Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Plan in Advance for Traveling With a Car Seat

August 29, 2013

I recently read an interesting article from TODAY about whether parents should bring their own car seats when traveling with children, or rely on rental car companies to supply them. While the article recommends it may be best to always bring your own seat, I myself have exercised both options when traveling with my children and know that it is not a straightforward decision.

When traveling by plane, a parent can keep their under-2-year-old child on their lap, but the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) say that it’s much safer for the child to sit next to the parent in a car seat. Parents should look for an FAA approval sticker on their car seat, and check with the airline ahead of time to make sure the plane can accommodate its dimensions as some larger child safety seats may need to be checked as luggage (which in some cases can cost more than renting a car seat with a rental vehicle). Alternatively, there are also some FAA-approved harnesses for older infants and toddlers that fold down in a small, compact bag for convenience. If parents choose to rent a car seat along with their rental car, they should make sure the seat is appropriate for their child’s height and weight and the seat is in good condition.

With so many variables to traveling with children (the length of the trip, the destination, the number of children requiring car seats, etc.), there is no “hard and fast” rule for parents bringing their own child seat versus renting one while traveling. What never changes, however, is for parents to make the appropriate arrangements well in advance of their travel to ensure that their children will be restrained properly. Click here to access common installation mistakes to share with parents. To access the full TODAY article, click here.

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