Carpe Diem OUR Way Family Travel Blog

Do You Travel With Car Seats?

** this is another post in out “What to Pack” Feature. To see more posts and packing lists click here

For so many families, when planning a vacation, there is always the decision: “Do you pack the car seat?”

 

Some holidays, there is an easy answer. If you are staying in one place and have an airport transfer, you probably don’t put much thought into it. But if you are thinking of renting a car, or already have one booked, it is sometimes more difficult to make up your mind. You can add another wrinkle into your plans if your young toddler has their own seat and you would prefer to restrain them on the plane, because they are more comfortable with their familiar seat.

car seat carpe diem
So what do WE do?

In a simple answer, YES we travel with car seats for every trip we have taken. In the past three years that has been a decent amount of travel! On our first overseas trip with a baby, we took it from Vancouver to England, then to France and back to England again. Twice we have packed 2 car seats to go to Hawaii and Las Vegas.

car seat travel blog

And I will admit, they are BIG, BULKY and a HUGE PAIN.


 Here are the reasons WHY we take our car seats for travel:

You know where it has been: Car seats can be compromised when in an accident, and if you rent a car seat from a rental company, or add on to your car rental, you don’t know the history of the seat: how it has been taken care of, if there has been any recalls on it, if it is expired.

 

It is set up to fit your child: The harnesses and buckles are ready to install quickly, and you can start enjoying your holiday. After a long travel day no one wants to be fiddling with an unfamiliar seat, trying to set it up properly to fit your child

You know hot to install it: when you bring your own car seat on vacation you know exactly how to install it correctly. Your rental car may be unfamiliar, but at least your car seat is not. You know where to feed the straps through the seat to get a proper fit and you don’t have to try to read manuals or pull on buckles while you may have an overtired screaming child who didn’t nap on the plane (despite your best efforts)

 

It saves money. We like having a car, so instead of paying around $10 per day to the car rental company, we bring our own. Furthermore, most airlines will check the car seats for free as it is a necessity for children. Make sure you check with your airline before your trip!

 

You know it will be there when you arrive. We personally choose to gate check our car seats. Yes it makes for more stuff to take through security, yes you have to hold on to that bulky thing a little longer, but yes it means it will be there when you arrive, and you don’t have to worry about lost luggage!

 

Now we are planning overseas travel. That is much different than a 2 week vacation! We will most likely NOT be taking car seats, but we haven’t ruled it out, depending on where we head off to! My oldest will likely use a bubblebum or another booster seat, so those are much easier to carry! I love that they fit in a suitcase or backpack! But my youngest will only be 2.5 years old when we leave. We are still undecided but im sure we will figure it out as our trip plans firm up!

 

Do you travel with car seats? Would love to hear why or why not?

Are you shopping for a car seat? Check out amazon.com (US Shoppers) or amazon.ca (Canadian Shoppers)

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car seats for travel

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Lindsay is the Editor and Head Writer of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She wears many hats including mom, wife, freelancer, GM for a manufacturing company and soccer player. Lindsay is spontaneous, loves travel, photography and very recently discovered she loves to write.

19 thoughts on “Do You Travel With Car Seats?

  1. Lisa P

    I plan I trying out the bubble bum aswell. It’s such a pain to travel with all the “gear!” Great list of pros and cons!

  2. noel

    Sounds like you guys are the perfect travelers and parents, always prepared for a new fun adventure and thinking ahead, way to go with those car seats~

  3. Natasha

    So far I have successfully managed to avoid breeding, so I do not see car seats in my future. It is interesting to see travelling from a different perspective than a solo female.

  4. Carol Colborn

    I know my daughters do. They will learn a lot from this piece! I often wondered how difficult it might be! They’ve lost a few.

  5. Anne Sutherland-Smith

    Lindsay, it is a real dilemma as they are so big and bulky to get around. Fortunately we are now in a phase where only our youngest (of 3) is still in a car seat and he only has ~6 months to go before he can sit in the normal car seat – we will definitely be pleased to see the last one go! For our upcoming trip to Japan we have booked a hire car for our last two days and I have added their booster seat to the booking – hopefully it will be ok.

  6. RaW | Ramble and Wander

    I certainly would although I would probably opt for a stroller + car seat combo. They could be a hassle when checking in for flights but could also save a lot of headache when travelling with young children.

  7. Natalie Deduck

    I have never thought about this bulky question: carry car Seats, or not!
    Now I understand when my friends with little kids tell me that a family trip involves lots of different stuff to be organized…
    And you are right while renting a car every little extra service costs a lot of money! 😀
    All the best,

    Nat

  8. Dave from Daves Travel Pages

    Not having kids, this is one of the small details of travel with kids that passes me by I suppose! Although you cast some doubt on car rental companies supplying a reliable seat, I’m pretty sure they are not going to leave themselves liable for a faulty product, and that it would be inspected as much as the car is?

  9. Vicky and Buddy

    I always see families with car seats and feel so bad for them! They always look frustrated and tired. But I guess at the end of the day it is worth it. Especially since, like you said, it’s already set up to fit the child once you land.

  10. Katja - globetotting

    We usually always travel with our car seats too. With the older two it’s easier as we use the Trunki Boostapak, which doubles as a backpack for the kids to carry. Now that we have a baby again we’ll be back to lugging along baby car seats and then toddler car seats etc.. I always think they are really annoying to bring and then am really grateful when we have them on the other side of the flight!

  11. Allison

    We are out of the car seat phase, and it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about on vacation. When we did have two kids in car seats, we nearly always took road trips, so that made the decision easy.

  12. Danielle (Bubs on the Move)

    We do the same. When our eldest was younger we were horrified at the broken and unsafe car seats we were provided by big name rentals here in Australia. We have three kids now that need carseats and on a recent trip I worked out taking our seats saved us $450 in hire costs of seats.

  13. Jody Robbins

    True enough! We took our car seat on our first trip with our daughter when she was 5-months old. The next trip we didn’t and we totally regretted it. This is a great tip, I need to remind other parents of. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. eileen at FamiliesGo!

    i never brought my car seat. I used the CARES harness on planes. As long as the country you are visiting requires car seats I’ve found that the rental agencies will have decent ones. And with AAA, Hertz will give you free car seat rentals in the US. Now that my daughter is older we have the Bubble Bum. In a country where they aren’t required, i would bring something, as the rental agencies are less reliable then.

  15. Kyla

    I agree, when traveling to and from a single destination (and picking up the car from the airport) we always take our carseats. It’s one less thing to worry about, and one less thing to pay for! We hauled two convertible carseats around the Paris Metro once, with kids in a double umbrella stroller, and my husband swore we would never travel with carseats again. We have…but only if there is a car at the airport. For everything else we use and love our bumblebums. They are a bit bulkier than I’d like, but they work fantastically!! For our 3-year old (and when our 5 year old was smaller) we use the “Ride Safer Travel Vest”. They easily slip into the back of our backpack (or top of a suitcase) and are ridiculously easy to use, especially in countries where no car seats are the norms…although then you’re lucky to even get a carseat! The girls complain a little bit that they are hot, but I’d rather them be hot and safe.

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