To carseat or not to carseat? That is the question

Taxis…they sometimes feel like a necessary evil as a city dweller, even without your precious cargo of a little baby. When travelling, one of the questions we always ask is “Do we travel with the carseat or not?” It’s a bigger question than you think because you’ll be dealing with transportation to and from the airport (or train station, or ferry, or…) and also inter-city travel.

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There are many car services that now provide car seats if that’s all you need it for, so a Google search for just that (airport taxi car seat, car service airport baby, etc) seems to work for the bigger cities. A language barrier also may be an issue. How do you say carseat in Turkish, for example? (Ok, I can Google that too…but still…).
The other thing to consider is what you’re going to do with your carseat at the airport and your final destination – be it a restaurant, museum, or park. I don’t particularly want to be toting around a carseat when Little Man is much more comfortable sitting in his specific stroller seat or if you prefer to sling, like we do a lot when we’re out and about. There are travel system strollers that provide attachments to clip your infant carseat right onto the stroller but once your little one is bigger than his seat or you don’t want to travel with your big, often bulky stroller, you’re back to carrying around the car seat separately.
And if he hates his carseat? We can tolerate it and deal with that when we are just the thereof us in a car, but to subject a very unhappy baby to another person just seems cruel.
Most cities don’t require carseats in licensed taxis. The UK law, where we live, states just that.
In November, I went to Philadelphia from New York on the train to visit Little Man’s Grandma, aka my mom, and she had a car service pick us up. I was very specific with her to find out if they had a car seat, which they said they did, but when we turned up, I found out the seat was a toddler seat, not something that was appropriate for an 8 month old. So fortunately, the trip was maybe five minutes long and just 15 blocks away. (Moral of story – always be specific with the age of your child when requesting a car seat).
There has only one place so far that my husband was adamant about us using a carseat or public transportation because of the safety records of the taxis – Moscow. We actually took public transportation everywhere, including to and from the airport, and it was brilliant. In fact, every time my husband had travelled to Moscow before this past trip, he always took cars to and from meetings and hated every minute (hour) because of the traffic and lousy driving. This time, we took the metro and he had nothing but wonderful things to say about it. Maybe except for the number of stairs and carrying Little Man up and down in his stroller. I’m sorry if I’ve offended any of you who are either from or are living in Moscow with a different view, but this is my husband’s view of the taxi situation there.
But…back to carseats and taxis…we take the risk. I know there will be many of you readers shaking your heads at our decision, but we rarely take taxis in London and when we do it is usually after a day out and we don’t have Little Man’s carseat in our back pocket. When we travel, we typically take public transportation to and from the airport, and so we are having to deal with the car seat as a separate unwieldy beast on the train, along with our suitcases and stroller bag.
It’s a constant debate. I know I should be saying that, no matter what, always buckle up your precious cargo in a car seat, whether it is in a taxi or your own car, but there are times when it you don’t have enough hands for everything.
There always is another option – hiring a car seat at your destination. I’ve found a few services in the US and the UK (some also servicing some of Continental Europe) where you can hire anything and everything about baby, including car seats. That looks like a good alternative if you know you’re going to be hiring a car (all car rental places offer infant and toddler seats too) or getting lots of rides with people and you need the car seat for those journeys.
How do you deal with travelling and car seats?

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