When you’re traveling by plane with kids you face a tough decision: to carry those bulky, heavy car seats on the plane, or to get a rental car with car seats included?
There are three primary considerations to keep in mind when you’re deciding between renting car seats or bringing your own: safety, cost and convenience.
Most rental car companies offer the option to also rent car seats. These car rental companies typically guarantee the safety of what they’re providing, but there’s no way to know that for sure.
Also, it’s not legal in most cases to resell car seats, even very new ones, because of the possibility they’ve been in an accident or they are no longer considered safe according to updated standards, but you really don’t know how old a rental car seat is going to be.
You may also have to check and see whether or not the car seat has been installed properly. As a parent you likely know installing today’s car seats is the equivalent of rocket science, and if you’re not familiar with a particular seat, you may not actually know whether or not it’s in correctly.
If you hate germs and general grossness you may also be turned off by the idea of renting a car seat. Even if a car seat looks clean when you rent it, it can tend to be pretty disgusting (think about how gross your kid’s seat is).
Along with safety, cost is an important factor to consider. When you rent a car with car seats included, it can cost anywhere from $10 to $15 per seat, per day. That can add up very quickly and you could see yourself paying an extra couple of hundred dollars in addition to standard rental car fees.
Most airlines will let you check car seats for free, so you may not be paying anything to bring your own, although you should check with your individual airline about their policy of car seats.
If you’re worried about the cost of renting a car seat but don’t want to bring them with you, check with companies like AAA or rental car companies and see if they have any special discounts available for people who rent cars with car seats.
Convenience is the main reason parents decide to rent car seats versus carrying them on the plane. When you’re dragging kids and luggage through an airport adding two bulky car seats can really be a hindrance.
You have to consider whether you have the time or even the desire to bring your children’s car seats on the plane and then install them in a rental car.
Of course if you’re planning on taking taxis or other forms of transportation during your trip, aside from a rental car, you may have to bring the car seats.
What do you think about renting car seats? Is it worth the cost for the convenience, or do you just bring the seats on the plane?