Posted by: MummyTravels | May 29, 2012

The car seat conundrum

It’s one of the few items parents are told not to buy second-hand, and one of the few that even the hospital insists you have before the birth – a car seat. So, the chances are that at home, you know that they’re safe and sound as you travel around.

But what to do when you go on holiday abroad? If you’re flying and planning to rent a car at the other end, there’s two options – take your own as part of your luggage allowance or rent one from the hire company.

Well, why lug around heavy paraphernalia if you don’t need to, right? Except a new survey gives some worrying reasons why you might not want to rely on a rental car company. Over a sixth of the parents surveyed by YouGov for iCarhireinsurance.com said the seat they were given was ‘dirty and tatty’, but worse, over a quarter had no help to fit the seat, and 37% weren’t even given written instructions on how to do it.

Which if you’re fiddling about with an unfamiliar model after a long plane journey, isn’t just frustrating, it could be dangerous if it’s not fitted properly.

Worse still, it’s not cheap to get bad service. A comparison of prices from three major car hire companies found it cost around £60 to rent a car seat for a fortnight – nearly as much as they can cost new.

So what to do? Airlines have different policies on travelling with car seats, so it’s worth checking before you fly whether you can take them as hand luggage (and whether this means you need an extra seat for your child), which car seats they’ll accept and whether you can check them into the hold for free, especially if you also want to check in a buggy. If you can check it in, make sure it’s very well protected.

Some, like easyJet, insist you bring your own if you want your child to sit in a separate seat, while Ryanair won’t allow you to bring one on board at all. No big surprise there…

Even if you can take it along, it’s worth checking that your model will fit into the hire car you’ve requested – especially if the company can’t guarantee which car you’ll actually get.

For older kids, something like the Trunki BoostApak, £44.99, (www.trunki.co.uk) could be the answer – the booster seat converts into a rucksack, it’s hand luggage approved, and is suitable for four to 12-year-olds (or 15-36kg).

So what’s everyone’s experience of hiring car seats or travelling with them?

Image: mapagajgp/Flickr

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