I remember wondering if I'd be better off checking my pram or buying a carry on pram before my first solo international trip with my toddler. Unfortunately, none of my friends had done a 30-hour solo trip with their kids, so I couldn't seek advice from them.
I knew a carry on pram would be useful for naps inside the terminal, but I wondered how I could possibly manage a toddler, a carry on suitcase, a laptop bag, and a carry on pram whilst walking from the entrance of the plane to my seat! I just don’t have enough hands right? Or so I thought.
As my pre-solo-trip anxiety set in, I ended up purchasing a carry-on pram and THERE IS NO GOING BACK for me! Hopefully, my experience will help you make up your mind on what’s best for you and your situation in regard to traveling with kids.
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Is a Carry On Pram Worth It?
There’s no doubt flying with children is exhausting, but there are ways to make life easier for us as parents. In the plane itself, booking an airplane bassinet is a must if your child is under the weight and age limit for it. Inside the terminal, a pram will make a huge difference when it comes to your child’s comfort and your ability to quickly travel to your next gate or to the baggage area.
My personal experience is that a carry on pram is worth it for two main categories of reasons:
- for speed and
- to help carry stuff (your child obviously, but also your other bags, toys and snacks)
How a Carry On Pram Helps Parents in the Terminal
A carry on pram stands out as a recent invention that significantly simplifies the life of parents travelling with their kid(s). This is true of course at our destination, but in the case of carry-on prams, the main point of difference is that it can truly improve our overall experience at the airport and traveling to and from the airport:
It Saves Space in the Taxi
The benefit of having a small pram extends beyond the airport. For me, traveling with a carry on pram has sometimes meant I could order a regular taxi instead of a maxi taxi. Where I live, a maxi cab is pricier than a regular cab and there are fewer of them, so the carry on pram means I can get to the airport faster and cheaper.
It’s Allowed All the Way to the Plane’s Door
Unlike bulkier strollers that require gate-checking, a carry on pram can accompany you right up to the aircraft's door. I've been on flights where strollers needed tagging and gate-checking well before boarding. Let me tell you, it's highly inconvenient if you're trying to let your little one sleep as long as possible.
I’ve also seen gates where gate-checked items have to be dropped off a good 100 meters before the plane’s door. That’s not great if you don’t have enough hands to carry an infant and toddler, plus the rest of your carry-on items.
No Need to Wait for Gate-Check Items
When I land and the aircraft’s door opens, I like to get moving as soon as possible, whether it’s to my next gate or to the baggage claim.
But with gate-checked strollers, you can face extended waits. You might be among the first to disembark but end up being the last to leave the gate due to delays in retrieving your stroller. With a carry on pram, you're in control and ready to go as soon as you step off the plane.
Faster Travel to the Next Gate
Short connections are especially stressful when travelling with kids and one of the main reasons I like having a carry on pram is the peace of mind it affords for efficient travel within the terminal.
Navigating through busy or large airports with a carry-on pram is a lot more efficient than walking. A carry on pram also removes the stress of waiting for a gate-checked stroller as mentioned earlier. I really can’t picture myself running with my toddler in my arms, a backpack on and my rolling suitcase. With a carry on stroller I know I’m not exposing myself to that risk at all.
Naps Between Connections
Children thrive on routine and your child may feel more comfortable and secure in their own pram, which can be particularly useful on long journeys. A pram provides a comfortable space for your child to nap or rest during layovers. My experience is that a well-rested child behaves a lot better on flights, so I don’t try to keep my daughter awake if she’s tired. I’m all in for airport naps and it has served me well.
Your Child Always has a Seat
Having a pram with you inside the airport guarantees your child always has a comfortable seat, regardless of how crowded the food court or terminal may be. It also provides them with their protected personal space while waiting in lines or during boarding, while all the adults have to stand inside each other’s bubbles.
Can Carry Other Bags
Inevitably, children will want to walk and run in the terminal, so they won't use the pram the entire time. During those moments, I use my carry on pram to give my back and shoulders a break. I use it for my laptop bag, diaper bag, or my personal carry on luggage. It’s always a welcome rest!
My Take on Flying with a Carry On Pram on International Flights
For me, a carry on pram is an invaluable companion on international trips. It makes me faster, it significantly reduces my stress of missing connections and it gives me an option for naps on the go. Hopefully you’ve found some useful information here to help you plan your family’s next international trip!
Wondering "what kind of stroller can I take on a plane", check out this article, everything you need to know about flying with a stroller.