Do We Bring the Car Seat?

Updated on April 21, 2009
H.P. asks from Salisbury, NH
18 answers

My husband and I are traveling to Mexico next week with our 7 mo. old. We like to travel light and plan not to have any check luggage...just carry on. When talking about which baby gear to bring, we decided on a back pack and sling for our stay (we are renting an apartment for the week, so when we are out at all we plan to wear our little guy). So, do we bring the car seat for our travel days to and from Mexico (and check the seat at the gate)? We did not buy him a ticket, so he will be on our laps on the plane, but what about time in the airport?...he will fall asleep in the car seat and not in the pack/sling. Is it necessary? Is it worth bringing it? THanks in advance, and any other advice on traveling with a 7mo. old is welcome.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for your advise. We just got back from our trip (all in good health), and we did bring the car seat. I am glad that we did...it came in handy waiting in the airport, and when we rented a car for 2 days of the trip. THe extra bulk wasn't too much trouble carrying around, and checking it at the gait was easy. We were able to bring it on the plane with us for one leg of the trip. (For those who doubted that we could do it all with just carry on...we did it! My husband and I each had a carry on item and a backpack, we had the baby and checked the carseat and babypack at the gate. There was no waiting in baggage claim or worrying about lost luggage.)

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R.S.

answers from Providence on

They used to sell a small travel harness that transformed a regular seat belt into a 5 point harness. I think it was by safety first. I had looked into buying one when my son was younger, but he was out of the weight recommendation for it. If you travel often, it should be worth the investment. I don't think it was too pricey. Have a great trip.

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D.N.

answers from Hartford on

I have thought about this myself, and have always come to the same conclusion that it really is worth having to lug the thing around because plain and simple, if there was something that happened that could have been prevented if your child was in a carseat, it would be terrible. I do know a lot of people like to talk about how they travel so lightly when they have kids which is great, but a carseat really is always an essential to me if you will be traveling in a car. And basically, if parents don't want to lug a carseat around...then maybe it is better to go on the trip when the child is old enough to not need a carseat anymore.

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L.B.

answers from Boston on

I don't have any advice for you since it's been about 20 yrs since my kids were in car seats, but I just HAD to comment -- You're not checking luggage??? On a trip to Mexico??? With a baby??? Seriously????!!!! I just got back from Mexico with my husband and 21 yr old daughter and I can't imagine doing it with only a carry on!!! In fact, I made my husband check a bag that he wouldn't have otherwise, for me! <embarrassed> Of course part of that was planning for purchases I'd want to bring back (-- and STILL ended up mailing myself stuff) But still...

I'm astounded -- and impressed! Please... Tell me your secret!

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C.H.

answers from Boston on

I would bring the carseat too! We traveled to DC when DS#1 was 11 months old. I didn't look around enough for advice and ended up checking my carseat with our luggage. We travelled happily to DC and then spent HOURS waiting for my carseat which didn't arrive with us because they never put it on the plane! The airline did have loaner seats....but they only had infant seats (he was too big) and forward facing seats (he was too small). We finally had to leave the airport and decided to rent one from the rental car place. NEVER AGAIN! It was the most horrible seat! It was expired for one thing and it was probably manufactured in the early 90s!!! We did choose to use it to get to the hotel and then waited there for my seat to arrive. It arrived 8 hours after we got there!!

My advice to anyone - if it's something you definitely need as soon as you land....take it on with you or gate check it! Never again will I check it with luggage!

Have fun!!

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M.M.

answers from Boston on

TAKE THE CAR SEAT!!!!! In Mexico, traffic lights and and lane markings are only for decorative purposes...and don't drink the water or anything w/ice in it. (I'm not kidding...learned the hard way but still had a great time)
BTW: When we brought on 8and 1/2 month old son home from the Phillipines (Yes, a just a bit further away than Mexico) we invested in a Sit &Stroll: converts from a carseat to a stroller to an FAA approved flight seat to a booster seat. It was worth its weight in gold for that 24 hour flight home (we bought him a seat-- for obvious reasons) and it was great in for the taxi and bus rides in Manila (similar to Mexico)
Something to consider if you plan on travelling alot with your little one.
Have a great time!

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K.I.

answers from Boston on

Hi H.,
Have fun on your travels. We got a car seat attachment for our small carry-on roller luggage. http://www.amazon.com/Traveling-Toddler-Seat-Travel-Acces.... (I hope that link works). It was only $15 and was wonderful. It attaches your carseat to the small carryon and we just pushed our daughter around and then checked her carseat at the gate. The only thing is I dont think it works for the newborn carseat. If he is in the newborn one, I would definitely bring it still. You can have it for the airport and then check it at the gate.
Have fun!

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C.C.

answers from Springfield on

My daughter was 7 weeks old when I travelled with her the first time. Not only did I bring her car seat, which the airline let me keep with me on the plane because it was not sold out, but I brought my stroller system that interlocked with the car seat and checked it at the gate. They treat you very well when you're travelling with a small one. My feeling was that if the law in my own country requires me to have my daughter in a car seat when I am in a car, I want her to be just as safe in a car in another country, whether that is a taxi, an airport shuttle or one of those little golf cars of which they seem to be so fond.

Please also recognize that I am completely jealous of you right now! I have been to Mexico twice and thoughouly enjoyed it both times - have a blast!

M.J.

answers from Boston on

I would say definitely bring it. If you know that he will fall asleep in that and not the sling you will be doing yourself a favor by avoiding a very cranky baby. Traveling is hard enough on parents and babies. For your son, the carseat will likely be a much-needed comfort from home.

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D.T.

answers from Boston on

Hi,

I would definitely bring it. We travelled with our 10 month old recently and used the strap mentioned below. It didn't occur to me to have her sit in the car seat when it was attached to the rolling bag though, we just used our carrier in the airport.

I have heard that the car seats you get with a rental car can be a crapshoot. I suspect that if you went with a reputable company they would probably be safe enough, but may not be very comfortable. So it would certainly be more convenient to just get one with a rental car (although you will be responsible for installing it). If you aren't planning to get a rental car I would definitely bring your car seat. It is absolutely not worth it to me to take the chance on riding in a car or cab with my baby not in a carseat. I am sure that 99.9% of the time it would be fine, but a little inconvenience is worth the piece of mind for me.

Gate checking the car seat was very easy, and if you can manage to travel without checking luggage I'd be very impressed!

Our daughter did fall asleep for a little while on our laps (which she never does at home). I was amazed at how few toys she actually needed on the plane (we had a whole arsenal) but I think it was because she was being entertained by her momma and poppa the whole time. Jet Blue is great because they have the tvs it the seats and since she doesn't watch tv at home it is novel and can buy you a little time.

I am not so good at traveling light and I am very particular about what she eats so I made sure that we had a weeks supply of the foods that were most important to me (her organic cereal, ground flax seed, etc stuff that would be hard to replace) and I had a two day supply of everything else.

They were good about baby food. You have to present it in a separate container to TSA and they will inspect it, but they never gave me a hard time. I had a lunch size cooler full of yogurt, juice, water, and food.

Nurse, give a bottle or pacifier at take off or landing to help with the ear pressure.

Try to stay relaxed so they don't pick up on your stresses.

Have a great time!

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L.M.

answers from Boston on

H.,

How do you plan to get to the airport here in the States? If you are driving and leaving your car at the airport that is one thing but if you plan to take a taxi you will need to have your carseat with you for that drive. I don't know if Mexico requires a carseat or not. We have always opted to bring our carseat because you are trusting your life and your childs with someone who is driving that you don't know. And checking at the gate isn't a big deal. I would also say a cheap umbrella stroller is priceless to have, way more so than any carrier especially when going to hotter climates.
As for carrying everything on with you. I would say you are better off having your hands free to deal with the baby rather than having all your luggage with you. Are you planning to buy diapers down there? If not you need to bring them. What about food for him? Is he on formula, purees are you planning to bring the stuff or buy it down there.
We have found that checking the luggage and having backpack carry on's that are basically empty is the way to go. You end up taking off layers or collecting things along the way that add up.
Also I would suggest bringing your son's favorite toy (noiseless one) and some books that will entertain him on the flight.

Have fun and enjoy,
L. M

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L.K.

answers from Boston on

I would absolutely bring the car seat. The driving in Mexico is not safe. I am sure you will need car transportation from the airport to your resort. Better safe than sorry.

If the airline loses your carseat they always give you a new one to use to get your baby home and then they deliver yours once they find it and pick theirs up. So, there is really no risk, only benefits of bringing the seat.

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A.H.

answers from Hartford on

we traveled to Thailand with our 7 month old and did not bring a car seat. we brought two different slings. one like the Maya wrap and the other was the Moby wrap. the Maya wrap was great for quick around town stuff. the Moby is awesome if you're going to be out for a longer period of time. it's harder to tie and get used to but it fits your body really well and our daughter would just snuggle in and fall asleep easily! good luck, it's really fun traveling with an infant, people are usually much more kind and friendly!

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T.W.

answers from Hartford on

Hi H.!
Each time I've traveled with my son, I left the carseat at home, or checked it to use in the rental car. To me, it's not worth lugging around... esp if you wear him and he's cozy like that :)
Happy travels!
T.

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S.L.

answers from Springfield on

Hi H.,

I was once a light independent traveler but now with a 2.5 year old, the reality is that more stuff is needed. We just returned from traveling in Jamaica and I'm really glad we brought the carseat. Even for the little amount of time you'll be in a car, it is better to be safe, especially driving in Mexico. I'm a big proponent of wearing baby and we still wear our son a lot, but if you are strapped into your seat and wearing baby, if in an accident, your weight will shift forward and the shoulder harness can severely hurt or dismember your child. That's why when you travel on the plane, the flight attendant will not let you put the seatbelt around you and your child.

If you're not renting a car, then you want the carseat for the bus or taxi, and you will have it for any side trips you do. If renting a car, most car rental agencies do not have the seat you want, or charge crazy daily rates to rent it to you.

Also, you can check the carseat through, without lugging it through the airport. We put ours in a big duffel bag so the straps don't snag on anything. Airlines usually don't charge for a checked carseat, and they don't charge you for an extra bag if it is a carseat.

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R.T.

answers from Boston on

It doesn't cost anything extra, and you can check the carseat at the gate. I've ridden in cars in Mexico, and I wouldn't want my child in a car without a carseat for any short amount of time. Especially since he will sleep in the carseat, it will be useful to have, just in case your flights are delayed, or he has trouble sleeping at the apartment.

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J.B.

answers from Chicago on

H.-

I would suggest bringing the seat. Not only for the obvious safety reasons while driving, but strickly for the conviences the other moms listed below. I've traveled with my son twice by myself. He was 9 weeks old the first time and I was able to check his infant seat at the gate on our flight out, but when we were coming back home, the flight was not full and they gave me a seat for him.

Our second flight by ourselves, he was almost 12 months old and I opted to buy him his own seat. Which again, made the flight much easier! I did purchase the GoGO Kidz Travelmate. It was pricey (about $80 at Babies R Us), but well worth it! It attaches to the bottom/back of most convertible carseats. It has wheels and a long handle and rolls like a stroller. Once you put it together and know how to use it, it is easy to remove (and stores in the overhead bin on the plane). It didn't fit through the xray machines at the airport, but they just did a manual check.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

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L.S.

answers from New London on

I would bring the carseat that clicks into the stroller. We did and it worked great. We traveled a lot with our infant including barbados. best wishes.

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C.H.

answers from Hartford on

If you bring the carseat to the gate and the flight is not full, the airline will usually let you bring the carseat on board and put it in an empty seat so you can use it for your son. It makes for a much more relaxing flight if you can put him in the carseat instead of trying to hold a squirmy 7 mo old on your lap, and he may be more likely to nap in the carseat.

If you can't take the carseat on board, definitely check it at the gate, not with the checked luggage. If you get back from your trip, but the airline loses the carseat, you won't have a seat to put him in for the ride home.

Have a great trip!