/ The RE's Muse: Calling all travelers, help

The RE's Muse

After 4 years of infertility, 2 surgeries, 1 miscarriage, and 19 months of high risk pregnancies, hubby and I now have two little women in our lives--one a toddler, the other not far behind. Buckle your seatbelts, it's gonna be a wild ride.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Calling all travelers, help

For those of you who've traveled internationally, i.e., from the U.S. to a foreign destination, with small children, here is a question I'm hoping you can help me out with:

What did you do about car seats at your destination?

We are journeying down to see family in South America this October (it's been 9 years since A and I last traveled there--thanks to civil strife and general danger--hey, can you guess which country we're traveling to?!), and we are wondering if we should bring our car seats for the girls.

We have purchased each girl their own seat on the plane and they're each large enough to sit in them without a car seat. Alas, we're not exactly sure about bringing the car seats for in-country driving after our arrival. Add to that the fact that the country we're going to may not have any companies that provide rental car seats should we opt to go with a rental car--hell, it's been hard even finding a rental car company, so we may just go with taxis for local transportation and...we've come full circle on the car seat issue.

Add to the mix the fact that the country we'll be in may not have the most rigid safety laws regarding things like seat belts and whatnot for either adults or children...(did you know that, yes, it is indeed physically possible to load a family of four or five on a moped or scooter? witnessed personally by yours truly--on numerous occasions at our South American destination).

We've always taken our car seats when we've traveled domestically by plane and rental car upon arrival, but this is our first international trip with las ninas. We're still trying to figure out the logistics and I am stumped, can you tell?

We've got a full travel roster this year so I'm planning planning planning early. Outside of this trip, we've got: A and I (sans kiddos) taking a 4-day weekend to see friends in Pensacola later this month--whoohoo, let's hear it for a 10-hour car drive (good thing we really love these friends!), followed by 5 days in Sanibel with the girls in June, a 3-day weekend in Chicago in July (Buffett! Cubbies!), our annual 4-day adults-only trip to Key West in August, then 8 days of family fun in South America in October, and ending with a 4-day jaunt to the world of D!sney in December. I can't wait for our vacation 'season' to kick off. Mommy needs a break...as I'm sure you all do too :-)

Advice on the international travel car seat question will be greatly appreciated, as will any general snarkiness or 'geez, Dee, get a grip...it's five months away'-type responses. Why yes, I am anal, thanks for noticing.


At 8:36 PM, Blogger Eva said...

We go to Europe regularly, but this isn't an issue for us because we go to see family and my kid has as cousin a year older than she and we just use their car seat (because they don't have a car--the car lives in my father-in-law's car, and it's with my FIL we'll be staying).

So that was no help to you.

I guess you could just a) get carseats there b) screw the car seats and live dangerously or c) bring them, which will suck but will make you feel virtuous and safe but will definitely make taxis complicated. Honestly I think I would....do b and then if I felt weird about it when I get there do a.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Mutha Mae said...

We did not use car seats in China because no one does. We carried the baby on our laps for cab rides and bus rides. I actually got used to the feeling pretty quickly. Terrifying at first, then normal after the first few rides.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Shaken Mama said...

Two jaunts to Europe and one to Hawaii with a baby and a toddler, and this is what I recommend -- first, YES, don't put the girls in their carseats on the plane. It's cool when they're really little, and a dumb idea when they're more alert.

Second, maybe big sister uses a regular seatbelt (just the lap belt portion) and D uses a carseat on your longer car journeys, which, if you have a Britax Marathon, you can affix wheels to in order to convert it into a stroller when you're going through airport. That way you can avoid bringing a stroller too, but you have a carseat for longer journeys. Chebbles LOVES her Britax Marathon when we put wheels on it. It's from a company called Gogo Kidz. You just gate check it as you would a stroller.

But yeah, I wouldn't get to hyper about always using a carseat, especially if you've got a lap belt on J and some options for D.

Also, call the airline and beg them for the bulkhead. We just called Lufthansa and told them about our ragtag crew and they gave us the bulkhead out of sheer pity.

Bon voyage!!

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Klynn said...

No advice on the carseat thing. I *think* I would at least take them as "checked" luggage, even if you don't have them on the plane. I don't even have a passport, though, so obviously international travel is not my thing.

I did want to ask what route you're planning to take to get to P-cola. If you're heading north and planning on catching I-10, maybe we could meet for lunch or something?

I'll be going to port canaveral for a work conference the end of this month. Then next month we're taking the kids for a few days at D!sney. If you're interested in a blogger meet-up, just let me know! :)

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Melissa J said...

We have traveled to India and Thailand with our son when he was 6 months, 18 months, and 25 months. The first trip is when I was most worried about not having him in a car seat, so we just tried not to take him out in the car much.

Folks in India & Thailand don't use car seats either. And I can't see taxi drivers waiting patiently for parents to carefully install the seats before taking off.

And of course, the car seats would never fit on the ubiquitous mopeds/scooters or in the auto-rickshaws or tuk-tuks.

If the girls don't need the car seats on the airplane anymore, I think I would just not bother taking them. 2 fewer bulky items to lug around with you!

I know it's scary to think of your kids riding around without being buckled in.

Once upon a time, I had purchased a fairly lightweight, folding car seat from One Step Ahead. I don't see it on their web site anymore, though. Will keep looking & will post again if I find it.

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

I would take the car seats. It's just as dangerous to have kids ride without carseats in other countries as it is here. And I've found that kids who have been allowed to ride without carseats will often balk at using them again, so you might have some unpleasant car trips after you return home.

Then again, I can't claim to be rational about carseats and seatbelts. A close childhood friend was killed because she took off her seatbelt momentarily. I couldn't have lived with the guilt if something like that happened to my kids, so I've always insisted on carseats and seat belts no matter what. I'm kind of an Eeyore, though, and expect the worst to happen. Your mileage may vary.

If you decide to go sans carseats, you might want to take locking clips along. If you put a kiddo in a on-piece lap/shoulder belt with the shoulder belt behind, the belt won't hold them in an accident without a locking clip. The clip is smaller than an index card, so it's easy to pack along in your purse.


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