Travelling with Car Seats doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Our boys each started travelling with us at around 6 weeks of age. Since then we’ve been going non-stop. Amazingly, babies come with a bunch of stuff! Who knew?
One of the things we found most challenging if it wasn’t a road-trip was what to do with our car seats?
When we first flew from Chicago to Belgium with both of the boys to visit their Grandparents – the Grandparents were confused about why we wanted to either bring carseats – or have them borrow a set. Why couldn’t the kids just take the 45min journey from the airport in our arms? *Sigh*
So we’ve found whether it’s visiting in-laws, or flying and renting a car, often it’s easiest to take our car seats and booster seats along with us.
Different airlines have various rules about 1. if the carseat can come on-board, and 2. if sent as luggage, whether there is a charge or not. It’s best to call the airline ahead of time to get that info. Even if you have that info – don’t be surprised if you get a different answer from the the ticket agent and then again at the check-in desk at your gate. If possible come prepared with a printed copy of the airline’s policy from their website. It will be harder for the airline employee to argue with their company’s publicly printed policy.
So if you are bring your carseat along on vacation with you here are several things to keep in mind.
It doesn’t matter how expensive and amazing the carseat is – expect it to be handled like a sack of rubbish. So, being armed with this knowledge in advance, take necessary precautions, because as I’m sure you know carseats aren’t cheap!
If you are going to take your carseat onto the plane – remember you’ll need to carry it throughout the airport. Also remember you’ll be dragging child, carry-on, purse and any other sticky stuff your child hands you. Thinking about this in advance – it may be good to take something that will help you carry the carseat. While you could take the low-tech option of strapping it to your carry-on while you stroll with a ropes or cords – you may want to consider something specifically designed to carry a large car seat. Strangely – I’ve found not so many options for sale here in the UK so I’ll share some of my favorite American options – which you can order online.
1. Think of it as like a carseat “dolly” or cart. Britax offers their own version – to go along with Britax car-seats, but other brands also come highly rated. (cost is about $60 USD)
2. Throw it over your shoulder. Whether you’re attaching it to your bag, or on your bag – there are options to either carry it in a bag, or back-packs specifically designed to carry your large car seat. My favorite option for this is the “Pac Back” (cost is about $30 USD)
If you are checking your carseat – consider purchasing a carseat cover. While you can purchase one of these new, depending upon how frequently you think you’ll use it, this is one item that can be purchased lightly used on Ebay that will yield a considerable savings!
While I wouldn’t normally recommend purchasing a car-seat used, if you are travelling and need a booster seat for your child – think about buying a set you could leave or discard at your destination.
On our recent ski trip with the kids to Switzerland – we were told that it would be 10GBP ($16 USD) per day, per child to rent booster seats. That means it would cost approximately 140 GBP ($224 USD) for 2 children to have booster seats for the week which I think you’ll agree with me is pretty outrageous!
While I do understand the dangers of purchasing a second hand car-seat and fully support not buying a used car seat for the following reasons:
- you don’t know how old it is
- you don’t know its history
- you don’t know if it’s been in an accident
In my personal opinion (of which you should make your own informed choices and I’m certainly no expert on the subject) I’m ok with second hand booster seats.
Here’s why in my opinion I’m ok with it – for booster seats, the point isn’t to protect the child from impact etc, it’s to boost them up higher in the seat so that the seat belt can fit them properly. The child needs to continue to use the booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt lies correctly across the child’s chest and lap. The belt should sit comfortably across the lap, hitting the upper thighs, and the chest strap should cross the child from the shoulder and not the neck.
So for our recent trip to Switzerland – what I did was purchase 2 used Britax booster seats from Ebay (3GBP each) and throw them in a plastic carry-all which we checked as part of our baggage allowance. We then had 2 booster seats there at the airport ready to use when we arrived to pick up our rental car, which we had no trouble leaving behind. (Especially since on the way back our baggage increased with purchases, souvenirs etc. )
These certainly aren’t the only options – and I’d love to hear your ideas on how you all have managed travelling with car seats. I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips or advice you have to share!
So, as added incentive I’m creating a giveaway for a “Pac Back” car seat carrier giveaway!
Please share your ideas and or experience in the comments below – and you’ll be entered to win a new “Pac Back”
About the Pac Back: Conveniently transport your car seat from one place to another while keeping your hands free. Designed by a mother who frequently travels with her children, the Pac Back is an easy-to-use car seat carrier system. Lightweight and durable, this innovative carrier is manufactured from materials that are built to last: tough, high-density nylon with heavy gauge shoulder straps. A padded waist strap, padded hip protectors and soft padded lumbar support provide comfort while carrying. The Pac Back fits all car and booster seats.
It has numerous positive reviews on Amazon (which is why I bought it in the first place )
“The Pac Back made it possible to carry the car seats and still have both hands free. ” quote from Amazon review
Only persons residing in United Kingdom who are at least 18 years of age can enter.
Giveaway Entry Period Starts
May 6th, 2012 @ 06:30 am (BST)
Giveaway Entry Period Ends
May 15, 2012 @ 09:00 pm (BST)
- Only those over 18, who reside in the UK may enter.
- Entrants must be over the age of 18
- Entrants must be based within the UK
- 1 winner will be selected at random to win a prize
- Entrants must comment on this blog post to qualify for entry
Entrants can enter the Sweepstakes for free by emailing transatlanticmom @ gmail (dot) com and requesting details about alternate registration.
(disclosure – I purchased this item, its new, never used – we ended up not taking the train trip we’d intended for it then the boys grew out of car-seats and on to booster seats. I have been in no way compensated by this post by any of the brands or products mentioned.)