Should I Travel With A Car Seat Or Not?? Pros, Cons, and Cheapest Options

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“Should I travel with a car seat or not?”

It’s one of the most asked questions that we get.  And for a good reason.  Car seats are big, bulky, and HEAVY, so if you don’t absolutely need them, I think everyone would rather leave them at home.  But I’m going to talk about a few things to consider when deciding what’s the best option.

Here are a few things that you need to consider as you make your choice (with lots more in the video below so make sure to check it out):

  •  What ages actually need car seats and are there laws about what kinds of seats they need.
    • Car seat laws vary quite a bit by state and A LOT by country.  For example, did you know that in Costa Rica, all kids under the age of 12 are required to be in a car seat or a booster?  As you can imagine, our 11-year-old was less than thrilled when he learned that on our visit there last summer.
  • Where will you be traveling?
    • If you’re going to be in a big city, public transportation might be your best option.
    • If you’re just traveling to one place and staying put, consider hiring a shuttle service to take you there that will provide car seats for the trip
  • Are you okay with whatever the rental company gives you for a car seat?
    • In our experience, rental car seats are usually dirty and not the highest quality (though I’m sure still safe).  If this bothers you, bring your own.
  • How much will rental car seats cost?
    • Some companies charge as much as $20/day and other companies charge $10/week.  Look into those details before you book!
  • What are the best car seats for travel?
    • Cosco Scenera – it’s slim, cheap and LIGHT.  Honestly, this is my top pick whenever we need to fly with a car seat for our 5 point harness aged kids, and since you can get if for about $50, it’s kind of a no brainer.
    • Bubble Bums Inflatable Booster – If you have a kid who’s a good age for a booster, these are our favorites.  They are really light and small and take up almost no room in a suitcase.  As a bonus, we keep one in each of our cars under the passenger seat and they’re perfect for when we end up taking an extra kid along with us.
    • Rider Safer Car Seat Vest – If you’re looking for an option that’s small and easy to take around, this is your best bet.  It’s more than the other options, but it’s super small.  We borrowed this from a friend when we had a trip to Venice (with lots of walking around cobblestone streets hauling luggage and kids) followed by a two week road trip (where it would have cost a small fortune to rent a car seat).  It was the perfect option for us!
    • Car Seat Luggage Strap – My friend Jamie introduced me to these and they are BRILLIANT.  It straps your car seat to your luggage, basically turing your rolling suitcase into a stroller to use through the airport.  It’s amazing. Go check out how this works in Jamie’s Travel Tips highlights in her Instagram profile!

Also, make sure to check on local laws regarding car seats and taxis/UBER.  In our experience, a lot of cities don’t require a car seat in a taxi, but DO REQUIRE them in an UBER/LYFT.


About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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