push a stroller with a car seat on it and pull my suitcase at the same time.  It works only if your suitcase is incredibly full.  But, traveling with a baby, that shouldn’t be a problem.  When I tried it with an empty suitcase (in the testing phase, which is why I tried with the luggage cart and took that picture), it didn’t work at all.  I was going to use the luggage cart thing if it didn’t work with the full suitcase on the day we left.

My advice, if you are going to use this, is to be shorter than I am.  Which doesn’t bode well for most of you because I am not that tall.  (I’m five foot seven inches.)  To make this work, you have to pull the suitcase at a pretty good angle, to keep the car seat from dragging along the ground.  So I was basically dragging a good hundred pounds (suitcase, car seat, baby) behind me and leaning over the whole time.  (And walking ten million miles, see above re: Extreme Economy Parking, plus both airports.)  The next day, I was so sore.  (My uncle and mother gave me backrubs so that I would recover before I had to do it again going the other way.)

It is also somewhat unstable and only goes in one direction.  So I had to make little circles every time I wanted to turn around.  I assume there is some variation in this depending on what suitcase you strap it to, so if you are using one, you might want to play around before deciding which suitcase to pack.  (I packed our cheapest one because it is bright red and easy to spot.)  But, you’ll have to pack all those suitcases full to test them because it doesn’t work on an empty suitcase.

Another huge downfall, which is not the fault of the Traveling Toddler Strap, but the airline, is that I gate checked my suitcase, pretending it was a stroller.  But since it wasn’t a stroller, the airline didn’t bring it back to the gate for me, but sent it to luggage claim instead.  Which meant that I was carrying my backpack on my back, carrying the car seat under one arm (we lucked out and got to take it on the plane for free both ways and Elizabeth had her own seat), and holding Elizabeth’s hand or carrying her on the other side.  All the way to baggage claim.  Which was five terminals away and involved a train, in one case.  If I were doing it again, I would either put a giant sign on the outside of my suitcase (DO NOT SEND TO BAGGAGE CLAIM, BRING TO GATE) or just take the suitcase on board with me and deal with not gate checking it.  (I am an optimist, I gate checked it both directions, not learning my lesson the first time.)

On the trip home, I didn’t strap Elizabeth into her car seat and use the thing as a stroller.  Instead, I let her walk or carried her and just used it as a car seat transportation device.  Which is much better on the arms and back, but still a pain, especially in the parking lot where I like to have all toddlers nicely contained.

So, overall, it was better than taking a stroller along as well as the rolling suitcase and the car seat, but still a pain.  My advice is to use it if you are traveling alone, but if you have another adult with you, or a child capable of pulling a suitcase, take a stroller instead.

Disclaimer: Traveling Toddler has no idea I exist.  I bought this thing (for a lot of money, considering that it is a STRAP) and my whole review is unsolicited.  However, I think I will rent out my strap, if you don’t want to buy one.  How about five dollars to rent?  I’ll mail it to you and you mail it back to me when you are done.