Seat Advice for Frequent Flights/Overseas Move

Chesapeake

New member
My husband's job is being transferred to Spain for two years, and I'd love advice from others on our car seat situation. Thanks ahead of time for sifting through all of the details! At the time of our move, our kids will be 3.5 and 6.5 - so I'll need seats that will work through ages 5.5 and 8.5. (Do kids still need boosters at 8.5?) They are very average-sized kids...no issues with shooting off the charts. Right now they're both happily using two identical Radian XTSLs. I have a few issues:
1- I'd like to buy any necessary extra seats before our move since I feel more comfortable with the options/pricing that I am used to here, and also want to avoid high shipping costs if I need to order online and have something shipped overseas.
2- Our Radians will be fine to use everyday in a car that we will purchase there, but I'd like to keep those sturdy (heavy!) seats in our car, and then have secondary seats that we use for frequent travel around Europe - seats that will be lighter and not so cumbersome dragging around on flights, trains, and sightseeing. Do you think my older child will be old enough to just use a backless booster...or no seat at all in the near future?
3- We will be sending one set of seats overseas in our shipment a couple of months before we leave, then taking the others on the flight with us. I was hoping to make the trip with the lighter "traveling" seats, but that would mean we'd be driving around with them here for a couple of months for everyday use. Not sure if that's the safest option.
4- My husband is in the military...I've been told this allows us to continue using our US seats while living abroad. Is that correct?

What seat options would you suggest we go with? I really appreciate any tips or advice!
 

cantabdad

New member
I was going to let others respond, since I'm a total newcomer here, but perhaps I will chime in now since there haven't been other responses.

My thought was that your best bet would be to bring the Radians with you on the flight over to Spain when you relocate. They sure are heavy, but I've heard that they are relatively easy to install forward-facing with the aircraft seatbelt. That way, you'll have seats that you know and trust from Day 1 in Spain, without having to worry about when they will arrive or whether they will be damaged in transit.

I wouldn't necessarily buy another set of seats right away. You'll probably want some time to get settled into your new place. Then, if and when you decide to do some traveling around Europe (or back to the States) you can see where you stand.

For a driving vacation, you could buy European seats that are designed to fit well into your European car. Depending on their stature and weight, one or both children would likely be OK in a booster seat, which is a lot easier to transport and install.

For air travel, many European airlines don't allow carseats, and you won't necessarily need one anyway once your younger child hits 40 pounds (per FAA recommendation - they can use the regular aircraft lap belt). Once at your destination, in most big cities (and even some smaller ones) you can generally use public transportation and not need carseats at all. And of course you won't need carseats for the extensive rail system in Spain and its neighboring countries.

On your question 4 -- unless this is addressed in our Status of Forces agreement with Spain, my hunch is that you need to comply with local law on this, especially once you are off-Base.
 

mrosehughes

New member
Can the 5.5 year old sit well enough in a HBB? I agree with the PP: the radians are heavy, but get a luggage cart for the airport and the backpack straps for up and down the airplane aisles and they're actually pretty awesome for air travel. I'd probably bring one radian on the plane and ship the other, then get a HBB for your older child (assuming booster readiness) and carry on the base and check the back in luggage.
 

Jan06twinmom

New member
How big is your 6.5 yo? How close are his/her shoulders to being at the top harness slot on the Radian? I'm thinking that the Radian is going to be outgrown relatively soon so it might not be worth taking for the older child at all.

Have you used a booster seat with your 6.5yo yet? I'm thinking it's probably time to start using a booster seat. I would go with a highback booster for your 6.5yo as the primary seat and then you could get a no back booster as a travel/occasional use seat. Once we know more about your child's size, we can give you some recommendations about which booster seats would fit best.

Most children need to sit in a booster seat until they are around 9-10 years old and they are around 4'9" tall. That is around the time the seatbelt will fit them properly without a booster seat. So you'll probably need a nbb at least until you return to the US. (My 97th percentile DS might not need a booster at 8.5yo, but a 50th percentile child would.) Here's more information about the 5 step test: http://www.carseat.org/Boosters/630.pdf

How big is your 3.5 yo? My first thought is the Evenflo Maestro as a travel seat. It's a lightweight seat with high harness slots, but only a 50lb limit. It's also a forward-facing only seat. But I might change that recommendation if he is on the heavier side.

I'm also wondering if the RSTV might be a good option for you. It might be an option if you are primarily using public transportation, but need a back up option for an occasional car ride.

Melanie
 

Chesapeake

New member
Thanks so much to those of you who have already replied! I appreciate hearing everyone's opinions. To follow up, this move is actually in six months - I'm just thinking ahead now. So, I can't say what the measurements will be then, but right now my oldest is 44" and 40 lbs, and my youngest is 37" and 33 lbs. No, we've not tried a high back booster yet, we've just been using the Radians the whole time. The oldest is on the top slots, my youngest is on the 2nd to top slots. I never considered that she might outgrow hers soon. Maybe we just leave a Radian behind, and invest in a high back booster (with a removable back?) for both our car there and travelling?

I'm sure many of you deal with public transportation everyday, but we don't live in a city, and haven't had to use public transport with the kids yet. It seems so crazy to me that we go to such great lengths to protect our kids in the car, yet when we use trains, subways, buses, etc. we're just supposed to plop them down on the seat and hope for the best!! Honestly, I would love to go off on a great adventure and not have to worry about dragging the seats along. Is that just the way it works when travelling around Europe without a car? Again - thanks!
 

cantabdad

New member
I wouldn't worry too much about using public transportation. Even with unsecured passengers, it still racks up a much better safety record than driving. Speeds tend to be low, the vehicles are highly visible and crashworthy, they are operated by professional drivers, etc.

I personally take my daughter to preschool on the subway ("the T") here in Boston and see lots of families with children doing the same. You'll see that in Europe, too.

Smaller children benefit from being in a front carrier or backpack, but older kids ride much as adults do, though I do try to get my daughter a seat if one is available. I think children are also somewhat more likely to have boarding/alighting injuries, as the stairs and platforms are not designed for them and they can get jostled in rush-hour crowds. (A bus driver once started to close the door on my daughter, not seeing her.) So some caution is warranted.

Most European cities have a rail connection (or at least bus service) to their airport, so you really can have a car-free vacation from start to finish, particularly if you pick your hotel with that in mind. Happy travels.
 

mrosehughes

New member
I can't comment on Europe with a child, but we were just in San Francisco and used public transit the entire time. It was awesome, and DS loved it. If a car hits a bus the bus wins :)
 

Jan06twinmom

New member
For the ultimate portability, I'm wondering if you could do the RSTV for the younger child and the bumblebum booster seat for the older child. I think you could put these in a backpack or large bag and have them for easy access when you have to get in a taxi.

Busses, trains, subways are all so much safer than cars for traveling. We've done days in San Francisco only using public transportation and it was nice not having to worry about car seats.

Melanie
 

newyorkDOC

New member
Depends. We travel around Europe a lot (we live in Milan, italy) but we tend to go to large cities with public transport. But we also have an RSTV. Before that we took a car seat if necessary. We would never travel in a car or taxi without an appropriate restraint device but plenty do as its not technically required in a taxi. I can't think of one airport that wasn't connected to the city center by train or bus.
 

Chesapeake

New member
For the ultimate portability, I'm wondering if you could do the RSTV for the younger child and the bumblebum booster seat for the older child. I think you could put these in a backpack or large bag and have them for easy access when you have to get in a taxi.
I'd never even heard of either of those items, but they sound perfect for keeping in a backpack "just in case"! Does anyone have experience with them?
 

Jan06twinmom

New member
I'd never even heard of either of those items, but they sound perfect for keeping in a backpack "just in case"! Does anyone have experience with them?
I know there are people on this board who have experience with both of these. I was thinking about getting a bubblebum as a back up seat, but I've never used it.

I'm thinking that this question might be better answered in a different thread since it is kind of buried here. If you want, you could ask the question either on the car seat section or in the car seat chat area. I think you'll get more responses if your put RSTV and Bumblebum in your title.

Melanie
 

newyorkDOC

New member
Most EU countries require kids to be in a car seat or booster until around 10-11 / 140 cm. I don't remember the exact numbers right now but it's an EC directive so you will easily find it online and in English. So theoretically the RSTV is illegal unless you're in a taxi. We only use it in taxis bc DD knows it as the "taxi vest" otherwise she'd want to use it all the time.

I've no experience with the bubble bum yet. It's available off amazon uk though so you could easily get the eu certified version.
 

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