Here we look at all the important factors to consider when it comes to car safety for kids when travelling abroad, including car seats, booster seats and what to do on the plane.
One of the biggest concerns for parents when travelling abroad with kids is car safety.
While we all have our kids safely strapped into car seats in our cars at home, this can become difficult when we are jumping in taxis across town when we are sightseeing or taking an airport transfer to our hotel.
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Taking taxis with kids
With small babies – up to the age of about one – car safety when travelling is much easier, as there are many portable car seats on the market.
We particularly like ones that will attach to a stroller (known as a travel system), such as this Chicco Corso travel system. This way you can lift the baby out of the car or taxi and clip them straight onto the stroller with ease.
In most countries, once a child is 4 years old they are able to use a booster seat instead of a 5-point harness car seat. This makes it much easier for traveling, particularly with several portable car booster seats for travel on the market.
The most difficult age to travel abroad with kids in cars or taxis is the age between 1 and 4 – when they have outgrown the portable car seat but not yet old enough for a booster seat. One solution is the RideSafer Travel Vest (see below), which can be used from the age of 3.
I have yet to find a good safe solution for traveling in taxis with kids aged 1-3 however.
International Car safety laws
It is essential that you check the car seat laws and the legality of all car seats or booster seats you intend to use in the country you are traveling to.
All countries have different requirements and laws, with many countries requiring your car seat or booster seat to have a label showing that it conforms to local legislation.
Some useful websites for international car seat legislation and information are below:
- United Kingdom car seat information
- Australia car seat information
- USA car seat information
- Europe car seat information
Children’s car seats in hire cars
Car seats and booster seats are usually available to hire when you book your hire car. While you can bring a portable car booster seat with you (see below for options), if you are hiring a car for a few days or more, you should really consider using a proper high back booster seat. High back booster seats have been found to be the safest type for car travel.
Note that car seats and booster seats booked with your hire car are usually charged on a per-day basis. Most hire car companies cap this at around 10-days but it can still work out cheaper to buy a car seat on Amazon for your holiday, or pay the excess baggage to transport your one from home.
But remember that you will need to have it from the moment you set off in the car, so it’s no good if you need to have it delivered to your accommodation as you won’t have it for the drive from the airport.
Whenever we have hired a car with car seats they have always come already fitted. However, some companies may refuse to do this due to liability reasons. Even if they are already fitted, make sure you check they have been installed correctly before you set off.
Children’s car seats in taxis and hotel transfers
If you are travelling around town by taxi or using a hotel airport transfer, it is obviously not practical to take a high-back booster seat with you (although you could try the mifold hifold, which is a foldable high-back booster seat).
Many countries don’t require you to use a car seat or booster seat in a taxi, and many countries in Asia don’t even have any car seat laws whatsoever. However, for us we try whenever possible to ensure we have a portable booster seat with us for these occasions.
Here are our favourite portable car booster seats for traveling abroad with kids.
The BubbleBum is an inflatable booster seat that is great for travel as you can inflate it when you need it, and easily deflate and store in your handbag or kids backpack when you reach your destination.
It is light enough for the kids to carry in their backpack too, and small enough to enable three kids to sit side by side in the back seat.
The mifold Grab-and-Go car booster seat works differently from other booster seats (read our full review here). Instead of lifting the child up like with a regular booster seat, the mifold brings the car seatbelt down so that the adult seatbelt correctly fits the child.
It is small enough to fit in a handbag or child’s backpack and is a great option as a car booster seat for travel.
RideSafer Travel Vest
The RideSafer Travel Vest works in a similar way to the mifold, bringing the car seat belt down to correctly fit a child. But instead of sitting on a booster seat, kids wear a vest to hold the straps into position.
The Ride Safer Vest can be used from the age of 3, so is a good option for car safety for young children when you travel. It also folds up small enough to fit into bag or backpack.
The Trunki BoostApak is a car booster seat that also doubles as a backpack. This is brilliant for travel, especially if you are planning to take taxis to and from the airport or for sightseeing once you arrive in your destination.
It has 8 litres of capacity inside, to allow kids to carry their essentials for plane travel or a day of sightseeing. The only downside is that it is quite heavy for small kids to carry for long.
Using a Car Seat on the Plane
Using a car seat on the plane has become much more common these days too. Not only is it the safest way for your child to travel according to the Federal Aviation Authority, but it is also an easy way to keep you child comfy (if they like sleeping in their car seat that is).
In order to take your car seat on the plane, you will need to ensure it is FAA Approved – this means it must have a sticker on it saying “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”. Note that booster seats are not approved for use on airplanes.
For more information read our full article about FAA Approved car seats here.
What is your favourite way to keep your kids safe in a car or taxi when you travel abroad?