Family Travel Question:
Q | What is the best way to travel with a car seat in tow?
Traveling with a car seat is always tricky, but there are a few ideas that can help make your trip easier.
A | Traveling with a car seat
First, decide whether you absolutely need a car seat at your destination. If you can plan to use public transportation instead of a rental car or taxi, consider using the CARES: Child Aviation Restraint System in flight.
Second, if you absolutely need to bring a car seat along, confirm that your seat can be used on board (or plan to check it). Some car seats are too wide to install in an airline seat, and if your car seat is particularly wide, you can use information on your airline’s website to find out how wide the seats are and determine whether your seat will fit. Additionally, booster seats are not designed to be used on an airplane. Small (backless) boosters can be placed in the overhead bin or checked in either at the gate or at the baggage check (checking in at the gate avoids possible damage from the baggage system and reduces the risk of your car seat getting lost).
Third, once you have determined that you will be bringing your car seat onboard, you will need to carry it through the airport. Many parents balance a car seat on top of their stroller, or pull the straps out so that they can sling it over a shoulder. If neither of these options seems convenient to you, the Go-Go Kidz Travelmate turns almost any car seat into a stroller that can be used in the airport and at your destination (a nice choice if you plan to use taxis to get around town). Alternatively, the Lilly Gold Sit ‘N’ Stroll 5 in 1 Car Seat & Stroller Combination converts between a car seat and stroller quickly and easily.
Finally, if you choose to check your car seat (it is safer for child to be secured with a five-point harness or car seat in flight, but not legally required) be sure to protect your car seat from damage and loss. The best way to check your car seat is to place it in the box it came in, but you can also stow it in a large garbage bag or an inexpensive car seat travel bag.
One final word of warning: Resist the temptation to rent a baby seat from your car rental company. Every year I hear complaints from parents who are quite literally stranded at the rental car agency because the seats they reserved are either unavailable, damaged, or too old to be considered safe.
Disclosure: If you purchase a product using one of the links in this article, I will receive a small commission.