How To Choose The Right Travel Systemby Adam Collins
Hi Ladies and Gents; My name is Adam and I am a single father to a 6-month-old baby girl. Today I want to talk about Travel systems. Now there are two real reasons I want to talk about this;
First off I feel it’s a bit of a taboo subject, now I’ll be upfront and honest it’s probably the biggest, most expensive investment decision any parents are going to have to make when expecting. It’s this reason I don’t feel that there are that many guides, as it were, on choosing a travel system. Just a load of reviews that you’re still left to compare between.
Secondly, we got this horrendously wrong when we chose our travel system. Ok, so I said we there. Bit of background, my gorgeous wife passed away in March this year leaving me with a 4-month-old baby to care for and raise, in a way that will make my wife proud. But that’s really a story for another time, so let’s jump back to it.
First impressions, you’re going to go into you’re chosen baby store and, I’m not going to lie to you. You will be overwhelmed by the sheer choice of colours, sizes, designs, styles, and let’s not forget the big one, prices that are on offer. This is normal, it must have taken us at least 3 visits, and watching youtube videos just to get our head around the differences between them all. But I eventually started to see it like this. Essentially, you get a car seat, stroller and carrycot, all on some form of wheeled base. Most packages also include an Isofix base for the car too. They all just vary in size, style, folding style, colour and again I’m going to say its price.
Now what a lot of people will tell you first off is your choice is going to depend a lot on the type of car you drive. Working in the motor trade I’ll just go ahead and say this is not necessarily true, unless you drive a really tiny car. So often people will change their cars when expecting. For me, there are only 2 good reasons for this. Safety and Reliability. But again I’m off-topic, and that’s something for another time. Ok, so my wife drove a Fiat 500L, huge boot, high ride height 5 doors and plenty of room. I drive the complete opposite end of the spectrum a BMW 1 Series Coupe, Tiny back seat, 2 doors and a boot. Both cars easily took any travel system we tried them with. Please don’t stress about the design of your car when choosing a travel system, most all cars take them easily. Manufacturers take travel systems into account when building the back seat and the layout of the boot.
So now we’ve debunked one myth and probably put your mind at ease a little bit let’s talk about where we went wrong, and this is where it happened. As I said earlier Essentially you’re buying a car seat, a carrycot and a stroller all with some form of wheeled base. Now we decided that they all do the same job, they all have a car seat and they all can hold a baby to go for walks. So we decided to go for something plain in colour (just in case we had another), and something cheaper. This really is where we went wrong was going for the cheaper option. Before you start thinking I’m after your money and I want you to buy the most expensive one, let me explain.
For the first month of our babies life I was off work, we were sharing the load and using both cars. We didn’t really have any issues. About 3-4 weeks after I went back to work and my wife has been doing things all by herself, my wife turned to me and said, we need to get a different travel system. When I asked why I was bombarded with it’s too heavy and it takes too long to fold down, it’s too hard to use, all manner of reasons. My response was typically male. You’ll get used to it. Ok so as I’ve already touched on. Our baby girl was 4 months old and suddenly I’m doing this all alone, no more wife. I’m using the travel system day in and day out on my own. I think I lasted about a week before I started to really get fed up of this travel system we had. Yes, it was heavy, and wow it was such a pain to fold up or down in a hurry, or worse in the rain. I remember thinking to myself it wasn’t this hard in the store or the first few weeks. I think two reasons for this. 1, you kind of get a little honeymoon phase when your babies born, similar to a new relationship, everything is amazing and there’s nothing you can’t do. 2, that baby has gotten heavier and you are more tired. So yes one day I’m in a car park and I realise that we made a mistake, my wife was right. I gave it another week, used both cars to see if it was just mine, but nope. Next thing I know I’m in the nearest baby store asking for help finding a new travel system.
So here’s what I realised for a bit more money you can definitely get something lighter. Lightness is important, not just the car seat or the wheeled base, but the combined weight. I think one thing people overlook when buying these is, babies grow. They get heavier, and that does have an impact on combined weights. The lighter it is, the easier it is to push, maneuverer around stores, and get in and out the cupboard under the stairs or the cars.
The next thing I realised is for a little bit more money. You can get one which folds really easily. Easily, as in, when you get the hang of it and you can take the car seat off and fold it, throw it in the car and be gone it’s effortless. Don’t get me wrong they all take practice but for a bit more money they really do become easier. It’s worth it just so you don’t have to pay for parking again because you’ve been more than 15 minutes exiting the car park.
The last thing I learnt is that after these two categories all you’re paying for is style. Or a brand name, Now that’s up to you. That decision is totally yours.
So let me try and sum this up. Yes travel systems are a hard choice, and they are a very, very scary prospect, you’re going to spend the best part of a thousand pounds on this. So my top tips;
1) Choose one which is light. It doesn’t have to be the lightest or smallest just so long as you remember, babies get heavier, making the whole system heavier and harder to handle. Choose one light enough for you. Gentleman remember your partner is going to be tired when you go back to work, and pregnancy takes a lot out of you, let her choose the weight, she’s going to be the one using it most.
2) Choose one which is easy to fold, emphasis here, for you! Not your friend or relative who recommended it, one which is easy for you! Practice with it in the store, and not just once or twice after being shown. Play with them, do it with a couple of bags in one hand or even holding the car seat part. See which one is most comfortable for you and works for the way you work.
3) Don’t stress about your car. Now all of the car seats near enough weigh the same to start with, and once the Isofix base is in, practice makes perfect. 3 door or 5 door your babies going to get heavier, so you’ll get stronger. Focus on the practical things folding unfolding and the weight of the combined system. The last thing I can say is please make this an individual choice. So many mums I’ve met have regretted their choice in car seats because a friend was getting this one and they wanted to match, or a relative had this one and they recommended it. Having a baby is unique to everyone and their circumstances so make your choice of travel system unique to you and your circumstances.
I really hope reading this can help with your choice, don’t be afraid to spend that little bit extra for ease of use, it really is worth it.