Picking A Stroller – Part I

The stroller, in my opinion, is the most important purchase you will make if you are going to be traveling a lot with small children. Plus, it is just nice to have a good one you can take anywhere.

Travis carting the kids around the open air market in our Phil & Teds Dash.

The amount of money you are willing to spend should depend on your situation.

1. How many small children do you have?

2. Will you be required to do a lot of walking on your trip (or in your day to day life)?

3. Will you be using public transportation while using your stroller?

4. Do you live in an apartment at the top floor (will you be carrying your stroller up and down stairs)?

5. Will you be using your stroller to carry things in addition to your children (we do all the time, our stroller is our car, since we don’t own a vehicle)?

6. Do you plan on using your stroller while exercising (walking or running)?

7. What is the terrain like where you live?

This may seem like an extensive list of questions that you wouldn’t really consider when trying to choose the perfect stroller for your family, but trust me, they are extremely important. It is also important to purchase the right one first, so you are not wasting money having to buy a different stroller later because the first one doesn’t suit your needs.

If you don’t know this about me by now, let me first off explain that I am against spending money in general. My husband and I are missionaries, and our budget is very tight. We do everything we can to avoid spending money, but this is one area where cost is not the main deciding factor. Should you spend $1,000 on the new Verve from Phil & Teds? Does that seem like an insane price to you? Well, even with a price tag this steep, there are reasons for spending such a huge chunk of change on a stroller. Sometimes a $20 umbrella stroller just isn’t going to cut it, and then of course there are also those times when any other stroller wouldn’t do.

Let me take a minute to look at the questions above and solve your stroller needs by answering them according to stroller type.

If your answer was “Yes!” to questions 2, 3, 6, and 7… you probably need to buy a stroller that has larger, air filled tires. There are a lot of complaints about these tires because the sad truth is, you can get a flat. But I have only experienced one flat in my two years of owning a Phil & Teds “Dash” and the friendly neighborhood bike guy gave us a new inner tube for it for free. He said he actually has a lot of people coming in with those kinds of problems, and the key is, if you have a problem with your air-filled stroller tire, you need to take it to your local bike guy. And just in case you are on vacation, carry tire patches and a small air pump. Now that we’ve talked about the one negative aspect of air-filled tires, let’s talk about the numerous positive aspects. These tires are going to make the otherwise bumpy ride much smoother for your little guy. It is going to be a lot easier to push, which is why this type of stroller is ideal for working out, or extensive daily use. You are going to find it much easier to get up and down curbs (something we are doing constantly here in Athens, where people park their cars on the sidewalk). And these tires are also ideal for rough terrain and going on and off buses and metro cars.

Now let’s look at question one, which I think is the most important question. How many children do you have? Obviously this question only applies to children that cannot walk long distances. In my experience, young children under 6 cannot typically do tons of walking. Daddy shoulders is a great short term solution to this problem, but if you really want to do a lot of walking and traveling, choose a stroller that can hold a 5 year old. This is why I own a Phil & Teds stroller. There are many other reasons, but this is a big one. Our stroller was out of commission for a bit before we met our friendly bike shop owner, and we couldn’t go anywhere that wasn’t in walking distance for our 4 year old. That was a huge bummer, and I can’t imagine dealing with that kind of thing on a constant basis. That is why I feel that if you are going to do a lot of strolling, and you have two children under 5, you should own a double stroller. I could write a whole other article about what double strollers I think are best (and I will!) but for now, let’s just move onto the next question.

Question number four is important because I have had too many friends have their strollers stollen from leaving them downstairs in their apartment building. There are two small flights of stairs into our flat, and I have to tell you, carrying our large stroller up and down them is getting old for me and my hubby. You might have to spend a bit extra to purchase a fold friendly stroller, but depending on your situation it might be worth it. Never leave your stroller unattended, even in your own building, unless you feel that you can trust all of your neighbors and their extended family, along with their friends, the post man, and any other person that has access to your building. It’s too much of a risk to take for convenience sake. Is folding up our stroller a pain? Yes! Am I willing to risk losing it because I’m too tired to fold it up? Absolutely not!

Now time for question five, which might seem extremely strange to you, but it is something to think about, just in case. If you are like me, you need your stroller to be able to multi task. Our stroller has been used to carry many things besides our children including but not limited to groceries, lighting fixtures, books, beach chairs, water bottles, and even a mattress on one occasion. The main thing you want to think about as far as storage is the basket underneath. It can be an amazing travel tool, and if it’s small, you are not going to be able to utilize it in the way you want. Always make sure you can at least shove your whole diaper bag in there. For some strollers you can also purchase things that make it more sherpa friendly, like clasps that allow your diaper bag to hang off of the handle bar. A few strollers even have side bag options.

I really haven’t even gotten past the surface of this topic, but I definitely think this is some food for thought you can chew on for a few days. The next part of this 3 part series will be a review of three amazing strollers I have actually owned and used, and I will also discuss the appropriate times to use an umbrella stroller.

What is your favorite type of stroller? What is the strangest thing you have ever carried on your stroller?

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