Author Topic: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats  (Read 19311 times)

jeromedawg

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Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« on: May 09, 2016, 07:40:00 PM »
Hey guys,

For those of you who are veteran travelers w/ families or kids, what do you suggest as far as car seats? Our little guy will be over a year by the time we travel with him to Hawaii and we are going to still need a car seat for him I'd imagine. Is it best just to rent one there? Or is it worth it to lug ours with us? Ideally, we want to pack sensibly to the point that we aren't walking around with luggage hanging off every available limb :)

Any tips or advice? We'd be flying with Hawaiian Air most likely and I think strollers/carseat check-ins don't incur luggage fees, which is nice, but the idea of hauling all that crap through the airport is daunting too.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 07:44:28 PM by jplee3 »

asiljoy

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2016, 08:13:47 PM »
We've rented carseats and brought them. Depending on who you're flying, you can just check the carseat when you check your luggage, NBD. If that's possible, that's what I'd do. Using rented car seats is it's own pain the butt and not cheap.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2016, 11:38:28 PM »
We've rented carseats and brought them. Depending on who you're flying, you can just check the carseat when you check your luggage, NBD. If that's possible, that's what I'd do. Using rented car seats is it's own pain the butt and not cheap.

I've heard of people recommending buying cheap lightweight carseats (I guess Costco sells one/some?) and also having the kid sit in it on the plane vs checking the seat in because it's more comfortable for them to be in a car seat. It's a 6-8 hour flight so I dunno. It just seems like a huge hassle dealing with strapping the car seat in on the plane - on that note, will many airlines accommodate for children under 2 to have their own seats in addition to the "kids fly free" rule? I think I've seen where some airlines will add a surcharge on if there's a seat allotted for the kid vs flying with them on your lap

Allie

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2016, 12:34:42 AM »
We just went and took the car seat and booster seat as checked luggage.  The rental would have cost as much as a car seat and there is no way to know what has happened to the seat.  When we got off the plane after a day of traveling, my husband picked up the rental car while I waited with the kids at baggage claim.  We clipped them in and off we went, no adjusting or wrestling with buckle sizing.  On the way back, the Kona airport Hawaii airlines check in was amazing.  The guy saw me with two tired small children and got everything checked in for us while I entertained the kids.  The luggage was unloaded from the car, he asked for some information, and it all just magically disappeared only to reappear at our destination.

Honestly, I can't imagine having to deal with a car seat in the airport or on the plane.  We had a stroller for the 2yo that we gate checked in case she needed to be restrained (she's a runner) or got tired in the airports, but that helped us carry stuff instead of adding to the burden.

gooki

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2016, 05:20:04 AM »
Or choose a car rental company that provides car seats without the extra charges.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2016, 06:52:04 AM »
I second using the car seat on the plane. Just make sure it's FAA approved (pretty much every car seat is). Never check/gate check your car seat, but strollers are fine.

asiljoy

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2016, 07:00:44 AM »
We've rented carseats and brought them. Depending on who you're flying, you can just check the carseat when you check your luggage, NBD. If that's possible, that's what I'd do. Using rented car seats is it's own pain the butt and not cheap.

I've heard of people recommending buying cheap lightweight carseats (I guess Costco sells one/some?) and also having the kid sit in it on the plane vs checking the seat in because it's more comfortable for them to be in a car seat. It's a 6-8 hour flight so I dunno. It just seems like a huge hassle dealing with strapping the car seat in on the plane - on that note, will many airlines accommodate for children under 2 to have their own seats in addition to the "kids fly free" rule? I think I've seen where some airlines will add a surcharge on if there's a seat allotted for the kid vs flying with them on your lap

They'll accommodate the kid, but you'll need to buy them a ticket and an approved carseat.

Whether or not they'll use said seat seems to vary widely. My nephews have no trouble, but my kid wouldn't.  After an hour, I put him in his Ergo to save my arms and he just fell asleep.

Platypuses

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2016, 07:21:01 AM »
We recently flew with a 2 y.o. and 4 y.o. and ended up renting the car seats. It was quite expensive $20/day for two carseats (each $10/day).
If I had to do it again I would bring my own car seat and check them at baggage drop off or at the gate. The rental seats were poor quality and I had to return one of the seats as the kid who sat in there before threw up on it.

Next time I fly with my 2 y.o. I might try attaching the car seat to a suitcase and buckling her in so I don't have to run around after her (They have something on Amazon for $15 where you can attach the car seat to the handle of your suitcase, but some reviews say you can do this for free using your car seat straps).

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2016, 08:34:00 AM »
We recently flew with a 2 y.o. and 4 y.o. and ended up renting the car seats. It was quite expensive $20/day for two carseats (each $10/day).
If I had to do it again I would bring my own car seat and check them at baggage drop off or at the gate. The rental seats were poor quality and I had to return one of the seats as the kid who sat in there before threw up on it.

Next time I fly with my 2 y.o. I might try attaching the car seat to a suitcase and buckling her in so I don't have to run around after her (They have something on Amazon for $15 where you can attach the car seat to the handle of your suitcase, but some reviews say you can do this for free using your car seat straps).

We managed to fit the car seat upside down in the stroller using a luggage strap while baby-wearing. It may or may not have been slightly crazy.

tweezers

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2016, 08:36:05 AM »
I travel a lot for work, and when ours were little (<4 years) we generally traveled as a family.  Our experience:

-We always brought our own car seats because of the cost to rent, rental seats don't have the features ours do, the PITA of adjusting car seat straps, the smell of pee on the car seat my sister  rented when we were on a family trip (gross!!), and knowing our seats in terms of installation. 

-We put the seat in a bag.  We have the one at the link below....its easily been on ~60 trips and looks a little beat up but is still intact (its like carrying a little piano on your back, but manageable).  A hockey bag works well too.  We traveled a few times without doing so, and on one of those trips my daughter's seat was broken by the airline.  They reimbursed us the full replacement amount, plus the cost of our rental car seat, but it was a pain.

-We check our seats.  When we just had one child and were more paranoid, we would gate check the seat to ensure it made it to our destination with us.  Now we check them at the ticket counter with other baggage (no fee to do so).  In all our travel the seat was only misdirected once (loaner seat provided and our seat was delivered to the hotel).

Important note about purchasing a seat for a child <2years: if they have a paid-for seat, they have to be in it and secured when the seat belt light is on.  This can be a complete life suck for you and everyone on the plane when your screaming child just wants to be held (and would be if they were a lap child), but has to be belted into their seat.  We used our car seat on the plane exactly once.  It was a nightmare getting it installed/uninstalled, and because they were higher up and closer to the seat in front of them I was constantly having to remind them to not kick/push the seat in front of them.   

http://www.amazon.com/J-L-Childress-Ultimate-Backpack-Padded/dp/B0009RNXNA/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1462889832&sr=8-3&keywords=car+seat+bags+for+air+travel) When it was just our oldest we would always

KCM5

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2016, 09:18:52 AM »
Yes to the Cosco Scenera. $40 at Walmart. Super light and easy to install in airplanes.

Strap it to your wheeled carryon bag with a luggage strap or another strap. Figure out how to do this before you go.

Carry child in carrier (ergo or whatever).

On plane, if you choose to get child a seat, have one parent board early and strap in carseat (this is easy, probably easier than the car because it will be forward facing rather than rear facing and you just use the airplane seatbelt - takes less than 60 seconds). Then have other parent board with baby and strap baby into seat. Do not let baby's feet ever touch the floor of the airplane. Entertain baby with things like books, new toys, fun food, and TV. Basically, whatever is necessary.

If you do not choose to buy a seat for the child, ask nicely at the desk if there are extra seats in the plane and if you are seated next to one. If there's an extra seat they will always do their best to move things around so you're next to one. And, frankly, passengers will move around for you too. (Unless they're German. I've noticed that the Germans follow rules, and if that's their assigned seat that's where they're sitting!) This will leave you with extra room or you could even strap in the car seat rather than gate check it.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2016, 10:15:32 AM »
We flew with our son a couple months ago for the first time and only had an ergo but he was younger and the flight was only an hour long. He did pretty well though with the take-off and descents. By the time the 6 hour flight to Hawaii comes in January, he's gonna be bigger and possibly a lot bigger. Not sure if using an ergo will still be viable then so we'll have to just play it by ear. We do have another longer-than-1-hr flight to Seattle coming soon in July so hopefully these will all be gradual baby steps towards him being OK when he has that longer 6 hour flight in January. It seems like the carseat vs no carseat dilemma is pretty watershed. But I do think it really does depend on the child and their ability to withstand being in a carseat for that long and in a different setting. Our guys is pretty comfy in his infant carrier (he's gone 7-8 hours on previous drives between NorCal/SoCal without much complaining) but I have no idea how it'll be in a standard carseat either.   

mm1970

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2016, 10:59:39 AM »
Hey guys,

For those of you who are veteran travelers w/ families or kids, what do you suggest as far as car seats? Our little guy will be over a year by the time we travel with him to Hawaii and we are going to still need a car seat for him I'd imagine. Is it best just to rent one there? Or is it worth it to lug ours with us? Ideally, we want to pack sensibly to the point that we aren't walking around with luggage hanging off every available limb :)

Any tips or advice? We'd be flying with Hawaiian Air most likely and I think strollers/carseat check-ins don't incur luggage fees, which is nice, but the idea of hauling all that crap through the airport is daunting too.
When we traveled with our kids at that age (many times with #1, once with #2, including from CA to Hawaii, CA to NY, CA to PA)...

1.  We ALWAYS bought him a seat on the plane.  5.5-6 hours would be godawful with a kid on your lap, not to mention not safe.  If you buy a seat, then you use the carseat.  They can sit there during takeoff and landing, they can eat, have milk, play with toys, nap.  Our son generally would sit on our laps when I needed to nurse him, or to play a bit.  (Because 5 hours is a long time to be in a seat too.)  My first son flew 5 times in 1.5 years, and the only time we didn't buy him a seat was a short trip on miles, and even then, there were empty seats.  We flew once with our second kid at 1, and yes, bought him a seat too.
- If you end up in a row of 3 and only bought 2 seats for 3 people, you are going to piss off the person sitting next to you.
- So...buy the seat.  Use the carseat.  Enjoy the extra storage space for the diaper bag.  Remember to bring a spare set of clothing for the kid (or two), and one of you too.  Trust me.
2.  We never took a stroller when it was only 1 kid.  Though you can, and check plane-side, it wasn't necessary.  2 of us, 1 of him.  We did take the baby-carrier (Bjorn/ Ergo).  So, in the airport, one of us had the kid in the carrier. We had 3 backpacks, one for each of us, to go under the seats (because we had 3 seats).

Thus, you have your very own carseat.  We've only rented/ borrowed a carseat once, when ours didn't make it back on the plane (by then our son was around 4, so we checked the seat).  The borrowed seat was sketchy, old, and dirty.

mm1970

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2016, 11:02:25 AM »
Yes to the Cosco Scenera. $40 at Walmart. Super light and easy to install in airplanes.

Strap it to your wheeled carryon bag with a luggage strap or another strap. Figure out how to do this before you go.

Carry child in carrier (ergo or whatever).

On plane, if you choose to get child a seat, have one parent board early and strap in carseat (this is easy, probably easier than the car because it will be forward facing rather than rear facing and you just use the airplane seatbelt - takes less than 60 seconds). Then have other parent board with baby and strap baby into seat. Do not let baby's feet ever touch the floor of the airplane. Entertain baby with things like books, new toys, fun food, and TV. Basically, whatever is necessary.

If you do not choose to buy a seat for the child, ask nicely at the desk if there are extra seats in the plane and if you are seated next to one. If there's an extra seat they will always do their best to move things around so you're next to one. And, frankly, passengers will move around for you too. (Unless they're German. I've noticed that the Germans follow rules, and if that's their assigned seat that's where they're sitting!) This will leave you with extra room or you could even strap in the car seat rather than gate check it.
This is what we do/ did.

Also, ditto on the carseat bag.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2016, 11:06:56 AM »
Hey guys,

For those of you who are veteran travelers w/ families or kids, what do you suggest as far as car seats? Our little guy will be over a year by the time we travel with him to Hawaii and we are going to still need a car seat for him I'd imagine. Is it best just to rent one there? Or is it worth it to lug ours with us? Ideally, we want to pack sensibly to the point that we aren't walking around with luggage hanging off every available limb :)

Any tips or advice? We'd be flying with Hawaiian Air most likely and I think strollers/carseat check-ins don't incur luggage fees, which is nice, but the idea of hauling all that crap through the airport is daunting too.
When we traveled with our kids at that age (many times with #1, once with #2, including from CA to Hawaii, CA to NY, CA to PA)...

1.  We ALWAYS bought him a seat on the plane.  5.5-6 hours would be godawful with a kid on your lap, not to mention not safe.  If you buy a seat, then you use the carseat.  They can sit there during takeoff and landing, they can eat, have milk, play with toys, nap.  Our son generally would sit on our laps when I needed to nurse him, or to play a bit.  (Because 5 hours is a long time to be in a seat too.)  My first son flew 5 times in 1.5 years, and the only time we didn't buy him a seat was a short trip on miles, and even then, there were empty seats.  We flew once with our second kid at 1, and yes, bought him a seat too.
- If you end up in a row of 3 and only bought 2 seats for 3 people, you are going to piss off the person sitting next to you.
- So...buy the seat.  Use the carseat.  Enjoy the extra storage space for the diaper bag.  Remember to bring a spare set of clothing for the kid (or two), and one of you too.  Trust me.
2.  We never took a stroller when it was only 1 kid.  Though you can, and check plane-side, it wasn't necessary.  2 of us, 1 of him.  We did take the baby-carrier (Bjorn/ Ergo).  So, in the airport, one of us had the kid in the carrier. We had 3 backpacks, one for each of us, to go under the seats (because we had 3 seats).

Thus, you have your very own carseat.  We've only rented/ borrowed a carseat once, when ours didn't make it back on the plane (by then our son was around 4, so we checked the seat).  The borrowed seat was sketchy, old, and dirty.

Hmm, as far as a stroller is concerned, you just reminded me that we outta consider bringing a lighter umbrella stroller. That would make things much easier at least in terms of extra weight.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2016, 11:20:33 AM »
We just did a trip with a four-month-old, three hours on a plane each way. We had the baby in mom's lap on the way there, which wasn't great but worked out fine. On the way back there were plenty of empty seats so we used the car seat. It's definitely nicer to have the baby in his own seat, but plane tickets are expensive so you'll have to decide for yourself whether you believe a few hours of discomfort are worth the cost savings. I personally would travel with a four-month-old in my lap any time for a few hundred bucks. Your mileage may vary, and older kids seem like they would be more of a challenge.

Hauling the extra luggage is definitely a challenge compared to the before-kid times. Extra clothing, diaper bag, the car seat, and the actual baby all add up. Given what most rental car agencies charge for a car seat, and the horror stories I've seen in this very thread about the condition of the rental car seats, I definitely recommend bringing your own if at all possible. We didn't bring a stroller on the trip. That's just one more big thing to haul through the airport, and the carrier worked out fine for the trip.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2016, 11:55:27 AM »
We just did a trip with a four-month-old, three hours on a plane each way. We had the baby in mom's lap on the way there, which wasn't great but worked out fine. On the way back there were plenty of empty seats so we used the car seat. It's definitely nicer to have the baby in his own seat, but plane tickets are expensive so you'll have to decide for yourself whether you believe a few hours of discomfort are worth the cost savings. I personally would travel with a four-month-old in my lap any time for a few hundred bucks. Your mileage may vary, and older kids seem like they would be more of a challenge.

Hauling the extra luggage is definitely a challenge compared to the before-kid times. Extra clothing, diaper bag, the car seat, and the actual baby all add up. Given what most rental car agencies charge for a car seat, and the horror stories I've seen in this very thread about the condition of the rental car seats, I definitely recommend bringing your own if at all possible. We didn't bring a stroller on the trip. That's just one more big thing to haul through the airport, and the carrier worked out fine for the trip.

This is my dilemma as I'm finding out... tickets to Hawaii for the time we're thinking are around $600~ a head. If we want him in a carseat, it'll be the full $600 adult fare for him too. So what was potentially a $1200 for the flight has now turned into a $1800 flight. 6 hours is a long time too - I'm not sure how that would be having to hold him and entertain him the whole time. My wife used the ergo on our last flight and he slept in it, but ergoing a toddler seems like it would be even more challenging.
I've heard that another option, if we want to risk it, would be to not buy the ticket for him and bring the car seat with us to the gate and ask if there are empty seats right before the flight. If they say no, we would just gate-check the seat and have to deal with 6 hours of holding him (where he'll be a toddler).

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2016, 12:00:56 PM »
We're also thinking about flying to Kauai on a side-trip with my in-laws who are considering going to Hawaii around the same time. As well as flying up to NorCal for Christmas and flying out of NorCal to HNL. There's still a lot up in the air, but I'm just afraid of what all this will look like as far as getting completely exhausted from all the travel.

GizmoTX

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2016, 12:45:43 PM »
We always bought DS an airline seat (starting in 1994) & used a Sit n Stroll combination car seat & stroller. It has its own 5 point belt & the car or airline seatbelt quickly snaps over the entire seat. Nothing to check, & DS could even sleep through the journey to the airport, security, & onto the plane. Since we also used this seat exclusively at home, DS was totally used to it & very comfortable. It supports rear & forward facing positions up to a 4 year old. It converts to a stroller by holding the seat & sliding a locking bar that pops the wheels out like airplane landing gear; this is easily done with the child in the seat but we practiced first with a weight. Then you pull out the handle like a roller bag. It costs more than most car seats, but they don't have the built-in stroller, which is so convenient when traveling.

http://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Gold-Stroll-Lauren-Blue/dp/B004ILLIQM/ref=pd_sbs_75_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=41lasRunRDL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR124%2C160_&refRID=00MNH6399PSCN9QEDJ6E

b_girl

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2016, 04:10:06 PM »
If you decide to rent make sure that you find out what type (brand and all) of carseats the car rental place has. I will never rent again after our first and last time. They were a POS.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2016, 04:17:24 PM »
We always bought DS an airline seat (starting in 1994) & used a Sit n Stroll combination car seat & stroller. It has its own 5 point belt & the car or airline seatbelt quickly snaps over the entire seat. Nothing to check, & DS could even sleep through the journey to the airport, security, & onto the plane. Since we also used this seat exclusively at home, DS was totally used to it & very comfortable. It supports rear & forward facing positions up to a 4 year old. It converts to a stroller by holding the seat & sliding a locking bar that pops the wheels out like airplane landing gear; this is easily done with the child in the seat but we practiced first with a weight. Then you pull out the handle like a roller bag. It costs more than most car seats, but they don't have the built-in stroller, which is so convenient when traveling.

http://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Gold-Stroll-Lauren-Blue/dp/B004ILLIQM/ref=pd_sbs_75_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=41lasRunRDL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR124%2C160_&refRID=00MNH6399PSCN9QEDJ6E

Wow that looks super-fancy. Not sure if we'd put out for one of those though as we don't travel a ton.

I'm now considering driving back home to NorCal a week before we leave so we can spend Christmas with my parents and one of my brothers and his family, then taking the same flight with some or all of them to HNL. My parents keep saying that if we fly with all of them, it'll be easier to handle our son as they'll be able to pass him around between us, them and my brother/sil. Haha, maybe that would be easier but still not sure if everyone would enjoy that. Of course, that would only be for the flight there. I think we're staying a little longer so we'd be on our own for the return flight. My wife said she'd be more willing to try having him on the lap with just us on one flight versus both (as opposed to buying an extra seat and bringing on the carseat). I'm not as comfortable about the flight back but the flight there seems like it could work out. He'll be almost 1.5yrs by the time we fly.

If you decide to rent make sure that you find out what type (brand and all) of carseats the car rental place has. I will never rent again after our first and last time. They were a POS.

I think we're going to buy and bring one of those Cosco seats anyway. It wouldn't hurt to have a second especially if we're thinking about having another kid in the next year or so. What I'm debating over at this point is whether I'm gonna check it in and have him on our laps or if I'm gonna buy the extra seat and have him in it. I would consider bringing the one we currently have but it seems pretty bulky and not ideal for travel: Graco 4Ever
« Last Edit: May 10, 2016, 04:19:37 PM by jplee3 »

GizmoTX

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2016, 07:22:05 PM »
We paid a third of what it now sells for. Likely inflation & small manufacturing quantity are significant factors in the price increase.

We traveled a lot with DS, and it was his only carseat, so for us it was worth it.

tobitonic

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2016, 07:28:35 PM »
http://www.thecarcrashdetective.com/2016/05/why-you-shouldnt-rent-car-seats-traveling-vacations.html/

1. The right seats for the right ages are often unavailable.

2. The seats that are available are often damaged, expired, or both.

3. Rented car seats are often more expensive than just buying new seats onsite.

^ I'd keep that stuff in mind too.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2016, 08:14:10 PM »

Important note about purchasing a seat for a child <2years: if they have a paid-for seat, they have to be in it and secured when the seat belt light is on.  This can be a complete life suck for you and everyone on the plane when your screaming child just wants to be held (and would be if they were a lap child), but has to be belted into their seat. 

Ugh.  This.

Having her own seat was the way to go, for DD, but I remember being parked in the plane for over an hour for deicing, and the flight attendant insisted that she be buckled in instead of allowed to wiggle on the seat / stand on the floor in front of the seat.  An hour of screaming kidlet who was a quiet but active kid after take off and on every other flight before and after....

Another time, when I held her at 18 months / 22 months on my lap, for short 1.5 hr flight.  I swear my head was black and blue when we got off, because I was the toy drum set (to keep her happy AND off the very, very close seat and passenger in front of us).   Pay for a seat if your kid is at all mobile.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2016, 05:37:34 AM »
Another vote for purchasing a seat on the plane for the kiddo and pre-boarding to install the seat.  It will be a lot more comfortable on a long flight or chain of flights to not have to hold a potentially squirming child the entire time.  Bring distractions like snacks, activities, books, etc. as well to keep them from becoming too rambunctious on the plane.  Also, we purchased one of the below straps which attaches a carseat to carry-on size luggage.

http://www.amazon.com/Traveling-Toddler-Seat-Travel-Accessory/dp/B000JHN3AS/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1462965366&sr=8-1&keywords=carry+on+carseat+luggage+strap

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2016, 09:47:51 PM »
I think we're going to go the "option C" route - that being lugging the carseat with us to the gate, asking if there is an available seat, and if not just gate-checking it. Since we'll be traveling with parents/in-laws and relatives both ways, they've pretty much committed to helping with distracting or holding the kid if things become too crazy.

That said, is it better to find a seat towards the back of the plane? I've heard this is a better strategy since it's closest to the rear bathrooms and since ppl are less likely to look there first for booking. The concern of course would be our connecting flight, of which we're given about 45-50 minutes to connect to per the return leg.

I've already booked one-way tickets for the flight there and we opted not to sit in the rear of the plane but it is a larger plane with 2 aisles and I think we're not that far from a bathroom.

asiljoy

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2016, 10:02:21 PM »
I think we're going to go the "option C" route - that being lugging the carseat with us to the gate, asking if there is an available seat, and if not just gate-checking it. Since we'll be traveling with parents/in-laws and relatives both ways, they've pretty much committed to helping with distracting or holding the kid if things become too crazy.

That said, is it better to find a seat towards the back of the plane? I've heard this is a better strategy since it's closest to the rear bathrooms and since ppl are less likely to look there first for booking. The concern of course would be our connecting flight, of which we're given about 45-50 minutes to connect to per the return leg.

I've already booked one-way tickets for the flight there and we opted not to sit in the rear of the plane but it is a larger plane with 2 aisles and I think we're not that far from a bathroom.

I've sat back/front. Getting closer to the bathrooms  is nice, but not imperative. I liked having an aisle seat so I could get up an walk around.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2016, 10:45:26 PM »
Once we missed a connecting flight because we had to pick up our car seat at baggage to clear customs.

All the other luggage was carry-on but car seats are checked with golf-clubs etc & are often the last to be unloaded.

Checking a car seat is such a PITA.

I think we gate checked it a few times, this still causes some delay but nothing like waiting for baggage.

I think  renting is too expensive.

Once we had bebe in the car seat on the plane. (Empty free seat.)  It is very handy most of the time but heart wrenching when you can't take them out to comfort them.

In Hawaii we were tempted to just have one person drive to Walmart & purchase a new one.

However, we took a small booster carry-on instead.

As for the kid in the lap question. We both have always kind of enjoyed it.

The first time 5 week old bebe slept so much & was happy to pin me down for 5h.

We have had about 10 trips in 5 years. I can't remember any bad flights due to my kid. One time we were delayed on the Tarmac 1h because the engine literally caught fire on take-off. We were 2 rows from the back but we couldn't get up to use the WC. The plane was supper hot because they cut all AC & non essential power to reduce more fire risk. Our toddler HAD to pee. So we doubled up 2 barf-bags & instant bed pan.

A more recient 8h flight, kido now 4. We both played Lego & a magnetic travel chess/snakes & ladders straight.  I couldn't believe where the time went. No iPad. I had 3 surprise mini-figs we opened about 2,4&6 hours into the flight.

Give them your undivided attention & they should behave better then you hoped.




 

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2016, 11:45:17 PM »
CHECK THE CAR SEAT!  DON'T TAKE IT ON THE PLANE!!!

We've traveled several times with kids and car seats, both domestic and international, and with one, two, and three kids.  We take our own car seats.  This was kind of a pain when we had to take two big car seats.  It's easier now with just one big car seat and a couple of booster seats.

The biggest mistake we ever made was taking the car seat in the cabin with us for our child to sit in.  The. Most. Hellish. Flight. Ever.  Toddlers in their very own giant airplane seat between mommy and daddy means two levels of play surface, a huge place to lounge (with the armrests up), even a place to stand up and look around.  As an added bonus, their legs can't reach the seat in front of them.  Toddlers in their car seat strapped into an airplane seat means nowhere to go and nothing to do except stay strapped in and scream and kick the seat of the nice people in front of you who are really excited to go to Hawaii without their kids.

YMMV, but my advice is to take your car seat with you and check it.  As an added bonus, most airlines check car seats for free.  (And stuff your diapers in the same bag with the car seat.  They might as well travel for free also.)

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2016, 07:25:03 AM »
CHECK THE CAR SEAT!  DON'T TAKE IT ON THE PLANE!!!

It's not safe. You have no idea how it's being handled or what's falling on it.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #30 on: May 13, 2016, 12:57:28 PM »
CHECK THE CAR SEAT!  DON'T TAKE IT ON THE PLANE!!!

It's not safe. You have no idea how it's being handled or what's falling on it.

Yeah...I've seen this argument that a car seat is "as good as crashed" if it's checked as luggage but I don't buy it. Sure, you can expect it to be handled roughly, just like the rest of your luggage. However rough manual handling is not at all equivalent to the forces involved in a car crash. In 2012 the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety issued a statement agreeing with this:

Quote
Car seats are designed to withstand most motor vehicle crash forces. In general, the MACPS does not consider a gate-checked car seat or a car seat that is checked as luggage to be one that has experienced forces equivalent to a motor vehicle crash. Once the destination is reached, it is recommended to inspect the car seat to make sure no visual damage has occurred and all aspects of the car seat function properly.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #31 on: May 13, 2016, 01:10:43 PM »
There are gizmos that are basically wheels that you can strap a car seat to like this (http://www.rightstart.com/go-go-babyz-mini-travelmate.html?gclid=CLyw37nf18wCFQ6naQodsQIEGQ).  Not super cheap, but thats approximatley what we have and its pretty useful.  Gets the kid and seat all the way through the airports easily, and you have the car seat on the plane and for when you get there.

When our kid was young (like 2ish), we put the airplane seat forward facing and he was kicking the seat so we quickly flipped it around and that solved that problem.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #32 on: May 13, 2016, 01:26:17 PM »
We bring our own.  We have diono radians, and they are big and heavy, so we put them on a folding luggage cart with wheels ($20 on amazon).  This solution is meant to get the carseats around easily- your kid doesn't ride it in while it's precariously bungee-d to the cart.

But it works.  I have managed to move a kid in a stroller, a kid in a carrier, a tote/duffel, a backpack, wheely carry on, and luggage cart with 2 car seats on it all by myself in the airport.  You know, while DH goes to grab a cup of coffee totally hands free...

We always gate check kid gear- stroller/carseats (unless the kids are riding in the seats on the plane, which we did from maybe ages 2-4)

The buckle on the airplane seats is almost always right in the middle of the kids back, so if your car seat has a channel and a thinner cover where the buckle will protrude, you may want to bring along something to stuff between the buckle and the seat back so it's isn't uncomfortable for your LO.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #33 on: May 13, 2016, 05:32:40 PM »
We always bought DS an airline seat (starting in 1994) & used a Sit n Stroll combination car seat & stroller. It has its own 5 point belt & the car or airline seatbelt quickly snaps over the entire seat. Nothing to check, & DS could even sleep through the journey to the airport, security, & onto the plane. Since we also used this seat exclusively at home, DS was totally used to it & very comfortable. It supports rear & forward facing positions up to a 4 year old. It converts to a stroller by holding the seat & sliding a locking bar that pops the wheels out like airplane landing gear; this is easily done with the child in the seat but we practiced first with a weight. Then you pull out the handle like a roller bag. It costs more than most car seats, but they don't have the built-in stroller, which is so convenient when traveling.

http://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Gold-Stroll-Lauren-Blue/dp/B004ILLIQM/ref=pd_sbs_75_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=41lasRunRDL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR124%2C160_&refRID=00MNH6399PSCN9QEDJ6E
I got one of these used and used it once!  It was sorta good (I was traveling with a 15 month old by myself), but it wouldn't pop up (the wheels) very easily.  Had a hard time with it.  This was 2007.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #34 on: May 14, 2016, 09:04:06 AM »
So I realize if you have the carseat and the kid's in it they can't be taken out while the seatbelt sign is on. Does the option exist though to have the car seat installed yet keep the kid in our lap (e.g. during take-off or whatever) if we think or feel that he won't be comfortable during take-off or landing?

Or is it like, because of the fact that the car seat is there and installed, the airline employees are *obligated* to make us seat him in it regardless of the situation?

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #35 on: May 14, 2016, 10:31:08 AM »
When we had the baby in the carseat last week nobody told us that the kid had to be in there while the seatbelt sign was on, so I say just do what you feel is best and if the flight attendant scolds you then do what they tell you to do.

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #36 on: May 14, 2016, 10:50:47 AM »
CHECK THE CAR SEAT!  DON'T TAKE IT ON THE PLANE!!!

We've traveled several times with kids and car seats, both domestic and international, and with one, two, and three kids.  We take our own car seats.  This was kind of a pain when we had to take two big car seats.  It's easier now with just one big car seat and a couple of booster seats.

The biggest mistake we ever made was taking the car seat in the cabin with us for our child to sit in.  The. Most. Hellish. Flight. Ever.  Toddlers in their very own giant airplane seat between mommy and daddy means two levels of play surface, a huge place to lounge (with the armrests up), even a place to stand up and look around.  As an added bonus, their legs can't reach the seat in front of them.  Toddlers in their car seat strapped into an airplane seat means nowhere to go and nothing to do except stay strapped in and scream and kick the seat of the nice people in front of you who are really excited to go to Hawaii without their kids.

YMMV, but my advice is to take your car seat with you and check it.  As an added bonus, most airlines check car seats for free.  (And stuff your diapers in the same bag with the car seat.  They might as well travel for free also.)

They are flying with lots of people, so they can all take turns holding the child.

But my most hellish flight would have been made MUCH better with a car seat. Circumstances vary, so make sure to consider your kid and your situation before deciding.

Just me and the boys. They were ages 2 and 3 1/2. It was a tiny place. The kind that only has two seats on a side. Yes, that means my three-year-old was across the aisle from me and out of arm's reach. Did he want to keep his seat belt buckled? Nope. Had he been in a car seat, he would not have been able to reach it.

Only the quick thinking and generosity of a flight attendant saved us. He gave the kid his own personal iPad to play with so he would stay seated so they could, y'know, LAND THE PLANE. I remembered the dude's name and made sure to go online and submit a comment thanking him.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #37 on: May 14, 2016, 09:41:57 PM »
DW flew solo with two kids a couple of months ago. She said iPads saved the day.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #38 on: May 15, 2016, 08:01:09 PM »
BTW: have any of you tried both the Cosco Scenera and the Scenera Next? The Next seems to have a smaller form factor but wanted to get some thoughts from anyone who has tried both of these. Any preferences over one versus the other?

Hmm, looks like they're OOS on the Scenera and only the Scenera Next is available. Seems like people really like it based on the reviews though.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2016, 08:03:10 PM by jplee3 »

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #39 on: May 15, 2016, 08:55:47 PM »
We took our own seat, gate-checked it, and definitely didn't buy DS a seat of his own until he was 2, I wasn't willing to pay for the extra ticket.  This included two cross-US and one trans-Atlantic flights and -- eh.  Flying's not fun, but having the kid in tow (even without his own seat) was just one more thing to deal with, it was basically fine.  So, sure -- don't ignore safety (take a good car seat for use once you're there) -- but just deal with it on the flight, and keep costs down. 

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #40 on: May 25, 2016, 04:57:26 PM »
I travel a lot for work, and when ours were little (<4 years) we generally traveled as a family.  Our experience:

-We always brought our own car seats because of the cost to rent, rental seats don't have the features ours do, the PITA of adjusting car seat straps, the smell of pee on the car seat my sister  rented when we were on a family trip (gross!!), and knowing our seats in terms of installation. 

-We put the seat in a bag.  We have the one at the link below....its easily been on ~60 trips and looks a little beat up but is still intact (its like carrying a little piano on your back, but manageable).  A hockey bag works well too.  We traveled a few times without doing so, and on one of those trips my daughter's seat was broken by the airline.  They reimbursed us the full replacement amount, plus the cost of our rental car seat, but it was a pain.

-We check our seats.  When we just had one child and were more paranoid, we would gate check the seat to ensure it made it to our destination with us.  Now we check them at the ticket counter with other baggage (no fee to do so).  In all our travel the seat was only misdirected once (loaner seat provided and our seat was delivered to the hotel).

Important note about purchasing a seat for a child <2years: if they have a paid-for seat, they have to be in it and secured when the seat belt light is on.  This can be a complete life suck for you and everyone on the plane when your screaming child just wants to be held (and would be if they were a lap child), but has to be belted into their seat.  We used our car seat on the plane exactly once.  It was a nightmare getting it installed/uninstalled, and because they were higher up and closer to the seat in front of them I was constantly having to remind them to not kick/push the seat in front of them.   

http://www.amazon.com/J-L-Childress-Ultimate-Backpack-Padded/dp/B0009RNXNA/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1462889832&sr=8-3&keywords=car+seat+bags+for+air+travel) When it was just our oldest we would always

Thanks for the tip on the backpack (ugh, yet *another* thing to lug around!). Would you really suggest putting a carseat in a bag? And I'm assuming the airlines will have no qualms with you checking it in as a carseat (therefore avoiding the luggage fees)?

tweezers

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #41 on: May 25, 2016, 05:09:00 PM »
Thanks for the tip on the backpack (ugh, yet *another* thing to lug around!). Would you really suggest putting a carseat in a bag? And I'm assuming the airlines will have no qualms with you checking it in as a carseat (therefore avoiding the luggage fees)?

Its still travels free of cost when its in a bag.  The bag just protects from damage and makes it easier to get it from point A to B in the airport.  You're going to have an entourage to handle child wrangling and bags so that might not be as big of an issue.  For us its been well worth the $40 or so, but we traveled a lot when my kids were younger (5-8 times/year?). 

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2016, 04:09:09 AM »
We never use the rental car seats. The price alone of renting is insane - we have two kids too (4 and 2 yr old). We have plane traveled when they were 4 months & 25 months, 10 months & ~2.5 years, and 21 months & ~3.5 years. 

It's free to check our own seats. It sucks, but yes, we have to lug their car seats to the ticket counter and get them checked in there. We have a system in place to do it efficiently. We have cheap $20 strollers from Walmart that we use at the airport and gate check those. We have never bought an extra seat for our kids until we had to. I don't care about pissing someone else off, my kids are very well behaved and others routinely comment on how sweet they are.

A tip that we found is that if DH, 2 kids, and I are traveling on the same plane....we DON'T necessarily sit together. He takes 1 kid and I take the other. Or we fly different planes. If on same plane, we sit in different rows where they can't see each other. The kids are better behaved that way. They get into cahoots if they are together sometimes. If anyone is traveling with just 1 child, this was a lifesaver....we sat in different rows and when one of us needed a break, we moved the baby back and forth. So we both arrived feeling a little refreshed. For example, he watched the baby (when we had 1) and I watched a movie. Then, I took her for the rest of the night (it was an overnight flight).  We each had a little R&R without baby. No reason to have 2 parents involved on a 1 person job.

Oh, and some airlines put the car seat in a plastic bag for you. I have never purchased the fancy shmancy car seat bags. I just put all the straps together before turning it over to the airline.

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #43 on: May 27, 2016, 11:21:49 AM »
We never use the rental car seats. The price alone of renting is insane - we have two kids too (4 and 2 yr old). We have plane traveled when they were 4 months & 25 months, 10 months & ~2.5 years, and 21 months & ~3.5 years. 

It's free to check our own seats. It sucks, but yes, we have to lug their car seats to the ticket counter and get them checked in there. We have a system in place to do it efficiently. We have cheap $20 strollers from Walmart that we use at the airport and gate check those. We have never bought an extra seat for our kids until we had to. I don't care about pissing someone else off, my kids are very well behaved and others routinely comment on how sweet they are.

A tip that we found is that if DH, 2 kids, and I are traveling on the same plane....we DON'T necessarily sit together. He takes 1 kid and I take the other. Or we fly different planes. If on same plane, we sit in different rows where they can't see each other. The kids are better behaved that way. They get into cahoots if they are together sometimes. If anyone is traveling with just 1 child, this was a lifesaver....we sat in different rows and when one of us needed a break, we moved the baby back and forth. So we both arrived feeling a little refreshed. For example, he watched the baby (when we had 1) and I watched a movie. Then, I took her for the rest of the night (it was an overnight flight).  We each had a little R&R without baby. No reason to have 2 parents involved on a 1 person job.

Oh, and some airlines put the car seat in a plastic bag for you. I have never purchased the fancy shmancy car seat bags. I just put all the straps together before turning it over to the airline.

I was thinking about bringing the carseat to the gate to gate check if there are no open seats. Now I'm starting to think that would be more of a hassle (esp with lugging the seat onto the plane, installing it, etc) vs just checking the carseat in at the counter (I just got the Scenera and while it's light it's still pretty bulky). The nice thing about getting the bag for the carseat, is that it looks like you can pack stuff in it (like diapers, wipes, clothes, etc) - I guess the risk with that is if the carseat is lost or caught/held up somewhere...

Good tip on sitting in different rows. The flight there are 9 of us flying together (including the kids and adults) and we've taken nearly 2 rows up across. I think we can switch to different rows or pass the baby around whenever - I'm not as concerned with that flight. The return flight we have my in-laws and us flying and have taken 2 rows in front/behind one another, so we can probably pass him back to them or switch rows, etc. Hopefully we should be set as far as that's concerned.

MountainFlower

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2016, 12:10:21 PM »
I apologize if this has already been said.

We bought two of these carseat bags for $16 each. 

http://smile.amazon.com/Jeep-Universal-Shoulder-Included-Airport/dp/B001CWVYMI/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1464372457&sr=8-1&keywords=jeep+carseat+travel+bag

The airlines check carseat bags for free.  The bonus is that you can stuff them with TONS of stuff once the carseat is in. 

They eventually fell apart because they are cheap, but they got us through about 8 trips.  I had to duct tape them in spots between trips. 

SimplyMarvie

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #45 on: May 27, 2016, 01:54:26 PM »
I cried when my four year old outgrew his Cosoco Scenera. That thing is amazing... even fits in super-narrow international seats, weighs next to nothing and can strap on to our roller bags. I miss it.

We are finally easing out of the car seat years (we're down to one, and as we travel in Europe predominantly we use public transit) but for domestic travel I've been known to order a cheap car-seat or booster seat delivered to where we're staying and use it while we're there and then donate it to a battered women's or children's charity on the way out of town. If we rent, I'd rent from one of those baby supply rental places rather than the car rental shop. But in both of these cases, we've had to take the little one on a bus/taxi/etc. without a seat (but with our plane-ride CARES harness, which can be used as a child restraint device) to the hotel/apartment and sort the seat out later.

There's no good solution to this one. :(

jeromedawg

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #46 on: May 27, 2016, 02:13:42 PM »
I apologize if this has already been said.

We bought two of these carseat bags for $16 each. 

http://smile.amazon.com/Jeep-Universal-Shoulder-Included-Airport/dp/B001CWVYMI/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1464372457&sr=8-1&keywords=jeep+carseat+travel+bag

The airlines check carseat bags for free.  The bonus is that you can stuff them with TONS of stuff once the carseat is in. 

They eventually fell apart because they are cheap, but they got us through about 8 trips.  I had to duct tape them in spots between trips.

Nice! I saw those too but was hesitant because of the Amazon ratings... I wonder how much more durable the JL Childress seats are in comparison. Reading some of the reviews, and searching for "Childress" there are some comparisons. Some people seem to think the JL Childress Ultimate isn't worth the money at double the price. Then there are those who suggest just getting the Childress Ultimate because it is more durable. Seems like sort of a toss-up but also a "you get what you pay for" kind of thing.

tweezers

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #47 on: May 31, 2016, 08:35:46 AM »
I apologize if this has already been said.

We bought two of these carseat bags for $16 each. 

http://smile.amazon.com/Jeep-Universal-Shoulder-Included-Airport/dp/B001CWVYMI/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1464372457&sr=8-1&keywords=jeep+carseat+travel+bag

The airlines check carseat bags for free.  The bonus is that you can stuff them with TONS of stuff once the carseat is in. 

They eventually fell apart because they are cheap, but they got us through about 8 trips.  I had to duct tape them in spots between trips.

Nice! I saw those too but was hesitant because of the Amazon ratings... I wonder how much more durable the JL Childress seats are in comparison. Reading some of the reviews, and searching for "Childress" there are some comparisons. Some people seem to think the JL Childress Ultimate isn't worth the money at double the price. Then there are those who suggest just getting the Childress Ultimate because it is more durable. Seems like sort of a toss-up but also a "you get what you pay for" kind of thing.

We have the Childress and its going strong after 7 years and 50-60 trips.  Its duct taped in spots on the bottom, but we've always considered it utilitarian and not fine luggage by any means.

MountainFlower

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Re: Traveling with kids - car rentals and car seats
« Reply #48 on: May 31, 2016, 12:38:00 PM »
I apologize if this has already been said.

We bought two of these carseat bags for $16 each. 

http://smile.amazon.com/Jeep-Universal-Shoulder-Included-Airport/dp/B001CWVYMI/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1464372457&sr=8-1&keywords=jeep+carseat+travel+bag

The airlines check carseat bags for free.  The bonus is that you can stuff them with TONS of stuff once the carseat is in. 

They eventually fell apart because they are cheap, but they got us through about 8 trips.  I had to duct tape them in spots between trips.

Nice! I saw those too but was hesitant because of the Amazon ratings... I wonder how much more durable the JL Childress seats are in comparison. Reading some of the reviews, and searching for "Childress" there are some comparisons. Some people seem to think the JL Childress Ultimate isn't worth the money at double the price. Then there are those who suggest just getting the Childress Ultimate because it is more durable. Seems like sort of a toss-up but also a "you get what you pay for" kind of thing.

We have the Childress and its going strong after 7 years and 50-60 trips.  Its duct taped in spots on the bottom, but we've always considered it utilitarian and not fine luggage by any means.

Impressive!  The Jeep ones would not survive that.  So, there's your answer.  If you travel 1-2 times/year, go cheap.  If you travel a lot, go expensive.  You'd be amazed how much extra stuff you can put in these things.   We always stuff them full of shoes and heavy stuff because there's no weight limit.