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If you are considering purchasing an infant car seat which is suitable for traveling, you need to also consider the actual practicalities of traveling with an infant car seat. It might not be worth investing in a travel car seat if it means more lugging around and more effort for you.
Understanding the practicalities might also encourage you to purchase a travel car seat instead of carrying around the heavy infant car seat that usually stays in the back of your car.
Whether traveling with an infant car seat is right for your family or not will depend on your own circumstances and how often you travel. Below are some of the options available to you, plus the factors you need to consider when traveling with an infant car seat.
Traveling With An Infant Car Seat By Plane
It is never great having more luggage to travel with at the airport, especially if you have young children to look after as well. An infant car seat could just be that extra piece of baggage that tips you over the edge!
Do you really need an infant car seat when you travel? Here is what to think of:
Extra restraint for your baby
It is recommended that children sit in a car seat when on a plane, and this goes for infants as well. The one catch is that if your baby is young enough to sit on your lap, you would have to purchase an extra seat for their car seat, which could be costly.
However, it really does help to have an infant car seat. Whether you have a bad runway experience or turbulence in the air, the car seat will keep your baby restrained and safe. For older children, there are harnesses you could use on the plane, but an infant car seat is safer for babies.
The car seat might be damaged
If you are checking your car seat in, there is a chance it might be damaged when it comes out the other side. Checked-in baggage is often not handled gently, and this could land up completely ruining the car seat.
Once damaged, car seats should not be used again. So if some parts are broken or foam is ripped off in flight, you will have to throw the car seat away. Some airlines might replace damaged car seats, but others do not accept responsibility.
Your car seat might not ever arrive
It is not unheard of that baggage goes missing between destinations, vanishing into thin air. There is a chance that your car seat might never make it to your destination, and this could leave you quite stranded if you do not have any other backup plans in place.
There is nothing worse than being stuck without something that your child really needs. You might be able to make a plan with a rental car agency or the airline, but having to go through the stress of finding a car seat is just not fun.
Checking In A Car Seat
For most people, checking in a car seat works out okay in the end, and only an unfortunate few face problems when checking in a car seat.
If you decide to check in your car seat, you might have a few questions.
How should I pack the car seat for checked baggage?
When packing your car seat to send it for checked baggage, you need to ensure it is packed really well. If possible, use the original cardboard box that the car seat came in, or alternatively use a replacement box. These boxes absorb energy to protect the contents and can withstand some damage.
You could also use a car seat travel bag, but it is not always strong enough to stand up against rough handling of luggage and might also end up damaged at the end of the flight.
Should I gate-check my car seat, or check it in at the ticket counter?
Gate-checking your car seat will minimize the handling of the car seat, and therefore reduce the damage done to it.
If you are planning to have your child sit on your lap and want to check in the car seat, you could always try your luck and ask the gate agent if there is a spare seat you could place the car seat in (and maybe even your baby) so that it does not need to be held with other checked baggage.
Should I pack our usual infant car seat?
If you use an expensive car seat for day to day travel, you might want to leave that at home and instead purchase a travel infant car seat to use.
You will not be happy at all if your expensive car seat goes missing or gets damaged in transit. You will also not need all the fancy features the car seat has just for a flight.
How To Transport Your Car Seat In The Airport
It is natural to stress in the days leading up to your trip, and one of those stresses might be how you will actually transport your car seat at the airport. You will only be in the airport for a short amount of time between departing, layovers, and arrival, but a heavy car seat can take its toll.
Here are the different ways you can transport your car seat at the airport.
Carry the car seat
This seems super obvious, but sometimes the most obvious solution is one we don’t actually consider. If you have purchased a lightweight infant car seat, you could carry it around with you to the airport.
Clip harnesses together, pull up the handles, do whatever you can to make carrying the car seat easier. You won’t have to buy any straps or clips, and it is easy enough to place the car seat down when it is time to be screened by security.
Use a luggage strap
A genius way to carry an infant car seat is to simply use a luggage strap! This can be attached to the car seat much the same way a seatbelt would, and you could then attach this to your rolling luggage. You could carry it this way until you need to put the car seat onto the plane chair.
It is a cheap and compact way to transport the car seat, but it does work best with smaller car seats; it might make your roller bag more difficult to manoeuvre around.
Purchase a car seat travel cart
A car seat travel cart will transform the infant car seat into a wheeled one, and you can use the extended handle to pull the car seat along with the rest of your luggage. You could even keep your child strapped into the car seat as you pull it along.
This solves two problems – transporting the car seat through the airport and transporting your baby through the airport as well!
If your family travels often, this is a great option but if not, it is an expensive purchase just for one-off travel.
Use a car seat backpack
There are some car seat backpacks available for purchase. These close up and zip around the car seat, and then allow you to wear it as a backpack. These usually fold down small and are easy to pack away when not in use.
The issue is that your child cannot ride in the car seat while it is on your back. Also, they do not have very good weight distribution, so it might cause some back pain after carrying it for a while.
Traveling With An Infant Car Seat In A Taxi
Your baby still needs the protection of an infant car seat when traveling in a taxi. Whether you catch taxis when running errands, or are planning on using them for transport when on holiday, it is always best to keep an infant car seat to sit your child in when on the road.
Before your trip, you could research the taxi company and find out if they could bring along a car seat for your child to use. Some companies do offer this, and it saves you having to bring along your own car seat.
There are many different travel infant car seats available for traveling by taxi. These are light and compact, while still offering great protection. There are also options for car seats which convert into strollers, which is just a dream when traveling with a baby!
Always make the effort to have a car seat available when traveling with your baby. Holding them on your lap just doesn’t cut it.
Car Seat Rentals
Another option you have when traveling is to hire a car seat. You could either contact the airport and see if they have car seats to hire for the flight, or you could find a baby-rental business where you are headed and see if they have any available car seats to rent out.
This saves you having to carry the car seat throughout the airport, and you will not have to pay for any extra luggage.
Most cities will have a baby rental company where you can rent items such as infant car seats, cots, strollers, and many other items.
This might be a more practical option for you and cuts down the luggage you have to carry, and you do not have to risk your infant car seat being ruined when transported by the airlines.
Traveling With An Infant Car Seat
For families who travel often, it might be worth purchasing a lightweight travel infant car seat. These have been designed to be taken on the go and will definitely make traveling easier for you, whether it be by plane or taxi.
If you do not travel often, look at other options such as car seat rental. The cost of an infant travel car seat might not be worth taking it just on one flight, and there is no point buying it if you have another car seat that you use already.
Weigh up all the options and practicalities of transporting an infant car seat and see which is the best option for you!
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