Olivia Mai, founder of baby equipment rental specialists, The Stork Exchange, has been operating at Dublin Airport for the last 6 years. In a Q&A, she gives us some tips on how to make traveling with infants easier and some rookie mistakes to avoid!
What’s the worst thing you’ve seen at the airport?
On a work trip last week, I saw one mum traveling solo with her baby. She was flying Ryanair and carried: a buggy, two cabin bags (the cabin bag allowance for a ‘Priority’ booking), a baby bag, (free as part of your baby’s allowance with Ryanair) and of course, her baby! When she got to the gate, she had to collapse the buggy, and put bubs in a sling… one handed.
I didn’t see her after that, but presumably she carried the baby, buggy and 3 bags down the stairs, left the buggy at the steps of the aircraft, before boarding with the baby in the sling and three bags. Sounds ludicrous, but I’m guilty of something similar! I travelled with my husband and two kids a couple of years ago, we brought 8 bags (2 “each”) with us, and a pram…. We were like a circus going through the airport!
It might seem like great value when you’re booking your summer holiday in January, but it is sooooo much easier if you don’t overload yourself at the airport. Consider a check-in bag!
Do you recommend bringing a car seat on holiday or renting one?
The car seat conundrum! They are so cumbersome to carry, yet car rental companies have a terrible reputation for child seats, with good reason. We always recommend to either bring your own but pack it well or hire from a specialist. The car seat will have to go in the hold of the aircraft so make sure to put it in a protective cover and pad it out with towels and jackets. Or look for specialist, independent baby equipment rental companies like The Stork Exchange. They have much better-quality equipment and guarantee seats are clean etc. Same goes for buggies!
What’s the story with going through security with kids?
At Dublin airport there is a ‘family’ lane that you can use, which is slightly wider than normal so you can bring your buggy. You will be asked to collapse your buggy and put it through the scanner. You can bring pre-prepared bottles of milk / formula and food, but you may be asked to taste it. Security can sometimes take 30-40 minutes to clear, especially in busy season. Remember this and the fact that little legs will take longer to get from security down to the boarding gates.
What equipment can I bring on an airplane?
All the airlines differ but as a rule, you can bring 2 pieces of baby equipment for free. Ryanair is quite specific on their website – a buggy and/or a car seat or a travel cot. I’ve seen that enforced too; a passenger brought a trike instead of a buggy and was charged at the gate for it. Always check on the airline website what the baby equipment allowance is… Oh, and a nappy bag is exactly that – a small changing bag for nappies and bottles. Don’t think of it as an opportunity for an additional carry-on!
The Stork Exchange specialise in renting quality equipment for travel purposes. See the website for further information.