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Car Seats for Children When Driving in Florida  

If you are hiring a car when you are in Florida then one thing you must think about are car seats for children.

There are a few options to consider:

  • Rent one from the hire car company
  • Buy one when you get there
  • Take your own seat with you

All of these options have different pros and cons. Cost is one consideration but so is convenience.

Often you will be unfamiliar with the car you are hiring, the roads you are driving on and the various different driving laws in the US. Also on your way from the airport to your hotel or villa in particular you will be tired and disorientated so in our view having something more familiar to you can make things a lot easier.

Rent one with your hire car

Every car hire company offers car seats (usually for a premium) to hire with your car. As an example the rental charge for our recent two week holiday was quoted as $100 extra for just one car seat.

They offer all sizes of seats from infant rear facing seats to high back boosters for older children. Some rental companies install the seat in your car themselves but others leave them for you to install yourself.

The challenge then comes trying to understand the fitting instructions when you’re tired and children are buzzing around your ankles. As a recent article in the Guardian points out, renting a car seat can create a frustrating start to any holiday (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/07/car-hire-renting-child-seat-holiday).

Buy one when you get there

Many people decide to buy a car seat when they get to Florida. You can pick up some decent ones for about $25 in places like Walmart and Target. This is a great idea as you don’t need to worry about taking your own seat on the aeroplane. If you wanted to you could even just leave the seat in Florida when you come home.

However this option does mean if you are picking up your hire car at the airport when you land you will not have a car seat with you on your journey to the supermarket to buy a seat. You will need to work out a way to get the seat before your children travel in the car so you don’t break any laws and ensure they are travelling safely.

Take your own with

The majority of people decide to take their own car seats with them. This option has many positives.

Firstly you know the history of your car seat so you know how old it is and if it has been in an accident before. You have no idea about the history of a rental car seat.

Secondly you know how to fit your car seat so when you get your hire car you can quickly and easily install it. As we mentioned above you will no doubt be very tired after your flight and your kids will be even more tired and grouchy. The last thing you want to do is try to fit an unfamiliar seat into your car!

Finally it is free to take your own car seat. Most airlines will accept car seats as checked luggage for free (on top of your normal luggage allowance).

We suggest you pack it in a car seat bag (we used this one http://amzn.eu/d/drWGcCV) or at least a big bin liner. Additionally, while you have the seat in that bag, why not fill the bag with some clothes etc as this is not usually included in your weight or luggage allowance (check with your airline though first)!

We took two car seats to Florida – a high back one for our youngest and a Trunki Boostapack (http://amzn.eu/d/0eCXnhu) for our eldest. They both fitted in the bag and then we put towels, clothes and nappies in the bag to protect the seats.

The car seat bags go into the oversized luggage section when you check in so they go straight in the hold. Some people may worry that their seats could get damaged whilst in transit but ours never have so definitely try to pad out the seat with some towels etc as suggested above. Another option is to buy a cheaper car seat in the UK to take with so that you aren’t risking a more expensive one.

Car Seat Legislation

The legislation on car seat use changes regularly to address ongoing safety risks for children. We urge everyone to make sure they are personally familiar with the correct rules and please use common sense when travelling.

As a guidance we’ve added some information below on the latest legislation for both Florida and the UK. It is of course up to you to check on the latest rules and it’s your decision whether to follow them.

We will try to keep the information up to date but we can’t be responsible if things change or for any decisions you take.

Florida Law currently states (https://www.dmv.org/fl-florida/safety-laws.php):

“Children 5 years old or younger must be secured in a federally approved child restraint system. Children 3 years old and younger must use a separate car-seat or the vehicle’s built-in child seat. Children 4 through 5 years must sit in either a separate car seat, a built in child seat or a seat belt, depending on the child’s height and weight. Children under 18 years old must be in a seatbelt”.

Currently the law in the UK states (https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules):

“Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt. You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight”.

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