“Should I bring a car seat or stroller on our next family vacation?”
This is a common question for parents with little one and something my husband and I discuss during the trip planning process.
Below we’ll discuss when to bring baby and toddler travel gear from home, how to travel safely with them and our top recommendations for travel friendly car seats and strollers.
Should I Bring a Car Seat or Stroller from Home for This Vacation?
The number one reason we’ve opted to rent baby equipment over bringing car seats and strollers from home is for convenience.
When you have multiple suitcases, diaper bags and other baby and toddler necessities like bottles and travel beds to deal with, finding a free hand to carry a bulky car seat and stroller through security checkpoints seems like a hassle.
However, there are some instances when you should definitely consider bringing a car seat or stroller from home.
1. Safety at the Airport and on a Plane
A stroller comes in handy if you’re traveling with a baby or a toddler who is just learning how to walk. It keeps little ones safe as you navigate through the airport and gives them a familiar and comfortable place to take a nap if needed. Most airlines will allow you to take your stroller all the way to the gate and allow you to board the aircraft earlier than those traveling without young children so you can get your kids settled in.
The FAA strongly recommends using an approved restraint for kids under 40 lbs. This is critical during take-off, landing and in-flight turbulence. We’ve been on flights with really rough turbulence and there’s no way my husband and I would have been able to hold our kids down safely in their seats. Thankfully we had a car seat for our son and a CARES Harness for our daughter.
Note: Booster seats are not approved for aircraft use as they require a vehicle lap and shoulder belt.
2. When You Plan on Taking Taxis or Renting a Vehicle at Your Destination
While some cities don’t require car seats or booster seats for kids, if you’re planning on taking taxis or renting a vehicle while on vacation, the best way to keep your kids safe is to use a proper car seat or booster seat.
Many car rental companies offer car seats and booster seats on a first-come-first-serve basis however there’s no guarantee they meet current safety standards, how often its been cleaned and if it has never been in a car accident.
3. When There’s No Baby or Toddler Travel Gear Company to Rent From
We sometimes rent travel gear like booster seats and strollers from travel equipment companies because of positive reviews we’ve read online. But when we’re traveling to a destination where there are no reputable companies to rent from, we bring our travel gear from home.
Tips For Flying With Car Seats and Strollers
It can be a struggle to carry everything you need when traveling with babies and toddlers, but it is necessary to make sure they are as safe as possible. Airplane travel is often the easiest and most time efficient way to travel. If your next vacation or family trip is by airplane, keep these tips in mind.
1. Research Airline Seat Measurements Ahead of Time
One major issue is when your car seat is larger than the airline seat you will be traveling in. Before your flight, make sure the car seat you’re flying with fits in the seat.
The Evenflo LiteMax 35 Infant Car Seat is a lightweight and plane-friendly car seat for kids 4 to 35 lbs.
2. Use an All-In-One Stroller System for Infants and Toddlers
If you have an All-in-One stroller system like the Graco Fastaction Fold Jogger Click Connect Baby Travel System, this is a perfect time to put it to use. You’ll have the car seat on hand as needed, and a stroller makes it easy to transport everything around the airport. Once you get to the gate, you’ll have to check the stroller and take the car seat on board with you.
3. Use a Rolling Cart for Easy Transport
If you’re traveling with just the car seat, consider using a car seat travel cart like the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart to wheel your car seat easily around the airport and to your destination. And your child can ride in their seat at the same time. These car seat travel carts fold down easily and can be stored in the overhead bin.
4. Look into Renting or Purchasing Car Seats, Booster Seats and Strollers
As mentioned above, you may want to look into renting travel gear at your destination. This is a good option for parents who have an older child who will be OK on the flight but still need the car seat or booster at your destination for travel.
You may simply prefer to purchase while there depending on the cost involved in checking and transporting to your destination. Booster seats and lightweight strollers can be purchased at big box stores or online for less than $100.
Our favorite booster seat is this BubbleBum Backless Inflatable Travel Booster Car Seat – it’s extremely portable and won’t break the bank.