Taking a road trip is an easy way to save on the cost of a family vacation. It also brings up an important question: what should you do about a car seat?
Kids of younger ages must ride in a car seat that keeps them safe. You have the option of bringing a seat designed for infants and babies or a booster seat for an older child. Many rental car companies now allow you to book the seat that you need when you reserve your car.
Take a look at some of your options to see what is the best choice for you.
Types of Car Seats
You need to pick the right type of car seat based on both the age and size of your child. An infant car seat is suitable for babies on their way home from the hospital to older kids up through the age of two years.
One thing to keep in mind about an infant seat is that you can only use it in a rear-facing position to keep your baby safe. Some infant seats also fit into a stroller or a grocery cart, which might come in handy on your trip.
A convertible car seat is both heavier and bigger because it fits older children. You may have such a hard time moving yours between cars that you keep separate seats in each of your vehicles. There are also 3-in-1 seats that you can use in three different ways to save some time.
If you have an older child, a booster seat comes in handy. It lifts your child off the seat and keeps them safe. No matter what seat you use, keep in mind that kids should ride in car seats until they are at least 13 years old.
Renting from a Car Rental Company
You don’t need to lug your car seat from one car to another because many car rental companies allow you to rent one. Not only will the company have the seat ready to go when you show up at the rental counter, but many will even install it for you in your rental car. The biggest issue is the overall cost, which can add quite a bit to your travel budget.
How Much Does a Car Seat Rental Cost?
The cost of your car seat rental usually ranges from as little as $10 up to $20 per day. This does not include the taxes charged on the rental. If you need two car seats, you pay per seat. The costs can quickly add up. However, it’s easy to save money on longer trips because many companies have a time limit.
Even if the car seat rental should cost more, you’ll never pay more than the maximum limit. Thrifty and Dollar along with Hertz can charge you close to $100 for a car seat rental, but Budget and Avis won’t charge you more than $70 per trip. You can also look at Alamo and National. These companies as well as Enterprise charge a maximum of $66 per rental.
How to Get a Free Car Seat
To save money on your vacation, look for ways to get a free car seat rental. One option is when you reserve a rental through Silvercar. When you book your rental, click on the box to show that you need a car seat. Silvercar provides this service for free. You should read the fine print though as the company cannot guarantee it will have one when you book.
AAA partners with rental car companies to help its members find discounts. A fun benefit of being a AAA member is that you can get a free car seat rental. This applies when you rent from Hertz, Dollar or Budget. When you book a rental, click on the option to show that you need a car seat and apply the AAA discount.
You may need to contact the rental desk to make sure a car seat is available. AAA members get one free car seat per rental. Members of the National PTA often qualify for free car seats too.
The Pros and Cons of Car Seat Rentals
Now that you have an idea of how much a car seat rental will cost and which companies offer them, you should look at the pros and cons. This will help you decide whether to pick up a rental seat or bring one from home.
Pros of Renting a Car Seat
One of the biggest benefits of renting a car seat is that it helps you avoid the hassles of taking one out of your car and bringing it with you. This is especially true if you have an older or heavier model that takes up a lot of space.
Another benefit is that you ensure the seat follows the local laws of the destination. When you fly to a different country, you may find that the safety standards of your current car seat do not comply with local guidelines.
Many parents rent a car seat because they only need one for a few days. Do you plan to fly to one city and then take a bus or train to other cities? If you bring your child’s car seat, you need to figure out what to do with it when you use other forms of transportation. You can’t always leave it at the hotel or find a storage locker for it.
Whether you plan to check out some local museums or hit the hottest amusement parks, you can rent a car seat that offers the safety and convenience you need.
Cons of Renting a Car Seat
You should ask yourself what you would do if you arrived at the counter to find that there isn’t a car seat waiting for you. When you read the fine print, most companies will claim that they cannot guarantee that all equipment is always available.
Have you ever rented a car before but found that the company gave you a larger model than the one you booked? The same thing can happen when you book a car seat rental. The company may tell you that all of its car seats are already booked or try to get you to take one that is not right for your child.
Other Car Seat Options
Whether you plan to visit a ski resort or one of the top places for families to visit in California, you have more options than working with car rental companies. There are now a few companies that rent baby supplies and equipment for parents.
This allows you to try equipment before you buy to make sure it works for you, but the companies also come in handy when you travel. Simply search for Google for car seat rentals in your current city or the one you want to visit.
There are two types of rental companies. One refers to companies that invest in the equipment and rent it to parents. These companies will clean and sanitize anything they rent. They also look for product recalls and pull products that show signs of damage or general wear and tear.
Other rental companies work with parents and help them make some extra money when they rent supplies their kids don’t need or use. These companies clean their products and keep an eye out for safety recalls but also allow you to rent from other parents.
A handy feature of renting from one of these companies is that you can pick up a car seat before or after you leave. Do you love the idea of taking your baby on a road trip and want to keep them safe on the road? Book a car seat rental that you can pick up the morning of your trip or the night before.
Are you thinking about flying to a fun destination and will only need a car seat when you arrive? Many of these companies let you book a car seat and pick it up at the airport. You may even find that a rep can meet you at the car rental counter and drop off the seat.
While traveling helps you have tons of fun, it can also result in some expenses you didn’t expect such as the cost of a car seat rental.
Renting from a car rental company can cost a lot, but it has many advantages over bringing your child’s car seat. Comparing those companies to your other rental options can help you decide what type of car seat your child needs and where to get one.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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