To car seat or not to car seat...that is the question! It's one we're asked time and again here at Vacationkids. Obviously parents want to do the right time and keep their kids safe while having fun on vacation.
Car seat questions start popping up when flights are part of your vacation itinerary. Car seat safety during flights is just part of the story. If you're flying within the U.S., parents pretty much know the rules. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child safety seat laws. These laws require children to travel in approved child restraints or booster seats. Some permit or require older children to use adult safety belts. The age at which belts can be used instead of child safety seats differs among the states. you'll install your car seat into your relative's ride or rental car just like you do at home.
But what if you're flight is taking you and your child overseas to a different country? Car seat rules in other countries can be very different from here at home. How can you have peace of mind knowing you've done your best to keep your little one safe and sound while on vacation?
Foreign car seat laws can vary dramatically from what parents are accustom to back home in the states. Many countries do not require children to be safely strapped in car seats. For this reason automobiles in these countries may not be equipped with the latches, anchors or seatbelt locking retractors necessary to safely install U.S. car seats. Child seat Anchor systems have been standard equipment in U.S. and Canadian Cars since 2002. In Europe, it's called ISOFIX and have been available since 2007.
So what's a parent to do?...Here are some options to help you make the best decisions for your family -
1.Car safety seats are NOT required on public transportation, even here in the U.S. If you choose to let your baby to fly as a Lapchild and do not want to bring their car seat, you can elect to use public transportation to get to your hotel and for your sightseeing excursions.
2. Check with transportation or car rental companies in your foreing destination. They may offer car seat rentals for an additional fee. Bear in mind these car seats may or may not be equivalent to U.S. safety standards. Ask if they have vehicles built to American standards the DO have latch systems for U.S. car seat installation. You may be able to obtain this type of vehicle as a simple request. Here at Vacationkids, the transportation companies we use, offers vehicles with latches for car seats in Mexico and other Caribbean destinations. Many other car rental or transportation companies will required you to pay an upgrade for a vehicle with car seat latch features but it will solve your dilemna.
3. Contact the customer care department of your car seat manufacturer and ask their recommendation. Some seats come with this car seat clip that fits over the car's seat belt system locking your car seat into place. If your car seat didn't come with this clip, you can purchase one for usually less than $10. This way you'll always be prepared and ready for any unexpected situation while traveling and have the peace of mind knowing you've done your best to keep your little one safe, happy and sound.
Here is a video from Evenflo that explains how to use a locking clip. Again, you MUST check your car seat owners manual or customer care recommendations specifically. This video is only meant as a demo, to give you a visual and basic idea about how this clip works -