SHOULD I TAKE MY CAR SEAT ON HOLIDAY?

Car seats have to be one of parents clumsiest over sized nightmares. I get asked the question daily, should I take my car seat on holiday? They are heavy, arm breaking pieces of baby paraphernalia that leave us parents in a state of guilt for not wanting to bring them with us. Not to mention

I’ve seen it spark outrage and debate online between parents when opinions are expressed. The moral of the story is, someone needs to invent an amazingly light weight car seat for all ages from newborn that can offer the same level of safety whilst also being easily transportable. At the end of the day, we all want to keep our kids safe, at home and when travelling.

I have travelled both with and without car seats. I take the view point, if we rent a car, then we will certainly take our own. Not only will it save us money, but we can also be certain of the standard of our own car seat. We can’t be sure what we will get on rocking up to a car rental office. 

This time last year, we arrived into Canada. We drove through Alberta and BC, before making our way down through the states, all the way to Argentina, predominantly by road. We rented lots of times from rentalcars.com. That is my ‘go to’ website when renting a car. We lugged our two car seats thousands of miles over six months. They were incredibly annoying to carry around in between rentals but also very useful in countries where car seats where not such a big deal to locals. 

SHOULD I TAKE MY CAR SEAT ON HOLIDAY?

There is no right or wrong answer, it 100% depends on the situation. However here are a few helpful thoughts and ideas should you need some guidance.

  • If I’m going to places like Asia, say for example Cambodia, where the majority of the time we will ride around on a tuk tuk, I do not bring car seats. 

SHOULD I TAKE MY CAR SEAT ON HOLIDAY?

  • If I’m travelling for an extended period of time and will be renting a car on occasion, I generally bring my own because it’s expensive to rent them alongside a car and I can not guarantee the quality.
  • In many countries there are baby rental companies. They will have specific models that can be rented and generally are in good condition from my experience. This can be particularly useful, say if travelling from Europe to America where safety features differ significantly. I personally used my European car seats when travelling through the US.
  • There are some neat products on the market for older kids. For example the BubbleBum seat (You can check out this review of the BubbleBum) and the mifold. They are quite compact but are not the most structured piece of equipment in terms of comfort, especially for those little ones wanting to nap along the way. 
  • If you plan to take a taxi, its worth noting in many countries such as Australia and Singapore, they will not take children of a certain age unless they are in a car seat. We like to take Uber usually for ease, however they refuse to take kids without a seat. However the local taxis often have a car seat to hand in the boot and will happily provide a seat if you don’t have one.
  • Now I know this will be a controversial point but the few times we’ve been stuck without a seat, I generally keep baby in the carrier and belt myself in. Having a carrier as opposed to car seat can be super handy, especially for tuk tuks and so on.
  • If you are thinking about flying with your car seats, international airline associations rules do vary, so this effects the airlines rules on what car seats you can bring on-board. This guide will help you know your rights and the rules,  answer many of your questions regarding traveling with carseats even if you are not flying with a USA airline and provide details of some FAA approved car seats.

IN SUMMARY

In summary, it all depends on the situation and mode of transport. Although annoying, it’s often best for us to bring our own car seats. We always try to be well prepared to make it as easy as possible. For example getting a trolley straight away at the airport. Having coins to operate them if necessary. Getting help from a porter is also helpful in trying to reduce the stress that comes with travelling with kids and bulky equipment. 

SHOULD I TAKE A CAR SEAT ON HOLIDAY? A GUIDE FOR PARENTS

On times when we’ve needed to physically carry both car seats we’ve put the kids into backpacks and strapped both cat seats into the stroller so we can push them. It’s only happened a handful of times when we’ve been crossing borders by foot in Central and South America. That really helped to lighten the load. I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. If you have any comments, do let me know, I love hearing from you.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with RentalCars.com 

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All views expressed are entirely my own.

2019-04-23T12:34:55+00:007 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Charlotte September 14, 2018 at 11:16 am - Reply

    We used to do trips with car seats where we tipped them upside down and fixed them onto the top of suitcases with bungee cords to make it easier to get through airports. Made things much much easier.

  2. Lindsey September 15, 2018 at 1:32 am - Reply

    We follow the same guidelines as TMM and bring seats when we are renting a car. We structured our last big trip around two cities (Washington DC and New York) where we knew we could take public transit the whole time so we didn’t need a car seat for our 3-year-old. We still brought our Then 11-month-old’s infant bucket for the plane rides and strapped it into the stroller for the ride to and from our hotels. We are probably outliers here in that we buy our kids seats even when they could be lap infants.

    We like the Traveling Toddler strap for attaching a convertible seat to a carry-on for carrying through the airport. Find it on Amazon. It’s just a few dollars and easier to store than a specific car seat trolley.

    We are traveling to visit family at Thanksgiving and will be packing both car seats to fly for the first time ever. I’m dreading it. Right now, the plan is to use our 1-year-old’s convertible car seat on the plane and check the 3-year-old’s seat. We’ll buy a bag sold by the car seat manufacturer to put the seat into to check it. I absolutely do not trust the airport staff not to throw the seat around and damage it. Thin car seat protector bags don’t actually protect the seat from harm or unseen damage, but this travel bag from the manufacturer will. Bonus, it will have extra space for luggage in there.

  3. Shanee September 16, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Hey ! When I travel I have a lightweight car seat. The bigger the car seat isn’t better. It’s the install of it that makes a different. Now my son is 40 pounds so he’s in a booster seat!

  4. mary September 21, 2018 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    I never bring a car seat cause I think its not worth it, the one we have is an iso fix, 360 degrees rotating with a “leg” that adjusts to the floor of the car and it is way too heavy to carry around, not to mention that it could be seriously damaged if it was to be checked often.I do my research and book cars ahead and make sure that age proper car seats are offered, I even ask which the model of the available car seat is ?.The annoying part is that after some tiring flight hours and under extreme heat/cold/rain we have to struggle to adjust a car seat that might not be iso fix (aka easy to install) and make sure that the said car seat is in good condition and safely holds my child.I go beyond and I dont even bring stroller for my 2.5 year old son when we are travelling for summer vacation in islands with pebbe stone sidewalks and narrow streets, so during afternoon naps we rest as well.

  5. vidhan December 28, 2018 at 6:15 am - Reply

    Thank you for wonderful post.
    A great post for families who travel with young children. It gives clear options for most stages and alternative ideas to rent-a-car seats.

  6. Sab K July 21, 2019 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Hi, we travel to Turkey in a couple months with our two kids for their first holiday, my daughter is 8 months and my son is 2. I was wondering if you could give me some advice on the whole car seat thing…. we have transfers booked to and from the airport and we will not be renting a vehicle. Is it safe just to hold the kids in our arms in the taxi?

    • Travel Mad Mum July 28, 2019 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      It’s a personal decision and it will also depend on how far it will be to and from the airport. You should also check that it is legal there to take taxis without car seats for the kids because the drivers may refuse to take you. The transfer service may have car seats though if you ask them about it ahead of time.

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