Carseats in Africa



What would you do about carseats if you were me?

We are traveling to Malawi, Africa for 6 weeks while my husband (a medical student) volunteers at a district hospital. On our budget, it is unlikely we'll be able to afford a car rental or to hire a driver, but it is entirely possible that we would ride in a car from time to time.

My children (7 - 41lbs, 4 - 41 lbs, 18 mnths - 21 lbs) are all in 5pt harnesses in the States, and while I'd love for that to be an option while we're traveling, I suspect it will not. We are responsible for all our own transportation, and that will likely be public busses. I envision us approaching a public bus for a 4hr ride with three tired children, luggage and carseats...will they even let us on? :)

Would you buy boosters for the older kids (if we can manage to carry them on top of tired kiddos and luggage...oh, to have three hands!) and the Radian for the baby? It's usually so nice to travel with, but it is very heavy, and may be a breaking point when we're already carrying a tired child each and luggage. Is there another easy-to-carry seat that would be a good idea?

I'm absolutely stumped and would love thoughts from some of you out there. I've stressed about this for weeks!


New member
HI, welcome to! How exciting for your family to get this chance to travel.

I am not familiar with vehicles in South Africa, so take my advice with a grain of salt ;)

ASSUMING the vehicles you may ride in are equipped with seatbelts, would you consider a no back booster for the 4 and 7 yr old? The Bubblebum may be a good option, as you can deflate it to pack it for the flights over. If your 4 yr odl could not sit in a booster, the RSTV may be a good choice - again, it doesn't take up much room when not in use. For your 18 month old, I think I would take a regular harnessed seat. The Radian would be nice since it folds and could be stored easily somewhere when not in use. And it installs well on planes.

Can you find out if vehicles over there have seatbelts? I would guess that at least the buses do not, and carseats would not work without the seatbelts anyway.


New member
I don't know for a fact (I've never even been to Africa), but I highly doubt there will be seat belts on the public buses. That seems to be pretty rare, even here. And if there was, I'm sure they would be lap belts, so boosters wouldn't work anyway. If there is a possibility of being in a car, maybe get two Bubble Bum boosters that can be carried in a back pack and a Scenera for baby. If it will be all public buses......maybe a Scenera for baby, maybe. Or just wear her in a carrier, which is what I used to do with my baby on public buses with no seat belts. At least then the baby is contained and happy. Is there anyone you can ask about the transportation and seat belts issues?


New member
It really depends on what kind of bus it is to know if there will be seat belts or not. Some are just converted vans and might have them. Two bubble bum boosters and a scerena car seat would be a good option. When we went to South Africa a few years ago we had a car so never ended up taking a bus but I did see them.


Active member
I can't speak for Malawi but other countries I've been to in subsaharan Africa have had cars, taxis, and public buses. The buses are usually extremely crowded and hot. They do not use seatbelts and you would have to hold your children on your laps.
There are likely to be taxis and I would recommend that for any long distance driving as it will probably have seatbelts and you will have more personal space.
In any case I would bring two bubblebums for the older children and a scenera for the youngest. That way it won't take up a lot of room and you will have somewhere for the little one to sleep on the plane. When I was in Kenya with my ds at 1.5 he rode in an infant seat baseless which worked great. I was so glad I had a comfortable place for him to sleep that did not include my lap.
Good luck!


CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
The Scenera is lighter, and is cheap. Another lightweight option to consider, though more expensive, is the Combi Coccoro. You can get accessories for that such as the Coccoro Flash stroller frame, or the Coccoro Carry Bag, either of which is designed to make it easier to get around when using taxis, flying, etc. If there is a larger infant seat your 18 month old fits in, like the SnugRide 35 or the OnBoard 35, you might even consider that (without the base), possibly with a stroller or stroller frame it will work with.


Senior Community Member
I agree. Bum boosters for oldest 2. Or a RVST for the 4y. I would look at the scerena or the onbard35 for the youngest. Both are light weight. For the onboard35, I would leave the base at home. I wouldn't want to carry a radian all over the place. Plus they don't always work rf on a plane.

The 7y will be fine in just the plane seat. But I will leave it to someone who flies often to suggest whether the 4y should be in a seat on the plane. That will be a long flight.


Can anyone compare the infant bucket-style (the 35s) to the scenera in regards to transport? We will not have wheeled luggage (too risky that they'll get stuck) nor stroller, so the seat will need to go over a shoulder when we're in transport. We'll need to be as mobile as possible as we'll be doing a lot of walking on our nearly 4-day journey there and back - no options for us to make "second trips" with our luggage! I'm thinking the scenera? I just remember how much I hated the bucket style seat with my first baby. Never used one again after my first...

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