One of the most common questions I get asked is about how the kids handle getting around. This isn’t just applicable about our travels in Thailand but of travelling with kids anywhere. That said, it’s perhaps more relevant for places like Thailand because footpaths (or sidewalks if you will) are not always as common or “user friendly” as they are at home or in other, more developed, places.
Generally, we try and get our kids to walk when we can. This is for a couple of reasons. First because it’s good for them, and second it means our kids set the pace for Amanda and I, and helps us be more in tune with how our kids are experiencing things.
But kids get tired. Or refuse to walk. Or in some places it’s not that walker friendly (like when there aren’t any footpaths). This is where travelling with kids can get tricky and where my best kid travelling advice comes into play: a high quality, lightweight, umbrella (folding) stroller.
Sure you can carry a child, if they are light enough, and you have only one (per parent anyway) and it’s safe enough but generally a good quality umbrella stroller is easier and safer, and if it is lightweight it doesn’t add too much to your luggage.
Where to look for information
There’s lots of strollers to chose from, and it can be hard finding the right one. Luckily, there is quite a good number websites out there that give some good advice on finding and selecting the best umbrella stroller, with reviews on great lightweight strollers.
I’ve been asked about and seen some speculation about renting strollers in Thailand but have yet to come across any decent information. If you have any please pass it on.
Things to consider
When looking to buy an umbrella stroller there’s a few things to keep in mind. The first is the dimensions of the stroller itself. A lighter weight makes it easier to carry around when not in use, and help with airline weight limits if you need to check it in. Some airlines will not include child equipment, but some will. And if it is small enough when folded up some airlines will let you take it to the gate or stairs, to be then checked in at the very end. This is quite useful, let me tell you.
The other things to keep in mind have to do with durability. Not everywhere in Thailand is stroller friendly. Footpaths can be in poor shape or you may need to walk on tracks or roads. Solid polyethylene wheels are much better for taking rough treatment than inflatable, pneumatic wheels. And finally, as expected, higher quality materials and construction ensure the stroller can go the difference. Sadly this tends to have a correlation to price but I’ve found spending more on a good quality stroller pays off as it goes the distance and can be used for multiple kids due to the longer lifespan.
Cheaper umbrella strollers have their pros and cons. They tend to be smaller and lighter, which makes them easier to transport when not in use. But if you’re tall then they are less comfortable to use. And they tend to lack the same quality breaks or safety harness. Unless you plan to use them only in airports or malls I’d opt to buy a better one.
Not everyone wants to take a stroller, or they are going to places – like Bangkok – where strollers are not worth the effort. It’s worth considering the alternatives. For smaller kids that do not weigh too much you can always carry them. To make the job easier (and safer) you can buy baby carriers, like the famous Baby Bjorn, or slings.
These certainly are much more portable than a stroller, and can be used in a lot more places. That said, I’ve walked along a slippery footpath after it rained and slipped while wearing a carrier. While my daughter Sarah escaped with nothing more than a scare it did teach me a lesson about the stability of a stroller.
And finally there’s some people who advocate leashes for kids when they are too old to carry. I see them every now and then (both here in England and overseas) but have never seen the appeal, as it seems a bit, I don’t know, demeaning. But to each their own…