Hiring a car for your summer holiday is a great way to get out and about with the family and see the sights that the organised coach trips might miss. The surge of budget airlines shows no signs of slowing and the traditional package holiday is becoming less and less appealing to families and that in turn is having a positive impact on car hire with more and more of us looking for our own transport.
It is however a significant expense and adds to the overall cost of the family holiday. The base rental prices are often very competitive, however it’s when you start to add the extras you can really see the price jump. Here we take a look at the pro’s and con’s of taking your own baby / infant seat on holiday to use in the hire car rather than hiring one from the rental agent.
Take your own child car seat when renting a car or hire one?
A typical weeks rental of a car seat can be as much as 50 EUR, factor in families that have 2 or more babies / children that require a seat and that’s a significant cost on top of the rental. Most airlines will allow children (under 11) to carry 2 items of luggage in the hold, so this might be a push chair or travel cot, so it might be wise to take your own car seat as one of these items. Alternatively, you can pay for extra hold luggage at around £25 (always check with your airline before travelling to avoid unexpected costs). If you factor this in against the cost of hiring a car seat you could make a healthy saving.
Most car seats are compatible with modern cars, however the manufacturer will advise what make and model of car the seat is designed to fit. As the vast majority of rental cars are current make and models it’s rare to have compatibility issues, however we do recommend you check and also make sure you book a car of suitable size. For example, it’s unlikely that you would fit 3 child seats in the back of a mini / economy class car.
Quality / Safety
Whilst all child seats provided by car rental suppliers should be of an acceptable standard, it’s worth noting that not all countries will have the same standards, so what is deemed satisfactory in one country may not be what is deemed acceptable in the UK. You will usually find that most rental agents provide main brand car seats such as Britax, Maxi-Cosi etc, however if you are particular about which car seat your child sits in, it’s best to take your own.
Also, whilst the rental agent will fit the car seat for you so it’s ready for your arrival, we would always recommend that you check the fitting of the seat is correct and that you are satisfied.
Many people are concerned that their expensive car seat may be damaged if taking on a flight. Damaged suitcases are not uncommon, however as car seats are handled separately, it’s reasonably unlikely, bar a little extra wear and tear that your seat will be damaged. If you are concerned, it’s easy to wrap the seat before loading or pack the car seat in a car seat travel bad, widely available and most will take up to 2 seats with ease. Look out for car seat travel bags with shoulder straps to make carry around the airport even easier.
Ultimately, the decision is with the customer, however for assurance on quality and safety, we recommend that customers take their own car seat for peace of mind and also take responsibility for ensuring it's fitted correctly into the hire car. It could also work out significantly cheaper, meaning an upgraded car, or extra spending money for the holiday!