Flying With Carseats

The most frequent questions I get from readers are about how to get through the airport and to their destination with a car seat for a young child. Most parents look to avoid the burden of flying with a carseat when they can. When they cannot, they want to know the easiest ways to deal with their seat (or the best seat for travel). Here are our best tips related to carseats.

Leaving The Carseats At Home
When possible, we avoid bringing our car seats. Checking them worries us (Remember that advice about not using a car seat after it's been in an accident? Do you think that the baggage handlers use kids gloves with car seats or anything else?) Onboard, we use a CARES Airplane Seat Harness and we try to use trains and subways at our destination.

Dec 07: Advantage Rent=A-Car's Unsafe Car Seats
July 08: Danger For Rent: Car Rental Agency Puts Infant At Risk (Again)

Flying with Car Seats? Read our the helpful four part series from our Blog:

Part I: Who Need a Car Seat Onboard A Plane
Part II: Checking, Renting and Carrying on a Car Seat When Flying
Part III: Airport Car Seat Carriers (Product Reviews)
Part IV: Travel Car Seats (Product Reviews)

Safety Tips
Safety Tips For Renting A Carseat

Choosing and Buying a Carseat
How to Choose a Booster Seat (includes links for finding safe carseats at any age)
Best Bet Carseats for Every Age

Getting from the airport to your destination without a carseat
When we're visiting a major city, our top preference is to take a train or subway from the airport to our hotel (it helps to pack light). Often there is a short walk between the station and the hotel, and we divide the work by having one parent get in a taxi with the baggage while the other walks with the kids. We meet up at the hotel.

When public transportation just isn't possible, it take some searching, but we can often find a shuttle service or limousine service that provides carseats on request. The carseats need to be requested when you book, and you will have to be very clear about the age of your child and the type of carseat you need. We also recommend re-confirming the carseat the day before you travel. Most shuttle and limo drivers will not install the seat for you for liability reasons, so be prepared to install the car seat when they pick you up. Remember to inspect the carseat carefully just as you would in a rental car.

A final option is to use a more portable carseat for travel. For kids 30 to 80 pounds, the Ridesafer Travel Vest fits in your carryon bag and is easy to install. For booster seat aged kids, the Bubblebum inflatable booster is a good choice.

Carseat Laws at your Destination
Carseat regulations vary considerably around the world. In some place you'll find that seatbelts are rarely used, while in others you'll find strict laws in place regarding car seat use in both rental cars and taxis. It's important to find out ahead of time what rules would apply in the destinations you are visiting. When visiting a destination with lax car seat laws, you might want to keep in mind that having your child properly secured in an age appropriate car seat is just as important abroad as it is at home.

Here are links to carseat laws in some common destinations:

Carseat laws in the United States (USA)
Carseat laws vary by state in the United States, so you'll need to search for "" car seat law" to find out which laws apply to your destinations. California currently holds the most stringent laws and requires that children are secured in a carseat or booster seat until they are at least 8 years old or 4'9" tall. California state law also requires that children use car seats when they are in a taxi or airport shuttle (but not a bus).

Here is a handy summary of carseat laws in each state that was up to date as of this writing: US Carseat Laws

EU Carseat Law
The European Union has a single car seat law governing all EU countries. You can find it here:EU Carseat Law. Some parents have asked me about the requirement to use an EU approved carseat (vs bringing one from home which would have a US approval. While there's no official exemption to the rule for visitors, I have never heard of someone being ticketed when their child was properly restrained in a car seat from a different country.

EU countries include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom (England)

Canadian Car Seat Law
Canada has a single car seat law that is enforced in every province. Canadian car seat laws can be found here: Canada Seat Belt Law