Car Seats and Travel Insurance for Plane Trip

Updated on May 05, 2012
J.L. asks from Evanston, IL
17 answers

We just booked our very first family vacation, complete with plane flight, with our 2.5 year old son. The flight will be about 3.5 hours.

The first issue I'm considering is a car seat. I've seen people recommend one on the plane as they're more comfortable for kids to sleep in--we're flying during his usual nap time and are hoping he might be able to settle down for a short nap. He is super active and curious, and I thought the car seat might also help corral him and calm him down with something familiar. We could use the car seat in the rental car at our destination too, though we can also just rent one. But is he going to be too tall for the car seat in the plane seat? He is on the taller side for his age. Obviously carrying a seat also a big hassle. Any other opinions about using a car seat vs. one of those CARES harnesses, which is the other option we're considering?

My other question is about travel insurance. I'm thinking it might be a good idea, mostly just in case he gets really sick right before we leave. Those of you who've taken vacations with young kids, do you ever get travel insurance? Any recommendations?

Any other advice about flying with a toddler would be appreciated too!

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answers from Chicago on

It completely depends on the child! I have never needed a car seat for my daughter. It has always been easy to keep her busy and she has no problem sitting in her seat...and then my son was born :-) He would much prefer to run around. He sits comfortably in his car seat - even naps! He is used to sitting still in a car seat and it goes much smoother for everyone. Yes, it is cumbersome to carry throught the airport but for me it was sooo worth it. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

My personal opinion.. good for you for getting your son his own seat. Everyone will be more comfortable. So many new products have entered the market since we were flying with our daughter. She is 17 now and has flown since she was a little baby. The seat is worth the extra money plus it is safer for everyone.

As for travel insurance... we travel a LOT for personal and business. I believe it is a rip off. For instance.. you get sick and can't go.. as long as you notify the airline, the ticket is banked for 1 yr. You just pay extra fees if deemed necessary to change it. Hotels are usually very accomodating with cancellations. We have cancelled/postponed a trip more than once at the last minute with no financial difficulties with hotels and airlines.

Of course, the insurance is a personal decision for you but I don't waste my money on it.

Have a great trip!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I only buy insurance, and the kind that includes medical, when we travel internationally.

And I always took a car seat. For all the reasons you mentioned. They stay put and they're comfortable.

If you're worried about carrying, figure out a plan in advance. Once I took a small rolling suitcase and was able to strap the car seat to it and just roll it along with the case. No big deal. Once I took a small folding luggage carrier, strapped the car seat to it and put my bags in the seat and just rolled it behind me. Very easy.

Lots of activities and snacks. Handheld devices for watching toddler shows is helpful. Picture books, sticker books, aqua doodle pages, etc.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We took a trip to Costa Rica when our daughter was two. With the layovers and small hopper planes that we took while in Costa Rica, we were on a total of 7 flights! We purchased the Cares Kids Aviation Seatbelt and it was a godsend. Very easy to install. Then we didn't have to lug the carseat on 7 different flights, nor check it. Regular airline seatbelts are made for adults, so really not safe for kids. Anyway, it's $63 on Amazon, then I sold it on Ebay afterward for $45. What a deal :) You can also rent this system online, just google it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Don't know about the car seat but the only time I have purchased travel insurance is going overseas. Almost had to use it when that darn volcano in Iceland wouldn't stop erupting. For local travel it is a huge waste of money since you probably won't use it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Congratulations on booking the vacation! I travel quite a bit for business and pleasure and I never buy travel insurance. When I have had to reschedule, I just work with the airlines and the hotel. I got sick in Spain once and just used my regular Aetna PPO.

My daughter was a flying pro way back before everyone had a DVD player, smart phone and 27 new toys for a flight. It worked out fine and I cherish many of those times just talking with her.

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answers from Chicago on


We just took a vacation and were on a 2 hour flight with our son. Our son is 26 months old, very active and 3 feet tall. We have a Britax car seat and he fit in the car seat on the plane. We bought a car seat roller cart, strapped him in to his car seat and rolled him through the airport. The car seat roller cart was invaluable!

I took him to the airport a week before our flight so he knew what to expect. And read books to him about flying on an airplane a couple of weeks before we took our trip. We brought a portable DVD player, his two favorite movies, favorite blanket, stuffed animal, snacks and coloring books which kept him content on the flight.

We had a wonderful travel experience. Have a great vacation!



answers from Washington DC on

Find out if you can REALLY take the car seat. We were allowed to check it without a fee, but we could not use it on our international flights. The only time we needed to carry it (and I recommend a padded bag) was to baggage check and from there - and all the airports had free carts. It wasn't that big a hassle.

I put DD (then just shy of 3) in the buckle in her own seat and kept her either between DH and I or against the wall and I was in the aisle. We did use our car seat in all our rentals and it was nice to have a familiar product that we knew the history of. DD flew better than I expected she would and slept better on the flights than anybody else did. If the arm rests go up, then he can rest his head on you for a nap.

We always get travel insurance for important/expensive trips. Ours also provided insurance for lost baggage, too.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I got travel insurance whenever we went to Disney. Since the chances are so good that a kid will come down with something that would make him unable to go I wanted to be able to get a full refund and reschedule.



answers from Washington DC on

Be careful with travel insurance and fine print and make sure they will cover everything.

As for the car seat, I check mine with my 3 year old daughter. She personally does better that way and I don't have to carry the car seat around the airport. Also the CARES harness is $80 and I don't think worth it. My daughter uses the airplane seat belt and brings her pillow pet and falls asleep leaning against me.

I usually bring a DVD player when we travel, but last time I just bought a bunch of arts and crafts that she never saw before and it kept her occupied for a 3 hour flight with no nap.

Also, if he is still in diapers, I usually change my daughter right before we board and she is fine for the 3 hour flight, but if he goes a lot, consider a overnight diaper. Changing diapers on a plane is awful and if it's just a wet diaper, I change it right in the seats not the bathroom.



answers from Chicago on

we take 2-3 family vacations a year and i travel a lot for work and we have never bought the would have to be really really ill not to go through with a trip. as far as the car seat goes, we have only used it once on the actual plane and that was when my daughter was like 18 months on a flight to LA...everything else we jsut give her the window seat and she watches TV, colors, eats, etc. it was a total pain to carry it thru the airport



answers from Chicago on

If you do decide to take your car seat onto the airplane, I recommend the GoGo Kidz ( roller thingy. We have a 3 year old and an 18 month old and this was so helpful to get them through the airport. We gate checked our car seats for free but you could obviously just take your car seat on from there and the roller board thing fits easily in the overhead compartment.

We bring lots of little toys in a small backpack and a wide variety of snacks to keep them busy on the plane. My 3 year old doesn't have a problem, she colors, watches Sesame Street videos on the iPad, and plays by herself very well. My 18 month old, however, requires a lot of attention so I was happy to have the variety of small toys and snacks.

Also, keep them chewing or drinking during take-off and landing to help avoid the pressure build-up in their little ears.

Have a fun vacation!



answers from Phoenix on

Car seat....go buy the costco scenera (walmart/target) for your son. It is about $40, lightweight, safe and perfect for travel. I do NOT recommend renting one....they are usually disgusting and you have no idea if its been damaged/in an accident. I also would not go on a plane ith a 2.5 year old without a car seat (and I have done lots of travelling with my 4).

Bring some new toys and snacks and it will be fine!

We went though insure my for travel insurance to disney. It was well worth it. I had to go to an urgent care for a bug bite that turned into an infection and my son needed antibiotics for a tooth abcess....all which was covered no problems what so ever. It paid for itself! This website pulls quotes from various companies and you can pick the best one...



answers from Chicago on

I would either check your car seat or just rent one for the car. My daughter is the same age and she sits by herself in the seat with the regular seat belt. Way less of a hassle for, she felt like a big girl in her own seat like mom.



answers from Washington DC on

You can request assistance from the airport.

The thing that saved me was a buddy harness. We had to take it off during security, but otherwise, it saved my sanity and gave my then 3y freedom to move about while keeping track of her. Hubby hates the buddy harness, but even admitted on the plane that he was glad we had it.

We always do travel insurance. We had to use it once when my son came down with chicken pox two days before we left. we had to cancel out week long beach vacation. we had to submit a note from the doctor that he wasn't able to travel from days a - b, which covered most of the week. We also had to say why the whole amount had to be covered (i.e. the people paying the bill had to stay home with him) THEN they reimbursed us.



answers from Chicago on

Hi there-
I am sorry, but didn't read the responses, so it could be a repeat. I travel for work, and was very lucky to be able to take my kids their first couple years. I have used both a car seat in the airplane seat, and a CARES harness. I prefer the CARES harness because it makes getting on and off the plane much easier. Plus both my kids felt "special" that they were riding a big seat. We have the Britax Marathon (LOVE) but it takes up valuable space (unless you have seats in 1st class). We did have the roller board (GoGo Kidz) that made the car seat a stroller...which had a few advantages.
Pack an extra outfit for him and a new shirt for you (learned a valuable lesson on that one). Also, lots of snacks, a favorite toy, a game, etc...we actually bought the kids those low volume headphones and play music they like etc...
Also, you can take milk through security (just let them know before it goes through and put in bin by itself...they will still test it-open and wave a piece of paper over the top) but it's really hard to find milk (we use organic) at the airport.
We didn't buy travel insurance, as I am lucky that work pays :) :) :) but I think if it's not to expensive, I'd do it.
I love traveling, and my kids do to. Roll with the punches, get their early, and have plenty to entertain incase their is no nap :)
I hope it helps. Good luck, and have a great trip!!!


answers from Lakeland on

First check your car seat and make sure it is FAA approved (most are not), if not the airline will not let you use it and it will be gate checked. I found that my daughter has more room to sleep or relax on the plane without a car seat. Just bring a small pillow and blanket with a few toys and/or DVD player.

We have traveled a lot since my daughter was one and we don't usually get the insurance. I have seen lots of parents fly with sick kids. What if he were to get sick for the ride home? Would you stay at your vacation destination?

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