You’re at the airport. Your suitcase is checked, your ticket is in hand and you’ve finished off that bottle of water before padding through security in your socks. Mildly inconvenienced, you take a seat at the gate and can’t help notice the Ranelli family sitting across the way.
Parents Willow and Andrew along with their 2-year-old daughter Madison don’t appear crazed or stressed before their impending flight from Ontario to Tampa, Fla. Your instincts tell you they should be otherwise. You know toddlers require more paraphernalia than two sets of hands can manage and with airlines charging upward of $50 for additional luggage it makes you wonder — what’s their secret?
And the answer is Terri Ryan. As owner of Visiting Baby, Ryan rents baby equipment to families visiting Florida’s Gulf Coast. She’ll deliver and set-up any number of pieces from her vast inventory and then pick them up after you leave. Her stock includes everything from safety gates and strollers to bouncy seats and high chairs.
Weekly prices range from $59 for a full-sized crib to $19 for a box of toys. She’s also designed packages for both infants and toddlers, catering the gear toward specific age groups.
And not to worry, if she doesn’t have a particular item, she’ll be sure to get it. “If I get a request for a specific brand, I’ll go buy it if I think I’ll use it again,” Ryan says. “It’s not a problem.”
It’s this attention to detail that has Visiting Baby clients raving about Ryan’s customer service. Oldsmar, Fla. resident Terry Loomis was very impressed with Ryan helpfulness after he rented a car seat from her in order to take his 4-year-old grandson to Disneyworld.
“She had a great attitude, especially with new clients,” he says. “When she delivered the seat, she offered to install it for me which was nice because it’s been a long time since I’ve needed a car seat. She was well versed on all the equipment, and explained everything that she had in case I needed anything additional. A lot of other business people could take a lesson from her as far as customer service is concerned.”
With three young boys of her own and as a former pediatric nurse, Ryan can anticipate the concerns parents have while vacationing with children. Anxieties about renting equipment, local medical facilities and what hot spots to visit are sentiments Ryan deals with on a daily basis.
“I’ve had a lot of phone conversations with a lot of moms,” she says. “I can assure them my gear is very clean, there are plenty of entertainment options in Tampa for all ages and if you need a doctor, let me know.”
Baby equipment rental companies can be found across the world. Baby’s Away, founded in Breckenridge, Colo. in 1990, has more than 70 locations throughout the United States. Laura Dennis, mother of two and operator of Baby’s Away in Chicago, empathizes with parents on the go.
“Traveling with children can be difficult and stressful,” she says. “The added burden of having to transport car seats, cribs and highchairs is often completely overwhelming. With all the things that parents have to worry about, it’s helpful to know that there’s equipment available to keep your child safe and comfortable while traveling.”
Willow Ranelli couldn’t agree more. “When we traveled with our daughter for the first time I was panicked thinking of all the things we needed to bring,” she says. “I found Visiting Baby’s website and thought what an amazing service! She delivered everything to our condo and even brought a car seat to the airport rental car agency. It just makes it so much easier. I feel confident traveling. I’m trying to get pregnant again and I know I’ll be able to travel by myself with a toddler and a newborn because Terri will be there with everything we’ll ever need.”