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.

Why Stop at Breast Pumps?

The new set-up at Hard Rock Chicago.

The new set-up at Hard Rock Chicago.

It’s about time.

That’s pretty much exactly what I thought earlier this week when I read about a new program at the Hard Rock Chicago through which nursing moms can request (for a tax-deductible fee) hospital-grade Medela breast pumps to use during their stays.

A breast pump! From the hotel! To save moms the hassle of bringing theirs from home! In a word, it’s GENIUS.

I know my wife would have loved this kind of amenity during our first few trips with (and the first few trips without) L and R. I’m sure thousands of other traveling mommas feel the same way.

Still, I’ve got to ask: Why stop at breast pumps?

If hotels as big and popular as the Hard Rock see some value in a family oriented amenity like this one, why aren’t more brands following suit? In a world where families comprise a growing part of the traveling public, this kind of program should be vying with offerings from other hotels through which family guests can reserve everything from jogging strollers and car seats to bottle warmers and baby food processors, all for similarly nominal fees.

Heck, at the very least, more properties should add formula sleeves (like these) to minibar menus.

(It’s not like it’s that much of a stretch; most minibars sell condoms as part of “Intimacy Kits” these days anyway.)

Please don’t misconstrue my plea; I’m not writing this as a dad pining for equal treatment. Instead, I’m responding to the situation as a parent—an equal part of a traveling unit.

At the end of the day, the easier hotels make it for all of us family folk to travel, the more we’ll want to take the kids and hit the road.

Let’s hope other brands learn from the Hard Rock and copy the approach. Sure, these types of amenities help the big hotel chains build loyalty. But in the end, we families benefit most of all.

What family friendly amenity would you like to see hotel chains adopt in widespread fashion?

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