Laura Wahler: Pack this for travel with children

Laura Wahler

Late last year, I wrote about a children’s product I saw in the Orlando airport when my family was waiting for our return flight.

At the time, I referred to the Ride On Carry On as “the coolest travel gadget ever,” after only talking about it with the child’s mother for a few minutes.

Now that I’ve had the chance to try it out, I’m going to go ahead and agree with myself — and no, I don’t always do that. Turns out, it really is the coolest travel gadget ever.

Designed by a flight-attendant mom, the Ride On Carry On is a small chair that attaches to the back of your rolling carry-on suitcase. It’s made for children ages 8 months to 5 years or 40 pounds. Attach it to the suitcase, strap your child in and go — it’s really that simple. No waiting for your stroller after the plane ride. No pushing a stroller one-handed while you drag a suitcase behind you.

A removable headrest doubles as a snack tray while you’re waiting to board. Once you get on the plane, the chair folds up and snaps so that you can still store your suitcase in the overhead bin.

We learned a few lessons when traveling with our Ride On Carry On last weekend. Here are a few tips if you end up buying one (which you should!):

- YOUR CHILD MIGHT LIKE IT TOO MUCH: The first thing we discovered was that our 2-year-old Cameran loved the chair. Loved it. The night that it arrived in the mail, we took it out of the box, and she wanted to sit in it in the living room. Unfortunately, the chair isn’t made for regular, old-fashioned sitting. No back legs on the chair means it must be strapped on to your suitcase in order for it to sit up. So my first bit of advice is to hide it from any over-zealous toddlers in your house who might throw a tantrum.

Once we got to the airport, though, it was great that she liked it so much. My sweet-but-stubborn girl who fights with me every single time I make her sit in the stroller climbed right into the chair and tried to buckle it herself. Amazing.

- ATTACH IT TO THE CARRY-ON YOU WON'T NEED TO ACCESS: During the same flight in which I christened our new Ride On Carry On, I also thought it would be smart to pack all of Cameran’s diaper bag essentials in the suitcase that I was strapping the chair onto. Turns out, that wasn’t so smart.

Because the chair’s straps wrap around the entire suitcase, it’s impossible to get into the suitcase without taking the chair completely off. One would have thought I might have realized this while I was busily packing her diapers, snacks and sippy cup into the suitcase, but I did not. I have no excuse, but I have indeed learned my lesson.

- BE PREPARED TO GET ATTENTION: It is different to see a child riding backwards attached to a suitcase. We could not only feel people’s eyes following us through the airport, but we could also overhear their comments. “Look at that!” “That’s a great idea.” “Look, there’s a kid on her suitcase!”

I like my life of relative anonymity, so it was a little weird to have strangers approaching me to ask me about it. But, hey, I did the same thing to that other mom last year in the Orlando airport.

- BE CAREFUL: I took one ramp a little too quickly, which caused the suitcase and chair to tip over. Cameran did a nose dive into the cement (bad mommy!) but thankfully, she was able to stop her face from meeting the sidewalk. Close call, but that was just another incident of operator error. Slow and steady will win the race — and will also keep your kid from kissing concrete.

- CHECK YOUR STROLLER WITH YOUR LUGGAGE: Don’t forget that you might still need your regular stroller when you arrive at your destination. Bring it with you and check it with your luggage. As with any checked bags, be sure to put a luggage tag on it, just in case it gets misdirected.

The Ride On Carry On costs $39.95, plus $8 standard UPS shipping to the United States. Shipping to Canada, if you’re so inclined, will cost $20. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, scratch-and-dent chairs are available for $30, with the same prices for shipping.

For information, visit

News on events and products related to moms of infants and young children is always welcome. Contact Greater Niagara Newspapers writer Laura Wahler at 693-1000, Ext. 116.