Friday, June 10, 2011

Have a baby and renting a car? Bring your own car seat!

Gwen and I recently took Tara with us on a trip to Orlando. 

Being less than a year old, Tara flies free on one of our laps, and I'd found a good cash fare for myself and picked up Gwen's ticket with miles.  I'd also snagged an excellent rate on a rental car, and we'd settled on the Embassy Suites for our lodging, avoiding the pesky "resort fees" so common in Orlando while getting cooked-to-order breakfasts, complimentary cocktails each evening, and free parking.

Another cost that we avoided: $39 to rent a car seat from the rental car company.

Parents often rent car seats because they figure that it will be less of a hassle than bringing them.  And that can be true: we had to coordinate how I could drop Gwen off at the curb with Tara and park the car without Gwen having so much bulk that she couldn't get the car seat checked in.  We also had to get the car seat in and out of the car, which I've learned can be a hassle.

But we did it, and it really wasn't that hard.  Here are some things to consider:
  • Most of the legacy carriers -- we flew United-Continental, as always -- still have curbside luggage checking available.  There may be a small per-pag fee and it's customary to tip a few dollars per bag, but if you have one piece of rolling luggage (as we almost always do) and then a car seat, it's much more convenient to check these curbside then to try and navigate crowded terminals.

  • Although baggage fees have become the norm for most airlines, a carseat can be checked for free because it is safety equipment, like a wheelchair.

  • Even if your car at home doesn't have the modern LATCH system (and ours does not), any rental car in the United States almost certainly will.  LATCH makes it reasonably easy to attach a car seat, and particularly if you don't use it at home, you won't have to resize any of the non-LATCH connections to install the seat in your rental car.
Orlando was Tara's fifth destination by plane -- joining Anchorage, Orange County, Atlanta, and Reno.  Traveling with a baby has plenty of quirks, but it's not impossible.  With planning and patience, it doesn't even need to be difficult, and since children under two years of age travel domestically for free (and internationally for very little), it's not expensive. 

Bring your own car seat, and having your little one(s) with you on a trip can turn out to be no more costly than having them at home.

1 comment:

GovindSharma said...

Hi Jamie and Gwen,
First of all your pic and blog both are awesome and your own car seat concept in rental car is really excellent.
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