Do's and Don'ts About Car Rentals and Car Seats
Any parent knows that traveling with young children isn't easy. Probably one of the biggest challenges is having to pack and remember all of the items that will be needed while away on a trip. There are the activities to bring on the plane, lots of snacks and meals (as well all know that airlines have ceased to feed us on at least shorter-haul flights), potty seat covers, wipes, diapers, bottles, toys, strollers, etc., etc. When you add car seats to the mix suddenly you are weighed down by so much extra 'stuff' that even approaching the ticketing counter becomes next to impossible.
So, my recommendation is this - if you are going to be renting a vehicle online, make sure to rent a car seat online at the same time. The less you have to schlepp to the airport the better. Goodness knows you have enough on your hands without having to carry 50 lb car seats as well.
But there are some points to be taken into account when you choose to rent car seats. These are listed below for your reference. Before your next trip, make your life easier and use these as a guideline before the flight takes off!
- After you have rented the vehicle and the car seat online, call the rental agency well in advance to make sure they have the seat(s) ready for you. You don't want to arrive at the agency with 3 kids in tow only to be told that they are 'sold out' of seats.
- About 3 to 4 days before you leave, call the agency again. I found out the hard way that agencies don't have perfect memories and aren't always 100% organized. I was left without car seats for a few days (not fun, trust me!).
- Be sure to tell the agency the type of car seats you will need. Do you need a bucket seat base for an infant or a regular toddler car seat? Should the seat(s) be rear facing or forward facing? Do you need a booster seat and if so, what type? With a back or backless? How many of each will you need?
- Ask the agency how old their car seats or booster seats are. You do not want to be putting your precious children into seats dating back to the late 1990's, well after they've expired. Note: If you do arrive at the rental agency and find that their car seats are archaically old, advise them of this and demand that new seats (or at least ones that have not yet expired) be provided.
- Make sure you are aware of the cost of car seats before comitting to using them.
- Make sure that the vehicle you rented has car seat tethers. Seats MUST be properly secured.
- Before placing your child in the seat, make sure it ihas been properly installed (no need to explain why this is necessary).
- Make sure the car seat has been cleaned - you don't want your children eating someone else's Cheerios!
- Take a deep breath and enjoy your trip!