You can rent baby equipment and gear in most major cities (from Europe and the United States to Canada and down under). We’ve tracked down various websites and services and gathered some helpful tips.
Note: If you’re wondering what I’m referring to, you can rent high chairs, strollers, cribs, pack ‘n plays, baskets full of toys, sand castle toys, beach chairs, change tables, baby play mats, baby swings and more. You can make travel work with the clothes on your back if you wanted to.
(1) For longer stays, negotiate rates. We’ve contacted companies directly and asked for reduced rates if we book multiple items for longer stays. It has worked every time.
(2) Have hotel or vacation destination address handy before filling out order forms online to ensure you’re within delivery zones. Especially when dealing with smaller islands (like St. Thomas, St. Johns etc) you’ll want to ensure your rental company drops off to your specific resort.
(3) Use multiple companies. If you find specific items at different rental companies within the same city, use them all. You don’t need to pick from one only. We’ve received a crib from one, a stroller from another and so on.
(4) Confirm delivery and pick-up fees. A lot of rental websites will include these fees if you book enough items or spend enough $$. If you’re only selecting one item, there might be an additional drop off and/or pick-up fee. Again, contact the company directly and negotiate. It might be worth your money to select another item to get free delivery and so on.
(5) Inquire about cleanliness. Some places use green products and really ensure all items are meticulously cleaned before going out to the next family. Others, well, lets just say we’ve received some pretty gross strollers and car seats in our time. Now, we connect directly with the company to find out how much turnover they have (if it’s a tight turnaround you’re more likely to get dirtier items). No one wants to have to wipe down their items upon receipt.
(6) Weigh out the cost of renting versus your sanity. Knowing that you don’t have to worry about misplaced car seats through the airline or damaged strollers might be worth the $50 rental fee. Have a chat with your family and see what makes sense for you.
(7) For toy packages, we recommend calling ahead of time to ensure you’re ordering the right items for your family. Most places say, “For $40 a week you can rent a bin full of toys” and then you select the age, but in a few cases, the items have been inappropriate for our kids. If you let them know the gender and age and directly inquire about what you’ll be getting, you’re more likely to get your money’s worth.
In short, to really take advantage of renting baby equipment, connect with the company and establish a relationship in advance of your trip. We’ve received some impeccable service because we’ve ended up exchanging cell numbers before our travels.
We love using these companies as a way to test out various toys and brands before making a purchase as well.