Traveling with Carseats: A Lesson Learned

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The lost seat

Traveling with young kids always means traveling with carseats. After paying a fortune for using the budget car rental seats in Florida one Spring Break, we vowed to transport our own. Our regular car seats are heavy, big, and cost too much for me to risk sending through with my luggage. We have a travel seat for each child, which also function as spare car seats to leave at my Dad’s house. My 4 year old in a booster seat with a back and my 2 year old in a toddler seat. Here is my lesson learned from traveling with them and how to minimize issues along the way.

Traveling to South Africa in December, we brought these seats along. We used bungee cords to attach the two together and were provided a large plastic bag by the airline to place them in. Thankfully they arrived in Cape Town without a problem. Coming home was another story. They were attached again in the same fashion, but no bag was provided. They were dropped again at the large item point as we headed for security.

Fast forward to arriving at baggage claim and neither carseat had made it. We had been advised that one or more of our bags were delayed at our connecting point while on the plane. I was assured they would be shipped to us on arrival, along with a missing suitcase.

This is the point in the story where literally hours of my life were lost calling the airline in regards to the carseat. The booster seat was found was shipped to us (the luggage tag had been attached to the handle), but the toddler seat was never found. It took the airline 2 months to finally agree that it was lost and finally agree to reimburse me.

Moral of the story.

  • Find your own budget seats– All carseats sold in the US meet the same safety standards. The booster I bought at a garage sale for $5 (of course that couldn’t be the one lost). The original toddler seat was a Cosco version, costing about $45 new. I found another similar version on Walmart’s website to replace it at at the same price point. These seats are lightweight and more narrow. This is helpful in smaller international or rental cars with less room.

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  • Invest in a carseat bag– Seems like a logically solution. One that only ended up costing me $12 on amazon. Why I didn’t do this before I’ll never know. Both seats now fit into the bag, not to mention what else you can fit in there without adding to your suitcase weight. We fit 2 ski helmets in as well on our last trip to Wyoming.

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  • Stay on the airlines about lost items– I know the airline was waiting for me to give up and go away. Despite the time lost constantly phoning them, I was able to get money back towards my new carseat.

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