Just recently, a flight attendant stopped my husband as we boarded a flight with the kids, saying skeptically, “Excuse me sir, but I’ll need to verify that car seat is approved for air travel.”
It was our Sit N Stroll.
I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. After all, more than any other car seat, this was created for air travelers and has been on the market for several years.
Nevertheless, it was a good reminder that we should always “be prepared for the car seat police” when flying with a child safety seat (one of my earliest tips from 2007). Before you attempt taking any car seat onto an aircraft, make sure:
- Your car seat is FAA-approved for air travel (remember that no car seats requiring tether for installation or belt-positioning boosters requiring a shoulder belt are approved for air travel).
- You know exactly where it is printed on your car seat label (in RED LETTERING, as shown above) that proves it is certified for use in aircraft and will be able to point to it upon boarding.
- You have a confirmed seat where you will install your child’s car seat (either a paid seat or a spare seat confirmed for your lap child’s use by the airline before boarding), in an appropriate seating position for a child safety seat (window or centermost seats in wide-body aircraft).
Remember: Some car seats that may later convert to belt-positioning boosters can only be used on aircraft as a car seat with the 5-point safety harness. It may be more difficult to find the FAA-approval on these car seats themselves, and sometimes it may only state how and when they are approved for use in aircraft in the manual – in which case you’ll want to be sure to have it with you!
Have you been stopped by the car seat police? How did you handle it? Were you able to keep your seat for the flight? If you have more questions about car seats on airplanes, I’ve included some of the most popular topics below or you can click here for the Air Travel Tips and Advice help index page.
Related posts and pages:
- Remember to 3-1-1 your child’s travel kit for carry-on
And now… for a truly inspired Pack This! feature.
Our travel-size doodle pro has put on many miles (along with its lap-size counterpart, which is always helpful during road trips). If you don’t have one already, here are just a few reasons why I highly recommend a travel-size doodle pro for every traveling family.
How do I love thee, Travel Doodle Pro? Let me count the ways:
1. You fit in the side of my diaper bag, and even in my purse.
2. You satisfy boredom in restaurants, and on airplanes where it’s worse.
3. You scribble wildly for my toddler, then Tic-Tac-Toe for my older pair.
4. You erase for reuse again and again, and without showing (too much) wear.
5. You secure to the car seat with carabiner clip, and with your stylus never touch the floor.
6. Cleaning up after use on an airplane tray – or at Grandma’s house - is never a chore.
7. O, you never demand new batteries, never beep, or flash a light!
8. You power-on with mere imagination, and can be used through all phases of flight.
Click here to browse all of the Pack This! recommendations so far, and find more inspired gear recommendations for your travels here. For more tips and practical advice for flying with your baby, toddler, or young kids be sure to check out the Flying Tips page. And if you’re gearing up for a family road trip, don’t miss the new Road Trips and Car Seat travel advice page.
Last month I addressed ways to help fit more travel into your family’s new year. Today? A helpful hint on fitting a little more ROMANCE into your family travels as well.
If you can’t hop the next flight to Franklyn D. Resort in Jamaica, where an all-inclusive vacation includes your family’s own personal vacation nanny (highly recommended and kids under 6 stay free – my full review here), you may still get significantly more value and enjoyment from your family vacation if you book yourselves a pre-screened vacation babysitter or temporary nanny during your vacation instead.
Whether you hire a babysitter to help throughout your vacation, or just during one special part of it, hiring a hotel sitter or on-the-spot nanny can help everyone enjoy the getaway a little more—yes, even your kids!
- How much more relaxing is a day at the beach, or by the pool, with an extra set of hands to help?
- Want to linger longer at breakfast with your lover (ie. that guy you married a decade ago) while somebody else pushes your fussy baby around the block in the pram or walks your toddler to the park across the street?
- And don’t even get me started on that Broadway show in the evening.
- Or that…(sigh) sunset stroll on the beach watching a tropical sunset while somebody else, just for a short while, cuts up fruit and hotdogs and conjures up a new art project involving feathers with your kids.
But if you’re like most parents I know (including me), you won’t be comfortable with any random babysitter referral a hotel concierge sends your way. So how do you find a ”childminder” you can trust in a foreign land? Hopefully our new directory of agencies that provide screened vacation babysitters and short-term nannies with confirmed references will help you find the perfect fit to make your next family vacation feel like… a little bit of a honeymoon as well.
Whether you’re seeking a screened hotel sitter in Japan or Johannesburg, in Boston or Banff, or Paris or Puerto Vallarta, please click here to visit the new international directory of agencies offering screened vacation babysitters and vacation nannies, and bookmark for future reference! We’re working hard on finding the agencies and services you’d recommend yourself around the world, so please send us your personal agency recommendations as well!
Related posts and pages:
- Tips for hiring a babysitter or nanny on your family’s next vacation
- Vacation Nanny 411: All about FDR Resort’s ultimate all-inclusive inclusion for families
- Travels with Baby international directory of vacation babysitter and nanny agencies
In case there aren’t enough logistical challenges to solve when traveling with one small child, or two young children, there are those of us who have the privilege of making travel work with three kids requiring car seats or safety boosters. I am a proud member of this club.
When we’ll be driving at our destination, it doesn’t make a lot of difference whether we’re flying two hours away or ten time zones. Car seat and safety booster seat laws now reach farther and wider—and for kids older and older—than ever before. Even our great state of California just upped its booster seat requirement from 6 years to 8 year, sending several parents back to the store to replace the booster seat they gave away a year ago. In Europe, many countries now require booster seats for children up to 12 years old. And if you think you’ll have it any easier in Costa Rica, guess again (and be sure to read this).
Still, short of renting a minivan for the five or us – which can be vastly more expensive than that economical compact car you always see advertised, it’s hard to know how to safely and legally seat all three kids in a rental car at home or abroad. When traveling to many places beyond North America, such as Europe, a minivan may not even be an option (or a sane one, when considering gas prices anyway!).
When I booked our rental car in Spain last visit, I already had to upgrade the size of vehicle from the most compact just to accommodate our baggage, but even still, I knew the chances that a car seat and two safety boosters would fit across the back seat of that car were slim.
Fortunately, we were prepared for this: We reserved one safety seat from the car rental agency for our youngest child, and brought along two RideSafer travel vests (certified for kids 3 years and older) for my big kids—and cleverly packed them in the outside pocket of our suitcase for easy access on arrival. Wearing their RideSafer vests installed with the car’s shoulder safety belts, they needed no more room on the seat than their own little hips required.
For children old enough to ride in a backless safety booster (at least 4 years), the Bubble Bum inflatable booster may also be helpful for travel requiring three booster seats in small rental cars. However, while it saves a little space by not having arm rests (or more importantly by fitting partially beneath a high-base car seat beside it), it may still be wider than your child’s hips, so your results may vary depending on the rental car and configuration of car seats / boosters.
The other advantage of the RideSafer, when fitting multiple kids into unfamiliar vehicles, is that the travel vest can also be used with a lap belt only, when used with a removable top tether strap. This may allow for additional seating configurations, depending on your rental car.
For more information about the RideSafer travel vest, and photos of it in use, check out my complete RideSafer review here. (FWIW, while I’ve been recommending the RideSafer travel vest for several years and we’ve used them on many occasions, those shown in this photo were provided by the manufacturer with no promise of positive review or mention in this blog.)
Related posts and pages:
Road trip travel tips and car seat advice (taxis, shuttles, laws and more)
Even if you start your next adventure in a big city—as you’re likely to do if flying in to a major airport, you may be able to extend your family’s vacation by staking a claim for short while in a small town off the beaten path. And it could be well worth it, for more reasons than one.
Think about it: For what you might pay for two nights in Paris or New York City, you might afford to stay a week in an apartment in a smaller city or a cottage in a lesser-known village.
Does that mean you’ll have a less interesting or worthwhile vacation? Not if you play your cards right. Especially with small kids along for the adventure, smaller towns often offer a more relaxed pace and better chances to acquaint yourselves with the culture and locals in residence.
Take Spain as an example, and the small town of Nerja on the Costa del Sol. This April, a 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment where we stayed is 450 Euros for one week (yes, that’s two bedrooms, with more than one toilet, full kitchen, and a washing machine). Surrounded by Andalucían charm? Yes. Walking to any of three beautiful beaches on the Costa del Sol? Yes. Strolling to shops, cafes, and (inexpensive) groceries? You bet.
Which reminds me of another reason you might prefer small cities to big for that next break: Walking to most locations vastly simplifies vacations with a baby or toddler. No loading and unloading and reloading the car, no navigating a crowded subway. Just push that stroller along the street to the next cafe or park.
So how can you find the perfect small city for your family’s next vacation? In addition to these few I’ve highlighted, check out these links:
- America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns, from Budget Travel Magazine
- America’s Top 25 Small Cities, from American Style Magazine
- Best Small City Vacation Destinations, from RatesToGo
- 100 Best Midwest Small-Town Getaways, from Midwest Living Magazine
- The Best Small Towns of Spain, TripAdvisor.com
- The Best Small Towns and Villages in Southeast Asia, Frommers.com
Do you have a big crush on a small town you’d love to visit again this year?
Know of a great little city you’d recommend for travelers with kids?
- American Airlines AAdvantage Eshopping mall
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping
- Delta’s SkyMilesShopping
To participate in any of these programs, you just need a frequent flyer (or mileage) number with the airline, and then you can simply register online with the mileage shopping portal. The next time you go online to shop, just start at the portal site and click through to the store you want to shop. Done!
The real advantage of this program is how frequently you can earn multiple miles per dollar spent on goods from stores such as Staples.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Overstock.com, and eBags.com. And if you do use a mileage credit card to make your purchase? You’ll just be earning that many more miles to your account for each transaction.
Skeptics: I recently earned 4 miles per dollar spent on my new washing machine and a whopping 16 miles per dollar spent for new laser printer toner. And I’ll come clean with you all right now: I did not hesitate to pad my mileage account with a bit of holiday shopping as well. Since these were things I had to buy anyway… it was great to earn the most miles possible for every dollar spent and get that much closer to my next award flight.
Have you used a shopping portal to earn miles shopping online?
Do you have another easy way to add to your frequent flyer account?
|With the right card your family may board its next flight a little faster.|
FAQs and popular topics for travel with young children
|It all starts by taking advantage of the low-travel long weekends…|
If you’ll find yourself with a 3-day weekend from work and/or school in any of these cases, you may be able to catch a great deal at popular family destinations and resorts, enjoy lower gas prices or airfare to get you there, and avoid the crowds and congestion of much more popular long weekends like Memorial Day and 4thof July.
- "99 of the Best Travel Blogs" from TravelBlogs.com "10 Best Family Travel Blogs" from Blogs.com "Top 10 Family Travel Blogs" from TripBase.com "Top 25 Travel Blogs for Families" and "#2 for Insider Tips and Tricks" from Babble.com
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