Aug 4, 2018

Kid-friendly Phoenix/Scottsdale Hotels and Resorts

Let's take a look at some of the most popular kid-friendly hotels and resorts we deliver to here in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. This isn't sponsored in any way, just a list of great places!

Westin Kierlind Villas - The regular resort area is nice, but the Villas is where it's at for families. Located in Scottsdale, the one- and two-bedroom villas come with a kitchen and living room. I know we love to have our separate space from our kids when we travel!  There's a pool there, plus you can also go over to the main resort and use their water park and pool too! It's a bit too far to walk (across the golf course) so there's a shuttle that runs frequently. They are super friendly and easy to work with. We are there a lot and drop off gear at the bell desk all the time for our guests.

(photo Westin Kierland Resort)

Marriott Canyon Villas - Part of the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort, the Canyon Villas also offer separate living room, kitchen and bedrooms for families.  We drop off their frequently as well for rentals and the staff is always friendly!  You can get up to 2 bedrooms (3 beds), a pull out sofa and 2 bathrooms in their rooms. Parking is also convenient outside each building so you wont be lugging your stuff through hallways for miles. Head over to the main resort to use the amenities there as well.
(photo JW Marriott Canyon Villas)

The Arizona Grand (and it's former sister property the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort below) feature an all-suite set up. Every room has a living room and separate bedroom with a door. Larger rooms are available as well.  The Arizona Grand has a water park with a few very large slides (48" minimum height requirement, but they also have a lazy river, wave pool, and more fun stuff for younger kids.

The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, like the Arizona Grand, also has an all suite resort. This is a place where we staycation in the early summer sometimes. We love their 1 and 2 bedroom casitas.  Those have an assigned covered parking spot, a two level room with 1 or 2 bedrooms, kitchenette, living room, dining area and a pull out sofa. The two main hotel buildings each have a pool, plus theres two more small pools in the casita areas. The big one, the River Ranch, as two pools, a baby pool, a slide, a lazy river, and an 18 hole mini-golf course. My kids LOVE it here.  (Fun fact, I worked here in accounting for 3 years while I was in college!)

One last one for your list is DV Luxury Properties rentals.They aren't a hotel but have some great family friendly rental homes in the Scottsdale area. The managers are very friendly and accomodating. Definitely check them out if your family needs a little more space.

Jul 25, 2018

Kid-Friendly Phoenix Hikes

It's been a minute (or a few million) but we're back to blogging! Our kids are much older, and there's a whole other child now, so it's time to get back to it! We're in the midst of summer here in Phoenix but let's talk about outdoor activities here with kids because I'm sure you're planning to come here when it's NOT over 115 degrees.

Grab one of our great Bob Revolution jogging stroller rentals or hiking backpack rentals and hit the trails.  

Some kid friendly trails that we like are:

White Tanks Waterfall Trail - there may or may not be an actual waterfall (usually not since it only rains 7" a year here), but there's usually at least a small pool at the the end of the trail, plus great views of the Phoenix area. There are hieroglyphs along the very wide trail with good explanations of everything along the way, plus a chance to see desert plants up close and personal.  The trail is pretty easy and you could even take a jogging stroller 3/4 of the way if really necessary.  There's a large playground near the trailhead and plenty of picnic areas as well. The trail itself is about a mile long (so two miles round trip). Our oldest walked the entire trail with no problem by age 5.  Enter off Olive Road in the far west valley. Here's a map.

Papago Park - Stroller-friendly trail with benches for resting. A cool window rock to climb into at the top! 1.2 miles. Enter at Papago Park Road on the west side of Galvin Parkway just north of Van Buren Street, Phoenix

Judith Tunnell Accessible trail - South Mountain Park Edcuational Center 10409 S Central Ave. Phoenix. Two 1/2 mile flat paved loops available. 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park - up for a short drive? 55 miles east of central Phoenix. This park shows off some beautiful landscapes.  Several accessible dirt paths for walking.

(photo:Boyce Thompson Arboretum)

Feb 21, 2014

Tour of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Rental Car Center

I had an hour and a half to kill between a 6am and 7:30am pick ups a few mornings ago so I thought I'd take a few photos and write up some tips on how to get through the rental car process as quickly as possible. It was a bit dark as the sun wasn't up and none of the counters were open yet! You may have already seen this on our Facebook page, but here's some more detailed information.

1. The facility has all the companies in one place and is off-site of the airport. You will take a big green and white shuttle bus over to the facility. There are lots of them so no need to run to catch one, another will come. It will take you about 45 mins - 1 hr from the time you land to deplane, go through customs if necessary, collect your baggage, and take the shuttle over. If you or the kids need a snack, there's a small snack bar with pre-made sandwiches, bagels, coffee, soda, chips, etc.

2. If you are meeting me there with rental items, head to your company's counter. I'll meet you just in front of their designated space inside the facility.  This way you don't have to take all your rental items on the shuttle bus from the airport.

3. Sign up in advance for any of the free express programs your company offers that allow you to bypass the check in line. The lines can get quite long here in the spring. It's free and can save you a LOT of time which is nice when you have kids along.  Budget is trying something new right now also. Instead of having you stand in line, you take a ticket (like the DMV) and sit down in their comfy chairs. They have a small play area for kids which is nice as well.  It's always one of the busiest counters though, so again, sign up for their Fastbreak program so you can get right to the car and get going.

4. Be aware that none of the companies guarantee they will have car seats available, and if they do they may not be up to your standards. We deliver at the facility and we are often cheaper for better (and clean) quality. Rental tax at the airport is almost 30% and you will pay that on everything from the rental car company including the car seat. (Ours is 6.3%).
5. When you leave, use the airline check-in kiosk at the rental facility if you haven't done so already. It will save you from a long line at the airport most likely.

6. Express bag check is coming soon to the facility, so definitely use that in the future too! Anything to make your trip on the bus and through the airport easier with the kids is worth it to me!

Feb 10, 2014

Day Trips from Phoenix: Part 1 - Sedona

We took the family up to Sedona for a day trip this weekend and I thought it'd be good idea to do a few posts about day trips that can be taken from the Phoenix area. So, here's part 1: Sedona.

Having been to Sedona several times but never doing anything "touristy" we thought it'd be fun to take a jeep tour of the area. We found a good deal on Deal Chicken (similar to Groupon) and decided to go for it.  The drive from Phoenix, depending on your starting point, is about 2 hours.  It's an easy trip up I-17 and if you have time to make an overnight stay in Sedona, there's some nice stopping points along the way including Montezuma Castle National Monument (just off I-17), Tuzigoot National Monument, and the small town of Jerome and Prescott (which would be a bit of a detour). If you do an overnight trip, here's a map of places you could visit:

View Larger Map

Driving from Phoenix with little ones to Sedona, there's a rest top about 50 miles out of town at Sunset Point, and another at Camp Verde just before the turn off for Sedona. Good diaper changing and potty spots for little ones.  Head on into Sedona and enjoy the wonder of the red rocks as you make the first turn into town and the appear directly ahead of you.  Sedona is famous for it's red rocks, arts and culture, and it's spiritual / metaphyiscal attributes. Many celebrities have homes here as well.

The tour we took was with Arizona Safari Jeep Tours, and they require car seats for kids under 5 (although that should really be under 8, since our law just changed a few months ago). We took a Diono Radian for our 3 yo and a backless booster for our 7 yo.  It's about 10* cooler in Sedona than in Phoenix, so wear something semi-warm in the winter/spring depending on the weather. They also have blankets in the jeeps as well.  We took a 4 wheel drive tour through the desert and along the outskirts to the west of Sedona. Our guide Bevin was very knowledgeable about the plants, animals, and geology of the area. We learned some new things ourselves even being native Arizonans.  Bring snacks for the kids as our tour was 3 hours and there's no where to stop to eat.
We all had a great time and spent the rest of the afternoon walking and exploring the city. Another fun place to check out is the Sedona Airport restaurant, up on a mesa (flat top hill) with a great veiw of the city and red rocks. The kids can sit right off the runway and watch the planes come in.  If you go in the summer, you can also head up to Oak Creek Canyon and Slide Rock, but I wouldn't recommend  Slide Rock unless your kids are at least 4. It requires a little hiking to get down to the creek and the water is pretty cold!

Feb 7, 2014

Vacation Time! How to Keep Kids Entertained Enroute

We just came back from a little Hawaiian vacation of our own! Thanks to Maui Baby Rentals for supplying us with some goods!  We had 7 hours of flying each way so here's what we did to keep our 3 and 7 year olds entertained. It really helped that we had 8 adults and another little cousin flying with us too though. Going for a little walk always gets the jitters out it seems.

Portable DVD players - fortunately my mom had an extra so each kid had their own, along with our existing stash of DVD's plus a few new $5 deals from Walmart/Target.   Finding headphones that fit little ones can be hard, but we like the Kidz Gear brand.

Nabi/Nabi Jr. - These are kid-sized real tablets that you can download apps from Amazon and Google Play.  They have a kid mode so they can't get to anything you don't want them to. Even if the games have in-app ads, you can use the tablet in airplane mode or disable the WiFi so they can't actually get to anything.

Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils (and a sharpener!)

We picked up IQ Link for my oldest while we were there too. She really seemed to enjoy it.

Looking at all the photos on my cell phone is always a fun past time for them too.

Don't want to bring along all those electronics? We were quite a site at the security line, with 3 tablets, a laptop, and 2 DVD players.  You can also rip movies to an SD card and put that in your cell phone. I've used DVD Catalyst to do this and it works well.

Jan 24, 2014

10 Things to do with Kids in AZ

Wow, it's reeeealllly been a while since I've posted anything. I've been keeping up more with Facebook than the blog I guess!  Here's  quick run-down on fun kid's activities that we like. Our girls are currently 7 and 3 and they enjoy all of these things here.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park - A large park, two playgrounds, a miniature train ride, a carousel, and a train museum, plus it's cheap! Tickets are $10 for 12 as of right now and the train and carousel each take 2.

Hiking - White Tanks Waterfall Trail - there may or may not be an actual waterfall (usually not since it only rains 7" a year here), but there's usually at least a small pool at the the end of the trail, plus great views of the Phoenix area. There are hieroglyphs along the very wide trail with good explanations of everything along the way, plus a chance to see desert plants up close and personal.  The trail is pretty easy and you could even take a jogging stroller 3/4 of the way if really necessary.  There's a large playground near the trailhead and plenty of picnic areas as well. The trail itself is about a mile long (so two miles round trip). Our oldest walked the entire trail with no problem by age 5.  Enter off Olive Road in the far west valley. Here's a map.

Children's Museum of Phoenix - Fun for all ages. Huge 3 story indoor climber plus tons of other activities. Our kids LOVE this place. Good for all ages as there is a baby play area in most rooms as well.  They are usually closed on Mondays.

Arizona Science Center - Good for ages 6+. Most activities are too advanced for the littles but it's even interesting for adults. They do have a few areas geared toward smaller kids and the outdoor ball and water feature is pretty neat.

Zoos - The Wildlife World Zoo and the Phoenix Zoo are both popular. You can get a bit closer to the animals at the Wildlife Zoo but it's further out on the west side of town, plus most of the paths are dirt, if that bothers you.  The have a pretty cool new aquarium complete with penguins and a shark tunnel that you walk through, plus a decent BBQ restaurant on site.  If you have time, I recommend driving about an hour and a half out of town to Camp Verde to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. It's not a traditional zoo and is definitely worth the trip.

Summer fun - Yep, it's HOT in the summer but there's many public parks with splash pads for the little ones now. We also have a couple large water parks for those that are a bit older. Generally the water parks and splash pads open on Memorial Day and close on Labor Day.  For a nice break, stay at one of our resorts that has a water park included. Try The Arizona Grand, The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak, or the Westin Kierland. The first two are all-suite resorts so even the standard rooms will have a separate bedroom and living room. Always handy when you have kids along!

Oct 18, 2012

ABC Kids Show 2012

This past week happened to be one of my favorite times of the year! The All Baby and Child (ABC) Show was happening in Louisville, KY and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. It's the largest industry trade show in the US, put on in conjunction with the Juvenile Product Manufacturer's Association (JMPA), and features manufacturers running the range of Graco, Dorel, and Fisher Price all the way down to mom inventors of very interesting products.  All told there were over 3,000 exhibitors at the 4-day long show this year.  There were tons of great new products unveiled this year, and here's a few notable favorites.

Uppababy Mesa infant car seat
We love our Uppababy over here and the Mesa car seat is a great addition to it's line up. It fits the Cruz stroller with no adapters and will also fit the Vista WITH an adapter.  The European belt routing path will give it a very easy and secure seatbelt installation, but the LATCH system is amazingly easy.  Simply click the connectors into place and push the base toward the seat. Its self-tightens as you push which eliminates the need to climb into the base to get the right angle to tug at the strap.  An indicator turns green when you have the level correct as well.

Clek Foonf
Long awaited, the Foonf is a high weight limit car seat just coming on the market this month. It's specs are rear facing 20-50lbs, forward facing to 65lbs.   It features an anti-rebound bar rear-facing, a unique built in REACT crumple zone, and Green Guard certified fabrics that provide protection against stains, moisture and bacteria. 

Ergo Baby
New prints from Ergo, including this great Zebra stripe

BuggyLOVE organic/natural gear cleaning products
I am always on the lookout for great cleaning products that are safe for your little ones (and ours!) I was very excited to find BuggyLOVE and even more excited when my first order showed up today, just a mere 4 DAYS after we placed it at the show.  I promptly tested out FabricLOVE on dried on milk and sunscreen on a black stroller, both of which came right up with absolutely no problem in about 5 seconds! I can't tell you how happy I am about the sunscreen issue!  I have a feeling this will get used on all kinds of our gear from now on.

Sep 25, 2012

Fall is upon us!

It's finally starting to cool down here in Phoenix. And by cool down, I mean it's under 100* and we can open our windows at night! So, that means it's time to get back to outdoor activities that don't involve swimming or water.  Here's two fun outdoor things to do this week. We just published our fall specials so reserve soon if you're coming to visit!

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park - still a favorite of ours and it's fun on the cheap.  Ride the miniature train, carousel, have a picnic, and play at one of two large playgrounds.  We love visiting this park because it's so much fun for the kids (and adults too!) Admission is free, children under 3 ride free with a paying adult. Ride tickets are just $1. The train ride is 2 tickets and carousel is 1 ticket. You can't go wrong with a train ride for just $2! Our daughters enjoy long ride around the park's playgrounds and the sound of the train's whistle as we cross the sidewalks.

 Out of Africa Wildlife Park - Another one of our favorites. They say, "don't call us a zoo!", and they are definitely not in the typical sense.  It's about an hour drive north of Phoenix, but if you have time, it's definitely worth a day trip. You can get very up close and personal with lots of animals. The included safari ride is amazing as is the Tiger Splash show, where the trainers get into a big pool with multiple tigers and jump, swim and play with them.  These are photos I took with my own little camera!

Sep 5, 2012

New Items!

Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long since my last post! Here's some new items we are now carrying for rentals!

  • New Foundations full sized cribs. ALL rental companies, hotels, and child care facilities have until the end of  2012 to update their crib inventory to comply with the new CPSC crib safety standards. This is more than just drop sides. It also involves beefed up hardware and testing. Virtually all cribs manufactured before June 2011 DO NOT comply.  If you are planning on using a hotel's crib, double check that they are aware and ask if their inventory is updated. Specifically, as to speak to the housekeeping supervisor as the reservation agents do not generally know this information.
  • New Summer Infant Super Seat. With the recent recall of Bumbo chairs, I felt it was best to remove them entirely from the inventory. We now feature a similar option (and with more toys!) in the Super Seat.
  • Ergo soft infant carrier. This is one of my indispensable baby items that I use almost every day and figured it would be a great addition to the inventory. It's great for vacations when you're out and about but can't always have a stroller with you. We like it for hiking and places where a stroller doesn't always work well.
  • Puddle Jumpers swim aid.  As my little ones get older, I discover great products that need to be added. This is wonderful for a curious swimmer that doesn't want to be held, but needs that extra help in the pool. ALWAYS supervise your children in the water of course!
Anything else you'd like to see? Just ask!

Jun 28, 2011

Toddlers and Planes

I've been asked countless times by friends and family this one particular question: What's the easiest way to travel on an airplane with my toddler's gear? I thought I'd share my recommendations based on my own experiences and those of my customers. I'll give you a few options for getting to your destination depending on your situation.

  • Travel with CARES and rent when you get there.  
My first recommendation would be to use the CARES harness and rent a car seat, stroller, or any other gear at your destination if the budget allows and there's a rental company that meets your needs.  Your child must be flying in their own seat (which they must if they are 2+) to use the CARES harness.  We rent CARES harnesses and ship them nationwide for a very reasonable rate too. If your child isn't old enough to walk through the airport, use a cheap umbrella stroller.  Your stroller WILL get dirty at the least or broken at the worst, even if you gate check it. 

  • Travel with CARES and check other items
If there are no rental options at your destination, I'd recommend checking the car seat and stroller as luggage, but make sure it's well protected to minimize damage.  You may prefer to gate check these items, which you may also do with most airlines, however that's two more bulky items you have to take with you through security, along with your carry on, diaper bag, purse, and child.  If it's in the budget, check into purchasing a Cosco Scenera car seat (~$50 but still highly rated) and a cheap umbrella stroller if you can make do with that.  That way, you won't be seeking reimbursement for $500+ for a broken car seat and stroller that are now useless at your destination. Car seats and strollers are still free to check (verify with your airline, especially American Airlines and their new stroller policy), but other gear will be charged per normal baggage policies with your airline.

  • Take your car seat on board and use a Go Go Kidz Travelmate
If you feel your toddler would be happier/more secure/sleep better in their car seat, then take your seat on board and use a Go Go Kidz Travelmate to turn your car seat into a stroller for the ride through the terminal.  This is a little more work as you will have to detach the Travelmate and send the car seat through the x-ray machine or have it hand checked if it doesn't fit.  Installing the seat on the plane isn't always the easiest task either.  Check the plane seat width and your car seat's width beforehand to be sure it will fit. If you are a Phoenix local, we rent the Go Go Kidz Travelmate too. Once you get to your destination, rent a stroller and other gear as necessary.

  • Carry your infant in a soft carrier and rent at your destination
If you are traveling with a lap child, carry them in a soft carrier or cheap umbrella stroller and rent when you get to your destination.  Again, if this isn't an option for you, check your car seat and stroller as luggage but make sure it's well protected.  You will have to take your baby out of the carrier for security so be prepared for that. Another useful onboard item for infants is the FlyeBaby portable seat. Unlike CARES, it is NOT approve for taxi, take off, and landing, however it can give you two free hands to play with baby while you are in flight.  We also rent the FlyeBaby seat and ship them nationwide.

Visit us online to check out all of our air travel rentals or all of our premium baby equipment and gear rentals available for delivery in the Phoenix and Scottsdale-metro areas!

Jun 21, 2011

Updated Compliance Date to 2011 Crib Standards

Our trade association of baby gear rental companies, Baby Travel Pros, recently had a meeting with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, where our representative asked for a change in the compliance date to the 2011 crib standards, as they affect our businesses.  The change was granted and extended to December 28, 2012 to be consistent with the date given to hotels, child care centers, and other places of public accommodation. The ruling can be read here.

What does this mean for you as a renter of baby gear?   Rest assured that our crib inventory will be just as safe as it is today, right up until new cribs are obtained.  As the Associations current president and co-founder, I along with my colleagues requested this extension to allow us time to obtain the commercial inventory that is so scarce in the marketplace right now.   As of this post, most of our 68 members have been unable to find any cribs that meet our needs.

What does this mean for you as a consumer?  You can still use your non-compliant crib in your own home as long as you want to, however it will be illegal to sell, resell, or donate (unless out of the country) a non-compliant crib after June 28, 2011.  This includes manufacturers, retailers, consignment stores, and individuals.  Again, hotels, child care facilities, and rental companies have until December 28, 2012 to update their inventory.  The main changes made to the previous 40 year old standard were to the integrity of the crib slats, types of hardware, banning of drop-sides, integrity of mattress supports, and requiring more rigorous testing that a crib must pass.  Here is a Q&A put together by the CPSC explaining the 2011 crib safety standards.

I'd like to explain why I choose to use "commercial" crib inventory instead of purchasing from the many manufacturers that sell cribs at Babies R Us and the like.  The crib is the single most popular item in most rental companies inventories.  In one year, a single crib can go in and out of our delivery van about 80 times (two trips for each rental), and set up and used about 40 times.  Of course they are safety checked between each rental and to date I have NEVER had a safety issue while a crib has been out on a rental.  I currently use Foundations folding full sized cribs because they are extremely sturdy, never been recalled, do not require assembly which limits wear on the hardware, and they look nice to boot.  Many commercial cribs were already made to the voluntary ASTM standard that the new CPSC crib standard was modeled after, however most manufacturers are choosing not to retest or retrofit current models, but rather come out with a whole new line.  Our current cribs may actually pass these new standards, but we will never know because they will never be tested.

We are currently working with several commercial manufacturers to obtain new inventory and as soon as it's available, we will begin replacing our fleet of cribs.  Unfortunately this is no small investment, and one that I will make for the third time in 4 years due to the ever-changing environment of crib safety and recalls that's been going on for the last 2 years.  However, as a parent of two small daughters myself, there's no price you can put on a child's safety. 

Mar 17, 2011

2011 Crib Standards

At the end of 2010, the CPSC issued new 2011 Crib Standards mandating that cribs go through more rigorous testing and have stronger hardware, in addition to eliminating drop side rails.  Any company selling or leasing full sized or compact sized cribs must comply by June 28, 2011, including baby gear rental companies. Hotels and child care centers have until December 2012 to comply. 

What does this mean? Well, we will be replacing our entire inventory of cribs by the end of June, even though our current models are barely over a year old.  We take your child's safety very seriously and pride ourselves in providing high quality cribs manufactured by Foundations specifically for commercial use.  Since the issuance of the new standard was just given at the end of December, suppliers are working quickly to release new compliant cribs as soon as possible.  The best case scenario we've been told is that they will be in the marketplace by the beginning of May.  Rest assured that our current inventory of cribs are safety checked between every rental and the issuance of a new standard does not suddenly make any existing crib inherently unsafe.

Jan 21, 2011

Staying for Spring Training?

Are you coming to Phoenix or Scottsdale to visit one of our 10 Spring Training facilities? Here's a few good deals at our most popular family friendly resorts with one- and two-bedroom set ups. 

Xona Resort - North Scottsdale - 2 bedroom suites with optional adjoining 3rd room for a discount, plus $50 dining credit

Wigwam Resort - Litchfield Park - AAA Four Diamond resort stay for two, golf for two, and $50 resort credit. The bigger casitas are great for families too!

Westin Kierland Resort - North Scottsdale - connecting 1- and 2-bedrooms suites, $100 credit per day for dining, spa, or FUN activities, kids under 12 eat FREE. Use promo code LYF

If you're here for an extended stay, ask us about discounted long term rates for your baby gear rentals too!

Dec 12, 2010

Baby Gizmo Reviews

If you're in the market for a new stroller but it's one that you can't find locally, I like to rely on Baby's video reviews. They're also running a great 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway contest also. (Today's the last day!)

Dec 1, 2010

Smart Family

In case you missed it, we were recently featured on our local ABC Smart Family show!

And yes, we are expecting baby girl #2 right around New Years!

Aug 8, 2010

Demo Strollers at the AZ Kids Expo

Come by and check out our demo strollers and travel gear at the AZ Kids Expo on Sept 18-19th at University of Phoenix Stadium! On display we'll have the hottest and newest strollers from phil & ted's, BOB, Valco, and Britax. Look for some special show-only deals with rarely offered savings of 10%-15% off on brand new models. We'll also have demos of the Go Go Kidz Travelmate, C.A.R.E.S. child aviation restraint system, and FlyeBaby portable infant seats, all used for air travel with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. We will also be providing a infant and toddler feed, changing, and play area too.

Jul 30, 2010

New phil & ted's Explorer on order!

The newly released phil & ted's Explorer offers some much anticipated upgrades to the popular Sport model. Keeping the same frame, great 12"air tires, and versatile doubles kit, the overall look is sleek and stylish. Here are some of the nice new features coming your way.

1. Seat design - There's now a removable padded insert in red, navy, green, or black. The stroller and frame are all black, with the exception of the all apple green model. The inserts are interchangeable should you wish to change up the color of your buggy. Both the main and doubles kit seats are made with a new design allowing for better air flow and both use a newer quick release harness system like the Smart Buggy. The quick release harness system has two release points on the harness, one for each side, instead of four like the Sport model.

2. Plastic covering in foot well - Similar to the Dash buggy, the Explorer's footwell now has a plastic kick mat instead of all fabric, making it easier to clean.

3. Pedal brake - A new pedal "flip-flop friendly" foot brake is replacing the old wire brake system. From an avid flip-flop wearer, this is a very necessary upgrade. No more bending down to release the brake with your hand.

4.One hand fold - The two release clips on each side have been replaced with one release under the base of the seat, making a one hand fold possible.

5. Sun canopy - Another great upgrade from the Sport is the new follow the sun canopy. The canopy is not attached at the back of the stroller so it can be rotated all the way forward and back to keep the sun out of baby's eyes.

6. Sun canopy for second seat - The doubles kit for the new Explorer now gets a sun canopy as well! The doubles kit attaches the same way that it did in the previous Sport model, to both the front and back of the stroller.

7. Car seat adapter - The car seat adapter can now be used with the main seat in the fully upright position, allowing for a second child to ride in the doubles kit on the rear of the Explorer. Previous models did not allow this function.

The phil & ted's Explorer upgrades do come with a slightly higher price tag of $479.99, about $30 more than the previous Sport model. The doubles kit remains the same at $89.99 even with the new sun canopy. The Explorer is due in stock at the end of August, so preorder now, or reserve one of our new rentals for your test drive on our website at

Jun 18, 2010

New Travel Gear Addition - FlyeBaby

Our newest addition to Sweet Pea Baby Rentals' air travel rental inventory will arrive in just a few days! We're adding the FlyeBaby portable chair to our rental inventory. FlyeBaby provides a hammock style chair for your infant (up to 25 lbs) to rest in while in flight. It attaches to the tray table and has restraint straps to hold your infant safely in place so you have two free hands to play, change diapers, or read a book while she naps. It's a great alternative to holding your baby for an entire flight! It also doubles as a portable restraint that can be attached to a variety of chairs for feeding or playing. Best of all it's lightweight and portable. We are taking orders now and are able to ship rentals nationwide!

Jun 16, 2010

CARES Harness Review

We recently had the good fortune of being able to take a 7 night Alaskan cruise with our extended family including our 3 1/2 year old daughter. I knew I'd be bringing along one of our Child Aviation Restraint Systems (CARES) for the 10 hours of plane rides there and back, but I immediately thought, do I need to bring her car seat just to try to find a place to store it in the tiny cabin? The only time we'd be in vehicles other than a boat was our transfer to the hotel for the first night, our transfer to the port the second day, and one tour we'd booked. Since we were on a one-way cruise, renting in Anchorage was not an option (although visit Northern Lights Traveling Tykes if it is for you), so I started researching. I came across the Ride Safer Vest, which seemed to fit the bill perfectly for us. Since this was my first time personally using both of the CARES and the Ride Safer Vest, I thought I'd share my experiences. First I'll review the CARES harness.

CARES Harness Review
We grabbed the 6" stuff sack, threw it in our backpack, and headed out at 4am for our flight. I was VERY happy I didn't have a car seat to haul when we got held up at security alone (yes, at 4am) for a full backpack, stroller, and carry-on search. My daughter and I then ran to the gate to be the last ones on the plane. I had the CARES out of the bag, slipped over the back of the seat and had her strapped down in less than a minute, never having used it before. Of course, I suppose I had a little advantage having been renting and inspecting them for over a year.

The process is easy:
  1. Lower the tray of the seat behind you
  2. Slip the harness over the back of the seat and tighten
  3. Raise the tray back up
  4. Strap in your child and adjust the shoulder straps as necessary
The Pros:
  • Extremely light weight and small
  • Good for kids 22-44 lbs (has also been approved for special needs children and adults)
  • Easy to install and secure
  • Child can't kick the back of the seat in front
  • Can be used in any seating position (car seats typically can only be installed at the window seat for evacuation purposes)
  • Approved for taxi, take-off, in flight, and landing
  • Used on 4 different flights and 4 different aircraft including a small commuter plane with no problems or questions from the flight attendants.
The Cons:
  • No crotch strap meant my daughter could wiggle down
  • Since the airline seats were curved, the back of the strap holding it on tended to hit her at the back of the head. This didn't seem to bother her though, even when I asked.
  • No head support when she fell asleep. I just unbuckled her and gave her a blanket to lay her head on.
  • This isn't related to the harness but she could unbuckle the airplane seat belt herself, but not the chest clip on the harness.
All in all, I highly recommend this as an alternative to a car seat, especially for older toddlers and preschoolers. If you're flying with a 1-2 year old on a long flight, you may consider the car seat for comfort if you want them to sleep for a long stretch. In those cases, check out the Go Go Kidz Travelmate to turn your car seat into a stroller for the airport.

May 6, 2010

Summer Vacations - Plan Ahead!

If you're busy planning your summer vacation, whether it be to Phoenix or anywhere else, visit our partners at Baby Travel Pros to find a rental company that serves your destination. Many companies sell out during peak travel periods so you may want to book the essentials, like a crib or car seat now to ensure they are reserved for you. Making reservations weeks or months in advance is not uncommon, and the company will appreciate your planning ahead so they can better serve you. Generally additions and changes can be made to your order up to a few days before your scheduled delivery if necessary. Unsure of just what you'll need? Check out the guide to recommended gear by age.

Baby Travel Pros is an association of independently owned and operated baby gear rental companies across the world. The only association of it's kind, members are committed to providing safe and clean baby gear for you and your little traveler.