Esmeralda Tijhoff

Some thoughts on History, Politics, and the Art of Living

DIY travelling with babies II: Carriers

We are going backpacking in Indonesia, so we want to travel light. The goal is one big backpack, one small backpack and hand luggage. Travelling means carrying. You can carry your baby using a sling, a full buckle carrier or a backpack. Here is a list of all the carriers to choose from and the pro’s and con’s.

–> read part one of Travelling with babies:


Baby in a backpack

If you look at the brands that make backpacks to carry children, you might think they are indeed practical. But they are not. The backpacks are huge, heavy, clumsy, and they put your kid away from your body, thus adding to the weight you have to carry. Not to mention the framework in the backpack! When I tried them in the shop, it felt like I was walking around with a high chair on my back. And when you don’t need to carry the child, you still have to carry the big baby backpack that is not foldable. Very uncool. Apparently, this type of carrier can be useful for climbers and backpackers that need the storage capacity. But I prefer to carry the baby on my belly and the backpack on my back. And yes, when my children are toddlers, I still will prefer soft structured carriers and slings above these huge carrying constructions.

Why a Backpack Baby carrier is stupid


Full buckle soft structured carriers

Another problem with these framed backpacks, is also the mayor problem of most popular full buckle carriers like the Baby Bjorn: it’s not ergonomic. Whatever the wrapping says, it is really not ergonomic. Your baby hangs in a harness on your belly or on your back. You are giving you baby a wedgy all the time!

What is Ergonomic Carrying? It is logical that a kid would be far more comfortable if it can sit instead of hang on its crouch. Luckily, there are enough good baby carriers around. Ergobaby is a brand you can buy at the big baby shops. Other brands can be ordered online, like Manduca, Bondolino, Kokadi, Tula, Rose and Rebellion, etc.

All these carriers are light and can be stashed away in a backpack. They are easy to use with velcro and/or buckles and are very comfortable for you and your kid.

For travelling there are even two very light and folding carriers: the Ergobaby Stowaway, and the Boba Air. Unfortunately, the Ergobaby Stowaway is going to be taken out of production. So if you want one, be quick!

The Ergobaby Stowaway is heavier than the Boba Air (450 versus 320 gram) . But the Ergo is also more comfortable because it has a padded waist belt and shoulder straps. The Boba Air is not padded, and the nylon straps can slide off your shoulder more easily. Moreover, the straps can cut in your shoulders quite a lot. Both carriers are great to have as a backup. But we won’t be using them because we have something we like better.

[edit: Travellers also recommend the Ergobaby Performance for hot countries and the Patapum is another popular travellers carrier.]


In between: the Mei Tai

mei taiThe model of the Mei Tai is imported from Asia. Like the full buckle carriers, it is easy to use and to adjust. You can carry your baby on your back or belly. The Mei Tai is totally made out of fabric; there are no buckles or velcro. You simply use the tails to knot the carrier around your body. The Mei Tai can thus easily be used by persons of different build. You don’t need to readjust all the buckles to make it fit your posture like you would have to do with the full buckle carriers. It is quicker in use than a sling and easier too.

It is important that the Mei Tai is decently sewn, made out of strong fabric and thread. If you want to buy one, don’t just pick the cheap ones, but choose a solid one from a known brand. You can also make one yourself : or in Dutch:

They are usually made out of thick fabric, so I am concerned they might be very warm in Indonesia. Still, because the sides are open the baby will be able to get fresh air and will be less hot than in most slings. So we decided we would bring one Mei Tai.


Slings / Woven Wraps

A sling or a woven wrap is a piece of fabric that you use to knot your baby to your body. The fabric is woven in a diagonal weave, to make the fabric strong and have a slight diagonal stretch. A high-quality baby carrier produced with this method of weaving will always adapt elastically and never stretch out of shape. This fabric won’t rupture when you burn or tear a hole in it. The weaving means slings are way more expensive than the fabric you buy on the market. But now you know there is a good reason for that.

Baby in a slingI already use slings to carry my babies. We have two slings from Little Frog. This brand is very good  if you want to start wearing your kid because the slings are not  expensive (around €50,-) and the fabric is relatively easy to knot and soften. I have a regular one size 7 and a blend with linen size 6. The one with linen would do fine in Indonesia, but it’s still a bit thick and heavy to pack.

So I found a Calin Bleu sling! These slings are known as ‘summer slings’ because they are very light and thin. The difference is amazing. This sling will be a lot less warm than all the other carriers. But the coolness comes with a price. The thin Calin Bleu sling is a lot harder to knot since it is difficult to remove the slack and tighten the knot properly. Moreover, the fabric can cut into your baby’s legs, so you have to be very careful while knotting this sling. Luckily, my Calin Bleu is second hand, which means the fabric has been made a bit softer by the use of the previous owners.

And one big plus to a sling: it is still a long piece of fabric. So you can use it to sit on, you can make a baby hammock out of it, you can use it to protect your child from the sun or cold, etc.


To buggy or not to buggy

Because we have two babies, we decided to bring a simple foldable and light buggy. In that way, we do not both have to carry a baby all the time. We can swap and if we need to, we can carry the kids and put the heavy backpack on the wheels. But if you travel with only one baby, I would advise you to leave the wheels at home. You can’t climb a volcano with a buggy, it’s a pain in the ass in the bus, and the (muddy) road are definitely not friendly to small wheels.


So there you have it. If you travel, bring a sling!



If you want to buy a ergonomic carrier or a sling in the Netherlands or Belgium, I advise you to become a member of the Facebookgroup Draagdoekenmarkt.

For more information and support using your sling or carrier, you can join Draagpraat (in Dutch).


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6 Responses to “DIY travelling with babies II: Carriers”

  1. Jessika says:

    Mooi overzicht! Misschien kun je de Patapum nog toevoegen bij de ssc’s? Fijne vakantie alvast!

  2. Yvette says:

    Tof dat jullie met de tweeling gaan reizen! Wordt vast super! Ik kwam bij je terecht via Jessica van KidsTravelService. Heel veel plezier alvast, mooie avonturen gewenst 🙂

  3. is it safe for baby in the back?

  4. Ardian says:

    when can we switch the position? and which position is best for baby?

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