Strollers aren’t the only way to get your little one from here to there. There are plenty of stroller alternatives that will work just as well or maybe even better.
Why Would You Need An Alternative To A Stroller?
Strollers really are wonderful. They are comfortable for babies, toddlers, and kids. On top of that, they are convenient for parents because they have drink holders and places to store jackets and diaper bags.
So, why would you need a stroller alternative when strollers are so perfect?
Well… if you happen to have a child (like mine) who HATES to ride in a stroller, finding a stroller alternative is a must-do.
As soon as Eli could walk, he adamantly refused to ride in his stroller. It was a fight to get him strapped into his stroller and then a battle to keep him there. His only interest in the stroller was to push it himself. That was ok sometimes. But all the time – totally not feasible. We would never get anywhere.
It was a constant struggle until I got creative and found some stroller alternatives that actually worked for our family.
Stroller Alternatives For Airline Travel
Usually, we could get by without a stroller even in circumstances where it would be much more convenient to use one. But, there was one place where we absolutely needed a stroller or a stroller alternative – the airport.
We recently moved to Hawaii, but when Eli was young, the airport closest to our house was Denver International Airport. If you have ever been there you know that Denver International Airport is gigantic. It is a long walk from parking to check-in and then a long walk to security, and then a long walk to your gate. Not ideal for parents with little kids.
We fly a lot as a family so as soon as Eli started walking and decided he was done with strollers, we started looking for stroller alternatives before our next trip.
We also found that TSA Precheck is incredibly helpful when navigating any busy airport. Read- TSA Precheck Benefits for Families to learn how to sign up.
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Backpack carriers are the perfect stroller alternative for airline travel while your little one is still little and not too heavy to lug around. Although most backpack carriers will hold kids up to 45 pounds, 35 pounds would be the most I’d want to carry through the airport.
The carrier can either be gate checked or put in the overhead bin after boarding the plane.
PROS- It is nice to have your hands free when checking bags and going through security. Also, having a backpack carrier for hiking on your vacation is nice.
CONS- You have to carry your child on your back. Even the best backpack carrier can get uncomfortable after a long travel day.
My Favorite Backpack Carrier-
I loved my Osprey Child Carrier Backpack. It was very comfortable and had so many extras like a shade and rain cover.
A wagon is an excellent alternative to a stroller. In the last few years, I’ve seen more and more families using a wagon as a stroller at airports. It is also a great option for families with more than one child.
You can gate-check a wagon just like a stroller before boarding your flight.
PROS- A wagon has lots of room to load other carry-on bags, jackets, and food. Also, if you are heading to the beach on your vacation, it is nice to have a wagon to load up beach chairs and toys along with your kids. Wagons are also very affordable.
CONS- Although many wagons fold up, they are still very bulky and heavy.
My Favorite Wagon –
We’ve had the foldable MAC Sports Wagon for years and it is basic but very sturdy and durable.
I had never even heard of the ride-on suitcase until one of my friends bought one for her son. He absolutely loved it and was always so excited to use it when traveling. What a genius idea!
The ride-on suitcase is small enough to be a carry-on so you can load it up with snacks, a blanket, and fun toys to keep your child busy during the flight. It has a handle to pull your little one through the airport when they get tired of walking, or they can pull the ride-on suitcase along themselves.
PROS- The ride-on suitcase is great because kids can have all of their favorite things within reach and it is also a unique ride-on toy.
CONS- Unlike a stroller where your child is strapped in, you’ll have to keep a watchful eye on your child while they are riding to make sure they don’t tumble off.
The Best Ride-On Suitcase–
The Trunki Kids Ride-On Suitcase is a great option. There are quite a few different suitcases to choose from- fire truck, unicorn, bee, and ladybug just to name a few. It is also much more affordable than some of the other ride-on suitcases.
Car Seat Travel Cart
Lugging a huge toddler car seat around the airport is quite the challenge. A car seat travel cart not only makes it easier to transport your toddler’s car seat, but it is also a great alternative to a stroller.
For some families, it is beneficial to have their child’s car seat on the plane. Some kids will feel more comfortable strapped into their familiar car seat on a flight.
But, I must say this option isn’t ideal for all families. I tried this once at the gushing recommendation of a friend. She loaned her cart to me for a flight with Eli. Sadly, Eli wasn’t one of those toddlers who loved his car seat. He absolutely hated being strapped into it both in the airport and on the plane and let everyone within earshot know how he felt.
That being said, the car seat travel cart does work great for some families.
PROS- The car seat travel cart is a great way to transport both your child and their car seat.
CONS – Car seats are big and bulky to transport through the airport even on a well-fitting travel cart and some toddlers (like mine) don’t like being strapped into a car seat for long periods of time.
The Best Car Seat Travel Cart-
The Britax Car Seat Travel Cart has great reviews and is reasonably priced. But, do your research and make sure that the cart you buy fits the car seat you have.
The Scooter Suitcase is another clever stroller alternative. It is similar to the ride-on suitcase but it actually has a scooter that your toddler can ride attached to the suitcase. The scooter part folds up for when you board the plane or if your child is tired of riding the scooter.
This scooter is a great way to get your toddler’s energy out if you have a long layover.
PROS- Toddlers love to ride scooters! The long journey through the airport will be much more fun if your toddler can ride their own scooter. It is also nice that the suitcase can hold everything your toddler needs for a long travel day- snacks, favorite toys, and a blanket or jacket.
CONS- Parents really need to keep their eye on their little ones to make sure they don’t run into anyone while they are riding their scooter suitcase.
Best Scooter Suitcase-
The Kiddietotes 3-D Hardside Scooter Ride-On Suitcase for Kids is a great scooter suitcase option. It is reasonably priced and there are quite a few different styles to choose from.
Stroller Alternatives For Families On The Go
These stroller alternatives are not ideal for traveling through the airport. But, they are great for visiting the zoo, or just going for a walk if your toddler doesn’t want to sit in a stroller.
A Strider Bike is the perfect stroller alternative. As soon as a toddler can walk, they can start to navigate on a balance bike like the Strider Bike. If your toddler refuses to ride in a stroller, chances are they will love to ride their own balance bike.
Although the Strider Bike isn’t ideal to take through the airport, if you take it apart it is small enough to fit in your checked luggage. We took Eli’s strider bike with us on several visits to Alaska and Hawaii and used it all the time in Colorado when we would go for long walks on paved bike paths.
PROS- Once your toddler gets the hang of riding a Strider Bike, they LOVE it. It is a great stroller alternative but also a great step to learning how to ride a bike.
CONS- Even young toddlers can get going really fast on a Strider Bike so you will need to make sure to have a helmet.
My Favorite Strider Bike-
The original Strider Bike is the best! The seat is adjustable so your toddler can use it for several years and the quality is superb.
Tricycle With Handle
If you have a toddler who wants to be active and in control, a tricycle with a handle is the perfect alternative to a stroller. Your toddler can pedal as long as they want but when they get tired they can still ride on the tricycle while you push it.
One of our favorite things to do in Denver was to go to the zoo. Eli loved when we brought his tricycle and let him “drive”.
PROS- Your active toddler can be pedaling and steering but because the tricycle has a handle, you are in control.
CONS- The tricycle is bulky and doesn’t fit into the car easily.
Best Tricycle With A Handle For An Active Toddler-
We lucked out and found Eli’s tricycle at a thrift store. I have seen some really expensive tricycles but would recommend not spending too much because toddlers will grow out of them fast. This tricycle on amazon is reasonably priced and the handle is removable so it will fit in the car easier.
If a stroller isn’t a good fit for your toddler, one of these stroller alternatives should work.
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