We’ve been to Maui and back with a baby, visited family 1,700 miles away, and been to other states and back always while flying. And only once (outside of when we moved across the country to Boston) have we ever checked a car seat. Because there are some great options for traveling when you have kids in car seats.
While sometimes we have had friends let us borrow a seat, that isn’t always available and on vacations definitely not an option. So we have gone with the flow and figured it out as we went along.
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How to manage flying with a child that needs a car seat
Even if you are planning on taking a car seat with you, it’s a hassle. Ideally, you want to be able to get in and out of the car without having to disassemble and uninstall a car seat, especially on your departure. When we checked our Clek Fllo in its wheelie bag it was easiest for us to find ways to get to the airport without adding that stress to the trip. So even in moving, we left behind a car seat while having another in a box to be checked because in that instance of moving across the country, adding another ticket for our 3 month old and lugging an extra seat around was not an option no matter if it was safer or not.
So even with our one way flight from OKC to Boston, we left behind a car seat while having another in a box to be checked because in that instance of moving across the country, adding another ticket for our 3 month old and lugging an extra seat around was not an option no matter if it was safer or not.
Did you know it’s safest for a checked car seat to be in its original box?
Or that it’s actually safest for baby to not sit in your lap even if they are considered a lap infant?
Regardless of what works best for your family, here are some options to hopefully make your trip with a baby and/or toddler easier.
Use a neighbor to help or public transportation to get to the airport if you can.
Of course, if you’re looking at getting gear to help you tote a car seat around the airport, then this isn’t as much of an issue, but for us, it was unreasonable to begin our trip with a car seat when there were other options to have once we arrived.
Use uber to fill in the gaps if you have them (for departure and/or arrival)
For instance, if you are purchasing a car seat once you’re at your destination, you can use Uber either as an adult by yourself or utilize uberX with the car seat option if your child is at least 12 months old and they will provide a car seat for $10.
Not signed up for uber? Use our Uber referral and promo code to create an account!
Purchase a Cosco Scenara Car Seat before you go or when you get there.
Just remember, that even though they’re pretty much the least expensive car seat option out there, they had to go through the same safety tests and meet the same standards. And this seat fits kids ranging from 5 to 40 pounds.
You can easily order these and have them delivered to your hotel or where you’re staying (with permission of course). When we spent a month in Oklahoma with family, I purchased them and had them shipped there to be used once we arrived. When we visited family in California, we bought one in the local Target store after we got there. (As you can see, we’ve purchased them more than once and really like this option because it both forward faces and rear faces!)
You can find this car seat on Amazon or buy online at Target or Walmart and ship to either your final location or to the store in your destination city.
Decide what to do with the seat for coming home
You can keep it and use it on the way home, put it in checked baggage to have as a backup seat at home, or you can donate or sell it. There are many options. And while it’s not recommended to buy used car seats, if you keep your receipt and show a potential buyer that you had it just for vacation, then it’s typically not a concern for them. In general, figure out what works for you!
Read from my friend Lauren on how to travel internationally with a baby.
Find more family travel advice
Kara is the mother of 3 children living and working in Boston, MA. She hates to spend money and absolutely has to know that every penny is worth it before buying. Her educational focus both as a student and a teacher was research… she has put those skills to good use to make wise purchases.