Top 5 holiday car seats safety tipsKeep safe and legal in holiday hire cars and taxis

08 July 2015

Baby in car seat with a sun hat

Plan in advance and keep your children safe in their car seat when travelling abroad

Have kids and heading on holiday this Summer? Follow these essential safety tips for hiring a car seat when abroad, that could save your little one's life. 

1. Find out what car seats are available in advance

If you're hiring a car abroad for your family, you'll need car seats to keep children safe. We've heard some horror stories from parents about the car seats they've been offered by car hire companies. Our advice is to contact the rental company in advance and ask them for a list of seats they supply, then check in advance if any of them are Don't Buy car seats or discontinued Don't Buy car seats

Print out and take our list of Don't Buy child car seats with you so you can do another check when you get there. Although, even a Don't Buy car seat will provide some protection in a crash and is better than no car seat (which is also illegal in some places).

Find out which car seats we recommend as Best Buy car seats.

2. Check your child car seat thoroughly when you pick up your hire car

When you're given the car seat, make sure it's suitable for the age and weight of your child by checking the label on the back. If it's been a while since you've bought a child car seat, give yourself a refresher before you go with our car seat weight groups. Check the car seat is in a good condition, that the harness isn't damaged or worn and that the buckle works properly.

3. Check the fit of your car seat 

Once you have a hire car and a car seat you're happy with, make sure it's fitted correctly. An incorrectly fitted car seat will reduce the protection it offers if you're involved in a crash. 

Car seat has already been fitted for you? Download our free guide: 10 quick car seat fitting checks, so you can double check and give yourself peace of mind that the car seat has been installed properly. 

Need to fit the child car seat yourself? Our guide how to fit a child car seat shows you exactly how to do just that in easy steps. 

4. Take your own car seat if possible

If you can manage with the extra baggage, we really recommend taking your own child car seat if possible, even if you have to pay extra luggage charges. Some car seats are approved to be used on a plane, but you'd need to check with your airline for its policy on car seat use. 

But do also check the local laws of your holiday destination for car seat use. Some countries, for example Ireland and Germany, require children to be in car seats until they are 150cm tall. And you cannot use an EU approved car seat in the US. 

For those short on space but who want to bring their own child car seat and pushchair on holiday, the car seat that converts to a pushchair and then back again might seem like the perfect solution for parents short on packing space? Find out how the revolutionary Doona scores in our Doona car seat review

Family in an airport

Getting a taxi to the airport? Ask the cab company about car seats before you travel, or see if you can use your own

5. Know the laws on travelling with children in a taxi

Remember, if you're taking a taxi to the airport, the current UK law states that in a licensed taxi or minicab:

  • children under three years of age can travel without a child’s car seat or seat belt, but only on the back seat
  • children aged three years or older can travel without a child’s car seat if they wear an adult seat belt.

If you have a child under three years of age, some experts feel the best option is to sit the child next to you on their own seat (if they are able to) rather than holding them on your lap, which isn't safe. In the event of a serious crash your body weight may crush the child, and an adult's arms would  not be able to hold onto a child, anyway. 

Our advice is to call the taxi company in advance. See if they have an appropriate car seat available to use, or check to see if you can use your own car seat (if taking it with you). For young babies, where it's not possible to sit them on the seat and a car seat isn't an option., it could be possible to keep them in their pushchair in the back of a black London taxi (Hackney carriage).

More on this...

  • Best and worst travel cot brands – safe and sound summer sleep for your baby
  • Travelling with children – Which? tips for a hassle free holiday
  • Nappies– the best disposable nappy brands