Travelling with kids without the car

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Travelling with kids without the car 1

Travelling with children in the car is easy enough.

If push comes to shove, you can always just bung it all in.

Trains and planes are another matter.

You can only take so much luggage and you’ve got to lug a car seat along for use at the other end.

As I’m not a driver and I often travel alone with my now 3 year old, I’ve had to seriously master the art of this over the last few years, and these are my top tips:

Tips for Travelling Without a Car

  1. Get the lightest car seat you can
  2. Get car seat wheels or bag
  3. Get a child carrier
  4. Organise your packing ruthlessly
  5. Research supermarkets at the other end
  6. Get supplies delivered when you get there
  7. Borrow or buy books when you get there
  8. Leave the 4th, 5th and 6th pairs of shoes at home!
  9. Check luggage in the day before
  10. Send luggage ahead

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1. Get the lightest car seat you can

Obviously, you want the most comfortable seat available but most are unbelievably heavy.

I tried loads out in our local department store and could barely lift them.

So started a mission to find a lightweight, good value seat I could actually carry.  After copious research the lightest I found was the Britax Prince which is only 13lbs and cost £60/$90 – it’s not a fancy seat but it’s done us proud on numerous journeys.  Travelling with kids without the car 2

The Cossato Zoomi is just 11.6lbs

You can still get the Britax Prince on Amazon UK, but there are now more seats available in both Europe and North America which are the same weight or lighter.

The two real lightweights are the Cossato Zoomi in Europe, which is just 11.6 lbs and the Even Flo Tribute in North America which is 12.2 lbs.  You might not want to use the Even Flo Tribute day in, day out, but it is particularly good value at less than $60, so may be cheap enough to act as a second seat when you’re not taking the car.

The Maxi Cosi Pearl in Europe and Safety 1st Complete Air Convertible in N. America are a little heavier at 13.2lbs and 14.51bs and the Britax Eclipse and Britax Roundabout 50 Classic a little heavier again at 15.5lbs.

2. Get car seat wheels or bag

Travelling with kids without the car 3
 The Go Go Babyz Travelmate
adds wheels to your car seat

I totally depend on my car seat wheels – I’ve got the Go Go Babyz Travelmate.

The wheels strap on and allow me to steer the car seat round stations and airports with one hand, whilst pulling an enormous case with the other. At the other end the wheels unstrap and the car seat buckles into hire or friends’ cars or taxis.

You can buy the Travel MateTravelling with kids without the car 4 from Amazon in Europe but at silly prices so I would recommend you import directly from Travelmate‘s distributor in Holland for about £50 plus shipping

Britax also do a Car Seat Travel Cart or as an alternative a Car Seat Bag which has wheels on the bottom so you can pull it and straps on the back so you can carry it like a ruck sack.

3. Get a child carrier

The Little Life Voyager is brilliant
for hiking and the beach

Although, my Travelmate is great for stations and airports and actually manages all the bumps of south London’s streets, you wouldn’t want to use it for extended strolling or if you’re going walking or to the beach where you really need a child carrier.

We have the Little Life Voyager – available from Toys R Us in the UK – which has been really well used as we do plenty of walking and hiking.

It folds up flat in our case so I have actually managed the car seat, a large case and a ruck sack on my own with a small child.

The Little Life Voyager is certainly not cheap but there are a range of child carriers available from £60/$90 and they are often available on eBay.

4. Organise your packing ruthlessly

You can only take as much as you can carry or the weight limit on trains and planes so you do have to brutally organise your packing and only take what you need.
I have a packing list and get everything together first before I start packing, so I can squash stuff inside each other and squeeze everything in.

5. Research supermarkets at the other end

Find out what local shops are available before you get there, what they stock and their opening hours, so that you only take disposable stuff that you definitely won’t be able to buy when you’re there.

6. Get supplies delivered when you get there

Even better, if you possibly can, organise an online supermarket delivery to arrive when you get there so that you don’t have to carry stuff or worry about going shopping when you’re still finding your way about.
Alternatively you could use a specialist baby delivery service such as or Babies Travel Lite.

7.  Borrow or buy books when you get there

I am a bit rubbish at this but there are so many times I have regretted packing some enormous tome I’m in the middle of.  You can almost always borrow or buy something cheap when you get there.

8. Leave the 4th, 5th and 6th pair of shoes at home!

Shoes are second only to books in weighing your luggage down – I’m learning to be brutal about how many pairs of shoes I truly need when we go away.

9. Check luggage in the day before

If you’re going to be on your own by plane and you can’t cut the luggage down, it may be easier to check luggage in the day before, although you’ve still got to handle it at the other end.

10. Send luggage ahead

I haven’t used these but there are services such as First Luggage and Carry My Luggage which will pick up your luggage and deliver it to your destination.  If you’ve got the budget, when you’re flying, and will really struggle managing it at the airport, they might be worth considering.

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Hello, I'm Luci, Editor of Mums Make Lists. MML is full of creative tips I’ve put together to bring calm and balance to the lives of busy mums and their families.

11 thoughts on “Travelling with kids without the car”

  1. This is excellent advice!

    I live in the U.S., and even though I’m in a major city with public transit, I find that a lot of middle-class parents assume it is just impossible or unsafe to take children on transit other than airplanes. In fact, buses and trains are safer than cars, even for babies. I love the way not driving makes it possible for me to experience the trip WITH my son and interact more.

    Your recommendations of specific car seats are very helpful. Once my son reached booster-seat size, we bought a lightweight backless booster for travel, but when he was in a full car seat we didn’t really consider its weight in choosing it, and it WAS heavy! We brought it on only one trip; for others, we either did not ride in cars at all or borrowed a car seat at our destination, which may be an option when visiting friends or relatives–they might know someone whose child recently outgrew a car seat.

    I hope you won’t mind if I share some of my advice on this subject:

    Overnight train trip with a 3-year-old

    Visiting New York City and Philadelphia with a 6-year-old, using trains and buses

    Daily commuting by city bus with a 2-year-old (We did this until he was 5.)

  2. Car seats on wheels are a LIFESAVER, especially if you happen to be flying to see your in-laws, which stresses you out anyway. (Note the use of the second person there, a clever literary device intended to provide a place for the author of this comment to hide.)

  3. great tips, especially the car seat wheels – thats genius, i didn’t even know they existed. We actually ended up buying a car seat from argos when we went to Scotland on the train. It was cheaper than hiring it with the hire car. I’m featuring this post on the Sunday Parenting Party this weekend.

  4. Oh, that is a great list of information. We will be traveling for the first time by plane soon. I’m trying to figure it all out. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

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