Rental car seats?

We'll be taking a trip this fall - flying to DC for a week. We'll only have a car for two days. About a 45-min drive out of the city on Saturday and back on Sunday. Other than that, we'll be taking the Metro or walking. We're planning to use CARES restraints on the airplane, so I need to figure out what to do when we get the car for the weekend. I've heard not-so-great things about renting seats along with a car. Is there anything else we can do? My DH is NOT interested at all in bringing our regular seats with us on the airplane, so that's not an option.

I'll have a 32lb 2-year-old who usually rearfaces, and a 45lb just-barely-4-year-old who usually sits in a Frontier 85, harnessed. I'd be ok FF the 2-year-old for this trip and putting the 4-year-old in a HBB if I have to. It seems the rental places usually have harnessed seats that only go up to 40lb, and LBB. Any advice?


New member
I dislike the idea of not bringing seats. Why is this so easily dismissed? I'm not really understanding what your other options would be, except to buy new seats that you have delivered to you there, and I don't see why that's a better plan than bringing seats. If it's just an issue of the size of your seats, get a Scenera for your younger and a Maestro for your older, and both can be used as spare seats in the future. If he's just adamant about not bringing seats on the plane (and you're willing to submit to this demand), then your choices seem to be use (likely terrible, certainly unknown history) rental seats, or buy seats there (in which case I'd recommend the same pair of seats).

I take it you'll be nearly full-term pregnant on this trip?


Active member
I'd convince him to bring the seats, or not go. I would never ever ever use rental seats. Its the same as buying some at a garage sale or thrift store. Maybe even worse b/c here anyways, they bleach them when they are returned (even the straps, which is bad).

Maybe look at an RSTV for the 4yr old, and bring a lightweight seat for the 2yr old, then its really only bringing one seat, which, with 2 adults is not a big deal!


New member
Yeah, even bringing 2 seats with 2 adults is not a big deal. There are easy ways to lug them through the airport. I don't know how comfy the 2-year-old would be on the plane with the CARES anyway - it doesn't look comfortable to me! My 2.5-year-old doesn't weigh enough to use it, but it's not something I even considering on our upcoming trip because she'll need a seat when we get there, so she might as well sit in her seat on the plane. And then I know she'll sit still - she'll have to lol!
We've talked about bringing the seats, and he really doesn't want to bring the seats on the plane. So, if he decided we should bring the seats, he'd want to check them. I'd rather just not bring them if I'm going to check them. And yes, I try to make a habit of submitting to my husband (although I would NEVER call him demanding.) :)

I'll be 34 weeks at the end of the trip. It's for my brother's wedding, so not going isn't an option.

What about the places that specialize in renting baby gear - instead of the car rental places? Some of those will rent MAs and other similar seats.

I have asked my brother if he knows anyone who would have any extra seats we could borrow when we're there.


New member
I'll echo the other posters - the only safe options are to bring your seats on the plane, or buy new ones on the other end. You're correct, you don't want to check your seats. Renting from anyone - be it a car rental agency OR another type of rental service - is not safe. Likewise, I wouldn't borrow a seat from someone I don't know - and all for the same reasons. I can't trust that it hasn't been mishandled, crashed, the straps were washed, etc.

Wanting to "make a habit of submitting" or not, I would NOT to submit to somebody if it means putting my children's life in danger. :twocents:

I'd bring a seat for the 2yo (Either whatever you already have, or buy the lightweight Scenera) and an RSTV for the 4 year old. Then you're only lugging one seat through the airport, not two.

ETA: How long (or short) the amount of time the seats are being used does not change my opinion at all.


New member
Could you buy a cheap seat (like the Scenera) once you get there? Maybe have someone who can meet you at the airport with it, or sit and have a snack with your kids while your husband runs to the store to buy them if there is a store anywhere close by?

Other than bringing the seats on the plane, risking using rental seats, or borrowing them from someone there (which would still potentially be unknown history), that is all I can think of..

Does your husband have a reason for really not wanting to bring the seats on the plane? Is it just the inconvenience of lugging a car seat onto an airplane?
His main reason is that he doesn't want to lug them through the airport, and then once we get there have to lug them, the rest of our luggage, two-kids, and my pregnant belly through the subway and then walking several blocks to where we're staying. :)

I do understand his reasoning, but I'm still wanting to make sure my kids are safe in the car on the ride to the wedding, without paying TOO much.

I've seen people recommend buying cheap seats and then donating them at the end of the trip (on other threads). But who would take a donated seat? How do they know I haven't crashed it? How is that different than ME renting or borrowing a seat?


New member
If each of you bring one kid a d one seat on the plane its really not a big deal. I would not let anyone veto my kids safety because it might inconvenience them briefly.

I agree with the others


New member
I've seen people recommend buying cheap seats and then donating them at the end of the trip (on other threads). But who would take a donated seat? How do they know I haven't crashed it? How is that different than ME renting or borrowing a seat?

I don't know who you'd donate to there (I know a group in my area that takes seats, but it's the wrong Washington), but you could Craigslist them or something.

Who would take them? Almost anyone: Most people don't know to ask or care about the history of a seat, they just want a deal, and you would know they're safe so you wouldn't be doing anyone a disservice


New member
Submitting does not mean going along with a dumb idea or putting kids in jeopardy.
Car seats are a necessity when traveling not a perk or luxury.
Bring the seats Id rather have a checked seat I bought than a completely unknown seat to me.

I would be using seats on the plan and get a luggage cart to bungee them to for through the airport.

He won't think its inconvenient if God forbid something happens and the seat you borrowed fails.
You know what would be really nice, is if people on this board had sort of a co-op so you could "rent" a seat from someone who knows how to take care of one. That's really what I was wondering - if something like that exists.


New member
I'd just do the RSTV for 4 y/o (pack in luggage) and lightweight seat (Tribute or Scenera on plane) for 2 y/o. One lightweight seat is no big deal, and just keep it in a closet wherever you're staying til you need it. Plus, you can use it as a backup seat when you're home (same with RSTV.)


New member
You know what would be really nice, is if people on this board had sort of a co-op so you could "rent" a seat from someone who knows how to take care of one. That's really what I was wondering - if something like that exists.

The hard part with that is even though someone is on this board, doesn't mean that they will always take proper care of the seats. Many people have had terrible experiences lending out seats.

It would be great if we could trust everyone to be honest about seat history and to take good care of them.


New member
When we flew with kids that age, we brought an RSTV for the 4 year old (in carry on with room left for other stuff) and a seat for the 2 year old (many options for that including the cheap and lightweight Scenera) that she used on the plane. Going through the airport, we strapped the seat to the stroller (worked great to hold other stuff too), then gate checked the stroller. Assuming you're willing to consider options other than renting seats, I thought it might be helpful to hear what others have done. It certainly helped me when I was in this situation and came here for help.

If you rent seats, you have no idea what you'll end up with, including the possibility of having nothing at all. Plus, I don't think they normally have any appropriate options for 4 year olds, unless they are short enough to still fit in something like the Scenera.

The co-op idea is nice in an ideal world, but most of us cannot afford to lend our seats to strangers.
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Public transportation in the DC area is great. Is there any way you can take the train/bus for the entire trip, instead of having to use cars at some point?


Senior Community Member
You can bungee cord (which costs like a dollar) a seat to a rolling suitcase - no extra work except to unbungee and rebungee (taking a total of 90 seconds) going through security. RSTV for the 4 year old, or if you HAVE to (and 4 year old is closer to 5 and big/mature enough, I can't see the OP ATM), pack a TB in the rolling carryon; they don't take up that much space and you can pack your other stuff/kid's clothes or whatever around it. Or each adult has a rolling carryon and you each strap 1 car seat (Scenera and Maestro, or whatever) to them. Or 1 luggage cart (like $10 at Walmart) and strap both car seats to the luggage cart. Or like PP said, don't do a car at all, and use public transport the whole time. The possibilities for safe travel are endless, or at least pretty numerous.

I'm not going to comment on the submitting thing because I really don't understand it.


New member
I think people have pretty much covered it, but I wanted to highlight a few things.

- In addition to the safety issues, the real problem with getting carseats via the rental car agency is that they're simply unreliable. Too many people have stories of reserving an infant seat and then the only thing available is a booster, or vice versa. Then you're stuck with no good option. Heck, when I rent a car, half the time they don't even have anything close to the vehicle I reserved.

- Taking carseats with you on the trip is quite doable. A few months ago we also went to DC, and we rode the metro from the airport (DCA) to our hotel with 2 kids, luggage, carry-ons, stroller, carseat, and a Pack-and-Play. We didn't even bother rigging up a luggage cart or any of the other excellent ideas that have been noted here; we just piled stuff atop the stroller and carried the baby in the Ergo. We routinely go to/from the airport here in Boston by subway, too. Granted, you will be pregnant at the time, but a cab from DCA to downtown DC is only about $20 if you prefer to make things easier on yourself -- relatively little in the context of the whole trip.

- Others may differ, but I would personally be OK with a mature 4-year-old using a booster, even a NBB, for a relatively short trip while on vacation (as long as he/she is within the height/weight limits of the seat and the belt fits well, obviously). My daughter has been using the Bubble Bum for taxi rides when we're away from home, and it works very well -- the seatbelt is positioned well and she understands the importance of sitting straight. It does help to have another parent in the backseat to help. We also did a "dry run" at home before using it, since she'd never used any sort of booster before.

- Your older child may outgrow CARES (44 lbs.) by the time of the trip, but in that case the regular aircraft lapbelt would be fine. If you are OK with a NBB, that could be his/her carry-on. Then you're down to dealing just with one larger convertible seat on the trip.

- For the younger one, it's probably easiest to just buy a Scenera (or similar lightweight seat) and use it on the trip. However, if you prefer, you could use CARES on the plane and take the metro to your hotel so that you don't need a carseat. Then, during your trip, one parent can pick up the rental car 1-2 hours earlier than you'd planned and truck out to a Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby in the suburbs, buy a carseat, and install it right into the rental car. When you're done, you can either donate it to a relative in the area (thus using CARES again for the flight home) or use it on the plane and bring it home to keep as a spare. Hertz charges $12 per seat per day for carseats, so buying a seat isn't that bad of deal even if you seldom use it again.


Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
Something I haven't seen mentioned yet, that you should point out to your husband, is how carseats on the plane help tremendously with children's behavior. Kids are used to their carseats, and they know that being in a carseat means they're going to sit for a while. Travel is stressful for kids, even when it's fun, because so much is different than they're used to. By not using a carseat on the plane, kids get confused and are more likely to act out. When carseats are used, kids are more likely to act just the way they act in the car. And even if they don't, it's much easier to keep them strapped down if you have a carseat than if you just have the plane's seat belts.

Having traveled by plane with kids, I've found that hauling the carseats is worth it JUST for that aspect alone, without even factoring in the safety issues. Even if someone could guarantee me 100% that I could travel by plane and car for an entire vacation without getting in a wreck, I'd still haul the seats just to keep the kids in a better mood.

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