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Traveling with kids means keeping a running checklist and trying to be ready for any need that might arise on the road or inflight. But things always slip through the cracks.
I remember the time I was boarding a cross-country flight when I realized the baby wipes were mysteriously missing from my crammed diaper bag. That’s when a baby-supply vending machine conveniently placed near my gate would have come in handy. (I ended up making do with moistened paper towels in the airplane’s lav.)
Never heard of a vending machine for baby supplies? Well, the concept may be coming to an airport near you in the future.
Kids’ Care Station in Munich Airport
Clean, calm and civilized, Munich Airport was already one of my favorites in the world. The complimentary coffee in the Lufthansa terminal is also a huge help. Now a Kids’ Care Station in Terminal 2, near gate G32, that launched in early June 2019, is making travel through the Lufthansa hub all the more practical for families who might have forgotten an essential or two.
A Munich-based startup, Foodji (which also sells healthy snacks, smoothies and salads throughout the airport), unveiled the cashless vending machines for credit card purchases of things like diapers, baby food and snacks from a popular German baby product brand, HiPP.
The New Kid on the Block: Baby Vend
But, it would be nice if there were options like the Kids’ Care Station closer to home. For one mother and business development consultant in Anchorage, Alaska, the hole in the US market is obvious.
“Right now, the travel family-supply market is really small. I don’t think I created it, but I am trying to perfect it,” says Jasmin Smith, who founded Baby Vend in 2016 and installed the first permanent airport baby-supply kiosk in the Anchorage airport in early 2019.
Baby Vend is at the Anchorage International Airport. Stop by and take a selfie if you are traveling this summer!#babyvend #Alaska #alaskababyvend #traveltoalaska #anchorageairport #Anchorage pic.twitter.com/A0BMZBiRuY
— Baby Vend (@BabyVend) June 20, 2019
Smith has received interest in opening kiosks at other airports and is looking to expand the franchise across the country. Among the company’s target locations are Orlando, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston and Los Angeles.
Located in the Alaska Airlines terminal near gate C2, the Baby Vend machine in Anchorage accepts cash, debit and credit cards. The products inside are geared for the needs of kids 5 and under and their parents, says Smith.
Among the many items for sale within the perishable and nonperishable compartments are diapers, wipes, purée snacks, sippie cups, bottles, breast pads, formula, milk, lactation pads and pacifiers.
“So many parents and families travel. There are airports with kid playlands, nursery rooms and breastfeeding modules, but a lack of vending machines selling the things traveling families often need,” she says. And while some airports have news shops that sell items like diapers, wipes and snacks, smaller airports may not have those shops or offerings for traveling families.
For traveling parents, vending machines could bring some peace of mind to that moment you pass through security and realize you’re embarking on a long-haul flight without a pacifier or extra bottle.
“Any traveling parent of a young kid knows that our life is dictated by the bag and what we put in the bag,” says Smith. With more baby supplies available in airports, “we don’t have to be so worried about packing everything and running out because if there’s a supply issue, there’s a solution on-site.”
Featured image courtesy of Munich Airport
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