A new alternative to schlepping gear on family trips

Schleppers no more

Schleppers no more

Ask any family traveler to describe the most annoying part of traveling with kids and he or she will tell you quickly: schlepping the gear.

Between strollers, high chairs, and Pack-N-Plays, moms and dads often exert more energy carrying baby accessories than they do carrying the babies themselves. Trust me when I tell you this, people: I’ve had the sore shoulders to prove it.

This is where Babierge comes in. The Albuquerque, N.M.-based company rents unwieldy gear of all shapes and sizes to parents in 22 different U.S. markets. Prices usually range from $6 to about $15 per item per day. In many cases, the Babierge people will even pick up and drop off items, and (when applicable) set up items that might be too confusing.

I learned of this great company during a recent chat with a local mom. Two weeks later, after chatting with the company founder and the two women who run the Babierge outpost in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, I wrote up this Q&A for AFAR.com (one of my recurring clients).

What struck me about the interviews was the breadth and depth of thought that has gone into the Babierge product offerings. Not only does the company offer “typical” items such as high chairs and BOB jogging strollers, but it also offers “toy packages” and “book packages,” which essentially are small (and customizable!) collections of toys or books for those families who don’t want to have to worry about bringing that stuff when they travel, either.

These real-world options indicate clearly that real-life moms and dads are the people behind this company. In an age where entrepreneurs often do anything to make a buck, the authenticity is refreshing. For that reason alone, I’m happy to try out the service on our next trip.

Have backpack, will (family) travel

G and me on a hike last week

G and me on a hike last week

I’m not a gear head, but when it comes to traveling with babies, I’m not going to lie: I sort of geek out about the equipment I love.

This explains why I adore my taxicab-yellow BOB Ironman fixed front-wheel jogging stroller. It also explains why I am in love with my pale green, external-frame Kelty child carrying backpack (and the sunshade/rain visor accessory).

We’ve owned both pieces of equipment since L was about six weeks old. Which is to say these tools have served our family for all three kids.

The jogging stroller doesn’t stray too much from home—while we’ve brought it with us on a few road trips here and there, I use it mostly when I have to cram in a run with one of the kids in tow (literally). The backpack, however—let’s just say that thing has visited more states than most of my friends. It’s also been to England.

I love the pack for its versatility. I also like it because I can’t comfortably wear Ergos or Baby Bjorns.

Technically, you’re not supposed to take kids in there until they’re old enough to hold up their heads when they are sitting or standing. I admit—I’ve been tooling around with Baby G in there since I used it to bring her to our town’s July 4 parade (which, technically, was two weeks after her 6-month birthday).

Since then, I’ve used the thing at least once a week. Sometimes on hikes. Sometimes at Costco. Sometimes for regular Saturday grocery-shopping at Safeway. Sometimes I’ll just put her in there when I’ve got stuff to do around the house. Sometimes I get her in when I need to finish a story and I don’t feel like plopping her in the seat at the foot of my stand-up desk.

She loves the pack because it’s spacious and it enables her to stand and see what’s going on from a bird’s eye view. I love the pack because it’s comfortable and I know she’s safe.

(It also has a TON of storage space.)

Of course the big question will come once Baby G outgrows these trusty devices; what do I do with them then? Do I sell ‘em? Do I keep them for posterity? Do I give them to friends? Letting go of favorite family travel gear can be difficult. I hope I’ve got the fortitude to make the right call when it’s time.

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