Who Needs a Car Seat Travel Bag?
The simple answer is anyone that wants to avoid being ripped off by car hire companies charging scandalous sums of money for dangerous child car seats! I have reviewed some of the best car seat travel bags on the market further down this page, but I thought I would share my experience of hired car seats first. If you’re not interested in my angry rant on this issue, just scroll down to the reviews now.
The Great Car Seat Hire Scandal
One of the most infuriating aspects of travelling abroad with children is the extortionate cost of hiring child cars seats. Very often, the car seat hire charges for a 2 week holiday can exceed the purchase price of the seat itself.
The profit margin on hiring child car seats must be huge and the hire car companies know that parents have little choice but to just pay up – unless, of course, they take their own seats with them instead.
When our twins were very young we felt that we had no option but to bite the bullet and just pay these ridiculous seat hire charges – the alternative option of taking car seats with us on a flight just didn’t seem practically feasible. Car seats can be heavy and bulky and it’s hard enough to manage 2 strollers, your hold luggage and hand luggage without having to also carry around 2 infant/convertible car seats.
But, at least you can console yourself with the knowledge that your precious children are safely cocooned in a nice clean top of the range car seat?
The appalling condition of most hired car seats is even more scandalous than the cost of them. They are almost inevitably old, dirty and damaged. Any complaint at the hire car desk will probably be met with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a claim that they are the only ones available. Not only are the seats dirty and often damaged, but you are often left to install these pieces of junk yourself at the end of a long journey in an unfamiliar vehicle parked in a busy airport car park.
It is well known that up to 75% of car seats are incorrectly installed and this is when parents are dealing with brand new top of the range seats that are fitted in familiar vehicles in the stress-free environment of your own driveway. The chances of correctly fitting a hired car seat must be pretty close to zero!
Taking your own car seat(s) with you?
So, after a couple of bad experiences my wife an I decided that we would start to take our own car seats with us. It is not an easy task, but we have managed it. It is such a relief to arrive at the airport and be able to just quickly install a familiar car seat within a couple of minutes thanks to Isofix connectors, rather than wrestle with that battered old 1980s death trap that costs you $100 per week to hire.
Happily, our kids’ seats have so far survived the stress of being thrown into the hold of various aeroplanes, but we have probably just been very lucky.
Until recently, I had no idea that you could actually buy a car seat travel bag to protect your child seats from the carelessness of baggage handlers. But you can. I accidentally stumbled across these products whilst researching car seats generally and felt very stupid that I hadn’t thought about this possibility before. Next time I need to go on a flight with my family, I will definitely be protecting them with car seat travel bags. Car seats are expensive to replace. Fortunately, travel bags are quite affordable.
Which Car Seat Travel Bags are available?
There are 2 types of car seat travel bag:
- model specific bags, like the Britax Car Seat Travel Bag
- universal bags, like the JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag
The Best Car Seat Travel bag
I have researched the available options and believe that the JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag is the best all-round option.
Firstly, it is pretty universal and can be used with the following car seats (amongst others): Britax Marathon, Boulevard, Roundabout, Decathlon and Diplomat, Recaro models, Evenflo models, Cosco models, Century models, Eddie Bauer models.
Of course, one the main benefits of choosing this over and above the model-specific bags is that you can probably continue to use it if and when you change car seats. It also gets better user reviews than the Britax Car Seat Travel Bag (despite being about $15 cheaper).
- Car seat travel bag features padded, adjustable backpack straps for carrying comfort
- Water resistant, heavy duty fabric cleans easily and protects car seat from moisture
The JL Childress Car Seat Travel Bag gets excellent User Reviews.
The only negative comments that I have read are a few people complaining about the fabric being a little too flimsy. However, there are at least as many people saying that the bag is very durable. Either way, you have to bear in mind the manhandling that hold baggage receives and, at about $40, I would be perfectly happy if it only lasted a couple of holidays. I would still save a lot of money as against the alternative options of hiring car seats or risking my kids’ expensive car seats getting damaged in transit.
JL Childress Car Seat Travel Bag Video:
Where to Buy it?
Share Your Experiences of hired car seats
If you know of any car hire company or other organisation that is willing to supply affordable high quality car seats to parents when on holiday, please leave a comment in the box below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I would also love to hear about your personal experiences and/or opinions on the question of which is the best car seat travel bag.